'Creepshow' Producer Greg Nicotero On Resurrecting A Horror Legend With Practical Effects And A Small Budget [Set Visit Interview]

Before Greg Nicotero was an executive producer on AMC's The Walking Dead, he was a co-founder of the legendary KNB special make-up effects studio. And before that gig saw him applying his talents to hundreds of movies and television shows, he worked under legendary make-up guru Tom Savini and iconic horror director George Romero on 1985's Day of the Dead. Shortly after that, he would apply his talents to Creepshow 2 in 1987, which is appropriate enough – before he even entered the industry in a professional capacity, he visited the set of Romero's 1982 horror masterpiece Creepshow, which was written by horror royalty Stephen King.

And now it all comes together. Later this month, AMC's Shudder streaming service will debut a new take on Creepshow, a streaming TV series where each episode tells two gnarly horror tales from two different directors. Nicotero directed one episode, an adaptation of King's short story "Gray Matter," but he also ran the entire operation as an executive producer, a gig that ignited his passions. It was his chance to pay tribute to the late Romero and King (who gave the project his blessing and more), to bring in old friends and mentors like Tom Savini to direct episodes, and to offer a platform to beloved horror icons and newcomers alike.

While visiting the set of Creepshow earlier this year, we sat down with Nicotero for an extended chat about the new series, a passion project powered by practical effects, gallons of fake blood, and giddy love of the horror genre.

Note: This interview was conducted in a press conference format with other assembled journalists. Our transcription begins after the first question has been asked, with Nicotero commenting on his enthusiasm for the new series.


Nicotero: Oh yeah, it's fine you guys. Are you kidding? I mean, it's Creepshow. Jeffrey Combs is here. And he gave me s*** today because I texted him and said, 'Hey, do you want to come do a cameo?' and he read the script and was like, 'It's not really a cameo. It's actually a character.' I was just gauging to see if he was up for it, and the next thing you know, here he is running around...It's like I said, it seems like yesterday was January 7, and now it's the end of March. It's all been a blur of monsters of mayhem and craziness. I literally texted every single actor I've ever worked with to find out what they were up to. 'Come on, let's come play! It'll be fun!' Listen, I think the best was, everybody wrote me back. Josh Brolin was like, 'I'm going over to Prague.' I literally hit everybody that I knew, because I was like, 'Come on, this is our chance to do what we always want to do, which is work with our friends. And it's quick: you come in, shoot a couple days, and you leave.' So in that regard, it's been fun. Everyone's like, 'The Walking Dead is the hardest show,' but this was insanely hard, because it's kind of my baby.

Adrienne Barbeau is here. I directed her, I was really excited, because when Creepshow got announced, she was like, 'Can I be in it?' I'm like, 'What do you think?' So we were shooting a shot. We did one take, we did a series [of takes], and I said, 'Let's try this, let's try this.' She came over and she went, 'There was one in there that I loved,' and I said, 'Me too. The other ones, we're just playing around. Once you have one in the can you love, you try a couple different things.' And she's like, 'You're good?' And I'm like, 'I'm great. It's awesome. Trust me.' And she went, 'You sounded like George [Romero].' Because she said when [she] did the first Creepshow, George kept saying, 'Bigger, be bigger!' Billy can be really big. She said George said, 'Trust me,' and she said, 'You sounded just like him,' and I got a little chill. I was like, oh man, all the tornado of the production and wanting it to be great and threading the needles of practical effects and actors and the amazing production design, and when she said that, for five minutes, I was like, 'Oh s***. Wow.' So it was pretty great. And she was like, 'Next time, can we have more than a day?' (laughs)

Can you talk about how this was conceived and evolved and maybe how you chose the stories?

It's a very interesting story the way Creepshow came about. I was doing some press in Australia for The Walking Dead, and I'm sitting with Michael Rooker and we're getting ready to fly back, and I'm like, 'I want to f***ing read something on the plane.' So I get on iBooks and I'm looking around, and there's a book called Nights of the Living Dead. I'm like, 'What is that? I've never heard of that before.' It's a series of short stories, all that take place the same night as Night of the Living Dead did. I'm like, 'That's great!' So I bought it, and I'm sitting on the plane reading it, and I read this one story written by a guy named Craig Engler, and I loved the story. I'm like, 'F***, man, I want to shoot that, just as a short, just for fun.' I don't know what I'll do with it, but I just really like the story. Not that I have enough zombie s*** in my world, but I liked it, and I went, 'F***, it must be good if it's a zombie story that I want to shoot.' So we reached out, and it turns out he is an executive at Shudder. I'm like, 'F***, we literally work for the same company.'

They were like, 'Hey, we're thinking about rebooting Creepshow.' And I went, 'My Creepshow, Creepshow? Really?' And they said, 'Would you be interested in being the creative executive?' And I was like, 'Uh, yeah!' I mean, I was there, I was on the set when they did the original Creepshow. I visited. So I was like, yeah. I mean, George gave me my first job. So it was like my Creepshow, Creepshow. So my goal was, I wanted to honor the spirit of writers in terms of, I wanted some old school writers and some new writers and people that inspire me. I love short stories, and short horror is the greatest because there's no rules. You can really do whatever the f*** you want in a short time frame. So I went out to Dave Skal, we got Josh Malerman, and Rob Schrab. I actually wrote Stephen King and said, 'It can't be Creepshow without a Stephen King story. What do you think?' And he's like, 'I got just the story!' Like, within twenty minutes. I was kind of blown away with how great my friends were, and everybody that responded when I would reach out and go, 'What do you think?' Within minutes, they would get back to me. Stephen had two different stories that he had proposed. Once we got into production and started to see how we were landing, I kind of felt that there was one that was actually perfectly suited, which was "Gray Matter," which is the story that I directed.

It was just cool that he said, 'Yeah, man. Sure.' And then I thought, listen, if we've got Stephen King, we need Joe Hill. I'm a huge fan of Joe's. I loved Horns and NOS4A2, I f***ing love all his stuff. Fireman, I loved. Joe sent a couple stories over, and there was one where he was like, 'This one's kinda dark.' And I'm like, 'OK, if Joe Hill says it's dark...' So I read it and was like, 'F*** me, that's really, really dark.' I was like, 'I don't know if we can [do that], it's so f***ed up.' So he sent a couple stories, and that was the fun part, reading all this stuff. Josh Malerman sending a bunch of stories and being like, 'F***, this is great.' This is before Bird Box and all that other stuff, so Josh was just – he sent one called "The House of the Head" and one called "Leaving Too Soon," and it was literally like sitting in the greatest candy shop in the world with all these stories. I was pretty greedy at first, because I was like, 'We should do three stories per episode, and each story should be like seventeen minutes and we should do three.' We got into production, and I was like, 'What the f*** was I thinking, three? We should do two!' Now we're doing two, and it's literally three and a half days per episode to shoot, so I'm like, 'Who the f*** said two?' But many of my friends, I think it was Jeffrey Dean Morgan or Norman [Reedus] who was like, 'Listen, if you don't wake up in the middle of the night with an anxiety attack, you're not reaching high enough.' And I'm like, 'OK, then I'm reaching really f***ing high.' Because I wake up every night like, we need to get a shot of this, or we need to do that.

So the stories were really fun for me. I was still filming Walking Dead when we were picking the stories, and I had conferences with all the writers and I set them off into their world. I wrote one draft of another Stephen King story, so I got to write, which was fun. I've been doing a lot of writing on the scripts, and it's a whole different world for me too, which is great because it's so much fun. Then Walking Dead ended, and I had a week to fly home and catch my breath and we were in preproduction on this. It was like, 'OK, which ones are we going to do first? You've gotta start meeting with directors.' So again, I called Joe Dante, and I called Sam Raimi – I was like, 'What do you guys think?' The challenge is that it's three and a half days. Then I was like, I'm going to call my friends and say, 'Hey, come and shoot and you can't stop filming for twelve hours. You can't eat. You can't go to the bathroom. You've just got to keep filming and go crazy.' And everybody was like, 'That sounds great!' So I got Roxanne Benjamin and David Bruckner and Rob Schrab and John Harrison. John, I met in 1984, he was the first AD on Day of the Dead when I worked on that. I had met him briefly on Creepshow, but we weren't, like, friends. But when John directed Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie and Dune and all these other things, we've all worked together. When Creepshow came up, I was like, 'Listen, I want to embrace the spirit of the original movie.' I always felt that Creepshow was way ahead of its time in terms of what George was doing and the visuals. So it's like, 'Oh, you're reimagining it?' and it's like, 'No, it was a f***ing great idea.' I've been designing all the comic book panels and we've been doing the dissolves and the panning through the pages. It's going to feel much more like a continuation than – I'm not rebooting anything, or like, 'Oh, we're going to upgrade it and retell it.' It's really like, you're picking up another issue of Creepshow and these are the stories.

Then with Tom and with John, these guys are guys I've been in the trenches with all my life, so I feel like this is my chance to get to do this with them. When the Joe Hill story came up, I was like, 'Tom, I've got a great story for you. It's poignant and it's touching.' He read the first outline and just fell in love with it. Now we've got our little sea monster and all the crazy stuff, but we're so embracing the spirit of it. It's 98% practical effects. All the creature work, the makeups, the werewolves, the puppets. The funny thing is, we're shooting so fast that when one of them is done, the guys just throw it on the floor in the room and grab the next one and run to set, so when you walk by our lockup, everything's just f***ing thrown everywhere. There's no time to even pick anything up. The skin crawler, the big bloody monster that's on the ground? We finished shooting, it was soaked in blood, and we just dropped it and it's still sitting there. You don't even have five minutes to wipe the blood off, because we're moving that fast. That's where my makeup effects world comes into play, because I can [say], 'All right, put the camera here and do this, blah blah blah' and it's been fun because a lot of people on the crew are like, 'You've never done something with puppets and puppeteers and rods and there's a boom that holds the creature.' There are practical effects. They're usually like, 'Oh, shoot a grey ball and walk away.' So it's a whole different world. I'm rambling a little bit.

How involved has Stephen King been since that call?

We sent him a bunch of stuff, and he's been super supportive and he's been pretty great about everything. He's like, 'Yeah man, whatever you need. Awesome.' He knew I was directing and said, 'Oh yeah, that's great,' and we talked about cast and all that kind of stuff. To backtrack that question, years ago, when I lived in Pittsburgh, it was after Creepshow and Day of the Dead, and Romero was moving his offices, and Michael Gornick, who was his office manager and cinematographer, called and said, 'Hey Greg, we're moving offices and we need a bunch of kids to come clean up the basement.' I was like sixteen, and I was like, 'Sure, I'll come help.' So I was moving all these boxes, and paperwork and all this s***, and half of it, Michael would say, 'Throw it away, throw it away.' And there was a letter from Stephen King to George Romero typed on the old onion paper, typewriter, with f***ing White-Out and all that s***. It was a three-page letter about Creepshow, and it was some of Steve's ideas about the script. And the last page, on the side, handwritten, was, 'Hey, what do you think about Joe playing the kid in the opening of the movie? It would be cool, I don't know if he can act, but wouldn't it be great?' It's handwritten. So I keep everything, so of course I still have the letter, so I sent it to Steve last year, and the next day, Joe Hill had a meeting at AMC, and Ben Davis called me and said, 'All he talked about was this f***ing letter that you have! How weird is it that you have this letter.' So I was trying to get Joe down, like, 'Dude, you've gotta come do a cameo and f***ing come.' But it was just crazy. I've known Stephen since I was a kid, but I loved that I still had that letter and he was like, 'That's f***ing crazy that you still have that.'

Did he ask for it back?

No, he didn't, thank God. Because you never know. I took my script home, I have an original Creepshow script that I took home last night. And tucked inside is my original invitation to the cast and crew screening that I was sent, and it's got my parents' address when I was a kid. So I think the day started shooting, I posted it, and Tina Romero, George's daughter, was like, 'That's the greatest post I've ever seen.' So Tina was here, she came and visited, and she was like, 'My dad would have just loved every second of this.' Because of me and Harrison working and Savini, and I just got chills.

Since Harrison's involved, is he doing the score?

We're still talking about that, because in my happy place, we would sort of reimagine – he still has all the original tracks, and I was like, 'F***, we should just do a new title sequence and just remix it to match that,' so in my happy place, that's what we're doing. I don't know where we landed with that idea yet. Chris Drake is our composer, and he's been a friend of mine for a long time, and he's doing a really good job. I listened to the temp score for one of the episodes, and I'm like, 'Is that from The Shining?' It sounded exactly like that real high, creepy music. I'm like, 'That's f***ing great, we just sampled The Shining,' and he's like, 'No, that's –' I didn't know they had already put in some of his temp music, and I'm like, 'That's f***ing great!' I've gotta call him and tell him to send me the whole suite, because I want to hear all of it. Once we finish shooting, then it's editing, sound, and VFX, which will probably consist of removing a boom out of the shot, because that's all the money we have.

Don't you do most of the stuff practical anyway?

Most of it is, but like in my episode, "The Finger," DJ Qualls plays Clark, who's by the way, the most f***ing amazing actor – one of the most amazing actors I've ever worked with. Just loved working with him. So he's walking along and he finds a finger, and then the next day it's a hand, and the next day it's an arm, and then it grows into this creature, and it becomes his friend, it's like a dog. So it goes off and kills people and brings little pieces of those people back like a kitten. So there's a couple wide shots we need of the creature, and that's the creature we have with the rod puppet and the boom arm, so I hired a stop-motion animation guy, and he's going to do the wide shots in stop-motions. I mean, if you're going to do it and we're going to embrace the old school vibe, I want to try to do it stop-motion. So we actually had the little scale model of it. I can't wait for that s***. Did you see [Bob, the creature] out there? It's so funny because I was editing yesterday, and the editor was like, 'Dude, I love Bob.' There was one scene in the script that called for Clark [being] asleep on the couch, and he looks over and Bob's there, like all excited. And you think he wants to go out to go to the bathroom or something, but he opens the door and there's like two severed heads. So, in the script, that's what it says, and I was like, 'I've got a better idea.' So we have a shot of DJ sitting on the toilet, and the door opens, and he's like, 'What?' and you see Bob at the door [acting excited]. He walks out of the bathroom and walks up and there's literally two severed heads in the sink.

I love it.

The sounds, it's a little sort of Gremlin-y. He's so cute, but he's covered in blood.

That doesn't make you less cute!

I know! But Julia [Hobgood], who's one of the producers, I'm like, 'Record your cat.' Because her cat makes all these crazy noises, and I want to give it so much personality. I love the contrast of it there with blood all over it and it's all sinewy and creepy and weird-looking, and it's like, [meows]. So I can't wait. That stuff was really fun. I've done so much of that stuff, and honestly, this is the first non-zombie thing I've directed, and I was like, 'There's no zombies!' I get to build my own scares and create these moments in a way that I've never done before. I've done for other directors, but this is like my thing now, so it's so exciting.

Now that we're in this anthology renaissance now with Twilight Zone coming back, what is it that's going to set Creepshow apart?

I think Creepshow, just because of the comic book come to life vibe and all the panels and all that stuff, it's a different experience. We are really embracing the split screen and going through the panels and telling the stories of, you see one of the characters get into a car and then we pan over and it goes into comic book panels and it tells a little bit of a story and then we come out of the panels. So it's got that flair and that flavor to it, which is great.

That's cool that you guys are keeping it like the original movie like that.

That was one of the things, and even when the network watched the first cut of one of the episodes, I don't think they really understood how much we were embracing that aspect of it. The camera goes across the title page and the Creep is there and you hear the little giggling, and they were like, 'Wow, you guys are all in!' and I'm like, 'If we weren't all in, then it would probably just seem like another anthology show.'

There are certain stories that lean into it more. Like Rob's Nazi werewolf thing really leans into it, and Rob's got that background. He's got that great comic book comedy background. And the great thing about this, too, which I think sets it apart from other anthologies is, the tone of every single story is dramatically different. There are some that are genuinely funny, and some that are really dark. When you get into certain anthologies, they always tend to have that same kind of theme that's repeated over and over again, whereas with this one, I do think that the stories are dramatically different enough. Some of them are straight horror and might not have as many of those comic book elements to it, but other ones are just going to be fun.

I'm wondering if you would agree with the statement that there's been a mini horror TV boom in the past few years.

Yeah, I would agree with that.

What do you think about it? What do you think that TV's able to do now that it kind of didn't necessarily do before?

Listen, I think Walking Dead started it. I remember when we shot Land of the Dead, George was nervous about how gory we could get for the ratings, and we did the first season of Walking Dead, and it was gorier than a movie was. So between that and Game of Thrones and being able to sort of push – Game of Thrones was a little bit after us, but I do think people went, 'Wait a minute, you can do that kind of horror on television?' And then American Horror Story, it really did just sort of explode. And now with streaming, Black Mirror, which I love, there are so many great shows. It allows that sort of short form storytelling, in terms of the anthology stuff, to really be appealing to people.

I've worked at a lot of different websites. I worked at Us Weekly, and The Walking Dead was a huge show. It was like, Housewives and Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. It transcends audience, and I'm wondering what you think about that, too.

When we first did it and we did six episodes, everyone was like, 'Did you ever expect...?' and it's like, how would you ever imagine? I always attribute Darabont and putting that ensemble cast together, because the cast was so impeccable that there was something that everybody could relate to. I really think that that's what makes it great. The thing I notice, even when I'm sitting in the editing room and I'm looking at all the dailies and I'm talking to my editors, and I'm like, 'Listen, the monster is the monster, but it's how the humans react to the monster that people identify with.' If you see something gross, you're going to be like, 'Ew, that's gross.' But it's like the whole Joe Dante werewolf transformation in The Howling. Dee Wallace is in the corner and she's freaking out – of course I'm dating myself because I'm going to a 1981 movie – but it's her reaction to the transformation that really makes it terrifying. Because the audience doesn't put themselves in the place of the monster, they put themselves in the place of the person watching the monster. When we were shooting last week with Giancarlo [Esposito], their reactions to what's happening is what I believe the audience will walk away with and remember. Because they're like, 'F***, if that guy's scared, I really should be scared, too.' So I think that's one of the things that, again, spending decades crafting the gory creature stuff of it, the filmmaker part of it tells me that that's another ingredient.

But if you don't have the human emotion – and that's what Walking Dead has, and that's what all those shows have. That's what Game of Thrones has, and that's what American Horror Story has. It has that human emotion. I think people don't often understand that, they don't get that it's the human emotion that people identify with and that's why they keep coming back. They want to see what's going to happen to Daryl or Carol or Rick or whoever. It's interesting in this instance because I always talk about Walking Dead when Frank initially wanted to do this, he had always said, 'I'd love to do a zombie story, but I just don't know how to tell it in two hours.' He wanted to do a zombie movie, because he loved Night of the Living Dead. But the fact that we've had 140 hours to get to know these people, and now I'm doing the exact opposite, because you've got about f***ing fifteen minutes to get to know these people before something horrible happens to one or all of them. So I'm reverse engineering everything I've been doing for ten years, and it's hard, because you literally have to set up these characters, get the audience to invest in them, take them on this journey, and do something awful in like eighteen minutes, not 140 hours that we've had on Walking Dead.

Is it more exciting because you can go in and out and be really quick about it? Or do you prefer taking the time and really digging into the characters?

I think it's a matter of choice. I love character stuff, but this particular show is just not that medium, even though we have great characters. But there's a lot to be said in this day and age for bite-sized meals in terms of people want to come and they want to watch something for twenty minutes and then go off and do something else and come back and watch another thing, you know what I mean? Or they watch more of this for some crazy reason. A good reason! So that's hard to say, because I love them all. And what's great is, you were talking about the horror genre and television, every time a horror movie comes out and does well, it bodes well for all of us. I saw Us the other day, and it's so much fun. I love going on these journeys where I have no idea – I don't watch trailers, I don't read anything, I have no idea. So generally, I just want to be entertained. Just take me on a journey and I'll have a good time. So I had a great time, and I like that these movies – I loved Hereditary. It's just fun. Mandy, I couldn't quite – I really wanted to love it, but I was like, 'What the f***!' My fifteen-year-old son's like, 'Dad, let's watch this movie,' and I was like, 'It was crazy.' But, you know, fun.

[Creepshow director Tom Savini] didn't like Hereditary.


That's what he said.

Ugh, he's an idiot.

(Everyone laughs.) Why do you love horror?

It scares the s*** out of me. It's what I grew up with. My parents were huge movie buffs. Still are huge movie buffs. So I remember going to the theater and seeing Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Planet of the Apes. I was six years old. I went to see Jaws like the second day it was out. My parents went the first night it opened, and then they took us the second night. I just love that thrill. Growing up in Pittsburgh, they had a show on Saturday nights called Chiller Theater. Every Saturday night, man, I was watching horror movies. Monster magazines and all that crazy s*** that me and Quentin and Guillermo and Eli Roth and Alex Aja, we're all cut from the same cloth. We all read the same magazines, we all watched the same movies. One of them got nudged into writing, one got nudged into directing, one got nudged this way or that way, but Tom Savini would say the same thing: it was the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney and makeup. The bummer is, I don't get scared anymore. Aside from spiders, which, that would be it. But I've spent thirty-something years crafting these scares. When I went to see Us, I took my thirteen-year-old daughter and her friends, and there was a music sting, and my daughter was shooting out of the chair. She was like, 'Dad, why don't you jump?' I'm like, 'Honey, I'm sorry.' I watch them. I took them to see It – great movie, and there were a lot of scares, and my kids were [scared]. Or A Quiet Place.

Does that ruin the experience for you, not being scared by it? Or do you appreciate it more?

I appreciate well-made – that's why I really liked Hereditary, because at the end, I got goosebumps. It was chilling. [Spoilers for Hereditary ahead.] When she was f***ing sawing her head off, I was like, 'That's just f***ing weird.' But I loved it because it was strange. That image stuck with me – everyone was like, 'Oh, the head with the ants,' and I'm like, 'No, it was the mom going [slicing head].' It's just weird. So I still appreciate it, but it's kind of funny because we're all friends. Adam Green wrote me an email last night, like, 'Dude, f***, f***ing Walking Dead!' I love that we're always supporting each other, and we go to the movies to see our friends' films and we all dig it. I love it because it's great.

There's been a lot of talk about revivals, and a lot of debate about is this a revival of horror, or hasn't horror always been around? One of the things that really makes this type of era of horror distinct from anything else is that we've had nostalgia for '80s horror in the '90s and 2000s, but it seems like right now, there's a respect, almost like they're doing it right, in a way. The source material's being respected, the originators are coming back, and I feel like Creepshow is definitely a part of that.

Listen, I mean you're absolutely right. There's always that, people revisit it, and it's obviously very generational in terms of when young kids watch something and then they grow up and have kids and their kids watch it. That always seems to be cyclic. But there is something unique now about the fact that it's kind of respectable. In the '80s when horror movies were coming out and they were making s***loads of money, everybody s*** on them. Everyone was like, 'This is f***ing low brow. This is trash. Friday the 13th.' And there were some, like Mother's Day and Maniac, that were pretty hardcore. But everybody s*** on horror movies. 'Oh, it's just exploitation, they're just trying to make a buck.' People were making movies, you know? I'll never forget when Silence of the Lambs won Best Picture, they would never call it a horror movie. They're like, 'It's a psychological thriller.' I'm like, 'There's a guy killing people and cutting their f***ing skin off. How is that not a horror movie?' But it was considered low brow, and I think a lot of it was because the Hollywood studio system just looked down their nose at horror. But then you have those milestone markers like Blair Witch Project, which is super successful but genuinely terrifying. That's when everybody goes, 'Oh, horror.' It's just having respect for the genre. Again, that's when I'd go back to Walking Dead. When Darabont made the pilot, you could see that he respected every ounce of the material, and that's what made it so real and that's what made it so great. Good horror succeeds because people respect it. The guys that are now in positions like me are all guys who grew up ravenous for it and loved it, and now they're looking back on it like, 'F***, that's the s*** that shaped me.' Edgar Wright, perfect example. Edgar makes the movies that he loves to make, and they're all based on the s*** that him and Simon and Nick and all those guys watched. Shaun of the Dead is the perfect example – that was such a loving homage to Romero, but with their twist on it. That's one of the greatest examples of where horror can go. I still think Shaun of the Dead has some great horror moments.

They're even getting veterans to come back now. John Carpenter came back to score Halloween, and there just seems to be this interest again of the leaders of the '80s coming back and ushering in. The people they're working with, the new creatives, they seem to get it in a way that maybe some other filmmakers in the '90s and 2000s just ran with the brand.

You know why? I'll tell you exactly why. Because the current filmmakers respect the creators. Listen, if somebody reached out to me and said, 'I love what you did and I'd love to pay tribute to it by doing [something],' that's a pretty amazing compliment. I think in those other instances, they never really gave a s*** about the creators or the people that originally did it. They were just like, 'Hey, let's reboot this.' And then they would do fifty reboots. I don't think Clive Barker was involved with very many of the Hellraiser films after one and two, but they just kept making them. You're like, 'Clive Barker, man, that's the guy!' So I do think that the real issue in that particular instance is the filmmakers reaching out to the creators and going, 'What you did inspired me.' That's what I've been doing for the last four months. Looking back on the stuff that inspired me. Rob Schrab is literally shooting today and was like, 'I'm going to start crying, I'm so excited and happy to be here and so proud.' Those are the people who should be making this material because I've had people go, 'F***, I moved to L.A. because I wanted to work on a movie like Creepshow, and now here I am working on Creepshow.' I think it's all about respect and paying tribute to those guys. Sadly, Wes is gone and Tobe's gone, and it's really sad to think, f***, in just the last two weeks Joe Pilato died, John Buechler died, Larry Cohen died. All these people that I've known for a long time. It's like you want to let them know how important their work is. The f***ing craziest thing is, in the "Finger" episode when Bob is asleep in the freezer, we made a little stuff container and put it in the freezer, and it's right there. And like, four days later, I heard that Larry passed. I was like, 'That's f***ing weird, man.' With Harrison here and Savini here, and all of us with Joe Pilato. I've known Joe for a billion years. Part of it is like, 'F*** man, I want to pay tribute to these guys and let them know how important their work was to me and is to me as soon as I can.' I didn't mean to get depressing, but it's crazy, you know?

Can you talk more about the easter eggs and homages?

There's so many of them! F***. I don't even know where to start.

How do you choose?

Fortunately, my crew – Lucas [Godfrey], our prop maker, and Rene, and the set decoration people – they're sort of the next generation of nerds. I'm in this generation of nerds, and they're like two generations down from me. So they're like, 'F***, we're working on Creepshow!' We were always digging for easter eggs and things to find. Some of the props – there's this kind of famous prop from the original Creepshow which was an ash tray. That came about because they put it one episode and Nick Mastandrea, who was George's key grip at the time, would slide the ash tray into every episode as a joke. One of my best friends owns the original ash tray, and I said, 'Dude, you've gotta send it down.' So it's in every episode. We've been doing that, and in the Stephen King episode, there's probably 30 Stephen King easter eggs in there because I want people to look and then they'll watch it a couple more times. There's a lot of little things. Comic books, the voodoo doll – I forget half of them because we've been shooting for seven weeks. I'll probably go back and go, 'Oh s***, I forgot about that one!' But it's been fun because even the art department guys come and go, 'Look, we made this!' and I'm like 'That's great, I didn't think about that!' Even "The House of the Head," which is the Josh Malerman story, which Cailey Fleming stars in – who's in Walking Dead, she plays young Judith, she's f***ing unbelievable actress – it's a really great psychological thriller about a little girl who comes home and her dollhouse is haunted. She goes to the store and she's like, 'I need help,' and she goes to the store and gets a cop and puts the cop toy in and then the cop gets killed and she goes and gets an Indian. We did a little Chief Woodenhead from Creepshow 2 as the Indian. All that nerdy s*** where we're doing it and I'm like, 'No one's ever going to notice this,' and on set, half the crew is like, 'Is that Chief Woodenhead?!' I'm like, 'How the f*** do you guys know that? This is great.' So there's a lot of that kind of stuff, and it's been fun. Now I only have four days left. If you'd have asked me in February, I'd have been [crying], 'It's so hard.'

Do you think if you had a second season, you'd do this type of schedule again?

No. I got greedy. I'll be really honest. I wanted to tell as many stories as I could. I just thought if you're going to do Creepshow, it's not one story, one hour. It just didn't feel right. So we really jumped into the whirlpool deep, but thank God the crew that we had, and Aimee Holmberg our production designer, and the makeup effects guys and everybody, it's been amazing. The fact that nobody's ever said, 'No, we can't do that.' They've always been like, 'Well, we should do this.' You walk on set and you're like, 'Holy f***, how'd you guys do that in three days?' We built a set, you shoot on it for three days, you go to another set and shoot on it for three days and you walk back, and it's completely rebuilt into a different [thing]. How do you do that? I wouldn't have even thought. Like, there was a morgue here yesterday, and then three days ago there was an apartment here, and now there's another. It's pretty astounding. I was telling the Walking Dead line producer that working on this show has been like the Matrix, where you just get plugged in and a second later, you're like, 'I know kung fu.' I've learned everything about making movies, and I've been making movies for a long f***ing time. But it's like [mimics being plugged in], OK, got it. So I think in retrospect, when we're done editing and mixing and sound effects, and there's a poster that's out and I'm at Comic-Con talking about it, it's going to be like, 'It was like a dream. How the f*** did we do it?' It's like they say, you just never stop shooting. When I was directing, I was like, you can't stop. I felt kind of bad for the crew, because I was literally going, 'All right guys, now we're over here!' and we shoot that, and 'Now we're over here!' and we shoot that, all running around, but they all stayed in it, man, and that's a tribute to this group of people. It was hard, and I move fast, so they're like, 'Yeah that'd be great but –' and I'm already gone, off to the next set someplace.