Ah, anthology films. I love anthology horror films. You may remember last year I reviewed The Vault of Horror, which was a follow up to Tales from the Crypt. Anthology films are great if you like your scares to be bite-sized, and with an anthology written by horror icon Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero, the man who put flesh-eating zombies on the map, how can you go wrong? 1982's Creepshow was a five-part masterpiece of terror that haunted me as a child and set the standard for any anthology film I'd see after. So how does the 1987 follow-up Creepshow 2 with its c three stories hold up against it's predecessor? Let's take a trip with our ol' pal the Creep and find out!
The film opens with the Creep (played by special effects master Tom Savini) delivering a stack of Creepshow comics to a boy named Billy. Immediately, fans of the original will notice that the Creep has been given a makeover, no longer the skeletal wraith from the first film. The segment then transitions to an animation style reminiscent of Don Bluth films. The framing story will maintain this style for most of the remainder of the film.
Our first story, titled Old Chief Wood'nhead tells the story of an elderly couple who run a general store in a destitute desert town. The head of the local Native American tribe pays the couple a visit, bestowing tribal treasures on them as collateral on a debt. When local youths rob and murder the couple, the store's mascot, a wooden Native American chief named Old Chief Wood'nhead comes to life to claim revenge against the gang.
In the second segment, titled The Raft, four college students drive to a secluded lake in the country to swim and party. They brave the icy water to reach a raft in the middle of the lake and are startled by a moving blob that seems to follow them, but attempt to shrug it off, taking it for an oil slick until the blob pulls one of the girls into the water and kills her. One by one, the insatiable blob ensnares and devours the students, slowly wearing them down until they are too weak to resist it any longer.
In the third and final segment, The Hitchhiker, Annie Lansing leaves her lover's apartment and races to beat her husband home so he doesn't learn of her infidelity. Along the way, she loses control of her car, striking and killing a hitchhiker. Fearful of the consequences, she flees the scene but soon finds herself haunted by a ghastly apparition of the hitchhiker who continues to stalk and attack her as she tries to make it home.
The movie ends with the animated Billy being pursued by bullies, and while I won't spoil the ending, let's just say the boys get served some suitably horrific comic book-style justice before the film inexplicably returns to live-action for the final shot.
Well, that's Creepshow 2. How does it stand up against the original? Honestly? Not that well. This is one of those instances where the old adage "less is more" doesn't ring true. The three stories manage to drag on for way too long while simultaneously failing to satisfy. In my opinion, the scariest segment is The Hitchhiker with its increasingly grotesque antagonist. While suspenseful, The Raft, is plagued by long scenes of waiting while music from Deke's car comes and goes. Old Chief Wood'nhead devotes far too much time to Sam Whitemoon's vanity, posturing, and aspirations of Hollywood stardom. I personally feel the film would have benefitted from some tighter editing and the addition of at least one more story. Apparently, the film was originally planned to have five segments, just like the original, but they were cut for budgetary reasons. Perhaps the budget would have been better spent on a fourth segment as opposed to the animated framing story.
All that aside, Creepshow 2 isn't a bad movie. Like most sequels, it just pales in comparison to its predecessor. There are some great moments. While not necessarily scary, I loved Old Chief Wood'nhead's subtle movements, and who doesn't love a good revenge story? And my favorite visual in the entire film goes to Deke's death in The Raft, where his fingers slip between the raft's planks, leaving his class ring behind. The Raft also throws you for a loop by setting Randy up as the sympathetic protagonist until he sexually assaults LaVerne in her sleep. Now I'm rooting for the damn monster! Get 'im! Swim faster, Poncho! Mwa ha ha!! And The Hitchhiker doubles as a creepy zombie story and an effective psychological thriller. Despite it's flaws, there's a lot to love here.
Overall, Creepshow 2 isn't a terrible flick. Hell, it's a hundred times the movie the 2006 sequel-in-name-only Creepshow 3 is. My advice: pop some hot, buttery popcorn and watch both the original and this one back to back, then check out Shudder's new Creepshow television series. Creepshow 2 is streaming on Tubi.