We’re only about two months away from the debut of the brand new Creepshow anthology series on Shudder, and this writer could not be more excited. A brand new trailer debuted during Comic-Con this weekend, and while in San Diego, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with showrunner and executive producer Greg Nicotero about what we can expect when it debuts on September 26th.
During the roundtable interview, Nicotero discussed how the Creepshow series will continue to celebrate practical effects and the comic book spirit from the original films, and that he’s worked in tons of Easter eggs into each episode that horror fans are going to want to keep their eyes peeled for. Nicotero also gave us some insights into a few of the upcoming stories we’ll see in the Creepshow series, how much fun he had inviting his friends to be a part of the show, and why it was important to him that this new Creepshow paid tribute to both George A. Romero and Stephen King.
Look for more on the Creepshow series all this week, right here on Daily Dead.
Obviously, you have an extensive background in effects. What we see in the trailer feels very practical effects heavy and it seems like you were adhering to the magic of the original Creepshow, which a lot of that charm came from the film’s effects.
Greg Nicotero: Yeah, that was something that was really important to me. In this day and age, where so many movies and things feel like it's a video game, it just feels like you can overfill a frame with too much information. But to me, the challenge and the excitement is embracing the sculptors and the painters and the moldmakers so we could physically build stuff. I'm in the middle of restoring the last remaining casting of the shark from Jaws. I walk in and I look at it every day and I think to myself, “How the f--k did a bunch of guys figure out how to do this?” But they did. And there wasn't a computer there. There was none of that. It was all these guys just sweating away, and trying to figure out how to do it themselves.
So, for me, that's so much of the charm of Creepshow. It's a monster movie, and everyone must've thought I was insane, but I had the idea that every story should have a different monster, which meant every story should have different practical effects. In the trailer, you can see the vines from the scarecrow wrapping around the door, and we did that all in reverse photography. David Bruckner directed that episode and he thought we were going to use CGI for that. I was like, "No, dude, I'm making the vines with armature wire. We're going to bend it and we're going to shoot it in reverse." So I had all these guys working on this show, and every single person on the crew was like, "Dude, this is some serious shit." They'd never seen anybody do anything in reverse because you don't have to do that anymore. You can do it with the computer. So it was so much fun to get to do all these cool effects on Creepshow.
In the teaser, we also see those classic comic book aspects front and center. Can you talk about what makes the comic book aspect part of Creepshow’s personality?
Greg Nicotero: I always felt like Creepshow was ahead of its time, in terms of the way that it used the comic book to get into the stories. When I talked to George and Steve about it, Creepshow was their tribute to EC Comics. And the great thing about EC Comics was every story was different, so the idea that they had the animated Creep that would lead them into comic book panels and then the panels would dissolve into live action, it was so great. The first thing I did when we shot our first episode was sketch out the comic book frames. So, in terms of the page turns, we put all kinds of fake ads and there's a letter to the editor page even with a letter from a 12-year-old Stephen King. There are so many Easter eggs in this that you'll go crazy looking for them all. But that was really important to me, especially now, because it felt like comic books kind of lost their luster for a while. Now, we have to call them graphic novels, as if it makes them more prestigious or something.
But we hunted down a lot of the guys that worked on the original Creepshow and I had them draw some of the panels for this. I hired Rick Catizone, who did the original animation, so we have some animated pieces of The Creep in this series. But listen, I don't really look at this as a reboot or reimagining. I just look at it like George did something that was so great that we should just keep telling these stories. And I think one of the most fun aspects of this project was reading all these stories and then pulling in the directors so we could cultivate this talent. And then, of course, I called up every fu--ing person in my phone to see if they wanted to be involved.
So, how did you choose which actors you were going to approach for the series?
Greg Nicotero: Well, with Giancarlo [Esposito], I knew him from Breaking Bad because we designed his Gus Fring makeup. So I was like, “Dude, you want to come and be on an episode of Creepshow? And he was like, “Yes, done.” There were so many people that we were close to getting, too, like Josh Brolin and Simon Pegg. But whether or not they were in it, every person I called was excited about this series.
It felt strange, but I knew that this was that dream moment where you get to work with your friends, and you get to have your friends around you, collaborating with you, and that's what makes it feel like it’s not work. That’s what keeps you from just running off a cliff, or screaming and pulling your hair out. So in terms of that, I feel blessed that I was able to get Tricia [Helfer], DJ [Qualls], Dana Gould, Tobin Bell, and even Jeffrey Combs involved. I had texted him, I said, "Hey, do you want to do a cameo?" And then he got the script and he's like, "You know, this is a part, this isn't a cameo, so nice try there. This is definitely a part." And I went, "Well, I don't care what the f--k you call it. You're going to come and you're going to do it" [laughs].
How many episodes did you direct, then?
Greg Nicotero: I directed two of them. I directed “Gray Matter,” which is the Stephen King story. Steve was the first call I made when this got going. I just said, "Listen, it's not Creepshow without a story from you. What do you think?" And he said, "I have the perfect story for you." He sent me "Survivor Type," which is this unbelievable story about a guy who's stranded on a desert island and ends up cutting off parts of his body and eating them as he goes. And I'm like, "Well, listen, if Stephen King says this is the story, this is the story." So I wrote the script for it, and when we started working out just how we were going to shoot the show, because we were super ambitious, I realized I didn’t know how we're gonna do that story without a lot of visual effects. Plus, we would actually have to fly to an island and shoot it.
So I asked him for another story, and that’s when I remembered “Gray Matter.” And in terms of our show, it's much more of a personal story, and he went, "Yeah, okay, you can take that one." So, I directed that one. There was another story that was the first story that I read when we were looking for material, by David J. Schow, who's a really good friend of mine. It's called “The Finger.” It's about this dude who's walking along and he finds a finger on the ground and he picks it up and he brings it in his house. The next day it's an arm. And then the next day, it becomes this creature and it becomes like his little buddy. It’s a really great story, too.
You mentioned that this series carries on the spirit of the original Creepshow—can you discuss that a bit more and why it is so important to you?
Greg Nicotero: Well, the original Creepshow was made out of love. It was made because George and Steve love the genre. This was their love letter. I can definitely say without a doubt that my admiration for those two gentlemen and what they've done for horror and what they've done for me personally, if anything, this is my thank you to them by being able to continue these stories. When we cut the trailer together, it was funny, the first cut, there wasn't a ton of monster stuff in it and I was like, "But where's all the monsters?" I wanted to make sure that you got those vibes from the trailer, and you got the idea that the beauty of this show is that anything can happen. Every story is so different. Some of them are funny and some of them are really scary and some of them are suspenseful, but you get a different experience with each story. So, that makes me super proud.
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on all of our San Diego Comic-Con coverage!
[Photo Credit: Above Greg Nicotero photo by Heather Wixson.]