Three more bone-chilling tales that include a vengeful wooden Native American, a monstrous blob in a lake, and a hitchhiker who wants revenge and will not die.
George A. Romero and Stephen King can be a great combination â take Creepshow for example, which works on so many levels as a satisfactory horror anthology with some very memorable stories. You donât hear as much about Creepshow 2, though, and thatâs because the three stories in this anthology arenât nearly as good as the first film; some arenât even as good as stories on television anthology series like Tales from the Crypt. Creepshow 2 feels uneven, with two underwhelming stories and one that is just okay.
The first problem with Creepshow 2 is the framing story, which simply isnât very good. It involves the Creep (played by Tom Savini) and a young boy named Billy; Billy buys a Creepshow comic from the Creep, plus a plant bulb, and heâs targeted by bullies. This opening sequence feels and looks a lot like Tales from the Cryptkeeper, the kidsâ series spun off from Tales from the Crypt; itâs as hokey as that show, but Creepshow 2 is not made for kids. Itâs a strange, off-key framing story for the film, and it doesnât do much to help transition through the stories.
The first âepisodeâ of this anthology is called âOld Chief Woodânheadâ, about a couple who own a convenience store in a dying western town. Theyâve got an old Indian statue outside of their store, and they receive some nice jade jewels from an Indian chief as payment for their services. Some kids break in, steal the coupleâs goods, then shoot them, and Chief Woodânhead takes it upon himself to get vengeance. Itâs all very generic fare, as you can tell from the plot outline, and thereâs nothing very surprising about this tale at all. Once youâve seen the title, and then the giant Indian statue outside of the store, itâs not a far stretch to get from Point A – the storeownerâs death â to Point B â the Indian killing those responsible. George Kennedy is fine as the storeowner, but the rest of the cast try too hard to get their characters across as campy people; this is especially true for the bad guys, who are all so one-dimensional that thereâs barely a point in watching them go through their business before Chief Woodânhead kills them.
The second tale is âThe Raftâ, adapted from the Stephen King story of the same name that comes from his anthology Skeleton Crew. Iâve always liked this story â itâs got a â50s B-movie simplicity to it that works for whatever reason, slightly comic in its tone but also focusing on the violence. The portrayal of this story in Creepshow 2 manages to maintain that feeling, and it helps that it gets right down to business, not wasting any time with backstories or lead-ups. Thereâs something missing from this story, though â perhaps an environmental theme to be built upon. But for Creepshow 2, itâs the best tale of the bunch.
The last story the Creep gives us is âThe Hitchhikerâ â itâs not like the film The Hitcher, but instead an inane tale about a woman driving back home from a male hooker who accidentally hits a hitchhiker trying to bum a ride to Dover. She takes off, partly because of her own psychoses about how much itâs going to cost her and how mad her company will be if they find the damages to the car, but along the way the hitchhiker continues to stalk her even in death.
Thereâs a lot more violence in âThe Hitchhikerâ, but it comes at the expense of a good story. Lois Chiles isnât strong enough to carry the tale as the singular heroine; much of the time âThe Hitchhikerâ focuses on her character driving away from the hitchhiker, screaming and talking to herself about how it canât be real or how much trouble sheâs going to get in for the car. And the hitchhiker himself, played by Tom Wright, doesnât draw any sort of sympathy with his occasional banterings of âThanks for the ride, ladyâ; if âThe Hitchhikerâ wanted to draw some sort of conclusion about doing wrong because of the hit-and-run, it doesnât portray anything other than the obvious moral dilemma of killing someone and leaving their body in the middle of the road without even so much as a phone call to the police.
So Creepshow 2 canât capture the moods and atmosphere of the first, even with the creators at the helm. The first had better stories, and more of them at that; since this film only features three stories, there isnât much room for error if one or two fall flat. It doesnât help that these tales donât have much force behind them than the simple ideas they begin with, because there are no surprises in store for the viewer like the best twists in other anthology series. Creepshow 2 does creep, but not in the good way â it limps slowly and fails to capture the audience.
Creepshow 2 (1987)