Creepshow 2 (1987)

Rating:

“Thanks for the ride, lady!”

Main Cast: Tom Savini, George Kennedy

Director: Michael Gornick

When it was released in 1982, CREEPSHOW made quite the impact.  Five years later, there came a sequel that, while it tried to follow up the success of the first, simply had too many strikes against it from the get-go.

CREEPSHOW 2 was written by George Romero–director of the first installment–from stories based on the work of Stephen King–as was the original–and directed, this time, by Michael Gornick, director of photography for the first movie.  It follows the same basic format, presenting various short horror features as if they were stories in a comic book called CREEPSHOW, and again being read by a young boy named Billy (originally played by King’s son Joe, while Domenick John fills the role the second time out).

There’s plenty of gore, a few interesting twists, and one or two moments of shock and terror.  But that’s about where the good ends.  For the most part, CREEPSHOW 2 is a very lackluster follow up.

First off, the original movie presented us with five stories, while CREEPSHOW 2 only offers three.  I’ve read there were supposed to be five, but that two of them were cut for “budgetary reasons”.

Second, the stories–with the exception of The Raft–were just pretty simple and kind of lame.

In the opener, Old Chief Woodn’head, Ray and his wife Martha have been running the general store in Dead River for 30 years.  But the good times are past and the town is living up to its name.  Most of their customers live on credit. 

One day, while Ray is outside touching up the warpaint on his cigar store Indian outside the shop, an old man, Ben Whitemoon, brings Ray a bag containing some of his tribe’s most treasured possessions as collateral on their debts.  Ray accepts the offering, begrudgingly.

Ben’s nephew Sam and his buddies Rich Boy and Fat Stuff are robbing the place.  They plan to take off for Hollywood where Sam is going to be a famous actor because he’s been growing his hair out for 9 years, plus he’s just so good looking.  Unfortunately, the cigar store Indian, Chief Woodn’head, comes to life. 

It’s a basic revenge story that spends so much time on set up that by the time the action and climax get there, there’s no sense of drama, terror, or excitement.  While the idea is nothing special, the material had heart and could have been handled better than it was in this 20-25 minute short.

The acting is overdone–but that’s the case with just about every performance throughout the movie, really–and the effects are generic and under-utilized.  I know it was 1987, but you’ve got a huge wooden Indian taking revenge; make the most of that.

The second story, The Raft is the only story from this movie I’ve read in its original King prose form (SKELETON CREW) and it’s also the only short that doesn’t waste the viewers time.

Deke, Randy, Laverne, and Shelly are four college kids from Horlicks University–the college from the first movie where The Crate is stored–out for a day of fun swimming in an isolated mountain lake before the weather gets too cold and the lake raft is hauled in for the winter.

When they get out to the raft, however, they spy a strange oil slick on the water, only this thing is moving toward them, and it appears to be doing it on purpose.  Over the course of a day, the students deal with this creature.

Again, the acting is overdone, and the oil creature looked like a big black blanket or a garbage bag being dragged across the lake from below. Some dissolving flesh scenes were pretty cool and the situation had a feeling of hopelessness that offers an emotional connection from viewer to character.

In the final segment, The Hitchhiker, Mrs. Lansing has overslept after hiring a gigolo to give her what her lawyer husband won’t, and now she’s only got seven minutes to make the 20 mile drive home before her husband, who is never early or late, gets home.  Along the way, she hits a hitchhiker, who then begins to stalk her along the highway and into the woods, saying “Thanks for the ride, lady.”  Again, nothing special as far as the story goes. 

This is, I believe, CREEPSHOW 2’s biggest failing, the quality of the stories.  The first film’s segments had their hints of been there-done that, too, but in that movie they felt more like homages to the classic tales from the old comics.  In this one, though, they just feel lifeless and dull.

Maybe it’s a case of bad direction.  Maybe it’s a stale script.  Or maybe I’m being too critical.  But story is my thing, I LOVE a good story.  What’s more, I love an interesting story.  And the first and third segments of CREEPSHOW 2 just weren’t interesting.  No amount of gore-caked zombie hitchhikers is going to change that.

This one had the feeling of wanting desperately to recapture whatever made the first movie work so well, but it just didn’t have the heart the first CREEPSHOW did.  It felt like there was no passion behind this project, as if Romero pounded out a script on request, a director was hired who wouldn’t muck it up too bad and could at least make the thing look like the original, then a handful of actors were hired and they called it good.

CREEPSHOW felt like a carnival ride of a movie, a disturbing look into the mind of America’s most famous horror author, and you could tell everyone involved was having a blast making that movie.  CREEPSHOW 2 feels like they WANTED to recapture the original magic, but it just wasn’t there. I’d add this to my King collection based on The Raft alone, but as a sequel to a treasured classic from my childhood, it just doesn’t measure up.

King on Film

Carrie (1976)

‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

The Shining (1980)

Creepshow (1982)

The Boogeyman (1982)

Cujo (1983)

Disciples of the Crow (1983)

The Woman in the Room (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Christine (1983)

Children of the Corn (1984)

Firestarter (1984)

Word Processor of the Gods (1984)

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Silver Bullet (1985)

Srazhenie (1986)

Gramma (1986)

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stand By Me(1986)

The Lawnmower Man (1987)

The Dark Half (1993)

The Tommyknockers (1993)

Needful Things (1993)

The Stand (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

The Mangler (1995)

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The Langoliers (1995)

Sometimes They Comes Back … Again (1996)

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

Thinner (1996)

The Shining (1997)

Ghosts (1997)

Chattery Teeth (1997)

The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson (1997)

Trucks (1997)

The Night Flier (1997)

Chinga (1997)

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Gerald’s Game (2017)

1922 (2017)

The Stand (2021)

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