What with the resurgence of the anthology sub-genre in the eighties, and the release of the hit horror film “Creepshow” that managed to be a near flawless masterpiece, a sequel was not only inevitable, but a no brainer. Director Michael Gornick’s follow-up to “Creepshow” is admittedly a much more low tech and less enthusiastic outing for the series, but damn it, it sure is a lot of fun. Granted the film falls short of being excellent, but as a follow-up to the riveting and entertaining original, it’s a very strong and occasionally creepy sequel. It’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid, and though it’s shown its wear since 1987, it’s still a fun horror film. Lacking the star power and novelty of the first film, “Creepshow 2” slims down the story count and relies more on a bleak atmosphere.
Where as the first film was like an EC comic book, the sequel is almost like one of its worthy imitators. It’s a very dark often humorless piece of horror, with a few notable stars here and there. Every story has a painful resolution lacking in any real gaffs that segments like “Something to Tide You Over” possessed. This time the Creep is more of a central figure and given the task of being the book ends for the trio of horror stories. Make up artist Tom Savini returns to the title donning the make up and persona of The Creep, a malevolent figure who taunts and lures young townie Billy (yep, Billy is back and more devious than ever!) in to his evil comic and introduces the trio of short stories, all of which are of varying quality. Billy is given more screen time in animated form, providing an interlude story yet again as he plots revenge against a group of local bullies with his mail-in Venus Flytrap. A constant toss up and tied at first as my favorite story of the trio, “Old Chief Wood’nhead” is a dark and creepy revenge parable about what happens when a work of love prepares to battle pure evil.
George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour play Ray and Martha Spruce, an elderly couple who keep a general store in business in spite of the fact that the town they live in has become virtually deserted. Entrusted with the local native American’s jewels and treasures as compensation for the massive debt they’ve built over the years being allowed free reign in the store by the kind couple. Without children, Ray spends his free time tending to his old cigar store Indian statue, engaging it in conversation turning to it for comfort when he’s sad, unaware the statue has been nurtured so for many years it’s become almost life-like. When Ray and Martha are robbed and viciously murdered by the local Indian chief’s greedy nephew and his friends, Old Chief Wood’nhead comes to life to wreak pure bloody vengeance on the trio of thugs. While it doesn’t get a lot of love from most horror fans, “Old Chief Wood’nhead” is possibly my favorite tale of the trio not just because I love revenge tales, but because the Indian chief statue is incredibly menacing.
His journey of revenge is gruesome ending on a sick final note that ensures a war path in the future. The most popular segment, “The Raft” sets down on a group of vacationing college students who drive to a secluded lake for a day of swimming and general misdeeds. Little do they know the lake houses a mysterious creature within the water, a sludge monster that ravages anything breathing. Filled with incredible dread and a sense of hopelessness, the foursome try to survive on the floating raft on the lake, constantly avoiding the monster in the water, and find little hope in escaping. Especially since no one knows they’re there. With disturbing grue, and a delightfully enigmatic creature, “The Raft” is filled with endless moments of shocks and awe, and offers yet another demented final scene that drowns us in bleakness. The chink in the armor, and the weakest of the trio is “The Hitch-hiker,” a run of the mill comeuppance story about an adulterous businesswoman who rushes home one night to beat her husband home and accidentally hits a homeless man on the road.
Leaving him for dead, she discovers she can’t quite get rid of him, as he’s intent on getting a ride from her, in spite of his undead decaying state. The effects in this segment is generally ancient while its main character Annie is utterly obnoxious to the point where it’s tough to become involved in the segment itself. As a finale, it’s a flawed and boring ending to a pretty solid sequel that builds an interesting character in the Creep and never actually goes anywhere with him. Especially since there was never officially a third film. Setting aside the nostalgia factor for it, “Creepshow 2” is not nearly as good or as fun as its predecessor. With only three stories and very limited star power it suffers from a more downbeat tone, but it’s still a very creepy and entertaining horror anthology with two really good segments for horror fans. In the realm of anthology horror, you could do a lot worse. I’m looking at you “Tales from the Hood.”