CREEPSHOW 2 is not nearly as accomplished as its predecessor. In fact, comparatively speaking, it’s a tad half-assed. Where as the original boasted five stories inhabited by some of the greatest character actors in the biz, its sequel slims down to a mere three journeys into the macabre and offers GEORGE KENNEDY and DARYL HANNAH’s ginger-sib PAGE. TOM SAVINI is still on board, but drops special make-up effect duties in order to host the proceedings as “The Creep,” a troll faced fiend who delivers comics to put upon children. Even the animation that bonds the anthology together takes a slide backwards to resemble Saturday morning public service type filler. Lesser sequels and sophomore slumps are par for the course in horror, yet if you remove CREEPSHOW 2 from the shadow of the original it not only works fine, but also offers at least one segment that flirts with classic status.
The first story in the troika is a traditional moral revenge fantasy where a group of young, vain delinquents get what’s coming to them thanks to an animated cigar store Indian. It’s not a barn burner but the vengeful wooden golem looks remarkably swell and there is a undeniable satisfaction in witnessing the gruesome deaths of anyone so disrespectful as to bully, torment and eventually kill lovable old timers GEORGE KENNEDY and DOROTHY LAMOUR.
The third and final tale is an equally gratifying, yet business as usual E.C. comics-vibed comeuppance piece where originality scores low and schadenfreude scores high. LOIS CHILES (BROADCAST NEWS) plays Annie Lansing, a kept, well-to-do gigolo patron on her way home from another paid tryst that accidentally runs over a homeless man on the side of the road. Tell-tale-heart style guilt for her self-serving indiscretions is represented in the form of the sometimes hilariously death-proof hit and run victim who refuses to take the slight lying down. Vehicular horror is a nice fit for any anthology (just ask 1983’s NIGHTMARES) and although this one steers dangerously close to repetitious, it eventually crashes into funny as hell.
CREEPSHOW 2‘s middle installment “The Raft,” based on one of the more grueling of STEPHEN KING’S short stories, is the film’s generally undisputed high water mark. Here four young adults find themselves trapped in the middle of a lake surrounded by a flesh eating, alarmingly cunning black sludge. Some low grade effects (Yikes! a giant floating Hefty bag!) and a limited running time do little to soften the hard to describe insidiously infectious over all effect. Like a body rotting nightmare “The Raft” makes great use of the sticky, can’t scrape it off contamination anxieties that engined both the classic THE BLOB and the more recent THE RUINS. A cursory scan of Imdb comment boards identify this one as a legitimate, albeit largely unheralded, kindertrauma contender. The premise and execution may not be 100 percent convincing, but neither matter as, for many viewers, it infiltrates the psyche like a bore worm regardless.
Due to its overall modest nature, it’s easy to forget that CREEPSHOW 2‘s pedigree is nothing to sneeze at. GEORGE ROMERO tackled the screenplay, based an assortment of STEPHEN KING tales, and hand picked his often cinematographer MICHAEL GORNICK (DAWN OF THE DEAD) for the directing chores. All in all, though, I doubt anyone involved had any illusions of surpassing the charms of the original film. These three stories, and the nearly useless animated wrap around tale, ultimately work better as a side dish to that more satisfying main course. The good news is that regardless of its also ran nature, it is never less than entertaining and at least in the case of “The Raft,” it provides something unexpectedly effective and memorable.