“For God’s sake, don’t let it in.” Gather ’round the fire (or whatever Yule Log is available online) as we tune in for another thrilling episode of Shudder’s Creepshow! Where else are you going to get your weekly dose of scares from?
This episode starts off simple enough. It starts with a paw. You’re familiar with this paw. In some shape or form you are familiar with this tall tale. Whether you tuned in to watch the Treehouse of Terror II (1991) or breezed through your copy of the short story collection Prom Nights from Hell, specifically Lauren Myracle’s “The Corsage”, or you got one of the “bad” endings in the 2007 video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl– well, you get the idea.
W. W. Jacobs’ short story The Monkey’s Paw made quite the impression upon its release in 1902. So much so that it has been woven into various forms of pop culture (as previously mentioned). As such, it shouldn’t come as a shock to find it somewhere in Creepshow’s debut season. It’s very on brand, actually. This particular rendition entitled “The Night of the Paw” follows a killer on the run who gets stranded in a funeral home with a mortician and (you guessed it) his monkey paw.
Oddly enough, the most unnerving part of this episode reveals itself to be the elderly mortician (played by Bruce Davison) as he delves into how he came into possession of the paw.
This absolute dissolve into madness begins with the need for money; sprinkle in a little death and you’ve got an old fashioned tragedy. Once again, very on brand for Creepshow. And through the art of stellar storytelling, the mortician eventually ropes the outlaw right into the paw’s grasp. And in a surprise twist: zombies! Which truly was the cherry on top of another great episode, which inevitably circled back to the original moral of The Monkey’s Paw; be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.
All in all “The Night of the Paw” proved to be the highlight of the fifth episode. It gracefully did the old tale justice while simultaneously making it feel like a brand new story. A truly mesmerizing take that you will regret missing out on. It was well acted, suspenseful and darkly hilarious.
If you want a story that reminds you of all the best and none of the worst of a Thomas Tryon novel, then prepare for your new favorite episode.
And on a slightly more comedic note, let’s look at episode five’s “Times is Tough in Musky Holler”. This story follows the downfall of a small town following a zombie apocalypse and a group of people who gained control of the town through fear and intimidation. This particular story might seem pretty straightforward. However, as viewers will quickly see, it really stands out.
First off, the story utilizes the underrated narrative technique reverse chronology; starting this episode at its end. It also employees the use of the signature Creepshow comic art (which been used for the show’s introductions) to provide the audience with the background story in a timely fashion. And in a very appealing way.
The colors are beautifully rendered in a way that forms a hyper-radiant aesthetic that grabs onto you tight and refuses to let go. Not that you want it to. It really channels the original Creepshow movies.
As bizarre and grotesque as this story becomes, it’s also weirdly relatable. As the story carries on, viewers will see the town’s former leaders are being prepped for some kind of punishment for their wrong-doings. Who doesn’t love to see a tyrannical leader getting their just desserts. Which involves (hope you don’t mind gore) some pretty gross looking, legless zombies. The special effects team for this episode deserves props. Prepare to be repulsed and fascinated by the intoxicating delivery of “Times is Tough in Musky Holler”. It’s a scary good time!
If you haven’t already, be sure to binge the entire first season of Creepshow on the Shudder app!
Wicked Rating 9/10