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A Creepshow Holiday Special Review

December 25, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
A Creepshow Holiday Special
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A Creepshow Holiday Special Review  

A Creepshow Holiday Special: “Shapeshifters Anonymous” Review

Adam Pally– Robert Weston
Anna Camp– Irena
Pete Burris– Scott Howard
Frank Nicotero– Andy McDermott
Derek Russo– Ryan
Candy McLellan– Phyllis Allenbee

Directed by Gregory Nicotero
Screenplay by Gregory Nicotero, based on a story by J.A. Konrath

Distributed by Shudder

Rated TV-MA
Runtime– 46 minutes

Available on Shudder

CreepshowHolidaySpecialPoster

The hit Shudder horror anthology series Creepshow is out with a new holiday special just in time for Christmas, but unlike the Halloween special, this Christmas special is live-action (the Halloween one was animated). However, unlike a “typical” Creepshow story, which goes on for like 20-23 minutes, this holiday/Christmas special is essentially a double length episode. It’s also just one story (the first season of Creepshow had two stories per episode, which, I assume, the show will continue to do in its upcoming second season). It’s a scheme that works quite well for the story. Despite being longer, the holiday special doesn’t feel like it overstays its welcome. I actually wish it went on a bit longer than it does.

The story used for the special, “Shapeshifters Anonymous,” is weird as hell. It starts out as one thing and then, about halfway through, becomes something completely else. On paper, that shift probably shouldn’t work because it’s so damn crazy. The shift works, though. It’s freaking amazing what director Gregory Nicotero manages to pull off.

“Shapeshifters Anonymous” stars Adam Pally as Robert Weston, a man who thinks he might be a werewolf. Weston can’t be sure that he’s a werewolf since werewolves are bullshit, but various recent life events point him in that impossible direction (for one thing, he thinks he’s killed multiple people and eaten some of them). He finds out about a secret support group for therianthropes (people who can transform into animals and creatures. Shapeshifters, basically) that meets in a local church basement and decides to see if these people can help him figure out what the hell is going on. At first, while meeting the people involved in the group (Irena, played by Anna Camp, Scott Howard, played by Pete Burris, Andy McDermott, as played by Frank Nicotero, Ryan, played by Derek Russo, and Phyllis Allenbee, played by Candy McLellan), Weston believes he’s made a gigantic mistake and these people are all nuts. The longer he sticks around, though, Weston realizes that what he has experienced is real and that these people can probably help him.

Probably. If Weston is a werewolf the group will have to perform a special test on him. Irena transforms into a cheetah, Scott turns into a turtle, and Andy turns into a wereboar (no one knows what Ryan turns into because he never says a word at the meetings, and Phyllis doesn’t actually transform into anything. Phyllis is a Furry and believes that she’s a hippo on the inside and the group lets her hang around because they like her). After the test Weston finds out that he is, in fact, a werewolf. Weston also finds out that Santa Claus is not a nice guy that brings toys to children all over the world. No, Santa is actually a malevolent force that goes back to Biblical times and his real purpose in the world is to find and kill shapeshifters.

As soon as Weston finds out about the real Santa, the church is attacked by Santa’s henchmen (mall Santas are part of Santa’s shapeshifter killing army). The therianthrope group has to find a way to survive the attack and, maybe, stop Santa once and for all.

The big Santa attack is generally well staged and exciting. It could be gorier and nastier (the gun sound effects could also be louder/more distinct), but Nicotero and company manage to make their resources seem more than they are. This is an instance where the special could be longer. There’s an elaborate action scene that the special uses multiple comic book panels to convey, which is in the full Creepshow tradition but would have been cool to see actually filmed. I get why it wasn’t filmed (it would have likely cost a fortune to do) but, again, it would have been fun to see.

The special make up effects are excellent. The werewolf and werecheetah look like you expect them to, and the wereboar is hilarious because it’s so ridiculous looking. The most amazing makeup effect is, hands down, the human sized turtle that Scott turns into. It’s insane how plausible that makeup seams. The final Santa makeup is a marvel of practical effects. If the Santa we see at the end of the special isn’t an action figure by the end of 2021 there’s something seriously wrong with horror nerdom. And the T-shirts? My God there will be T-shirts of this thing.

The cast is also phenomenal. Adam Pally is perfect as the kind of lame Robert Weston. He’s befuddled by what’s going on and, while he’s trying to figure out what’s really going on, there’s no way he could have figured it out on his own. He’s a guy that needs the group. Anna Camp is terrific as Irena the werecheetah. She has to deliver some of the lamest jokes you’ll ever hear and she gets through them like a pro (she makes you laugh at the jokes despite their mediocrity). Frank Nicotero plays Andy as the world’s biggest douchebag and manages to pull it off. You totally understand why he shapeshifts into a pig. Pete Burris is fantastic as Scott. He has to deliver quite a bit of plot dialogue and does it effortlessly. And Candy McLellan is hilarious as Phyllis the Furry. Her enthusiasm is infectious. You will love her final scene.

And the Creep, the Creepshow mascot, has never looked better. Part puppet, part, I assume, live action performer (look at it from the back), it’s nasty and funny looking at the same time, which is what you want out of your horror anthology TV show mascot. Amazing.

“Shapeshifters Anonymous” is the weird as hell Christmas holiday special the world didn’t know it needed. It’s a blast from start to finish, and as long as Shudder keeps Creepshow around I hope the “holiday special” is an annual thing. It would be something to look forward to, and, heck, what horror nerd wouldn’t want that in their life?

See A Creepshow Holiday Special: “Shapeshifters Anonymous”. See it, see it, see it. It’s very much worth your time.

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 30. Those mall Santa henchmen just kept coming.

Explosions: One, Sort of.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A box of donuts and cookies, up close cookie eating, a story about a guy shitting weird things out, shitting out little stones, a rectal exam, talk of killing people and not being sure about it, big assumptions, a test kit, a gypsy neighbor, talk of Polish organized crime, off screen massacre, off screen dog eating, stuff about the real Santa, an alarm, an army of Santas, gunning down multiple Santas, a Christmas bell on a chain weapon, multiple head shots, multiple potions, a gigantic talking turtle, serious throat ripping, face eating, guy crushed by turtle shell, scythe attack, multiple decapitations, a big almost monster fight, another decapitation, and a weird as hell happy ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: The Creep, the Creep becoming a werewolf, a support group meeting in the basement of a church named after Dario Argento, a rectal exam, a really bad cheetah joke, talk of potentially evil lettuce, a test kit, wolvesbane hooey, off screen dog eating, the shapeshifters anonymous creed, the book of Bob, a clip falling out of a gun, an army of mall Santas, a mechanized killer Santa, Little Yanni, and a weird as hell happy ending.

Best lines: “It’s a beautiful basement. Thank you,” “I don’t eat those things,” “Everyone! This is Robert Weston!,” “A weretortoise? Like, you turn into a turtle?,” “God, you are so fucking hot, Irena,” “You’re a lycanthrope!,” “You. Are. A. Loud. Man!,” “Do you… do you ever feel guilty about it?,” “Santa Claus is coming to town,” “If we get out of this alive do you want to go out with me?,” “Hold your fire!,” “It isn’t over,” “You look amazing,” “Kringle is coming! We don’t have time for this!,” “Oh shit,” “Am I on your list now motherfucker?,” and “Spill the beans, Lon Chaney.”

8.5
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
A Creepshow Holiday Special: “Shapeshifters Anonymous” is a new Christmas special streaming on Shudder and is a great example of what the Creepshow anthology TV show can do. Funny and gory and weird as hell, “Shapeshifters Anonymous” is essentially a double length episode of the show and is top notch all the way through. Should it be slightly longer and a lot gorier? Absolutely. But what director Gregory Nicotero and company put together for 46 minutes is great stuff through and through and is something horror nerds should check out. Hopefully the whole “Creepshow Christmas special” becomes an annual thing. It would be cool as hell to have something to look forward to every Christmas holiday season. See A Creepshow Holiday Special: “Shapeshifters Anonymous”. See it, see it, see it.
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