GREG NICOTERO is a happy man. Busy, but happy. When SFX catches up with the horror master on the phone, he’s been facing zombies during the day on season 11 of The Walking Dead and by night he’s deep in the edits for season three of Creepshow. “I turn 58 years old in two weeks and I’m still going to work with the same amount of giddy glee that I did when I stepped foot on the set of Day Of The Dead in 1984,” he laughs.
But hang on – season three of Creepshow? “When we were shooting season two,” Nicotero says, talking about the new episodes that air in April, “we kind of rolled right into season three. I think the network was just waiting to announce it, but by the time they had announced it, we were almost done filming it already,” he chuckles. “We were very fortunate, we were one of the first long-form productions to get back to work and we piggybacked an entire third season onto our production slate.”
YOU CREEP WHAT YOU SHOW
Shudder’s frankly brilliant reboot of George A Romero’s 1982 anthology movie broke records when it debuted in September 2019 – world events meant that an animated Halloween special followed at Halloween 2020, and the intended first episode of season two, “Shapeshifters Anonymous”, became a holiday event in December.
With the second season delayed, and a return to The Walking Dead imminent, producer Nicotero had to move between production “bubbles”. “But it’s fun!” he exclaims. “I mean, I’m having a blast.”
How do you follow up with that “difficult second album” when it comes to curating horror stories?
“I’ll be really honest with you,” he begins tentatively. “Season one of Creepshow, I felt like I grabbed the bull by the horns and I was holding on for dear life. I felt George’s spirit all around me and the obligation and responsibility to make Creepshow something amazing. I’m very proud of what we were able to do for season one.
“But I will tell you with an abundance of pride that I think in season two, really, the show has just exploded. I feel like creatively I know what the tone of the show is. I feel like I hit my stride in terms of the stories that I wanted to tell and the fun that I wanted to have making the show.
“The episodes, as they’re turning out now, I watch them and I get goosebumps – like, watching shows that I directed or that I wrote – and I didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect to go from season one where I was dipping my toes into the pool to season two, where I was diving off of a high dive into the deep end. I had a really, really good time.”
It shows on screen. If you loved season one of Creepshow, you’re going to love season two. We gasped, we cried – and that was just in the first two episodes. “I started embracing a lot more of my inner Tim Burton in terms of some of the storytelling. I just wanted to have a good time and have it be fun, and outrageous and entertaining. And I’m so proud of what we’ve done. It’s like I want to explode, I’m so happy.”
He admits it wasn’t quite the same the first time round, however…
“I remember the feeling that I had when we released season one – I was terrified to read any of the reviews because I was just nervous. I really wanted the show to be well received by the fans.”
He highlights working on “Shapeshifters Anonymous”, the intended season two premiere, as changing his perceptions on the show. “It was funny because working with actors in a bit more of a comic world instead of straight horror, it really was kind of liberating for me,” he explains.
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