You get by with a little help from your friends, especially when your friends love monsters, blood, and all the things that go bump in the night just as much as you do, right? When it comes to the craft of horror filmmaking, Greg Nicotero, SFX creator, producer, and director, has a pretty great support system around him and a wealthy career behind him. Being the creative executive of Shudder’s Creepshow anthology series means he’s got a lot of work to do, but work drenched in nostalgia, respect, and guts.
Sitting down with Greg in his office decorated with piles of body part props, Creepshow posters, calendars, notes, and memorabilia, the director comfortably reminisced about his experiences and expressed his excitement and appreciation for the future. He happily shared what easter eggs to look for (you won’t find them in this article), advice from his larger-than-life group of friends, and what making Creepshow means to him.
When it comes to Shudder’s continuation of Creepshow, Nicotero begins with “It’s just all been a blur of monsters and mayhem and craziness.” He reached out to almost every actor he’s ever worked with to get them on board with the project.
He states, “I think the best part was that everybody wrote me back. I’m like ‘Come on! This is our chance to do what we always want to do!’ which is work with our friends and it’s quick. You come in, you shoot a couple of days and you leave. In that regard it’s been fun, but it’s been the hardest. This was insanely hard because it’s kind of my baby.
Adrien Barbeau and I were shooting and we did one take in a series. She came over to me and said ‘There was one in there I loved it’ and I said ‘Me too.’ I let her know the other ones we were just going to play around with and that she did great and she said, ‘You sound like George Romero.’ She said ‘When I did the first Creepshow, George kept saying “Bigger! Be bigger! Trust me.’
I got a little chill. Through the whole tornado of the production and wanting it to be great, and threading the needles of practical effects and getting the actors and the amazing production design together, when she said that for five minutes I was like ‘Oh shit.’ So it was pretty great.”
Conceiving the new Creepshow series is a very interesting story and it seems that once it got started there was no way to stop it, especially when the stories started to roll in.
Nicotero explains, “I was doing some press in Australia for The Walking Dead and I’m sitting with Michael Rooker getting ready to fly back home. I went to read something on the plane and there was a book called ‘Nights Of The Living Dead’ and I had never heard of that before. It’s a series of short stories that all take place the same night as Night of The Living Dead. So I bought it and I read this one story written by a guy named Craig Angler and I loved it. I’m like ‘Fuck, man. I want to shoot that.’ Like just as a short, just for fun. Not that I don’t have enough zombie shit in my world, but I like that I went ‘Fuck, it must be good if it’s a zombie story that I want to shoot.’ So we reached out and it turns out he is an executive at Shudder which meant we literally work for the same company and they were like ‘Hey, we’re thinking about rebooting Creepshow.’
They asked if I would be interested in being the creative executive and I agreed. I was there on set when they did the original Creepshow. George gave me my first job, so it was like my dream creature. My goal was to honor the spirit of writers in terms of having some old school writers and some new writers and people that inspired me.
I love short stories and short horror is the greatest because there’s no rules. You can really do whatever the fuck you want in a short timeframe. So, I went out to Dave Schow and Josh Malerman, Rob Schrab, and I actually wrote Stephen King and said, ‘It can’t be Creepshow without a Stephen King story.’ I was kind of blown away by how great my friends were and everybody that responded when I would reach out and ask what they thought. Within minutes they would get back to me.
Picking the stories was really fun for me. I was still filming The Walking Dead while we were picking the stories and then I had conferences with all the writers and I set them off into their world and I wrote one draft of another Stephen King story which was fun and I’ve been doing a lot of writing on the scripts. It’s been just a whole different world for me too, which is great because it’s so much fun.
Josh Malerman sent a bunch of stories and I was like ‘Fuck this is great!’ This was before Birdbox and all that other stuff. He sent one over called ‘House of the Head,’ one called ‘Leaving So Soon’ and all these stories. It was like sitting in the greatest candy shop in the world.”
Interview continues on the next page…