1987’s Creepshow 2 is an enjoyable horror trilogy and sequel to the 1982 George Romero original. This time the director is newbie Michael Gornick, who had only helmed a few episodes of Tales From the Darkside before this, so don’t expect the direction to be as stylish or artistic as in the first. It’s a good solid effort, particularly for a first-timer like Gornick, but it ain’t Romero. There’s three ghoulish tales this go-around instead of five, and the wrap-around story is composed mainly of animated segments designed to resemble a comic book come to life. The film begins with young but dedicated horror fan Billy arriving via bicycle at the neighborhood newsstand in anticipation of the latest Creepshow comic and finding that the guy unloading them is none other than The Creep himself! The front page of one of them flips open, and from this point on, the film becomes animated but for the three tales. Between each segment is a cartoon mini-adventure with Billy involving him getting bullied on his bike by some bratty kids that he ends up getting revenge on by feeding them to a gigantic flesh-eating venus flytrap.
Our first offering is “Old Chief Wood’nhead” and stars veteran horror icon George Kennedy as kindly store owner Roy Spruce and former screen siren Dorothy Lamour as his supportive wife Martha, who live in a desolate town somewhere in arid Arizona and don’t get very much business anymore. They receive a gift of turquoise jewels from Benjamin Whitemoon, the leader of a local Native American tribe, and no less than five minutes later are robbed and shot to death by Whitemoon’s outcast and narcissistic nephew Sam (Holt McCallany) and his two teen cronies. But their crimes do not go unseen, as the life-sized wooden Indian chief that guards the Spruce’s storefront comes to life and goes after the thieves to exact bloody tribal revenge. Fun story with beautiful performances by Kennedy and Lamour and a decent amount of blood and brutality.
“The Raft” is next and has a car full of wild and carefree teens stopping at the lake and making the fatal mistake of getting in the water and swimming to the wooden raft in the middle of the water. You see, there’s this really icky, gooey and enormous jelly-like mass floating atop the waters, and as luck would have it, it has a taste for human flesh and pulls one of the teens from the raft with a slimy tentacle and chemically digests her while still alive and screaming. The remaining three kids are now trapped on the raft by the swift and deadly mass, their only chance for escape being to race and outswim the gliding substance to shore. Can they make it, or will they be caught and engulfed by the watery assailant? Another fun and fearsome quickie that may spring to mind the next time a jellyfish passes by at the beach.
Our third, final, longest and IMO best tale is “The Hitchhiker” and stars former Bond girl Lois Chiles as adulterous upper-class housewife Annie Lansing who, while driving home at night after a sexy rendezvous with her prostitute lover (David Beecroft), accidentally hits and kills a black man in a yellow trenchcoat trying to hitch a ride to Dover (Tom Wright) on an empty stretch of road. Already late to beat her husband home from work and visibly shaken, Annie does the wrong thing and flees hastily from the scene of the accident, consumed by a state of guilt and paranoia. While driving and debating to herself what she’s going to do and what to say to George when she gets home, she sees from a distance a figure that appears to be the man she just hit limping down the road in her direction, yellow trenchcoat now bloody. She slams on brakes and tries to let the person get closer to get a better look, but it appears she just imagined the creepy image … until the hitchhiker, face crushed and oozing gore, pops up at her door window and greets her with the classic line “Thanks for the ride, Lady!” Annie screams with sheer fright and spins away down the road, but the hiker keeps turning up down the road ahead of her, jumping on top of the car and riding it as Annie desperately swerves here and there in an attempt to sling the undead hiker off. After repeatedly running over and smashing the undying and increasingly broken and bloody body of the hiker, her car now trashed, Annie pulls into her luxurious garage at home and finds that by some miracle she has beaten her husband home … but all is not well in paradise, as the splattered hiker’s zombie corpse is still stuck underneath the vehicle and hungry for revenge.
Creepshow 2 is plenty of fun for horror fans and gorehounds. As stated earlier, director Gornick helmed several episodes of TV horror series Tales From the Darkside before this, and the film is imbued with that same indescribably tacky but fun style. It has a bit less humor than the original and seems more mean-spirited overall, especially the first story with poor old George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour getting it the way they do, and is a good half-hour shorter in length. It nevertheless holds up pretty well against its predecessor and manages to sustain interest, so I’ll give it a 7 of 10 and have no qualms with recommending it to fans of the original and/or Tales From the Darkside .