Courtesy of Shudder
After seeing A Creepshow Animated Special, which I enjoyed a lot—especially the second story, I was excited to A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL, albeit disappointed that it would not be animated. I am not an overly strong fan of campy horror, however, I should’ve known from the music toward the beginning of the story that this would be more of a comedic, campy holiday jaunt rather than a nightmare-inducing joyride. Unfortunately, subpar effects combined with too many trite jokes that inspire eye-roll and side-eye emojis instead of laughs made this a lesson in endurance rather than an enjoyable watch.

Synopsis: In the holiday-themed, hour-long episode, “Shapeshifters Anonymous,” fearing he is a murderer, an anxious man searches for answers for his “unique condition” from an unusual support group.

To start things off, I have to discuss the obvious. The glaring fact in A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL is that the cast, save one, are white or white-passing. Phyllis is a big, Black woman (Candy McLellan) and, conspicuously, the only one at SA who is not actually a shapeshifter. She is a furry and loves to dress up as a hippo, which allows for tasteless jokes like “hungry, hungry hippo” to occur. However, she is present in the meetings because, as Irena (Anna Camp) tells Robert (Adam Pally), “we just feel sorry for her I guess”. This archaic, puerile humor at the expense of big, Black women or any other marginalized community should retire. Jokes about weight are not, nor have they ever been, funny despite what we may have been brought up to think in this society.

When they realize what Robert is, they try to help him solve how he became a shapeshifter, since his case is a recent development rather than being one at birth. So of course, they trot out the gypsy curse complete with the old gypsy neighbor with the accent heard in every single film complete with music that shifts from holiday jingles to what I can only assume, is another interpretation of what gypsy music sounds like. I’m not sure how this special missed the mark so bad. You can make a campy film without perpetuating harmful caricaturistic characters and jokes.

Frank Nicotero as Andy, Derek Russo as Ryan, Candy McLellan as Phyllis, Pete Burris as Scott, Anna Camp as Irena, Adam Pally as Weston – Creepshow _ Season 2, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Tina Rowden/Shudder

The rest of A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL is over the top camp with rectal examinations and mediocre special effects and makeup. But perhaps that’s meant to add to the campy charm I suppose. The only slightly funny part may have been when evil Kris Kringle, who hunts shapeshifters with his army of mall Santas, make an appearance. It’s ridiculous as though this film came about with a bunch of, likely white men, drinking and ranting about “PC Police” and how everyone is so sensitive now.

By the end when they, Bob and Kris, square off I’m left not knowing if I should laugh or cry at the hour I’ll never get back. Kris Kringle looks like a large and angry red power ranger channeling Mr. Miyagi’s wax on, wax off and Bob looks like a large wolflike creature that, because of the subpar effects, can only move as though he’s trying, and failing, to do the “Thriller” dance with flailing arms that would’ve been funnier if they just had the characters swing them at Kris. The only other part that inspired a chuckle was how much Kris Kringle was cursing because it was never-ending, and that “ho-ho-hell” at the end also drew a laugh.

I have no doubt, given everything I’ve seen in 2020, that A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL will find an audience who share in the creators’ inane humor that would rather churn out the same mediocrity than strive for humor with a little more depth and a lot less harm. This special feels lazy, infantile, and – overall – humorless.

A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL will be available exclusively on Shudder on December 18, 2020. The episode will also be available on Shudder Canada, Shudder UK, and Shudder ANZ.

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