Monday, April 19, 2021

Creepshow: Pipe Screams/Within the Walls of Madness

Horror gets a bad rap for violent misogyny, but it has plenty of strong female characters. Sometimes they are arguably too assertive, in a villainous, even homicidal kind of way (but strong they are indeed). We get two of those kind of horror divas, played by recognizable genre stars in the latest episode of Creepshow, which premieres this Thursday on Shudder.

“Pipe Dreams,” directed by Joe Lynch and written by Daniel Kraus, takes us to the least prestigious property owner by Victoria, a regulation-skirting slumlord. She has summoned Linus Brothers (proprietor of the Brothers Brothers Plumbing Co.) to clear her illegal lead pipes, but the sentient clog has a will of its own. That’s right, it is man versus drain clog, with plenty of gore and body horror to ensue, but ultimately it is all Victoria’s fault.

Legendary Barbara Crampton chews the scenery with evil abandon as the exploitative, racist landlord. It is a total caricature, but an entertaining one. Conversely, Eric Edelstein provides a likable rooting interest as schlubby Brothers. We can see where this is all going, but the execution is ultra-

The Lovecraftian sounding title of “Within the Walls of Madness” is definitely no accident. Eventually, an elder god might just show up, but during the in media res opening, poor Zeller is accused of all the grisly murders that happened at a remote Arctic research institution. Dr Trollenberg was conducting research into alternate realities, coming to pretty extreme, time-warping conclusions.

Denise Crosby (best-known for
Star Trek Next Gen and the original Pet Cemetery) is stone cold chilling as the humanity-hating Trollenberg. Yet, the scariest thing about her is the mainstreaming of her extreme, apocalyptic environmental ideology. In addition, Drew Matthews shows nice range as the wrongly accused Zeller. Writer John Esposito and director John Harrison balance the Lovecraftian elements with satirical humor (including an ambulance-chasing TV lawyer) quite nicely.

Neither “Pipe Screams” or “Walls of Madness” are among the best of the
Creepshow series, but they are both pretty solid, so that makes this a solidly entertaining episode. One story brings the gross-out slime and gore, while another brings the Lovecraftian cosmic horror, so that definitely covers a lot of bases. Recommended for horror and franchise fans, the new episode of Creepshow starts streaming this Thursday (4/22) on Shudder.