Gregory Horror Show: The Nightmare Begins... Vol. 1
How do you begin a review on such an unconventional show? I guess you start by trying to define what it is.
Gregory Horror Show is a compilation of two-and-a-half minute episodes, each of which contains a single common fear and ends with Gregory, the evil rodent proprietor of Gregory House, giving a small philosophical concluding statement to the episode. Yet that doesn't even touch on what Gregory Horror Show really is.
We see this world of 3-D CG animation through the eyes of the narrator, a human businessman who gets lost in Gregory's bizarre dimension of horrible fantasy. We never actually see the narrator; this is a first-person experience. In fact, my initial impression was that it reminded me of polygon-animated computer games; I was wondering where my hand cursor was to drag objects and start investigating this world. So it does not surprise me that Gregory Horror Show is a Playstation 2 game and a board game as well. It lends itself to that medium very easily.
Be warned, Gregory Horror Show is not anime, not even close to anime. If it did not have such a quirky tone, I would have had a hard time thinking it was even from Japan. In many ways, the show reminds me of late night Level 13 animation shorts or edgy, macabre Flash web cartoons. Characters include: Neko Zombie, a cat that has had all its orifices sewed shut; Catherine, a pink lizard nurse who loves to draw blood from people with a huge needle; Judgment Boy, a hanging scale that lives to torment people with their past decisions; and father-and-son puppies with axes in their heads, complaining of splitting headaches. This is definitely experimental animation at its best and worst.
As for the horror... The animation itself isn't shiver inducing, except at its polygon flatness, but it does allow for a suspension of belief. The horror is more psychologically induced because the narrator wanted to leave boring reality, and now he's stuck in Gregory's world. It is the horror of knowing you are damned by your own hand. The animated characters are scary too, in the way that malicious puppets are scary and dangerous. It's like a kid's show gone terribly wrong, with random bits of psychobabble tossed in.
In only small snippets, it is remarkable that there is a storyline. The story is a little confusing, but the narrator at the beginning of each episode helps clear it up. The plot is the narrator's mental condition, which Gregory prods and explores in Cryptkeeper fashion. Gregory Horror Show is in many ways like Tales from the Crypt, where there is a lesson to be learned in each episode. Perhaps it helped story-wise that I saw 25 episodes in a row, but I really don't recommend doing this. By episode 15, I was ready to get up and do something else. Sheer willpower kept me going until the end.
Extras include Geneon previews, DVD credits, an advertisement for Gregory Horror Show action figures, and the Bloody Carte episodes. These four episodes revolve around Nurse Catherine and her search for the perfect man... and his blood. I just couldn't shake the feeling that they were done in 3D Max by a bunch of college animation students pulling an all-nighter to get their portfolio pieces done.
I enjoyed Gregory Horror Show, but I think I would have enjoyed it more with the episodes spaced out between something else, or on a dark night with a bunch of friends who would enjoy seeing some really messed up animation and LEGO zombies. Oh yes, it has LEGO zombies, the sign of true quality.