Ranking All 12 Episodes of ‘Creepshow’ Season One

Creepshow (1982) holds a special place in the heart of many horror fans for numerous reasons starting with it being a rare success as both an anthology film and a horror/comedy. The success rate on both is remarkably low, but neither came as a surprise here to fans of both Stephen King, who provided the tales, and George Romero, who brought them to life. Two sequels followed, one official and one never to be spoken of again, and last year the franchise took another exciting step with a new Creepshow anthology series on Shudder.

Fans loved it, a second and third season have already been green-lit, and the first is now available on Blu-ray with some fun, detailed extras. Our own Meg Shields and I covered season one, and while we appear to have been more disappointed than most with the series, we’re both thrilled to see what Shudder cooks up for season two. We’re still months away from that happening, obviously, but season one’s release to home video led us to revisit for a ranking of all twelve episodes. Keep reading to see where your favorites land!

12. Lydia Layne’s Better Half

Lydia Layne

“Lydia Layne’s Better Half” is the tale of a high-powered executive who accidentally kills her girlfriend and gets trapped in an elevator with the body while trying to dispose of the evidence. While the segment’s plodding execution, amateur theatrics, and confused #girlboss framing device are marked sins, “Lydia Layne’s Better Half” earns its last place spot by being frightfully, unforgivably dull. This episode has the gait and candor of a step parent being forced to attend an overwrought and uninteresting high school monologue showcase. In a dearth of emotional stakes, the tell-tale heart / maddening guilt trip format falls flat and all the supernatural blips feel incidental and sloppy. The result is a slog that feels embarrassingly unsure of what it wants to say, uninterested in its own characters, and unclear of its own rules. The worst thing a horror anthology segment can do is fail to entertain and unfortunately, Lydia Layne is a big old bore. (Meg Shields)

11. Times Is Tough in Musky Holler

Creepshow Se

As I said in my original review of this segment, what “Times Is Tough in Musky Holler” lacks in running time it almost makes up for in missed opportunities. The tale starts with an intriguing enough setup as a group of people sit in an impromptu cell awaiting judgment by their fellow citizens, and it’s soon revealed that a schism developed among the populace after some sort of apocalyptic disaster befell the town. The episode’s nothing but setup, though, as all of the good bits — literally all of them — are at best glimpsed via comic panels or at worst simply narrated in voice over. It’s rushed and dull as a result leaving viewers nothing to latch onto, and the ending lacks the punch it thinks it’s delivering thanks to rough effects, poor choices, and a $4 budget. (Rob Hunter)

10. All Hallow’s Eve

Creepshow All Hallows Eve

While its ghostly revenge concept has legs, “All Hallow’s Eve” is an over-long and painfully obvious segment about five trick-or-treaters who are out for more than candy. The segment botches any attempt to play its cards close to its chest, letting us in almost immediately on the story’s gambit: these kids are dead and every Halloween they roam their neighborhood seeking revenge on the bullies who killed them. With this compelling wrinkle smoothed out from the get go, the episode has very little else to offer; none of the characters are developed or likable enough to earn our sympathies and the narrative flat-lines early, resulting in a one note tale that’s devoid of terror and more obsessed with its “mystery” than we are. (Meg Shields)

9. By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain

Creepshow By The Silver Waters

Directed by the legendary Tom Savini? Co-written by Joe Hill, the son of a legend? You’d hope that pairing would bring something compelling and visually interesting, but what we get here instead is a slow-paced bore of a segment. The story never amounts to anything, and the only thing duller and more disappointing than the ending is everything that comes before. Monologues and cliche take the place of character beats, performances feel like audition tapes, and it all just feels so damn uneventful. That’s nuts considering it involves a sea monster and a teenager who likes dressing up like John Rambo. (Rob Hunter)

8. Gray Matter

Creepshow Gray Matter

In the series’ premiere segment “Gray Matter,” teenage Billy recounts the unsettling changes he’s noticed in his bereaved father: a depressive slouch into substance abuse that gradually contorts into full-blown body horror. The episode alternates between Billy’s testimony and scenes of the two local men (Tobin Bell and Giancarlo Esposito) tasked with checking on Billy’s father, who has been consumed by his grief as well as a nasty fungal infection. At its best the segment provides a salient metaphor for alcoholism’s corrosive properties and the horror of watching someone you love become another person through addiction. Unfortunately, for all this segment’s metaphoric ambitions and titillating goop, like many entrants this season, its attempts at emotional stakes, and a sense of humor, ring hollow. (Meg Shields)

7. The House of the Head

Creepshow dollhouse

It’s probably fitting that an anthology series based on the works of Stephen King has trouble ending many of its stories well, and you need look no further than this little chiller as Exhibit A. The tale comes courtesy of Josh Malerman and sees a little girl’s dollhouse welcome an unwelcome visitor in the form of a miniature decapitated head. Director John Harrison reveals the dollhouse’s shenanigans with some truly creepy camera work and miniature staging, and while we never see movement our glimpses of the tiny figures reveals their clear fear and distress. It’s all building to something wonderfully grim — except that ending never comes. Instead it all wraps up uneventfully and with a real sense of dissatisfaction. (Rob Hunter)

6. Bad Wolf Down

Creepshow Jeffrey Combs

When I first heard the words “Creepshow, Jeffrey Combs, Nazis, Werewolves,” in the same sentence I clicked my heels together and marked my calendar. Unfortunately, the segment turned out to be more of a “Bad Wolf Let Down” with distressingly awful performances, an embarrassing misuse of Combs’ talents, and more pacing issues than a game of QWOP. The segment sees a group of GIs trapped in a derelict police station, surrounded by Nazis, only to discover they have an ally: a werewolf with the same french competency as Inspector Clouseau is trapped with them, and she’s only too obliging to give them the upper hand. “Bad Wolf Down” features some of the worst acting of the season, and Combs’ quiet earnestness clashes with the distracting, clunky, and amateurish performances of the rest of the main cast. It is unfair to call the final reveal a “reveal,” because the episode mistakenly thinks showing us the GI’s decision is more compelling than building tension through ambiguity. As a result, even if the nostalgia-baiting of the practical werewolf effects turns your crank, the narrative punch, and the emotional impact, just aren’t there. (Meg Shields)

5. Night of the Paw

Creepshow Night Of The Paw

Tackling an overly familiar adaptation is always a risky endeavor, but Creepshow does well by its take on W.W. Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw.” Bruce Davison does some of his best work in years here as a widower recounting to a stranger on a rainy night the details of his wife’s death and an odd collectible that reportedly grants wishes, and John Esposito’s script honors the original tale with some new material adding emotion and additional observations on the paw’s lesson. It’s easy enough to see where things are going at times, but Davison sells the story and its turns alongside John Harrison’s direction and some judicious use of comic panels. (Rob Hunter)

4. The Companion

Creepshow Ep 4

One of the more successful showings this season, “The Companion” gets points for its baseline understanding of the assignment at hand, namely: a giddily ghoulish campfire sensibility. With bullies, flashbacks, and a knowingly goofy attitude, “The Companion” arguably has a more perceptible King/Romero flavor profile than any other entry on this list. The segment sees a tormented kid named Harold chased onto an abandoned farm where he accidentally animates a murderous scarecrow powered by the love and loneliness of a long-deceased farmer. Compared to its cohort, the segment is energetic and engaging with competent performances and a sense of earnest camp sorely lacking from the rest of the season. Had the final rug-pull of Harold’s heel-turn been less obvious, “The Companion” would have assuredly ranked higher. As it is: it’s imperfect, but respectable. And for this season, that’s enough. (Meg Shields)

3. The Finger

Creepshow The Finger

The show is at its best when it finds a smart, fun balance between its horror elements and its comedy, and these top three episodes nail that pairing in fairly stark contrast to the rest. Here it’s D.J. Qualls who heads up a story about a somewhat flustered young man whose decision to bring home a stray finger comes back to bite him in the ass when it grows into a little monster with a taste for homicide. The creature’s antics deliver the horror while the increasingly fucked up situation offers up some laughs, and it all starts with a strong script by David J. Schow that knows how to build character and story simultaneously. (Rob Hunter)

2. Skincrawlers

Dana Gould Creepshow Season Photo Credit: Amc

It’s hard to go wrong with the “be careful what you wish for” sub-genre of grim tales, and this fun and gory look at fad diets and effort-free weight loss pitches sees director Roxanne Benjamin bouncing back after her earlier misfire with “Lydia Layne’s Better Half.” The great Dana Gould takes the lead here as an overweight guy looking for a quick fix, and he thinks he finds it in a painless procedure involving prehistoric leeches. We all know that’s not going to end well, and Benjamin delivers that inevitable denouement with some wonderfully gory beats and a nasty little creature. It’s goofy but entertaining, and that’s far more than too many of this season’s episodes can claim. (Rob Hunter)

1. The Man in the Suitcase

Creepshow Ep

An oasis in a desert, “The Man in the Suitcase” is far and away one of the season’s stronger offerings. Even though, as Rob astutely put it, the segment is still really only of Creepshow 2 caliber, “The Man in the Suitcase” is in a totally different weight class than the rest of this season. Funny, energetic, and deliciously cruel, “The Man in the Suitcase,” sees a go-nowhere slacker named Justin accidentally come into the possession of a suitcase containing a man. As if that weren’t strange enough, the man vomits up gold coins when he feels pain. Our hero may be dim-witted, but he has a stronger moral compass than his roommate and girlfriend, who lean in to their sadism and subject the man to awful abuses to make a quick buck. Naturally, the man’s generosity, if we want to call it that, has a limit with deliciously sinister consequences. “The Man in the Suitcase” successfully digests the core values of its predecessors without wavering into pastiche. It’s mean, entertaining, and morbidly gleeful, fitting together nicely without over-telegraphing or playing its hand too early. If you’re looking to sample the season’s best: look no further. (Meg Shields)

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