“A Creepshow Holiday Special” is an unpleasant lump of coal

A Creepshow Holiday Special

Greg Nicotero writes & directs a disappointingly juvenile collection of horror cliches & well-tread jokes.

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Christmas horror is a hit or miss genre. When a horror movie takes place during Christmastime, like Gremlins or Black Christmas, it’s chilling, an uncomfortable overlap between the things that frighten us, and the things that bring us comfort. When it involves such things as killer Santa Clauses chopping people’s heads off, or a possessed snowman raping someone, it becomes something different, an exploitative slaying of the sacred cows nobody really asked for. Although I’m sure there’s someone reading this right now and thinking “I did! I want that!” Well, for you, I say ho ho ho, here you go, it’s A Creepshow Holiday Special.

Okay, to be fair no one gets raped. But there is a whole lot of Santa-related violence, a liberal amount of fat jokes, and an ending that falls so hard your television will vibrate. It appears to have been written by a committee of horny 16 year-olds combining their fantasies of shapeshifting with those of women who are ready to fuck at a moment’s notice. Unlike the far more entertaining Creepshow Halloween Special, the Holiday Special is mostly live action, and while the brand of the Creepshow series is to have that sort of deliberate B-movie look, here the sub-par special effects only emphasize the weaknesses of the episode.

Adam Pally, who presumably has been charming in other things but definitely isn’t here, is Robert Weston, the newest member of Shapeshifters Anonymous, a support group of individuals who can change into animals. Robert discovers he’s a werewolf after finding bits of clothes and bones in his stool (leading to an extended rectal exam gag that was already done in Fletch more than 30 years ago). How did he become a werewolf? A gypsy curse, of course, because not a single thing in A Creepshow Holiday Special is new or clever.

That’s more than we ever find out about the other members of the group, which include Irena (Anna Camp), a werecheetah (that she shares a name with the protagonist of Cat People is the closest this show comes to a genuine “joke”), Scott (Pete Burris), a “wereturtle,” Andy (Frank Nicotero), a wereboar, and Phyllis (Candy McLellan), who isn’t a shapeshifter, just a furry who’s the frequent butt of Andy’s fat jokes. It’s difficult to say who fares worse here, Phyllis or Irena, whose primary “feline” characteristic is that she’s super-horny.

You might be wondering “What does this have to do with Christmas?” Well, it takes more than half the episode before we get to that, in a baffling plot twist that reveals that street corner and mall Santas are really assassins sent to kill shapeshifters at the behest of Kris Kringle, a giant monster with blades for hands and a love of the word “motherfucker.” His origin story will sound familiar to anyone who’s seen the “Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future” episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and, like the rectal exam gag in Fletch, was a lot funnier the first time around.

I will say that, God bless ‘em, writer/director Greg Nicotero, working on a story idea by J.A. Konrath, knew exactly what audience he was appealing to. He wanted to draw in the old school horror fans who complain that horror has gotten “too P.C.,” and view any attempt to draw the genre into the 21st century with suspicion and hostility. This is their Christmas gift, complete with a hot woman who rewards the schlubby hero with sex.

You know, if you absolutely must watch a movie involving evil Santa Clauses, there’s a wonderfully weird Finnish movie called Rare Exports, and it’s currently available on Amazon Prime and Hulu. Watch that rather than A Creepshow Holiday Special, which should be thrown out like a drugstore candle.

A Creepshow Holiday Special is now available on Shudder

A Creepshow Holiday Special Trailer:

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Gena Radcliffe

Gena Radcliffe is the co-host of the award-winning (not really) horror podcast Kill by Kill, and has also written for F This Movie, Anatomy of a Scream, and Grim magazine (although the Spool is her pride and joy). Her pitch graveyard and "pieces that don't really belong anywhere else" can be found at genaradcliffe.com, and you can see her slowly losing her mind at Twitter under @porcelain72.