We had the opportunity today to assist at a virtual press roundtable with Greg Nicotero
Creepshow, the hit anthology series executive produced by showrunner Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead), returns for season three Thursday, September 23 on Shudder as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle. Based on the 1982 horror comedy classic, Creepshow is still the most fun you’ll ever have being scared. A comic book comes to life in a series of vignettes, exploring terrors ranging from murder, creatures, monsters, and delusions to the supernatural and unexplainable. You never know what will be on the next page…
Q : i'm curious how if the creature ideas come before the scripts because like just in those two stories in that premiere episode like that Bee lady and the plant corpse were those kind of like the original seeds for the ideas and then the stories written around it or how does that kind of work ?
Greg Nicotero : well actually the stories were you know the Mom's story script was based on a short story so they usually come after we have at least just an outline. For the most part we do the outlines or the scripts first and then they come from it comes from there. i mean the Queen bee was interesting because when the team atKnB really loves working on creep show because every episode there's a different monster it's a 12 foot werewolf or it's the big Queen bee and the fun thing about that particular transformation which is of course my ode to John Carpenter and Rob Bottin was the whole Queen bee transformation was a miniature it was a third scale model we didn't even have the only element that we had that was full scale was her head.
Q : I had a question about the props in Skeletons in the closet. You know there were so many great nods and it was like a lovely and a horror were those your personal props
Greg Nicotero : my first job on Day of the dead was buying skeletons and Tom had said oh you go to this place and you order skeletons and they were real so i was like freaked out that i was getting real skeletons from somewhere in Europe and so then Tom told me about this story where after dawn of the dead one of the skeletons that he had used ended up in a costume shop so the whole story of Skeletons is based on a true story. it's based on a real skeleton that was found in a costume shop outside Pittsburgh and when the county coroner looked at it was a real skeleton so they buried it so it's buried in a cemetery in Pittsburgh so the whole skeletons in the closet when I was doing research for that story i went that's insane but if you were like the greatest dawn of the dead fan on the planet you would dig that skeleton up and you would put it in your collection so that's where the idea came from and then between myself and you know John Esposito then we put like every nerd tribute that you could between you know i called Don Coscarelli and said hey man i got a Phantasm gag i want to do and he was all for it i said yeah it's a tribute to your mom collecting props from your movies and he was like really my mom you could do it go ahead have a good time so it was really between that and the psycho bit even look i mean the fact that we make a Rosa Cleb from Russia with love joke I think there's probably six people on the planet and three of them are last named Nicotero that will actually get that joke or the little nelly gyrocopter but you know what i giggle every time I think about it so it's just fun you know. I wish i had a club shoe actually but I know.
Q : My question is what draws you to the types of episodes that you want to direct because obviously you're not directing all of them so i'm curious what makes you gravitate towards certain stories to want to kind of tell it your way .
Greg Nicotero : well it's funny because i think every story you know we get a lot of submissions we get a lot of outlines and a lot of scripts and you know i think just because of my background you know when i read the stories i visualize everything in my head instantly and i think there were three episodes that i immediately read that i'm like okay i want to direct it so it was model kid public television of the dead and night of living late show. Those three they sang to me i mean like when i was a little kid i painted aurora monster models and you know the idea of being able to go back into an actual movie and be a character you know we used to play this game at KNB EFX Group when we would be working he's like okay if you could go back in time to work on three movies what would they be and people would always say creature within black lagoon or King Kong and anime King Kong you know like there's this weird sort of fascination with being able to be a part. So the stories that I really responded to the ones that I really felt like i wanted to direct all had elements of that in it. So anyway i was saying that's really where most of my most of the stuff for me comes into play is that it's got to be stuff that I that has some weird personal connection to me and i kind of i pick most of the stories that affect me in some way or another. that was our little jack Davis Frankenstein so I consider myself really lucky to play in this sandbox that i get to play in and you know i always thought you know George Romero always used that analogy which i thought was very interesting when we would talk about zombies. George would talk about the zombie genre in his work and he would talk about being the only kid in the sandbox and I really loved the idea that he equated his work to a kid playing in sandbox
Q : we thins season one is the most epic thing she's ever seen and how many gallons of fake blood do you use in an episode ?
Greg Nicotero : thank you by the way. You know I really felt like season one was really sort of very experimental for me because i loved playing with different conventions and with The finger having Clark be able to not only break the fourth wall talk to the camera but then to just be as crazy and outrageous as it was i really enjoyed that that element of the show. I feel like with season two i really had a chance to try to spread my wings a lot and lean into things that were much more unconventional and outrageous so you know being able to figure out how to get in and out of a movie or you know the television series for public television i really felt like we were we were thinking very far out of the box and i think a lot of that has to do with just the confidence that i had going into season two and three you know people really responded to and respected what we were trying to do with the show and that gave me a lot of confidence to spread my wings a lot more. So you know i think we used we don't we didn't we didn't use that much blood it just looked like a lot more blood than we really had uh for the finger but i i would probably say that we used more blood on shape shifters anonymous when we were when the Santa clauses were being massacred by the wear boar and the where cheetah and all the other silly characters that we created.
Q : Which are the good ingredients for you to create a great horror anthology series ?
Greg Nicotero : well i think for Creepshow since we were one of the first anthology shows to hit the air you have the opportunity to experiment not only with different themes you know some episodes can be darker can be scarier some can be a little more outrageous but we also have the comic book storytelling motif to lean into that allows us to not only tell more of the story via comic book panels and word balloons and unique green screen backgrounds but it gives us great transitions and it creates a mood you know and i really feel like we used every trick in the book with Creepshow to give the audience a new experience every time they tune in they're not just experiencing another episode with the same theme or the same feel you know when you look at the first episode which is mums and Queen Bee you know moms has a very unique social commentary about social revolution and alcoholism whereas Queen bee talks a lot about social media and what fans believe their right to know everything that they want to know about the people that they idolize so you know some of these stories are told within the context of the Creepshow genre and i think that that gives us a great opportunity to tell those kinds of stories and for people to accept a little more sort of social commentary that's not being shoved down their throats but is being told in a much more entertaining way.
Q : Which is what was the most difficult scene for you to shoot in this third season and why ?
Greg Nicotero : i'm thinking about that you know and Skeletons in the closet i think recreating the Psycho shower scene seems like it would because you have all of this visual reference available to you but there are so many technical elements that i think it was one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding because i felt like i had a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock and seeing the reason that he put the camera in certain places and the story that he was trying to tell and then you know we had our Phantasm reference and then we had our shining tribute you know there were a lot of great opportunities in there and it's and it's been something that's been kind of a staple in my filmmaking repertoire which is sort of paying tribute to other filmmakers and other effects artists by recreating elements of theirs and sort of translating it into the particular story that i'm telling. So it was really a lot of fun and also interesting to be doing it you know seeing the blood in color and then realizing that it was so much more shocking to see it in color than it was seeing it in black and white because when we shot it we shot it in color and then we found the transition into black and white for that scene and i remember looking at the dailies or even looking through the camera and seeing the blood and thinking how horrific it was of a crime scene and i think it we probably ended up using versions of those shots that were a little less bloody but i have funny video of me flicking blood on the actress while we're shooting the close-up of her feet with blood hitting into the water and just wondering like wow i wonder it was flicking the blood when they shot in 1960.
Q : Which guest stars this season really embraced their dark side ?
Greg Nicotero : well i would have to say a lot of them. I mean James Remar who i've been friends with since you know 1989 we details from The dark side the movie together he's a big movie fan and a big movie buff and horror buff so he was more than willing to come in and do the episode because he was very excited about the subject matter and he wanted to do a horror thing and same with Michael Rooker you know. i mean Michael came in. i have obviously a great history with Michael from the watch dad and he loved the script and really was excited and interested to come in and do any you know he wanted to do a Creepshow episode for season one it just both of them really embraced their characters and brought them to life
Q : i mean i'm a huge Walking Dead fan so i have to ask what do you think is like the biggest difference or like similarity between working on the two shows i mean they're both involving like creature effects and stuff i'm wondering what the biggest differences are between the two projects ?
Greg Nicotero : well i can tell you the biggest challenge on creep show is every three and a half days we have a new cast we're creating a new world you know with the walking dead you know we have our established communities. You know we have the hilltop and we have the places and you have the cast that comes in and they know their characters they know the story so to do 16 episodes and tell one story arc through 16 episodes is a very different exercise than to bring an entirely new cast and new director, new script and new set every three and a half days it's definitely something that i hadn't really thought a lot about when we first started the show because i was like you know i've been shooting dead for 10 years and you know i understand television episodic but Creepshow is a completely different animal because of the fact that you're you know you build some sets and then when one episode is finished then you rebuild that set into something else it's much more like what it probably was like to shoot the Twilight zone or Night gallery at the universal lot you know i mean i remember Joe Alves who's the production designer on jaws telling me that they would build standing sets on night gallery and as soon as one episode was finished they would just redress the sets into a different for a different episode so i feel like we were really working in a much more traditional anthology sense by sort of flipping sets and then looking at a particular set of going well what can we build with this oh wait what if we check this wall out and so it's a different muscle that you use but it's one that really forces you to be ready every second.
The Creep shows audience members darkly grim horror stories from the pages of the Creepshow comic book.
Based on Creepshow by Stephen King & George A. Romero
Composer : Christopher Drake
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 17
Running time : 42–45 minutes
Production companies : Monster Agency Productions, Striker Entertainment,, Taurus Entertainment
Distributor : Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Original network : Shudder
Original release September 26, 2019 – present
We would like to thanks Emily Hunter for this great vitual press roundtable and to Greg Nicotero to answer to our questions.