An anthology sequel to the 1982 Creepshow, with three stories wrapped around partially animated interludes. The stories are all based upon Stephen King short stories, including "The Raft".
In 1982, we were given a very nice gift in the horror genre with the anthology film Creepshow. It was directed by George Romero, written by Stephen King, and all of the make-up effects were done by Tom Savini. There were five stories, including prologue and epilogue bookends. They ranged from comedic to dark, scary, intense, and just plain disgusting. It really spanned the spectrum of what makes the horror genre entertaining. Say what you want about King, but he knows how to keep you intrigued.
In 1987, we had Creepshow 2, an attempt to continue the tradition of anthology horror and perhaps improve on whatever the original couldn't deliver (which, when you think about it, was impossible). This impossibility is quite apparent, as Creepshow 2 doesn't have nearly the punch or cleverness of the original. It's not as though it was co-opted by studio execs, either, and handed off to film school grads to make a quick buck. This sequel's screenplay was by George Romero, and it was directed by his cinematographer of the first film, Michael Gornick. Savini returns as well, but just as an actor (he also made a cameo in the first film too).
But the cheese factor is raised to an unbelievable level from the start. It starts with a kid named Billy (but apparently not the same Billy from the original Creepshow) getting a copy of the new edition of Creepshow from his newsstand. It's delivered by the Creepshow...Creep, who is played by Tom Savini and voiced by Joe Silver. This kind of intro does predate Tales From the Crypt so I can't say it's a knockoff or anything--but it just isn't as good, or charming, as the Crypt Keeper.
We are introduced to our first feature story, called "Old Chief Wood'nhead", about a sweet eldery couple, Ray and Martha (played by George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour respectively), who run a general store. It prominently features a Cigar Store Indian outside on the porch. They're attacked one night by a group of burglars led by the nephew of a tribesman named Benjamin who had earlier given the couple some sacred jewelry to use as collateral for the debt his tribe had accumulated. The nephew, named Sam, and his posse Andy and Fatstuff (one of the most obscene characters put to film), kill the couple and make off with the jewelry. But they didn't count on Old Chief coming to life and exacting revenge. And that's exactly what happens. The story itself is banal but it's somewhat entertaining thanks to the over the top performances, and the fact that Sam is comfortable in a denim jacket but shirtless underneath. It's slow moving, like the titular character, but the ending is pretty good.
We then continue the story of Billy who has just finished reading the story, and goes to the post office to pick up a package from something he ordered from Creepshow (unfortunately, it wasn't a better script). Billy's true sadistic side is revealed when the package he gets contains a Venus fly trap. Somehow, it's just not believable that it's going to be used for trapping flies.
But onto the next story, and this one by far is the most entertaining. Take a group of ridiculously stereotyped college 80's teens and put them in a remote lake to swim toward a raft that's sitting in the middle of it, only to be trapped by some weird sludge puddle that is extremely carnivorous. The kids' names are Deke (Paul Satterfield), Laverne (Jeremy Green), Randy (Daniel Beer), and Rachel (Page Hannah). Now, pause. The girl's real name is Jeremy. That is so unfair to her.
Anyhow, the kids find out real soon that they can't get away from this thing as Deke, who "doesn't believe in oil slicks", gets killed by the blob. Normally you'd think a storyline like one guy, two girls, alone on an isolated raft in the middle of nowhere may end up on the Playboy channel or latenight Skinemax. But here, it's supposed to be scary.
I'll let you find out for yourself to see if the other three make it. Take a guess though...
And then it's back to the interludes, where a bunch of bullies are picking on Billy. They crush his precious fly trap bulb, and we're on pins and needles on how Billy will survive such a traumatic experience.
The final story is OK, it's mostly comical, and goes for a more gross out factor (like the last story in the first "Creepshow" but not as clever or as gross). A woman, Annie (Lois Chiles), is cheating on her husband, and leaves so she can beat her husband home so as not to arouse suspicion. On her way home she, hits and kills a hitchhiker (Tom Wright), but drives away, hoping nobody saw her.
As she drives home, she keeps seeing him reappear, repeating the phrase "Thanks for the ride, lady". There is something darkly comedic about this; but it doesn't really pay off as great as "They're Creeping Up On You" did--and let's face it, it's hard to top being eaten alive by cockroaches.
Then it's back to Billy's story so we can finally watch him get his revenge as he reveals that he's been collecting these venus fly traps and then unleashes them on the bullies which promptly devour them. Billy looks satisfied with himself as he declares, "they eat MEAT!"
So that's Creepshow 2. But wait...stick around for the credits to see this public service announcement:
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
What the...hell? Were they that paranoid about a parent backlash (for an R rated film, mind you, which still meant something at the time) that they had to slap this on at the end? What was the point of that? You've already watched the movie. It's too late. Nobody cares about what a Colliers magazine article said almost 40 years prior. I mean, I get what they're trying to do but come on...it just comes out of nowhere.
Anthology horror seems to be making a slight comeback, with the film Trick R Treat and obviously the American Horror Story TV series. Back in the 80's, anthology horror was popular in shows such as Tales From the Darkside, Tales From the Crypt, and Friday the 13th: The Series. It fits the genre, as horror stories are even more enjoyable in collections, such as Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft stories. Short, concise, to the point, and simply, sometimes makes it more chilling. Obviously, The Twilight Zone is a perfect example of this. Creepshow 2 holds onto some of that spirit; but the quality of storytelling and execution is lacking compared to the first film; but the 80's camp value will compensate for the most part. It's worth a viewing if you're in the mood for some good old 80's trash horror fun.
Rotten Tomatoes: 3.9/10