Creepshow – Season 3, Episode 4: Stranger Sings/Meter Reader


Y’know, I’m not sure if I’m imagining things in my old age – but does anyone else have the feeling that Creepshow’s third season is playthings somewhat safe?
It’s not because the overall quality of the series has taken a noticable downturn – even though it could be said that the inconsistency of the show is arguably by design – but the stories don’t seem all that wild by comparison to the first couple of seasons. Now, I realise that that statement comes aimed at a string of episodes that’s so-far seen pregnant pop stars reveal themselves to be screeching bee-monsters and a misadventure that saw a movie prop collector get attacked by a living skeleton with a ponytail, but for the most part I seem to be missing the sense of variety that Creepshow used to bring. While the second segment of this episode, Meter Reader certainly challenges this theory with its Stakeland meets the Exorcist premise, the goofy comedy of Stranger Sings suggests that the Creep may already be running out of ideas…


Stranger Sings: While out at his local coffee shop, divorced gynecologist Barry bumps into Sara and the two immediately seem to hit it off. This is something of a relief for Barry whose extended singleton status has been starting to get incredibly lonely, but upon being invited into Sara’s home, things start to take an outlandish turn when an early attack of the nerves is counteracted by some strange, mysterious singing that hypnotize him into accepting her offer.
After being introduced to Sara’s housemate, Miranda, Barry discovers a partially eaten corpse stashed in the bathroom and suddenly finds himself in a sticky predicament – it seems Miranda is actually a bird-like breed of Siren who has grown tired of centuries of man-eating and immortality and has made a deal to undergo surgery to exchange voice boxes. All they need is a surgeon and the closest they could find was the the hapless Barry.

Meter Reader: Mankind is teetering on the edge of disaster thanks to a virus that allows people to become demonically possessed and the only hope we have is the natural immune members of the population known as Meter Readers who keep the infected in check with a handy exorcism or a swift beheading.
One such Meter Reader is Dalton who, after encountering a demon that was a little too hard too handle, misses his three-day time limit when getting home to his family. Optimistic wife Maria and son Mikey are locked into hopeful denial that everything is alright, but cynical daughter Theresa puts herself on high alert, guessing that whatever comes home will probably not be her beloved daddy anymore. However, when Dalton does come home, things aren’t immediately apparent if he’s himself or not and while the family argue about letting him in the house or not, the suspicious parent stalks down into the basement to await their choice.


When I said earlier that Creepshow feels a little like it’s coasting, I certainly didn’t mean in the plot department as the show scores yet another off-beat story in the form of Stranger Sings. I mean, it’s not every show that manages to include a light hearted love story that involves a wronged woman, a gynecologists and the centuries old Siren trying to negotiate modern relationships in very different ways. While the slightly camp approach lends itself rather well to one of the third season’s more sillier stories, it’s hardly what you’d call gripping or even unpredictable and on top of that, I had a picky issue with the monster design delivered by the always reliable KNB. While Miranda’s Siren form is certainly impressive with its chittering wings and teeth that could chomp through a concrete block, it isn’t that dissimilar from the demonic monster suits recently seen in segments such as Familar in episode 2 and The Last Tsuburaya in episode 3. In fact, I’m certain they’re even shot the same, looming over a human character for an admittedly cool money shot, but currently I’m missing some variety in Creepshow’s monster menagerie that’s included in the past a glowing, purple genie; a cycloptic, mantis-shaped alien and a spider whose body is made from a human skull.
It’s not that Stranger Sings is bad; director Axelle Carolyn keeps the oddly hopeful tale bobbing alone nicely, but the broad tone and characterization means that not only is the epidode tough to take seriously (can all gynecologists perform complicated voice box transplants at a moment’s notice?), but its jokey nature means you lose a lot of empathy for the lonely Barry.


Business picks up with Meter Reader, which couldn’t be further from Stranger Sings jocular sweetness if it tried as it drops us into a COVID-esque world where not even a nasal swap can save you. Rushing through the details with an appropriately grim voice over by Jonathon Schaech’s demon fighting Dalton, we’re hurriedly brought up to speed with some guff about a plague of possessions and the Meter Readers using a glowy little wand like a divining rod to seek out snarling evil wherever it lurks. While a lot of the lore doesn’t really scan much (it’s never really clarifies if Dalton is actually possessed when he returns home considering he’s himself later on and the business about Meter Readers being immune is almost immediately contradicted), it still manages to be a nicely atmospheric rides thanks to numerous references to other, dystopian adventures and – of course – The Exorcist. The sky is mercilessly colour corrected to a dull orange and a creepy mist blows up whenever a scene needs to invoke instant menace and we even get a spot of survival horror thrown in there when daughter Theresa argues with her family about what exactly is knocking on the door, demanding entry.
Even though the script is essentially compiled of a hodgepodge of ideas swiped from other places (there’s a weird, The Purge vibe floating around too) and it’s premise – when examined closer – has all the tensile strength of wet tissue paper, the segment score enough cool beats to comfortably make it to the 20-minute mark. Theresa’s Ripley-esque transformation works well and director Joe Lynch sticks in some nifty demon stuff such as a child in a Halloween devil costume spider-walking across the ceiling, to ensure the chills are abrupt and jarring.


However, there’s still that nagging feeling that with two episodes left in the season, the Creep is being uncharacteristically coy in his stories – here’s hoping he’s about to pull something spectacular out of the bag before the next issue of Creepshow becomes an actual issue.

Stranger Sings: 🌟🌟🌟
Meter Reader: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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