Last week Shudder’s Creepshow exceeded expectations as it provided new stories to satisfy modern audiences. Part of what made it work so much was that it captured the spirit of the original film, while also avoiding being a rehash, since the stories were brand new. But how does this week’s pair of stories compare? Let’s a take a closer (spoiler filled) look at “Bad Wolf Down” and “The Finger”!
(Warning, Spoilers Ahead!!!)
“Bad Wolf Down” – Written and Directed by Rob Schrab
Opening in the middle of a battle between American and German troops in WWII, this story wastes no time delving into the darker brutality of human nature. We see a young German soldier shot dead by an American, who reunites with the rest of his platoon and they take refuge in the remnants of an old French police station.
While in there, they discover a French woman locked in a holding cell, who insists that she is a danger to them and needs to be killed. Her story is further evidenced by the blood stains and wolf prints all over the walls. Soon enough, an SS commander (Jeffrey Combs) arrives with a squadron of soldiers, angry at the death of the German soldier earlier, who just happened to be his son.
The Americans agree to grant the French woman’s wish to kill her by giving her a silver cross to ingest, but in exchange she bites each of them, to give them an advantage over their German enemies outside. As they break in, the Germans find themselves facing a platoon of American werewolves, who ferociously and brutally slaughter them!
It’s a fun, intentionally campy story, but it’s not without its flaws. Firstly, Jeffrey Combs character is an SS commander, yet he speaks English to his German son. And it even makes less sense since the French woman was actually speaking French, so it couldn’t have been an “everyone speaks English” sort of thing. It’s a minor nitpick, but it’s a personal pet peeve that comes up a lot in movies/TV shows.
That said, there’s a lot that still works. Combs is great, bringing a campy, over-the-top charm to his Nazi character. Plus there’s a greater implication that when these American soldiers were bitten, they were accepting the fate that they were be werewolves for the rest of their lives. Sure it benefited their survival here, but it will truly have long last effects of them. All of this is represented by the brilliant final line, “war changes a man”, which has vast meaning now.
“The Finger” – Directed by Greg Nicotero, Written by David J. Schow
Just in case anyone was wondering, Clark Wilson (DJ Qualls) is clearly the most pathetic man alive. “The Finger” opens with him narrating directly to the audience, telling us that we probably won’t believe his story, but let’s face it, we’re along for the ride! Clark lives in a run down house, following the divorce with his wife, and remains mostly unemployed as a web designer. Life for him seems to be in a rut, that is until he finds a severed finger lying on the ground.
After taking it home, he soon discovers that it absorbs liquid and grows, first into an arm, then finally into a small creature he names “Bob”. Occasionally breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the camera, Clark tells and shows us how Bob sneaks out every night to feed, usually bringing him back a “prize”.
These tend to be severed body parts, and they seem to be people that Clark despised, including a trucker that was rude to him, a debt collector who kept calling him, and eventually the heads of his ungrateful former stepchildren.
The police keep visiting, and Clark is soon running out of excuses. In time, too many people around him die, and our story ends with him in a padded cell in an asylum, speaking to no one. In one final fourth wall narration, he tells us that of course we wouldn’t believe his story, but insisting that Bob would come back for him because he loves Clark!
This story’s brilliance relies solely on one thing: DJ Qualls’ hilariously insane performance! Right away, he establishes himself as an unreliable narrator and remains unhinged the entire time. It’s not that much of a surprise when we discover that the most likely killed everyone himself.
This is especially apparent in how he shouts and curses as the debt collector on the phone, and yells obscenities to people on the street. Given his narration to the wall inside his cell, we can’t help but draw comparison to that other famous madman in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”.
When we see Bob in close-up, the puppeteering looks amazing. In wider shots, they resort to CGI and to be honest, it doesn’t always look great.
(Correction: As confirmed by screenwriter David J. Schow, the wider shots did not contain any CGI, rather they used stop motion animation per the insistence of director Greg Nicotero. We’re actually glad that Schow called us out on this mistake we made because we’re human and make mistakes. And learning this information make this story much more fascinating!)
But overall, this story has a zany and brilliant absurdity to it that makes it quite compelling. Qualls’ performance is by far the most entertaining thing in the series (so far)!
What did you think of this week’s episode? What do you hope to see next? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to check back next week for another review of Shudder’s Creepshow!