Spiders terrify Greg Nicotero and that fear has translated into making the visual effects artist and showrunner one of the most prominent names in the horror genre. He got his start with George Romero on “Day of the Dead,” and Nicotero feels his spirit around him all the time, including on Nicotero’s Shudder anthology series, “Creepshow.”
“I’ve always been a big fan of the genre; I’ve always loved being scared and scaring people,” Nicotero said during the series’ Thursday panel at the CTAM Winter 2021 Press Tour. To be the showrunner on a show he can design, develop, direct, is a dream come true for him.
But one question early on in Season 2 was how the series would navigate an episode starring rocker Marilyn Manson, who was recently accused of sexual assault and domestic violence by several women. Nicotero found out about the Manson allegations at the same time as everybody else — but there was never any hesitation to do the right thing and pull the episode.
“I don’t think we thought about it more than four seconds,” he said. “We stand by the decision. We stand by the support that that shows.” There was a slight restructuring in the wake of its removal that necessitated pulling up an episode that includes Molly Ringwald. “We just had to keep going,” Nicotero said.
The show was one of the first back in production during the pandemic, in August, before union regulations had been established. “I was initially a little hesitant,” he said. “I started using a lot of my connections with my actor friends [in Season 1],” said Nicotero. This season, he had the opportunity to bring in Keith David. “Keith came in and he was in our second episode and just jumped right in. You realize everyone was in it for the right reason.”
And Season 2 episode “Model Kid” is a personal story for Nicotero that reminds him of his childhood. “The fact that when we were younger it wasn’t cool to love monsters,” he said. “It’s okay to be kinda nerdy and love monsters [now].” There are several subliminal and personal messages within the episode including the child star of the episode bears a striking resemblance to Charlie in “Willy Wonka.”
“Horror, there’s so much subtext to it,” said Nicotero. People would dismiss the horror genre without examining the deep-seated fear of it. “The greatest filmmakers in the world…they learned how to prey on those fears,” he said. The show has tried to find stories that say something about who we are and the world around us.
“Most of these stories were developed before the pandemic had even happened,” he said, and their relevancy has only increased. The episode with David examines class distinctions and how people are perceived as lesser-than. “I was really intrigued that there would be people in the world who would look at people a different way,” he said.
“Re-Animator” actress Barbara Crampton plays an entitled “Karen,” as she says in Season 2, who meets up with a disgusting creature that clogs the pipes of her building. Nicotero said you can always equate these episodes to an iconic moment in horror history and Crampton’s episode is a tribute to Ash’s evil hand from “Evil Dead 2.”
He would love to do some sequels or retellings of the original “Creepshow” features but there’s a question of rights. They had plans to redo “The Crate,” complete with Hal Holbrook, but it became too complicated and they had to abandon it.
Season 2 is diving into the deep end, according to Nicotero. Everything, from the stories to the production design is enhanced from Season 1. “When fans embraced the show I could take a deep breath,” he said.
“Creepshow” Season 2 debuts on Shudder April 1.