Ranking Every Episode of Shudder’s “Creepshow”

Arguably Shudder’s most anticipated piece of original content, their TV reboot of Creepshow delighted old and new horror fans alike.  With another batch of scary stories to go with the original film series (as well as the comics), it did an excellent job of paying respect to its source material, while also giving us a much needed dose of nostalgic B-movie horror.

And while the first season may be over now, we can still rewatch these stories and enjoy them.  So it is in that spirit that we’ve ranked each horror short from least to most compelling.  Honestly, none of these are terrible by any means, but there are some that were better than others.

Just to be clear, these are just the opinions of one person, and we’d love nothing more than to hear the opinions of others.  So let’s take a closer look at Creepshow Season 1!

12. Night of the PawAn age old classic, one would be hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard the story of the monkey’s paw.  It fits very much with a common cautionary tale theme throughout many of these episodes.  And while this is a classic story that we’re all familiar with, that’s precisely what works against this story unfortunately.

It’s well shot and acted (particularly by Bruce Davison), but it’s a direct retelling of the monkey paw legend.  It doesn’t subvert or add anything new to it.  Which normally isn’t an issue, but it’s just many of these stories threw in so many twists and turns, that they honestly set the bar quite high!

11. Times is Tough in Musky Holler
Where to begin with this one?  While “Night of the Paw” is better put together from a narrative standpoint (this story really does jump all over the place), “Musky Holler” tries a whole lot more, and rightfully deserves credit.

The biggest issue with this one is that it honestly tries to do too much, and has enough material the fill out an entire feature length film.  The brief short film that we do get feels like it’s the ending of a film that we didn’t get to see the first 80 minutes of.  Overall, it’s a great story, it’s just one that feels incomplete.

10. By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain
Fans were certainly looking forward to finally see the story directed by horror legend Tom Savini.  And saving it for the season finale made for a nice touch.  The reason why this story is rather low in the list has absolutely nothing to with Savini’s directing.  In fact, he creates a compelling and mysterious tone with the use of fog throughout.

Rather it fails to rank higher because its story feels like it’s lacking something.  Much like “Night of the Paw”, it does a perfectly fine and straightforward job of telling its story, but it doesn’t really take risks or try anything unique.

9. The Companion
In a tale of bullying gone too far, “The Companion” is far more tragic than it lets on.  It has all the horror elements, what with a scarecrow coming to life, with fatal consequences for some.

But the real horror is how a young boy, bullied relentlessly by his older brother, turned to straight-up murder for revenge.  The only reason it’s not  higher on the list is there was a lot more it could have done with that premise.  But it’s still a great story, as are all of them from here on out.

8. Bad Wolf Down
In typical grindhouse fashion, “Bad Wolf Down” combined Nazis with werewolves, two things that oddly coincide quite often in horror.  It’s fun and intentionally campy, and feels ripped right from the comic books pages, particularly with that werewolf transformation.

Jeffrey Combs turns in a hammy, but fun performance as the Nazi commander.  Despite the intentional cheesiness however, it still takes itself just seriously enough, and doesn’t go quite as far as it could.

7. Lydia Layne’s Better Half
This story’s title is surprisingly apt it certainly has a better half.  Roughly the first half is a bit exposition heavy dialogue and is really only there to set up the second half.  But when he get there, it truly doesn’t disappoint.

Combining claustrophobia with paranoia, we see Lydia Layne slowly descent into madness.  The very best part is that we’re not completely sure if the corpse actually is moving, or if it’s all just Lydia’s guilty conscience, much like in “The Tell Tale Heart”!

6. Skincrawlers
Right from the beginning, we know that something isn’t quite right here, and the story uses this to its advantage.  Addressing very real world issues of body image and desire for weight loss, “Skincrawlers” warns us that there are no easy fixes.

It’s all a tense build up to a payoff that really works, and doesn’t shy away from just the right amount of blood and gore!  The entire season was known for utilizing brilliant practical effects, and they’re especially on point here when we get to see the leeches in full form!

5. Gray Matter
In the season’s very first story, Creepshow went all out with a Stephen King adaption, and two very familiar faces: Tobin Bell and Giancarlo Esposito.  Beautifully simple in its approach, “Grey Matter” slowly builds tension to a sickening reveal at the very end.  In typical King fashion, the monster serves as a metaphor for alcoholism itself.

And the final implications of the boy enlisting the help of Esposito and Bell is incredibly disturbing, as he knew what the ultimate outcome would be.  It’s everything a Creepshow story is supposed to be: fun, compelling, and of course creepy!

4. All Hallows Eve
In a season that ran from September up until October 31st, it’s kind of surprising that only one story is based around Halloween itself.  In another cautionary tale about bullying, “All Hallows Eve” slowly reveals its hand, taking us deeper into the mystery, until we get an ending that’s both satisfying, as well as incredibly poignant.

It’s quite difficult to pull off all of these feats simultaneously, but somehow they manage.  Most of these stories relish in some level of camp, and this is one of the only ones that plays it completely seriously, but it works.

3. The Man in the Suitcase
We’ve used the term “cautionary tale” numerous times thus far, however this one takes the cake!  Its premise is absurd and surreal, but perfectly fits the Creepshow tone.  The real reason this story is so brilliant however is that it truly is a warning against greed.

After all, who among us wouldn’t be tempted to exploit and harm the man in the suitcase for monetary gain?  And in the end, everyone gets exactly what they deserve, the good and the bad.  So it’s both horrifying and oddly compelling at the very same time.

2. The House of the Head
While many of these stories are campy and played for some laughs, “The House of the Head” plays it completely seriously, and manages to be the absolute creepiest story of the bunch!  Since the main character is a little girl, it’s all the more vulnerable, especially since she’s dealing with this problem alone.

Also, the fact that never actually see the head or other figurines move makes gives it just enough mystery to make this story actually kind of scary.  Then it raises the very real ethical questions about the morality of passing this cursed dollhouse to another person.  It easily could be a feature length film, but unlike “Times is Tough is Musky Holler”, it works perfectly in this short version as well.

1. The Finger
Simply put, “The Finger” is the absolute best of Creepshow, primarily for one reason: DJ Qualls.  In a career-best performance, Qualls is incredibly unhinged, psychotic, and hilarious all at the same time.  We want to root for him, but from the beginning, we can tell that something is quite off.

And even though the big reveal at the end is something most of us saw coming, it still works, because of the way the story unfolds.  After all, who doesn’t get annoyed with people, and who doesn’t wish they could shout obscenities at debt collectors (or telemarkerers) on the phone?  In a season filled with campy fun, “The Finger” simply manages to be fun, and has the most of it.

Fortunately, Shudder has already announced season 2, due out sometime in 2020.  Fans can rejoice, know that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Creepshow.  Which stories/episodes were your favorite?  Let us know in the comments!

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