The first Creepshow anthology can be rightfully called a classic. Five horror stories written by Stephen King, directed by George A Romero & starring the likes of Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Adrienne Barbeau & King himself.
We loved it & you can read our review here.
With that amount of talent, Creepshow 2 had a tough task trying to match the original let alone better it. Directed by Michael Gornick (Creepshow’s cinematographer), based of Stephen King stories & with a screenplay written by Romero this sequel at least gave it a good go.
This time we only get 3 stories told around the animated story of young Billy, desperate to get the latest issue of Creepshow. The delivery man reveals himself to be the Creepshow Creep as Billy begins to read.
Old Chief Wood’nhead
An elderly couple are struggling to make ends meet at their general store. Martha (Dorothy Lamour) wants to close up & call time on it but Ray (George Kennedy) believes they have to give back to the town that’s been kind to them over the years.
The town of Dead River is on its last legs & it’s an emotional time for Ray, something Kennedy expresses wonderfully. A Native American Elder named Benjamin (Frank Selsedo) visits them & gives them jewellery, sacred treasures from his tribe, as payments for debts incurred.
On his way out, Benjamin is surprised to be nodded at by a life-size figure of a cigar Indian made of wood.
Later, Ray & Martha discover they are being robbed by a trio of local thugs led by Sam (Holt McCallany) who is the nephew of Benjamin. Sam wants money so he can run off to Hollywood where he believes his (admittedly great) hair will see him turned into a star. He demands the jewels given to Ray by Benjamin which he refuses to do resulting in the couple being fatally shot.
The trio run off planning to meet up & leave later but run into a problem. Old Chief Wood’nhead has come to life to avenge Ray & Martha.
As an opening episode goes, Old Chief Wood’nhead isn’t the best or the worst. It sits squarely in the middle thanks to the excellent acting. Unfortunately the story just isn’t that exciting & it takes a while to really get going. It plays out more like a Goosebumps episode albeit with a bit more violence.
A cartoon interlude shows more of young Billy as yet another adult dismisses his love of the marcarbe. His purchase of a Venus flytrap bulb is dismissed as foolish. These interludes would be fine if they were live action, instead the cartoon imagery just doesn’t do much.
Thankfully things really pick up with the next episode, the best of the three.
A group of friends arrive at a secluded swimming spot. There they all swim out to a wooden raft in the middle. Unfortunately for them this lake has another inhabitant, a massive black & dirty looking blob that devours one of the group in nasty fashion before terrorising the rest who are stuck on the raft.
Short & graphic, The Raft ticks all the right boxes. The monster in question is mysterious & horrifying, the cast irrelevant as they’re just fodder for it. What really makes The Raft so memorable are the effects of the monster getting hold of you. It melts the skin & flesh of its victims bones in terrifying & painful looking fashion.
The final few moments will leave you shocked as the remaining two survivors fall asleep. The man wakes up & starts to fondle the other breasts as she sleeps only to realise the monster has seeped through the cracks of the raft melting half her face off.
Panicking he leaves to her die managing to get to shore. Believing he is safe, he shouts abuse at the monster only to see it rise up like a wave & wash over him. Bloody brilliant.
The second interlude sees Billy accosted by a group of bullies. He escapes their grasp & runs off with them all in hot pursuit.
The third & final story is the worst of the three, being particularly boring & far too long.
Annie (Lois Chiles) has just finished having sex with her lover when she realises she is going to be late home to meet her wealthy husband. She speeds off & accidentally hits a hitchhiker (Tom Wright). Realising that there is no-one around she makes the decision to drive away.
The hitchhiker isn’t dead (sort of) & begins terrorising her with the line “thanks for the ride, lady”. She tries to kill him again & again but each time he just ends up looking more & more mangled but still spouting that line.
Eventually, in a desperate attempt to escape his clutches, she goes to fast resulting in her losing control of her car & crashing. She’s knocked unconscious & when she wakes there is no sign of the hitchhiker. Believing it to be a dream, she drives home & parks up in the garage only to discover the hitchhiker has been underneath the car along.
The Hitchhiker just isn’t that interesting. It’s plot is paper-thin & stretched to breaking point. Visually the damage the hitchhiker sustains throughout ends up looking really good. It’s really gruesome but that’s not enough to hold interest.
Creepshow 2 wraps up with one final cartoon segment. We see Billy leading the bullies to their deaths at the hands of previous Venus flytraps he had planted.
So that’s Creepshow 2. No real attempt was actually made to better the original & with only 3 stories, you can’t help feeling short-changed. Add that the wrap-around story is disappointingly animated & the only recommendation for the movie is to check out The Raft. The other two are forgettable & lack excitement. You’ll come away feeling incredibly unsatisfied.
Interestingly after the credits roll this bit of text comes onto the screen:
“Juvenile delinquency is the product of pent up frustrations, stored-up resentments and bottled-up fears. It is not the product of cartoons and captions. But the comics are a handy, obvious, uncomplicated scapegoat. If the adults who crusade against them would only get as steamed up over such basic causes of delinquency as parental ignorance, indifference, and cruelty, they might discover that comic books are no more a menace than Treasure Island or Jack the Giant Killer”.
Colliers magazine, 1949