Anthology books are a popular form of entertainment. They let you read several stories from a number of different creators, and allow you to pass the time experiencing quick tales that don’t take long to consume. With how popular the format is it’s a little surprising that this form of entertainment hasn’t made more leaps to the big screen. Creepshow 2 is one the few films that’s brave enough to break away from the traditional film structure, and go for an anthology instead.
The film is a follow up to the 1982 original, and is once again brought to life by George A. Romero and Stephen King. Whilst the first film gave us five stories, Creepshow 2 was the victim of a budget cut, and only has three horror tales to its name.
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The first story, ‘Old Chief Wood’nhead’ has a group of young hoodlums kill the kindly owners of a small town convenience store. The wooden Native American statue out front of the shop comes to life and starts to exact revenge on the three men responsible.
The majority of this story is given over to set up, with long scenes establishing who the store owners are, and why we should care about them. The scene where the three criminals hold the store keepers hostage is probably the longest scene in the film, and despite the fact that these kind folks are being held at gunpoint it actually lacks tension. The scene drags quite a bit, so by the time the statue actually comes to life to get revenge there’s not much time left and we get a quick montage that only lasts several minutes.
It’s sad that so much time and effort was given over to the set up, yet so little time was given to the revenge scenes. The moments with the living statue came and went so quick that there wasn’t time to build tension or play up the horror of the moment.
The second story, ‘The Raft’, is probably the best of the bunch. It’s got a pretty simple premise, and sees four teens heading out to a lake to swim, have fun, and try to get laid. The four of them swim out into the lake to a raft in the centre. It’s then that they notice a strange substance in the water, a weird kind of oil slick that moves around the raft, circling them. One of the teens falls into the water and is enveloped by the slick. It strips the flesh from her body and devours her. The rest of the teens try to formulate a plan to get back to shore, but are slowly picked off one by one over the course of the story.
This is the kind of schlocky story that just wouldn’t work in another kind of format. There’s not enough here to make a full film out of this premise, but for the time it’s on screen it’s probably the most consistently good of the three. That’s not to say it’s perfect; the effects of the creature are a bit flimsy and it sometimes looks like a pool cover floating around, and there’s a scene of sexual assault. But despite this it manages to entertain and keep the tension throughout.
The final story is ‘The Hitch-hiker’, which follows a cheating businesswoman on her drive home late one night after visiting a sex worker. Desperate to get home before her husband realises she’s been out late she doesn’t pay attention and hits a hitch-hiker, killing him. Choosing to get out of the area rather than face the consequences, she takes off. During the drive, however, she keeps seeing the bloody hitch-hiker, and he begins attacking the car, trying to get in at her, repeating the phrase ‘Thanks for the ride lady’.
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I know this story is supposed to be scary, but there were times where it felt a little farcical. The number of times that the hitch-hiker is knocked off the car, or thrown into a ditch, then comes back saying ‘thanks for the ride lady’ whilst hanging from the door actually started to get a little funny. Despite this, it was still a good story, and was probably more fun because it made me laugh a few times rather than it trying to keep the tension. Whether that was the intention or not, I can’t say.
Overall Creepshow 2 is a fun anthology movie. It has some good stories that didn’t wow me, but kept me entertained, and the animated interludes between them were pretty cool and had a very retro feel to them that brought a lot of 80’s fondness with it. A pretty good movie, though one that I’d say is more comedy than horror for the most part.
This new set also comes packed with a whole host of extra features and behind the scenes info. The film has a full audio commentary by director Michael Gornick, and there are a load of behind the scenes interviews with actors, make-up effects artists, and even George A. Romero himself. The special features are definitely worth the time, and really pack in the value for money with this set. If you’re anything like me you’ll love learning more about the film, and this set really delivers on that.
Creepshow 2 is out on Blu-ray on 13th July from Arrow Video.