Creepshow 2 (1987) — King and Romero team up again

“Thanks for the ride, lady!”

Justin’s rating: Anyone else have Radiohead going through their head right now?

Justin’s review: Horror anthology movies have their own devoted followings, from Tales from the Crypt to V/H/S, thanks to the fact that sometimes scary stories work better in a bite-sized, rather than feature-length, format. Plus, a movie full of them get graded on the sum of their parts, with good entries hopefully lifting up the bad. But when you have only a handful of tales, it doesn’t tend to work as well, because each entry has to bear a greater share of the entertainment.

That’s the first issue with Creepshow 2, which goes from five stories in the original to just three here. The second issue is that all three of these tales are from the same author — Stephen King (with the screenplay by George A. Romero) — instead of drawing upon a bunch of different voices. And as we all know with Stephen King movie adaptations, his namesake alone is no guarantee of quality.

The first story is “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” which concerns a small store couple who are murdered for some jewelry that they’re holding for the local Indian tribe. As you might expect, the big wooden statue in front of their store comes to life, arms itself, and heads out on a mission to kill the thieves. I guess it’s nice to know that the local statuary will get revenge on your behalf, but this whole segment is as uncomfortable as anything tends to be when Hollywood writes for Native American culture. I kept thinking, “This feels racist but I don’t know exactly how.”

The next segment is the only one drawn from an actual printed Stephen King story, and that’s “The Raft.” This story is actually a favorite of mine, and I was interested in seeing how the adaptation played out. It concerns a group of four young adults who head out to a remote lake after the season has ended for one last swim. There, they get stranded on a stationary raft in the middle of the lake, which soon becomes surrounded by some sort of carnivorous sludge. This puts them in a no-win scenario: stay on the raft and die of exposure or go into the water and be eaten alive. Unlike the goofy premise of the first segment is chilling and pretty well-done.

The final tale is “The Hitch-Hiker,” where a rather unsympathetic yuppie who cheats on her husband, hits a hitchhiker with her car, and then flees the scene. She subsequently is harassed by this dead specter, who keeps showing up and thanking her for the ride. It’s a whole lot of this woman talking to herself and intermittent silliness with a hitchhiker hanging off of the side of her car and saying the same thing over and over again.

Ultimately, Creepshow 2 doesn’t feel like it gives you your money or time’s worth. Only one of the stories is genuinely good, and all of them could’ve easily been relegated to an episode of some lower-budget TV anthology show, like a modern Twilight Zone or something. I didn’t even talk about the framing device, which features an animated Creep and a boy named Billy not doing much of anything at all. I never consider it a good thing when a lackluster sequel makes you want to see the original instead to wash the disappointment out of your mouth.

Didja notice?

  • Well that is the CREEPiest magazine delivery guy ever
  • And now we cut to animation for no real reason
  • Nobody in the world talks to statues as much as this guy does
  • Diet Pepsi sponsors this tale of horror!
  • Apparently having long hair makes you a candidate for an instant star. Took him nine years to grow it.
  • The Creepshow magazines in the store
  • The shadow attack was pretty neat
  • That girl does not scream “It hurts!” in a convincing way, but the special effects are pretty grody
  • Just because a girl is sleeping doesn’t mean you get to feel her up. Not cool, dude.
  • How gigalos charge their clients
  • Stephen King as a truck driver: “Guy got creamed, that’s what.”

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