Reviews · TV

“Night of the Living Late Show” Sees ‘Creepshow’ Go Out on a High Note

The latest episode of ‘Creepshow’ stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Honest!
Justin Long in Creepshow
By  · Published on April 29th, 2021

The second season of Shudder’s Creepshow anthology series has come to an end after just five episodes. Don’t worry, though, as a third season has already been greenlit. Each previous episode has featured two story segments, but the finale features only one — “Night of the Living Late Show” — and while it may not be the best the series has to offer it’s definitely the most expensive-looking. (Yes, I’m still talking about the Creepshow series.) Like the season’s actual best segment, “Public Television of the Dead,” the finale ties in existing horror films and characters to deliver something of a fun little love letter to genre fans.

“Night of the Living Late Show”
Director: Greg Nicotero
Writer: Dana Gould

Simon (Justin Long) is a man with a passion for movies. Well, for at least one movie in particular anyway. His new invention, the Immersopod, is designed for film fans like himself as a virtual reality home theater system — it literally puts the user into the movie. It’s an idea worth billions, but profit is far removed from his immediate goal as instead it’s lust that drives his interests. More specifically, it’s his lust for Silvia Tortosa as Countess Irina Petrovska in 1972’s Horror Express. Simon enters the film, fanboys out over Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (understandably), and then starts making moves on the Countess. What he neglects through this entire adventure, though, is his real-world wife Renee (D’Arcy Carden). A woman scorned, as they say…

Dana Gould’s second foray into the world of Creepshow after 2019’s “Skincrawlers” sees him staying behind the camera as the segment’s writer. The man’s well-known love of the genre comes shining through as Simon’s appreciation for Horror Express — a legitimately fun and creepy little horror/thriller set aboard a train hurtling through a snowy landscape — and his geeking out over meeting Lee and Cushing is all of us. Simon’s error, and the segment’s morality lesson, becomes a cautionary tale about obsession taking precedence over real-life connections and responsibilities. For him it’s boning a fictional Countess while neglecting his actual wife, for others it could be videogames, films, yoga, or gender reveal parties. Don’t let your hobbies take over your life, people.

Series shepherd and frequent director Greg Nicotero clearly realized that this finale, an extended entry running ten to twenty minutes longer than the usual, would take a bit more oomph, and it’s evident in the finished product. The one constant throughout the Creepshow series has been its insanely low budget as evidenced by some truly cheap looking segments. It’s not always a bad thing as some stories deliver without bells and whistles, but “Night of the Living Late Show” would have been absolutely sunk without more money behind its effects.

Long’s immersion into Horror Express, while far from flawless, looks pretty damn good. Sharp editing, stand-in sets and actors, and the f/x work to complete the illusion, and it all makes for an appealing piece of tech that any movie lover would jump at the chance to own. The device itself may just be a stylized tanning bed, but it’s believable enough as “an escape pod for life.” The couple’s house is also several steps up from the usual soundstage locales typically called home by the series, and the end result is arguably the best-looking segment in the series’ short history.

Gould’s script is powered off its concept and ends with a suitable comeuppance for a show built on the EC Comics mold, but even with its extended running time it stumbles some in the details. Simon is ecstatic in describing his VR, but he neglects to mention that the user can actually (and inexplicably) interact with a film’s characters — they can essentially alter what happens in the movie. His character is equally slim in detail as he’s little more than an obnoxious horny dude. By contrast, Renee is more of a fully fledged character as we see her doubting her life choices, trying to mend her relationship with a father who never liked Simon in the first place, and even stepping up to go toe to toe with the other woman.

“Night of the Living Late Show” is a strong episode and a suitable finale for Creepshow‘s second season. It does waste several minutes with its intro/outro animation featuring the Creep in VR versions of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, but the episode itself is an entertaining tale for horror fans. The season’s continued shift away from stories that “feel” like Creepshow remains an odd choice, but it may have found a different niche as the two best segments of the season instead lean heavily into existing genre fare. That’s hardly something you can build an anthology series off of, but for now at least, it’s at least enough to bring fun into the fold and leave us looking forward to a season three.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.