Anchor Bay // 1987 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 11th, 2001
Good to the last gasp.
1985's Creepshow was both a critical and box office success. Stephen King and George A. Romero's ode to EC Comics gave us a giddy mix of ghouls, beasties and cockroaches. On par with every other successful horror film from the '80s, Creepshow spawned a sequel, 1987's Creepshow 2. While the original starred such high-profile cast members as Hal Holbrook, Ted Danson and Leslie Nielson, Creepshow 2 went down a notch with George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke, The Naked Gun), Dorothy Lamour (of the classic Hope and Crosby Road films), and Tom Savini (special effects master for Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, and an all around weird guy). Anchor Bay pulls up the curtain and presents Creepshow 2 on DVD.
Creepshow 2 is a series of short horror stories wrapped around a cartoon (drawn in the same style as the EC Comic books) about a boy who buys a giant, man-eating Venus flytrap. Tom Savini also makes a guest appearance as "The Creep," a cross between Jimmy Stewart and an evil looking Yoda, sounding like a bad impression of Barry White.
The first episode, entitled "Old Chief Woodenhead," is about an old Indian statue that stands guard outside a small time general store. The Indian soon exacts revenge upon some youthful misfits who decide to mess with an elderly couple (Kennedy and Lamour) who own the store.
The second story, "The Raft," is about some good lookin' teens who drive out into the middle of nowhere (while smokin' dope), go for a swim, and get busy doing the sideways mambo. Or, as I like to call it, "The High School Years Patrick Never Had." While hanging out on a raft in the middle of a lake, a thing looking like an oil slick slides up and creates much havoc.
The final story, "The Hitchhiker," is about a woman who does a hit and run on a hitchhiker on the side of the highway. She speeds off thinking she's gotten away scott free, and she has: from the living. The living dead are a different matter. The downed hitchhiker decides to make her life hell, chanting the one phrase that has become synonymous with this film:
"Thanks for the ride, lady."
Like Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Creepshow 2 plays much better in my memory than it does on the TV screen. Now, I'm not saying that Creepshow 2 is a bad film; far from it. Creepshow 2 includes some fun moments of horror, comedy and gross-out effects. There is even a scene where a guy gets his face smashed by a car...over and over again. How on earth can I complain with that inclusion? It's just that I remember Creepshow 2 being a lot scarier when I was a kid than it is now.
Creepshow 2 is based on stories by Stephen King, adapted for the screen by George Romero. The original Creepshow was written by King and directed by Romero. This time around Romero has handed off the reins to cinematographer Michael Gornick. Gornick is apt enough at directing the material, though there is a certain spark that is missing. The first Creepshow had more of a comic book feel to it whereas Creepshow 2 just goes for (mostly) straight horror. The stories in and of themselves are fun, with "The Raft" being the best of the three. There's just something about being stuck in the middle of a lake with a giant, man-eating oil slick that gives me the willies. I don't think there's even the slightest chance that King wasn't on LSD and poppers when he wrote this. I can see the story pitch now:
Stephen King: "Dude, I got it...a bunch of teens are stuck on a raft in the middle of a lake...and a giant, man-eatin' oil slick is after them!"
Friend: "Dude, that's AWESOME! I mean, AWESOME! Dude, can you feel your legs?"
Stephen King: "No. Pass the Quaaludes."
The performances are all average, including (sadly) Kennedy and Lamour, who look like they'd rather be anywhere but making a cheesy horror film. There's the typical array of teens running around, and a few even get naked. There's dope, there's drinking, there's boobs. I think I've managed to check off all the boxes on my "Typical Teen Movie" list.
The effects are good, especially that of Old Chief Woodenhead. The production is able to make it look like Chief Woodenhead is actually made of wood. I may be something of a simpleton, but I found this feat to be relatively impressive. "The Raft" is a fun story, though the monster comes dangerously close to looking like a Hefty trash bag splattered with mud for effect.
Creepshow 2 is presented in anamorphic 1:85:1 widescreen and looks excellent. Anchor Bay has really done a great job making this old title look crisp and new. Some edge enhancement was spotted, as well as a few specks of grain, but nothing that would hinder your enjoyment of the film. Blacks were solid, colors bright...a great transfer by Anchor Bay!
Audio includes Dolby Digital Mono and sounds okay, though nothing spectacular. It would have been nice to get a new 5.1 remix, but it's a cheesy horror flick from the '80s, so what do you expect? Some hiss was present but nothing major, dialogue was clear and music effectively creepy.
Extras include the original theatrical trailer (anamorphic) as well as a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, which is more than Warner gave us on the original Creepshow disc. Kudos to Anchor Bay for doing at least something with a little old horror flick from the '80s.
Creepshow 2's weakest link lies in "Old Chief Woodenhead." Though it's not a particularly bad episode, it's not as interesting as the other two. One of the great things that made the original Creepshow so good was the fact that the stories were not the teen slasher stuff that was being made at the time. Unfortunately, "Old Chief Woodenhead" tends to wobble into that area of typical teen horror, which seems to only heighten the fact that the first film was much better. "The Raft" has the teen elements in place, but turns them sideways a bit with the plot. "Old Chief Woodenhead" just goes into stalker territory and never fully comes out.
Another problem comes with the originality of the first Creepshow. Romero was able to make great use of splashy color and tilted camera angles. In Creepshow 2 they are kept to the bare minimum, keeping the film from fitting into the comic book mold; instead it borders on becoming another easily forgotten horror film.
For around 20 dollars this is not a bad buy, but make sure you're a horror fan and really liked the original Creepshow. The transfer is good, the audio fair, the movie fun. As a weekend rental this is a lot of fun, mixing horror and laughs to mixed results. This was the first time I had ever heard a cartoon character swear, and when I first saw this as a kid I thought it was the funniest thing on God's green earth. I also thought Police Academy 3: Back In Training was funny. My parents didn't let me out much.
George Kennedy, some teen ta-tas, and a few good moments of pure gore make this a pick of the '80s cinema. Anchor Bay is commended for putting out a nice disc of this film, and go on, I know you want to say it...
"Thanks for the review, lady."
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind-The-Scenes Still Gallery
* Theatrical Trailer