A Creepshow Holiday Special, Greg Nicotero, Anna Camp (Horror TV Review)

A Creepshow Holiday Special, Greg Nicotero, Anna Camp (Horror TV Review)
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PLOT: A shapeshifters anonymous meeting is raided by the armies of Santa Claus, who has been hunting shapeshifters since Biblical times.

REVIEW: Season 2 of Shudder's TV series expansion of the Creepshow franchise is currently in production, and when the titles of some of the stories that would be making up the new season were revealed, there was one that stood out from the pack - Shapeshifters Anonymous Parts 1 and 2. This would be the first two-part story in Creepshow history, and since episodes of the show each consist of two separate stories this brought up the question, how would a two-parter be handled? Would an entire episode be dedicated to Shapeshifters Anonymous, or would the two halves be split between two episodes? Well, Shudder has now provided us with a very simple answer. Rather than dropping Shapeshifters Anonymous into the midst of season 2, they have released the two-parter as A Creepshow Holiday Special to help hold us over until the rest of season 2 is ready to go. Personally, I'm glad they've taken this approach, as this Holiday Special lets the two-parter stand firmly on its own and brings us a Christmas-themed story at the perfect time.

Written and directed by Creepshow's "creative supervisor" Greg Nicotero and based on a short story by J.A. Konrath, Shapeshifters Anonymous tells a bonkers tale that gets way crazier than I was expecting, and I was expecting a story in which shapeshifters gather together to discuss their condition in a support group to get pretty wacky.

A Creepshow Holiday Special Adam Pally Anna Camp Greg Nicotero

The character we follow into this meeting is Robert Weston, played by Adam Pally. Weston is concerned that he may be a werewolf - with people in his neighborhood getting mutilated and odd items showing up in his stool, "I'm a werewolf" is the most logical conclusion he can come up with. The other characters at the meeting aren't quite sure he's a werewolf; everyone thinks they're a werewolf because that's the shapeshifter that gets all the attention, but there are lot of other creatures a shapeshifter might turn into. Irena (Anna Camp) is a werecheetah, Scott (Peter Burris) is a weretortoise, Andy (Frank Nicotero) is a wereboar, and Ryan... well, no one knows much about him, because the guy (played by Derek Russo) doesn't speak. Phyllis (Candy McLellan) isn't even a shapeshifter, she's just at the meeting because she's a furry in touch with her inner hippo.

There really isn't an obvious place for Shapeshifters Anonymous to be divided into two separate parts, this entire story needed to be told at once, but the first half of the special's 46 minutes is different from the second half. The first half is completely about Weston's suspicion that he's a werewolf and the members of the support group discussing the ins and outs of being a shapeshifter. Then some shocking and strange information is revealed at about the midway point, information that reveals Santa Claus is the archenemy of all shapeshifters, and Shapeshifters Anonymous goes off the rails into total yuletide insanity in the second half.

The fact that this special was produced on a relatively low budget is clear, so much of it takes place in just one room and the characters do a lot of talking, but flashbacks do occasionally take us out of that room, and the cast does such a good job of bringing the script to life and making the characters interesting and likeable that the time we spend with them is enjoyable and flies by. When the action kicks in during the second half there are some cool moments, and some cool special effects. Greg Nicotero and his FX team show us exactly what it looks like when the shapeshifters take their animalistic forms, and it was fun to see these creatures in action.

George A. Romero created a very specific, comic book-inspired style for the original Creepshow back in the day, and Nicotero works with that style here, doing those colorful lighting tricks and using a bit of comic book panel animation to show some moments he might not have had the budget to bring to the screen otherwise.

A Creepshow Holiday Special Greg Nicotero Adam Pally Anna Camp Candy McLellan Derek Russo

A Creepshow Holiday Special is a great Christmas treat. It's amusing, it's crazy, it has monsters and Santa Claus. We all need a little extra holiday cheer in our lives this year, and the 46 minutes of this special certainly helped brighten my holiday season.

The special will be available to watch on the Shudder streaming service as of December 18th.

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