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Creepshow - Drug Traffic/A Dead Girl Named Sue - Review

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Drug Traffic: 

Creepshow's third season finale begins on a surprisingly relevant note. What impressed me the most about it was the lack of humor and tongue-in-cheekiness that, in my opinion, has prevented the series from being taken more seriously by today's horror viewers. This might be Greg Nicotero's best work as a director on the series thus far, but comes with some major caveats. We start with a faux political ad insurance of all things. Yes, this might actually be Creepshow's creepiest moment yet. Not b/c of monsters, but b/c it touches on something everybody talks about these days Veep's Reid Scott plays a congressman who is at the Canadian border trying to round up constituents. Michael Rooker plays Beau, a border patrol officer who is interrogating a mother and daughter trying to sneak in a lot of substances that are illegal in the states. 

Yes, this is a story about secrets coming out. The Congressman pretends to care, but when his PR stunt doesn't go as planned, the true feelings emerge. Of course, there is a lot of hypocrisy and topical issues being addressed under the disguise of a monster story. You see, the daughter needs her medicine or she will, literally, lose her head. The mother makes the ultimate sacrifice so her daughter can live create a better life for herself in the states. Though what kind of a future she will have without the governmental healthcare you see in Canada remains to be seen. The story and characterizations were pretty good for only a 20-something minute segment, but the creature seemed shoe-horned in and didn't really mesh well with the themes, despite it being a very creative concept. The border patrol agent character was compelling and the ending was dramatically satisfying. 

 But, what a monster! Creepshow has outdone itself with this one. Granted, the CGI seemed a little too made-for-TV, but the design is nightmare inducing. I won't give it a away if you haven't seen it yet, but made me realize why the producers decided to save this rather loaded segment for the finale after last week's mesmerizing animated sequence (which any horror series could've used as their finale easily). 

Bonus points for the final shot of the Creeper. This was not something I was expecting and might be a series highlight since despite being the only connective tissue that binds the stories together, the Creeper is rarely utilized in the stories themselves and is often a weak character. Hopefully, Creepshow will use this lesson to incorporate the Creeper more into future segments if the series gets a season 4 (which seems likely). 

A Dead Girl Named Sue:

 I had high hopes for this one. The work of George A Romero has been sadly underutilized on the Creepshow series with one exception: his ground breaking debut. Like last season, the producers decided to create a fun spin-off off of Night of the Living Dead. Knowing they couldn't top the thrill of the CGI first-person video game idea they pulled off beautifully for the season 2 finale, they decided to highlight the sadness from the film that usually critics and fans ignore. The result is a visual marvel that discovers a new dramatic depth for the series no one was expecting amongst the usual campiness the series would be wise to start steering away from going forward. 

 Adapted from Craig Engler's short story by Heather Anne Campbell and directed with flair by the ever-reliable John Harrison, this final segment for season three concerns dark secrets being revealed again, but this time in a more historical context. We are seeing a world falling apart b/c of the events of NotLD. All conventional societal constructs are dissolving rapidly with the arrival of the original zombies from that film. As we remember, none of the characters from the original made it out alive and our hero, Ben, was basically lynched and thrown into a bonfire after being mistaken for a zombie. All of the rules of society no longer apply here.

That seems to definitely be the case for Cliven Ridgeway (Josh Mikel). He is the recipient of privilege since he is the son this town's mayor and thinks he is allowed to get away with some serious crimes. Why the citizens are so overly concerned about issuing vigilante justice against this man when there are literally zombies eating people all over the world is not addressed very well, but that is beside the point. Police Chief, Evan Foster (Cristian Gonzalez) comes up with a solution that might just please everyone, except for Cliven, that is. 

As you can imagine, this dovetails into the original film in ways that are meant to be poignant, but, for me, fell a little flat. The visual style recalls the now-mostly-forgotten Sin City without the wow-ness and, maybe, a certain scene from Schindler's List with the occasional use of color breaking through the monochrome to emphasize IM-PORT-ANCE. The comeuppance felt a little predictable and obvious. To me, it felt like a student fan fiction production. Still, I appreciate the effort the producers put into this segment and feel that it helped redeem this season a little bit from being a disappointment. Considering that there is now a cheesy animated version of NotLD hitting the shelves, the emotion and thought that clearly went into this segment is now magnetized.

Now that the thrill of being a streaming series based on a long-dormant 1980s franchise on an under-the-radar streaming service is gone, Creepshow seems to be finally finding its true horrific voice, and it is more dramatic and emotional than anyone was expecting. Regardless of what comes next for the series, I feel it has already surpassed whatever expectations anyone had for it. Typing something like that in the midst of an actual pandemic that could have doomed the series to an early cancellation really puts everything into perspective.

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