Creepshow Review: “Skincrawlers”/”By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain”

Alas, we’ve reached the season finale of Shudder’s Creepshow, and there’s no better day to enjoy it than on Halloween itself!  Fortunately however, the series has already been renewed for a second season.  But how does this season finale stack up against the chilling and fun stories we’ve already seen?!

It’s good to see that even skeleton ghouls take vacations to go fishing!

Spoilers Ahead, You’ve Been Warned!!!

“Skincrawlers” – Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Written by Paul Dini and Stephen Langford
Our first story begins with an infomercial for a new miracle weight loss treatment, Skin Deep by Sloane.  It claims to be the end all be all for weight loss, with instant results and absolutely no need for dieting or exercise.

However, things seem a bit too good to be true for Henry Quail.  After showing up to bear witness to the treatment, he’s immediately put off when the founder, Dr. Sloane explains that their methods involve a type of leech that feasts upon fat.  While Henry is apprehensive, others leap to the opportunity to get the treatment, desperate to lose weight in a society that places so much stock in body image.

Henry’s struggle is very real and very tragic. He sees other people “in shape” and can’t help but envy them.

Eventually, Henry agrees to get the treatment on live TV during a news segment.  However, the news covers an eclipse just before the Skin Deep segment, which proves to be fatal for anyone who had the treatment.  It seems that these leeches react violently during the eclipse, and all who have them inside their bodies die bloody and gruesome deaths, as the leeches bite their way out of the body!

Stories like this are truly what short films are all about.  Rather than attempt a full three act film in 20-30 minutes, it’s simple, straightforward, and even serves as a cautionary tale, while also making a statement.  It’s a truly sad state of affairs that so many people in real life are constantly put down due to things like weight and body image.

Sure that little leech seems harmless at first, until it turns into this!!!

And because of this, some seek out extreme measures that prove to be incredibly dangerous.  “Skincrawlers” takes this premise and runs with it, as any good horror story is supposed to do.  It cautions us that there are no magical fixes.  And just as a bonus, it’s bloody and gory enough to satisfy the most disturbed of horror fans!

“By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” – Directed by Tom Savini, Teleplay by Jason Ciaramella, Based on a Story by Joe Hill
In our final story of the episode (as well as the season), we take a trip to a quiet, misty fishing village up North.  Teenager Rose struggles with living with her abusive stepfather Chet, as well as the ridicule for her belief in the existence of a Loch Ness Monster like creature, she calls Champy.  Even her mother doubts her and claims that it was belief in that creature that drove Rose’s father mad and even led to his accidental death (most likely via drowning).

The only one who remotely believes Rose is Thomas, her friend who either is already becoming or wishes he was her boyfriend.  After Chet intimidates Thomas with his own knife, Rose storms off into the thick fog by the sea.  She and Thomas make the astonishing discovery that Champy is in fact real.

Sadly, this triumphant moment wasn’t at all what Rose expected.

Only its much smaller than they thought, and it’s dead and washed up on shore.  In a bittersweet moment, Rose is finally vindicated, and pledges that credit for the discovery will go to her father.  This beautifully tragic moment is broken as Chet wanders out and finds Rose and Thomas, along with the Champy’s corpse.  He too is amazed that it actually was real, and he claims that he will take the credit, and become rich from this discovery.

But before Chet can steal the credit (or kill Thomas for opposing him), the true Champy (and parent of the corpse) swoops down and snaps up Chet with ease, feasting upon him and forever ridding Rose (and her family) of this toxic family member.  Champy looks upon the body of its child with immense sadness, and pulls it into the water, where it belongs.

That look you make when there’s something creeping up behind you!

Rose watches as her famous discovery slips away, however she is satisfied knowing that all is as it should be.  Champy belongs in the water, undisturbed, but she finally knows the truth about her father, even if no one other than Thomas will ever believe her.

“By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” does a great job of telling a whole lot in not a lot of time.  With minimal scenes and exposition, we learn this family’s tragic story, as well as the “myth” of Champy.  It’s hard to say whether or not the story is better with a fictional legend, rather than simply using the Loch Ness Monster and setting it in Scotland.  But perhaps this way, it gives the filmmakers more freedom and creative liberties.

They may only be animatronics, but Savini really makes us feel for them!

Tom Savini’s directing really shines with the amazing practical effects of Champy, as well as the mood he sets with the fog.  It gives their home and town the feeling that it exists in the realm of surrealism, which makes sense, considering it’s about a prehistoric creature.

At times, it’s hard to see what’s going on, but that’s not really a fault since it seems like that was the whole point.  It successfully has a setup and a payoff, all in less than 30 minutes.  And it makes for a solid ending to what has been an awesome first season of Creepshow!

We can all rejoice that Shudder has already announced Season 2, which will most likely come next year.  Until then, we’ll have these 6 episodes to watch and hold us over!

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One thought on “Creepshow Review: “Skincrawlers”/”By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain”

  1. I just saw this episode, finally after months of putting it off. It was a pretty good closer to the series’ first season, with the two stories. However, I’m sure you’ve discovered this by now, but for anyone else who’s wondering, the story is not based off the Loch Ness Monster. Champy is actually based off the legend of Lake Champlain, and its monster Champ, which is what Joe Hill based his short story off. It’s an important detail, because the North American lake monsters are often ignored in favor of their more famous Scottish counterpart in fiction. It would be nice to see more done with them, instead of it all being about Nessie all the time.

    Other than that, this was a pretty good summary of the two episodes. I look forward to seeing what season 2 brings, whenever it gets up and running! 🙂


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