Thursday, April 08, 2021

Creepshow: Dead & Breakfast/Pesticide

In horror, you can’t just sit around waiting to kill or die. Of course, if you have a job that involves death, it makes it easier for the Creepshow Creep to give your tale a morbid twist. That certainly happens to the protagonists in the second episode of the second season of Creepshow, which premieres today on Shudder.

Business is bad in “Dead & Breakfast,” directed by Axelle Carolyn, because nobody has heard of the Spinster Siblings’ serial killer grandma. They own and operate a horror themed bed & breakfast inspired by her crimes, but old lady Spinster (who presumably wasn’t one, since here they are) hasn’t gone mainstream. She confessed to dozens of murders, but the bodies were never found. Nevertheless, Pam Spinster hopes comping true crime vlogger Morgue (short for Morgan) will be good for business.

Screenwriter Michael Rousselet & Erik Sandoval get all kinds of humor out of the clash between Morgue’s obnoxious hipster entitlement and Pam Spinster’s middle-class ambitions and twisted sense of family pride. As Pam, Ali Larter definitely chews the scenery and goes nuts with
Creepshow-appropriate relish. C. Thomas Howell nicely balances her as the more lowkey Sam Spinster, whereas Iman Benson makes viewers eagerly anticipate Morgue’s death, which is a good thing when it comes to this franchise. The Spinster House is also a wonderfully weird and creepy setting, featuring all kinds of messed up secret rooms and hidden passageways. Indeed, “D&B” is jolly good fun and perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the original film and the vintage horror comics that inspired it.

“Pesticide,” directed by showrunner Greg Nicotero is not quite at that level, but it is still a solid
Creepshow story. Harlan King is the self-described “king” of pest control, but many of his customers would say he is also the king of rude, boorish behavior. Mr. Murdoch does not really care about that. He wants King for a special job—one that will even trouble the exterminator’s conscious and prompt visions of all the bugs and vermin he has made a living killing.

There are two things that really make “Pesticide.” One is the wild & wacky, gross-out, over-the-top visuals, rendered with meant-to-look-nutty practical effects. Clearly, Nicotero wants viewers to laugh and guffaw at the screen. However, it also has the great Keith David and his steely,
Jazz-narrating voice as the mysterious Murdoch. As an added genre bonus, Ashley Laurence, from the Hell Raiser movies, adds even more attitude as Dr. Brenda Lanchester, one of the King’s less than satisfied customers. Writer Frank Dietz just keeps piling up the crazy to the point of completely losing the plot, but it really doesn’t matter, because the giant bugs and first-class supporting cast are so much fun to watch.

So far, “Dead & Breakfast” and last week’s “Public Television of the Dead” rank as the strongest chapters of the second season and among the best of the series. “Pesticide” is at least within the top fifty percentile, which makes this a very entertaining episode. Highly recommended,
Creepshow S2E2 starts streaming today (4/8) on Shudder.