Creepshow: Facts About The Horror Series That'll Make You Shudder

"Creepshow" may not have been the first horror anthology movie when it came out in 1982, but it certainly became one of the most important of that type of film. The collection of scary, though sometimes comical tales was created by the legendary duo George A. Romero and Stephen King. Its initial popularity sparked a long list of similar classics both for the silver screen and on TV, including "Twilight Zone: The Movie" and HBO's "Tales from the Crypt" (via Consequence).

Especially after the recent success of anthology films like "V/H/S," which continued to prove how popular the format is, the horror streaming channel Shudder decided it was time to bring "Creepshow" back to life. Overseen by Greg Nicotero, who was previously the executive producer and head of the impressive special effects for "The Walking Dead," the series is in the hands of a filmmaker who deeply respects the source material (via IMDb). But the details behind the steps that led to the success of "Creepshow" are also quite fascinating.

EC comics inspired the style of the show

As showrunner Greg Nicotero was growing up, he was surrounded by comic books. Nicotero revealed to Decider that not only was his father a huge fan of the illustrated literature, but so were all three of his uncles. It was at this young age that he was introduced to the EC brand, which published such iconic titles as "Weird Science." More importantly, it was the home of the horror classics that became notoriously popular in the 1950s, like "Tales from the Crypt," "The Vault of Horror," and "The Haunt of Fear" (via EC Comics).

With Nicotero being a longtime fan of the vintage series, he felt it was necessary to incorporate the comics as much as possible. The showrunner told Collider, "I really feel like I did a deep dive not only into obviously the original 'Creepshow' but what inspired Stephen [King] and George [Romero], because 'Creepshow' is really an homage to EC Comics. So, to go into this and do 'Creepshow' again, you got to go back to the source, and you got to go back to what it was that inspired these guys."

Greg Nicotero's career began on the Creepshow set

Greg Nicotero is now a veteran of the film industry with decades of experience, but it all had to start somewhere, and that just happened to be during the production of the original movie released in 1982. In his interview with Decider, the showrunner revealed that as a teenager, "'Creepshow' was the first movie set that I had visited." He stressed how profound of an impact the experience had on his life, adding that it "really provided the porthole for me to go from my meager Pittsburgh existence and find my way stepping across the threshold into the world of horror filmmaking."

After deciding that he had found his dream profession, Nicotero was ecstatic when he was given the offer by George A. Romero to join the team working on "Day of the Dead" in 1984 (per Love Horror). The director recalled, "It was the first job that I was offered when I was 17 and it made me realize that you didn't have to live in Hollywood to get into the film industry and introduced me to Tom Savini." From those two connections and the vital information he learned from them, Nicotero would go on to become one of the top FX experts in Hollywood.

The creation of the series seemed like fate

Considering Greg Nicotero's links to the old "Creepshow" movie, he could barely believe his ears when Shudder asked him to helm the new "Creepshow" series. But as Dennis L. Prince explains in "Shudder's Creepshow: From Script to Scream," the showrunner's instant decision to join the project was just one last puzzle piece of many that seemed to simply fall into place as if the horror-streaming platform was destined to revive the show.

As if by fate, Nicotero had actually reached out to the general manager at Shudder, Craig Engler, to see if he wanted to collaborate on a short film version of a story Engler wrote. It was then that Nicotero was offered the top job for "Creepshow." Before that, Engler's former business manager coincidentally happened to be Stan Spry, the co-CEO of Cartel Entertainment, who managed to secure the rights to the popular intellectual property. The chain of acquaintances led to the creation of the new series, much to the delight of many horror fans.

The series is Greg Nicotero's first time showrunning

Before Greg Nicotero stepped up to lead the production of "Creepshow," he had vast experience working on both films and TV series. Despite that, he had never been a showrunner. While he was certainly up to the task, the special effects master felt some pressure taking on the role. In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, Nicotero said, "I'll be honest; I felt the weight of the Romero legacy. This was my first opportunity to be a showrunner, to step out of 'The Walking Dead' world for a minute. Being able to do something that was fully my own. But it also gave me my own sense of creative freedom."

Though once the director finished the first season, he could not be happier for accepting the challenge. Nicotero told Collider, "It's been an amazing experience." He was especially pleased with how taking the project improved his already impressive skillset, and noted, "I love the idea that I'm still learning and I'm still evolving as a filmmaker."

Veteran studio KNB EFX made the SFX

A major reason behind the popularity of "Creepshow" is the fantastic visual effects, which are intentionally campy at times, but still quite impressive, nonetheless. The amazing make-up, prosthetics, and other practical effects should come as no surprise since the studio behind them — Nicotero's KNB EFX — has worked on almost 700 movies and TV shows, from sci-fi and horror like "The Mist" and "Spawn" to gritty crime stories such as "Reservoir Dogs" and "Sin City."

When talking with Love Horror, the showrunner said, "I've owned KNB EFX since 1988 so I've been doing this a long time and I've designed effects for some of the greatest filmmakers in history — Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg, I've worked with John Carpenter, people that I admired, and I respected when I grew up — I found myself standing on set next to them and collaborating with them."

Joining the project was a must for Tom Savini

Beginning with "Day of the Dead" and followed shortly after by "Creepshow II" in 1987, Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini have worked together on several horror productions. So when Nicotero was put in charge of the revamped "Creepshow" series on Shudder, the status quo remained. For Savini, the decision to come on board was not just another opportunity to collaborate with a colleague he has known for decades. The renowned FX master also just simply loves the job.

In an interview with Consequence, Savini admitted, "I'm 72. I have my school. I don't have to do anything, really." Clearly, financial gain had nothing to do with his eagerness to join another horror production. He added, "This is intoxicating. Before coming here, my big decision of the day was, 'Are we going to Whole Foods?' Now, I never stop thinking of this. When my head hits the pillow at night, I'm staging stuff. I wake up, I'm staging stuff. So, it's alive, it's on the wire, I'm on the wire now, and that's exciting."

CGI is considered just one tool among many for the creators

Practical FX are at the core of what FX wizards like Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini do, so it is understandable that they would be a little biased towards those traditional methods. Nearly all the FX are practical in "Creepshow," and much of the crew and cast had a blast working with physical objects instead of having to interact with invisible animated images that are added in post.

To justify going the old school route, Tom Savini explained to Consequence, "Because with CGI, you have to pretend it's there. It's not really there." He then added, "All my stuff happened right in front of you, and there's a feeling you get from that."

Actor Jeffrey Combs, who has appeared in "Creepshow" and a ton of other horror movies, strongly agrees. He said, "If you go back and look at films in the last two decades, they don't hold up so well. I personally think CGI is a new tool that was overused. I find it much better to use practical effects."

New sets are rapidly built in a matter of days

One of the most impressive details behind the scenes of "Creepshow" is the rapidity in which the crew works to create new sets for each individual segment of the series. In the book, "Shudder's Creepshow: From Script to Scream," Greg Nicotero explained, "They're all under constraints and limits, but that's when the teams get to their most creative moments."

Given the attitude of production designer Aimee Holmberg, it is no surprise that the creatives under her leadership can complete such difficult tasks so quickly since she clearly has a passion for the job. In the book "Shudder's Creepshow," she said, "I love building anything that's not based in reality. Anything where you do not have a foundation based in the real world, and we have to reimagine each world from scratch. I guess I'm a bit of a masochist for that, but so are the people who keep coming back to work with me."

The series receives tons of story pitches

The stories of prominent horror author Stephen King have been a major part of the "Creepshow" franchise from the very beginning, and the TV series continues to use the works of other prolific writers like Joe R. Lansdale and King's son Joe Hill. But Greg Nicotero does not limit himself to a few creators when selecting tales for "Creepshow" and prefers to read through a good number of pitches to find unique gems.

Craig Engler also supports the approach for the great variety it allows. In the book, "Shudder's Creepshow: From Script to Scream," the streamer chief explained, "There's something for everyone, and [the anthology format] allows us to explore a lot of different stories from a lot of different storytellers."

For Nicotero, one of the best parts of the process occurs after he has made a choice and gets to brainstorm with the writer for the optimum way to bring the story to life. He said, "That is probably the most freeing and most rewarding discussion of the entire series. There's no budget involved, and no one is telling us what we can and can't do yet; it's just people riffing ideas."

A SFX expert loves to play monsters

"Creepshow" has had an excellent team of experts working behind the scenes to refine the horrific setting of each episode, however, at least one of these talented crew members also enjoys spending time on camera. With nearly 20 years of experience designing all sorts of special effects, KNB shop supervisor Carey Jones is well on his way to becoming a master of his craft, and his performances while using the prosthetics he creates only increase that skill.

During his career, Jones has taken several opportunities to play creatures including Black Krrsantan in "The Book of Boba Fett" and one of the alien hunters in "Predators" (via IMDb). Throughout the Shudder series, he is featured as a terrifying monster on a few occasions. In his book, "Shudder's Creepshow," the author noted that Jones is in the first season episode, "The Man in the Suitcase" as the formidable Djinn. Jones followed that up with a performance as the ominous Scarecrow in "The Companion." Also, in Season 2, Jones played the Gill Man in "Model Kid."

Joe Lynch was desperate to work on the show

One of the best parts about bringing back "Creepshow" was that it already had a fanbase, which included professionals in the industry. Joe Lynch is a prime example, for he took no time to do what he could to get involved once it became public that Greg Nicotero was leading a new "Creepshow." The director admitted to Cemetery Dance, "I texted him to say congrats and also you know if you ever run out of people give me a shout. I even wrote and mailed him a four-page letter why I thought I would be perfect for the show."

Lynch may have been discouraged a bit at first as his message went unanswered and the first season aired, but that instantly changed when Nicotero reached out and gave him the best news imaginable. Lynch added, "He said he already knew I'd be perfect for the job and had intended to reach out about Season 2 and then when he read my letter, it all fell into place." Lynch's dream came true as he was brought on board to helm four episodes, including "The Right Snuff" and "Pipe Screams" in Season 2, then later "Familiar" and "Meter Reader" in the following season (via IMDb).

Tobin Bell and Greg Nicotero go way back

It is fairly common knowledge among circles in the horror community that Greg Nicotero has worked extensively with both Tom Savini and George A. Romero, but it is not as well known that the showrunner also met Tobin Bell on the job decades ago. The actor who is most famous for his role as Jigsaw in the "Saw" films starred in the very first segment of the "Creepshow" series. Back in the 1980s, Nicotero was in charge of his make-up for an uncharacteristically comical role.

When talking with Dread Central, Tobin Bell explained, "I was hired to play a 70-year-old woman, a former accountant who stole money from the mob. The mob was obviously looking for him, [so] he hides out on a cruise line as a 70-year-old woman and plays canasta all day. [Nicotero] had to make me look like a big sort of 70-year-old woman. It was a lot of fun. He did a great job. I have some photos of that, which I won't show."

The show smashed viewership records for Shudder

Once "Creepshow" premiered on Shudder, it raised the horror-themed streaming service to another level. Not only did the series bring in a mass of new subscribers, but it was also watched for more minutes by initial viewers than any other options available up to that point, including "Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire," "Mandy," and "Summer of 84," even though these are all films that run considerably longer than an episode of a TV show (per Deadline).

Without a doubt, Craig Engler is fully aware of how important the series is to the horror streaming platform. When asked if any productions had especially contributed to the success of Shudder in an interview with Esquire, he immediately named "Creepshow" and added, "It was the biggest thing we had ever launched. Within three weeks, 50% of subscribers had sampled one of the episodes. In streaming services, that is huge penetration."

The series is packed full of Easter eggs

The tradition of incorporating what we'd now call an Easter egg in "Creepshow" started during the production of the original when the filmmakers made sure that the marble ashtray used as a murder weapon in the "Father's Day" segment appeared in all the other tales of the anthology. So, when Greg Nicotero took on the revival series, he not only brought back the ashtray for every episode, but also included a plethora of additions, according to Dennis L. Prince's book.

From the statuette of Pazuzu in "The Exorcist" to a jar with the malevolent substance of "The Stuff," the somewhat hidden links to other horror-related properties are quite plentiful. It may seem like the crew went a bit overboard, but trying to find all the Easter eggs in "Creepshow" can be an entertaining game and add another dimension to the experience of watching each episode. When talking to Consequence, Nicotero explained, "There's a lot of little things. The comic books. The voodoo doll. They're everywhere. I forget half of them because we've been shooting for seven weeks. I'll probably go back and go, 'Oh, s***! I forgot about that one,' which will be fun."