CS Interview: Greg Nicotero on first season of Creepshow revival
While fans may have to wait a bit longer for the second season premiere of the Shudder revival horror anthology series Creepshow, ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with executive producer Greg Nicotero to discuss the hit first season in time for its Blu-ray release. Pick up your copy of Creepshow: Season 1 on Blu-ray here!
In looking at the structure of each episode, which features two stories with an overarching wrap-around akin to Night Gallery, Nicotero revealed he actually originally pitched the series with three stories per episodes and would take page from Rod Serling’s playbook in which stories always varied in length.
“Sometimes you would have an episode that was 10 minutes, sometimes you’d have one that was three minutes that was one shot, sometimes you would have one that’s 20 minutes,” Nicotero explained. “And I felt that that very much captured the spirit of reading comic books and every story was a little different. And we set out wanting not only the stories to be different length wise, but very different tonally, so that every episode, we’re getting a different experience. And I think that’s what sort of sets Creepshow apart from different anthologies is that it’s not just like, the twist ending and it’s not something that you would assume each story has to hit certain marks. For us, the goal was, I just want to have a fucking good time. So let’s watch this part.”
Though having a streaming home provided the series with a bigger budget than it may have been granted at other networks, the show still wasn’t flush with money, and in looking at which story was the hardest to bring to life on the shortened dime, Nicotero pointed to “Gray Matter” and “The Finger.”
“I would honestly say probably because I’ve been directing so much on The Walking Dead, you know, I’ve directed I think 35 episodes now, I knew how to work fast and get a lot of coverage and make the episodes feel layered and feel complete,” Nicotero noted. “Like ‘Gray Matter,’ we had locations and we had sets and then we had to turn the set over into Richie’s sort of apartment. So I feel like if you look at that and you realize that we shot that in three and a half days, it’s kind of hard to imagine. I think that probably that episode feels to me the most complete in terms of being able to not jeopardize our story. You know, like “Bad Wolf Down”, Rob Schrab did a great job of writing and directing that episode. In the original script, we’re out in a field hospital and we’re in the middle of the woods and there’s piles of dead bodies and there’s machine guns and shootouts and everything. And as we got into production, I called Rob and we had a conversation. And I said, ‘Listen, dude, we’re going to have three and a half days to film this, so maybe what we should do is make it play a little more like Reservoir Dogs and we’re in the jail cell in that little French countryside prison for the majority of the episode.’ And ultimately, very much like when you get in the situations where you don’t have the time or the money, you come up with something that’s actually probably more clean and concise than you would have found, if you would’ve had lots of money.”
Continuing with his look at “Gray Matter,” in which there’s a major exploration of the theme of alcoholism like many of the works of Stephen King, who wrote the original film, Nicotero found it was important to ensure it was portrayed in a unique fashion as “horror doesn’t exist without an emotional connection.”
“Whether it’s a good connection or a bad connection, once you’re connected to that person and Jesse and Christopher, Jesse who played Richie and Christopher who played his son, they did such a great job, and it was so important to me that that relationship rang true,” Nicotero described. “So I wanted the emotional connection and I wanted you to feel like when he says I’m going to quit, I promise. And then later, when you’re in the diner and he’s in there with Adrienne Barbeau and she’s like, ‘Why? Why did you do this? Why would you help your father kill and eat these people’ And he’s like, ‘Well, he’s my daddy and I love him.’ And you realize that in his mind, like he didn’t do anything wrong because his bond with his father was so powerful and I really felt like we did them justice in that episode.”
King has seen a number of his works be brought to life over the years to varying degrees of success while others have yet to see the light of day and in looking at his favorite story still deserving of a proper adaptation, the 57-year-old creative head points to “Cycle of the Werewolves,” which was adapted prior into the 1985 cult classic Silver Bullet.
“I didn’t think it was very well adapted,” Nicotero said. “I really liked the story, but it’s hard to say because I’m trying to think of Stephen King stories that I know that had been adapted. Most of the ones that pop into my head are ones that have already been done.”
One of the stories not helmed by Nicotero in the first season of Creepshow saw comedian Dana Gould, with whom he has a long-running working relationship with, land a key role as a fat man looking to lose weight rapidly using leeches and in looking at the character and script, Nicotero found Gould to be “my first choice” for the role.
“It’s funny because he kind of went, ‘You know how hard I work at not being fat and you hire me to be a fat guy,’” Nicotero recalled. “He’s always funny and he’s very relatable. And because of Stan Against Evil, he had kind of been living in that world for two years of we don’t have any time or any money, but we want to be very ambitious and aim high. So David knew where our limitations were, and he said yes. He’s like, ‘Listen, dude, I’ll come down. Don’t worry about the money. Don’t worry about that stuff. I’ll be there for you because I know that you were willing to help me out and help us out on Stan Against Evil in a few situations, so we want to return the favor.’ So he was perfect for the part.”
Executive produced by showrunner Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead), Creepshow is based on the iconic 1982 movie written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero and features twelve chilling tales told over six, hour-long episodes.
Creepshow features an all-star cast, including David Arquette (Scream franchise), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Tobin Bell (Saw), Big Boi (Scream: The TV Series), Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek, Re-Animator), Kid Cudi (Drunk Parents), Bruce Davison (X-Men), Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul), Dana Gould (Stan Against Evil), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) and DJ Qualls (Supernatural), and features adaptations of stories by Stephen King, Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, Josh Malerman and others. Nicotero’s Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning make-up effects studio KNB EFX GROUP serves as creature creators.
Creepshow: Season 1 hits shelves on Blu-ray and DVD this week!
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)