Shudder’s Creepshow Holiday Special is an over-the-top, delightfully cheesy Christmas story with a twist...
...If you’re a fan of any of Creepshow’s offerings, the low-budget holiday cult classic Thankskilling, or the vulgar and self-aware comedy of South Park, this holiday special is right up your alley.
Greg Nicotero of Walking Dead fame directs the one-hour Christmas short originally written by J.A. Konrath. Adam Pally (The Mindy Project) plays Robert Weston Smith, a man who suffers from a strange condition and believes he’s a serial killer. With a name like Robert Weston Smith, I don’t know how he couldn’t be a serial killer. Robert wakes up with blood on his arms and discovers strange objects in his vomit and poop, like shirt buttons and bones. After his doctor isn’t able to help with his disturbing bowel issues, Robert comes to the only logical conclusion one can make when they’re shitting out body parts: He is a werewolf.
Robert seeks out the help of Shapeshifters Anonymous (S.A.). The shapeshifters (therianthropes) meet weekly in a church basement to talk about their unusual, shared problem. The group is led by Irena, a sultry high school teacher by day and werecheetah by moonlight (Anna Camp - Pitch Perfect). The rest of the group introduces themselves, and each character’s appearance and personality provides clues to the form they take after transformation. The balding grump in a brown turtleneck is a weretortoise. The piggish jerk with a loud mouth and ill-tailored business suit is, of course, a wereboar. Phyllis (Candy McLellan) is the odd woman out. She’s a furry who doesn’t actually have the ability to transform into an animal, but she dons her fursona—a sassy hippo—on the regular. In her heart, Phyllis is a therianthrope, and there is no changing her mind. The silent, burly Ryan (Derek Russo) attends every meeting but has yet to say a word.
Santa Claus stars as the lead villain. His backstory is almost as ridiculous (read, wonderful) as the entire plot. Saint Nicholas was among the first beings created by God. He was tasked with fighting therianthropes. Eventually, St. Nick got power hungry and turned to Satan for help. The Devil gifted St. Nick some very large, three-pronged claw gloves—AKA “Satan’s Claws”. As the legend telephoned over thousands of years, the twisted crimson hunter became known as the lovable Santa Claus.
Loveable unless you’re a therianthrope.
Mr. Claus stands about 8 feet tall in a red metal suit with long, alienish claw hands. He says “motherfucker” a lot, and I think that’s part of what makes his character so great. I don’t think anyone expects to see jolly-old-St.-Nick barreling down a hallway, ready to tear up some motherfuckers.
This isn’t something to watch with children who still believe in the magic of Santa. About 100 red-clad mall Santas are shot in a raid against the shapeshifters. I’d feel sorry for the Santa squad if they weren’t an army of scuzzy, old mallmen working for The Man with The Bag.
The team is bombarded by the mall suit Santas and must defend themselves and ultimately defeat the end-game boss, Saint Nick himself.
As a lifelong Creepshow fangirl, I thoroughly enjoyed this special. The short uses practical effects gratuitously. Transformation scenes with stretching, pulling, and rubbery skin transport you back to 1981. There wasn’t as much blood and gore as I’d come to expect from Nicotero but, then again, this isn’t a Nicotero zombie feature, and zombies tend to bring an excess of viscera.
Take a big swig of hot, spiked cocoa. Cozy up with someone you love. Enjoy a solid hour of Christmas silliness, as only Creepshow can present.
The Creepshow Holiday Special comes exclusively to Shudder on December 18th.
By Amy Cerkas