(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we turn the page on possibly the worst horror anthology film ever made.)

Shudder is a streaming service focused heavily on horror movies – you should not only already know this but also be a current subscriber – but in addition to offering up old favorites and forgotten gems they’re also in the original programming game. their newest endeavor on that front is a series adaptation of the classic Creepshow (1982) with all new stories. It’s been a mixed bag with only a handful of the twelve segments approaching the original film’s level, but it shows continued promise as it wraps up its first season this week.

The lucky ones among you probably think the streaming series is the third cinematic outing for the property after the original and 1987’s perfectly middling Creepshow 2, but you’d be sadly wrong. Creepshow 3 went straight to video in 2006, and all seven of the people who’ve seen it have either gone mad or gone missing. That’s probably a fact. I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone, though, so rather than avoid a movie with reportedly no redeeming values I instead sought it out.

And I’ve now seen Creepshow 3. I would ask you to send help, but I fear it’s too late.

The Beginning – Creepshow (1982) / Creepshow 2 (1987)

A young boy is punished by his father for reading horror comics, but it’s the dad who’ll be punished even worse by the end of Creepshow‘s wraparound segment. Adult siblings return to complain and honor their deceased father, but their snotty ways see a comeuppance when the dead man rises from the grave in “Father’s Day.” An ignorant loner breaks open a meteorite threatening both his life and the world’s in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” A jealous husband murders his wife and the man she’s cheating with, but revenge is wet in “Something to Tide You Over.” A quiet professor faces off against a monster of a wife and another one in “The Crate.” A wealthy prick with an extreme aversion to germs is overrun by cockroaches in “They’re Creeping Up on You.”

A young boy is bullied when all he wants to do is read horror comics, but it’s the bullies who’ll be punished even worse by the end of Creepshow 2‘s wraparound segment. Young-ish thugs murder an old couple for cash and trinkets, and the statue standing guard out front comes looking for vengeance in “Old Chief Wood’nhead.” Four friends are trapped in the middle of a pond by a sentient trash bag in “The Raft.” An adulterous woman commits a hit and run while driving home in the rain, but the man she drove over won’t let her forget in “The Hitch-hiker.”

The DTV Plot – Creepshow 3 (2006)

The Creep now sells hot dogs, I guess, and somehow that’s the wraparound segment for Creepshow 3? Alice is unhappy with her family and neighbors, but she sees things in a new light after a magical TV remote changes her circumstances in dramatic and gooey ways in “Alice.” A bored security guard buys an old radio that talks to him, offers kind words, and urges him towards murder in “The Radio.” A call girl who enjoys killing her johns meets her match in a john who enjoys killing everyone in “Call Girl.” A beloved professor invites two past students home to meet his wife-to-be, and they quickly come to suspect she’s a robot in “The Professor’s Wife.” A mean-spirited doctor is haunted by a homeless man he let die choking on a hot dog in “Haunted Dog.”

Talent Shift

To be fair, you can really only go down when shifting away from George Romero and Stephen King, but while Creepshow 2 takes a gentle descent by keeping on Romero as writer and featuring a director with direct ties to horror anthology series like Tales from the Darkside (1983-1986) and Monsters (1988-1991), Creepshow 3 just dives straight into toilet with the writing/directing duo of Ana Clavell & James Glenn Dudelson. Is that too harsh? I’m sorry. They previously stuck their noses into the DTV “sequel” game with 2005’s Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, and their fecal-flavored assault on Romero’s memory continues here.

The drop continues on the acting front too as legends like Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Nielsen, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour, and Holt McCallany are replaced by nobody you’ve ever heard of or seen before. Well, the always welcome A.J. Bowen is here too, but his appearance in one of the segments isn’t nearly enough to tilt the movie in the right direction.

How the Sequel Respects the Originals

1982’s Creepshow remains one of the best horror anthology movies yet, and while its position at the very top is arguable there’s no question it’s up there with the likes of Trick ‘r Treat (2007) and the best of Amicus Productions’ anthology output from the 70s. It nails the old EC Comics style of terror, violence, twists, and dark humor, and it captures it all with visual nods to the comics as well. The collaboration between director George Romero and writer Stephen King is a pitch perfect one resulting in one hell of a fun and memorable horror/comedy. Creepshow 2 followed five years later, and while it’s a lesser beast it maintains the feel of the original to good effect with its tales of bad behavior and karmic justice. Creepshow 3 may share the name, but it lacks everything and anything that makes those first two films succeed.

So no, I guess it doesn’t respect the originals in the slightest.

How the Sequel Shits on the Originals

Where. To. Start.

While the first two films – the only ones worth referring to as Creepshow movies – play with the horror comic conceit in visual ways like seeing The Creep or catching glimpses of comic panels and ads for X-Ray specs and Venus Flytrap babies, this film doesn’t even attempt it. Instead, we’re given CG “animation” apparently created by blind, thumbless mole-rats six generations deep into an inbreeding program, and a brief look at a poor man’s Creep at the very end.

The segments are rough, but before we even get into content can we spare a second for those titles? Look again at the segment names in the original film – “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and “Something to Tide You Over” offer a taste – and then look at the ones here. The segment about Alice is called “Alice.” The one about a radio is called “The Radio.” The story involving the call girl is titled “The Call Girl.” Sweet jeebus that is a depressing lack of imagination.

Things don’t get much better in the segments themselves as terrible writing and mostly poor acting immediately identify them as painful tests of endurance. Even when the core conceit shows potential the stories are left to bog down in sad attempts at humor and rough dialogue. There are no fun twist endings or surprises, no pitch black irony or satisfying comeuppances, and while the practical effects work is perfectly okay none of it stands out. The filmmaking itself is standard and dull with no nods towards the comic sensibility, and the attempt to tie them all together by having characters move between stories brings nothing of value or interest to the experience.

“Alice” feels like a rejected episode of Monsters, and look, I like Monsters but that’s saying something. Story-wise we’re given a disgruntled teen, one no more malignant than most, who’s treated poorly by a family that we quickly come to hate too. Some unexplained shenanigans involving the TV remote control sees its buttons affect her surroundings in, well, ways – dad tries to adjust the color, and suddenly her family now consists of black people; dad hits the subtitle button, and now her family are Hispanic and speaking in Spanish – that ultimately lead to her end. She’s not unlikable enough for the premise to work. “The Radio” shows promise early on, but it does nothing of note with its premise involving the piece of electronics telling the man what to do. Instead it goes pretty much where you expect with little fun along the way. “The Call Girl” is a one-note story hanging entirely on an end reveal that lands with a meh, and worse, too much of its weight is given away too early. There’s a fun conceit late in “The Professor’s Wife” that leads to some plentiful bloodletting, but it’s a long journey getting there and it wraps up in a wholly unsatisfying way. Finally, “The Haunted Dog” is an especially grueling segment that just drags everything to a halt. It’s nothing more than a simple tale of ghostly revenge, but it is so slow moving from point A to point B that any hope of satisfaction or enjoyment is simply DOA.

And did I mention this guy below is the film’s take on The Creep?

Conclusion

Look, Creepshow 3 exists, but that’s not a good reason to actually watch it. It’s a cheap cash grab through and through, and it couldn’t even do that right as the film’s road to release and home video has been a messy one. Title and last second appearance of The Creep aside, the film never feels like a Creepshow film. Had it been released as its own entity it might have stood a better chance – it would still be bad, but at least it would be bad on its own terms and without a monumental comparison hanging over its ugly, poorly written head.

Keep that downward momentum going with more DTV Descent!

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