The holiday season is a time for reflection and change, but not everyone sprouts claws and fangs… hopefully. Since the continuation of filmmaker George A. Romero (Night Of The Living Dead) and author Stephen King’s Creepshow film series found new life on Shudder’s streaming service in 2019. The Creep along with some of the industry’s best have presented some terrifying tales for modern viewers in a new anthology series. As the holidays draw near, The Creep has one more story to tell and it’s just as joyous and treacherous as you would expect.
The hour-long episode titled Shapeshifters Anonymous is based on A.J. Konrath’s novella of the same name and is written and directed by Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead). Following Robert Weston, a man who fears he is a murderer and is searching for answers to his strange condition, Shapeshifters Anonymous finds an unusual support group at the center of an even more unusual attack. Starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Frank Nicotero (Gingerdead Man 2: Passion Of The Crust), Pete Burris (Outcast), Derek Russo (Jumanji: The Next Level), introducing Candy McLellan, and featuring music artist Little Yachty, A Creepshow Holiday Special is a clever live-action treat that gives a whole new meaning to Santa Claus. Literally.
The Gift Of Gravitas
Holiday specials are typically filled with heartwarming moments, festive morale, and seasonal glee. A Creepshow Holiday Special has all of that joyous content, but comes bringing yuletide gifts of gore, monsters, and lore. In keeping with the signature quirks and charm carried through the Creepshow series, A Creepshow Holiday Special puts a twist on Kris Kringle and his commercialized helpers, working it into a crazy supernatural battle of good versus evil. The protagonist, straight-up guy Robert Weston, is having a hard time dealing with his hairy condition of transforming and feasting on the tasty bad people of his town under the glow of the full moon. As he joins a group of coping therianthropes of all kinds in “Shapeshifters Anonymous”, Weston finds that there’s more of a connection between his bizarre body changes and the identity of Santa Claus than Rankin/Bass could ever fathom.
Shapeshifters Anonymous seems to be a simple werewolf tale that just happens to take place during the holidays, but it slowly evolves into a modern, creepier vision of the annual celebratory elements. Playing on satanic legend, a mysterious Santa Claus folk story, and interesting shapeshifter lore, A Creepshow Holiday Special becomes a full-blown entertaining Christmas commentary that teases spirit and prophecy. In grand prepared fashion, the support group pulls together in order to survive a shopping mall Santa army and the jolly big man himself as the horde targets the basement gathering. Together, they use their abilities and inner strength to embrace their challenges as one in an epic monster showdown. Between the wild subject matter of A. J. Konrath’s creative writing and the creature-feature engineering power of Greg Nicotero, Shapeshifters Anonymous is a fun holiday romp that is sure to bring cheer to viewers that appreciate a unique take on holiday and monster mythology.
“…a fun holiday romp that is sure to bring cheer to viewers that appreciate a unique take on holiday and monster mythology.“
Tidings Of Transformation
Opening with the tremendous animated credits and given the high quality of Creepshow’s continuation through Shudder, it’s certain that A Creepshow Holiday Special will be another successful installment. With showrunner Greg Nicotero writing and directing this feature, it’s obvious that practical effects will run the gamut of this creature narrative especially as The Creep himself introduces the issue with a scary transformation right before our eyes. Mostly taking place in the single, ironic setting of the church basement, Nicotero smartly utilizes the comic theme to include flashbacks and transitions through slides and awesome illustrations. Cut-aways, blocks, angles, shadows, and silhouettes smartly eliminate the need for big-budget effects which allow for the physicality of the beasts to really shine. Shapeshifters Anonymous is saturated in the old-school Creepshow palette displaying colors in extreme lighting with signature blues, reds, purples, and greens. In keeping with the tradition set forth by the original Creepshow, A Creepshow Holiday Special is able to produce a whimsical hint of nostalgia that perfectly fits its seasonal platform.
Like many of the issues within its series, Creepshow features hint at a grand display of visual representation. The actors, especially Anna Camp, incorporate their respective animal traits in their performances which provides for comical exposition and a promising creature showcase. Anyone familiar with Nicotero’s work will find themselves hoping for the obvious result in seeing these monsters come to life and like a pleasant holiday miracle. Shapeshifters Anonymous delivers. From simple bite marks to bouts of gore to morphing anatomies, the show pairs a quirky plot to impressive artistry decorated with witty dialogue. Transforming the characters into their animals with some great, sometimes hokey, practical effects and makeup applications, Nicotero winks at cinematic inspiration with subtle and ferocious gestures. As a bloody battle ensues, the special completes its monster ensemble with a mighty sinister St. Nick for the supernatural superhero-style finale. As dark and grizzly as Shapeshifters Anonymous is, A Creepshow Holiday Special holds a good-humored nature that takes a bite out of holiday magic.
“A Creepshow Holiday Special […brings] yuletide gifts of gore, monsters, and lore”
A Creepshow Holiday Special is available to stream on Shudder now! Are you a fan of Greg Nicotero’s Creepshow revival? What do you think of A Creepshow Holiday Special? Did you enjoy the seasonal twists and transformation lore of Shapeshifters Anonymous? Let us know over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!