Let’s start with the basics here. A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous is a Christmas story of sorts. I’m not one of those people who are quick to question such things (people who say Gremlins isn’t a Christmas movie sort of make me wince, alright?).
So, what sort of Christmas story is it? IMDb pretty accurately summarizes it: “An anxious man who is trying to figure out his disorder enlists into an organization called Shapeshifters Anonymous without realizing that Santa Clauses are after him.”
Would I say, “It was one of the most bizarre descriptions I had ever heard”? I don’t know. I own the movie Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and have my own bizarre Santa serial called The Santa Matrix where Jerry Fallwell is a character and where all the elves’ bodies are repatriated spirits of evil or otherwise sinful people (rapists, murderers, god knows what else).
Nevertheless, stories about werewolves and such being hunted by Santa Claus can’t be considered 100% average.
Does it Have Merit?
I found it quite interesting, even if it’s not a magnificent installment of the “Creepshow” franchise. I laughed at a few things, and generally like digs at the Santa Claus myth. Even as a kid, I was always kind of skeptical about Santa Claus’ existence, but seeing so many bizarre fictional perversions of the idea drives the point home. That’s where the fun comes from. No one in their right mind would take “A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous” very seriously, and why even bother saying “This episode sucks!”?
It’s one of those things you might as well let wash over you. Maybe put this episode on when you’re just lazing around, as something to half-pay attention to. There really isn’t much to lose. Also, I’ve come to respect Santa Claus over the years, as a relatively safe means of teaching children the power of a lie. Of course, the lesson is never learned as people remain gullible as Hell throughout their lives, but at least Santa gives an opportunity to wise up and understand the duplicitous nature of myth-making.
Am I Saying It’s Bad? No, Not Really
This movie won’t drive fear into your heart. It won’t make you seriously question the Santa myth, the safety of Christmas shopping or leaving out cookies and milk for Santa and his reindeer, or a potential body-horror curse involving failure to kiss under the mistletoe (not a bad story idea, actually). It does, however, provide a sinister Santa (Tom Glynn), a Were-tortoise (Pete Burris), and the equally interesting were-cheetah (Anna Camp), among other special gifts.
Frankly, this story could make an interesting video game (I can imagine an 8-bit version for the Nintendo (NES). Also, because of the success of Creepshow and Shudder in general, this episode will probably be preserved on the network for a very long time. So, if you couldn’t afford it right then, you’ll probably be able to check it out when your budget’s less tight and you can afford the $6 a month to subscribe to Shudder (hey, we’re still in COVID season, and some budgets are very tight!).
I wasn’t joking that this could make a decent videogame. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if Santa Claus would bring me one next Christmas (again, I’d prefer something for the good ol’ NES, for which people can still make and sell new cartridge games).
Finally, Final Thoughts
The truth about Santa Claus was probably one of the best presents I ever received, though I had my suspicions all along. After all, isn’t it better to know that Santa Claus is actually your loved ones and that they just told me this story to have a little bit of fun (even if at my expense)? The question is: Would I have been less inclined to believe in Santa Claus had they told me a weird-ass, twisted tale like this one?
I don’t know, but we’re told a lot of different stories that don’t withstand scrutiny, aside from Santa Claus. I think horror can, under the right conditions, remind us that life is brimming with bullshit. Holiday horror tends to take myths and stretch them to their extremes. Aside from horror often being fun, it can challenge our assumptions about the world. A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous encourages us to ask, “Why would we just be limited to werewolves? Why not were-tortoises?” Why not were-tortoises indeed.
And the Christmas season is an endless well of horror potential. I can imagine a tale of some lost reindeer needing to resort to cannibalism. Title: “Santa’s Lost Reindeer: The Denizens of Venison Death.” Also, feel free to ask about my parody of Rudolph called “Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer.”
What are your thoughts on A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous? Did it shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly or put too much coal in your stocking? Is reviewing holiday horror out of season lame? Ho ho ho at us in the comments!