As a lifelong fan of the original Creepshow—one of the first R-rated horror movies I ever saw as a kid and still my favorite horror anthology of all-time—it has taken me years to come to terms with the fact that Creepshow 2 is not bad. In fact, it’s quite good at times. But because it failed to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the first film (I mean, you had George A. Romero, Stephen King, and Tom Savini all working at their peaks), I have always ignored the fact that there’s a lot to like in Creepshow 2, even if it does fall short of its predecessor’s greatness. Thankfully, Arrow’s new special edition Blu-ray helped put me in my place.
First up is “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” the weakest of the three segments in which George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour play the owners of a general store in a southwestern town that has gone to seed. One night, the couple is robbed and murdered by three criminals (one of them a Native American played by Holt McCallany in red face). But because this is a Creepshow movie, nothing goes unpunished: the cigar store Indian statue from the store’s porch comes to life and exacts its own bloody revenge on the three punks.
The second segment, “The Raft” (adapted from King’s short story of the same name in Skeleton Crew), is widely considered the best in the film; for years, even horror fans who don’t like Creepshow 2 will at least acknowledge that “The Raft” is good. The premise couldn’t be simpler: two young couples swim out to a stationary raft in the middle of a lake to have fun. Something that looks like an oil slick drifts over to them and begins dissolving them one by one, trapping them all on the raft.
Finally there is “The Hitchhiker,” in which a woman (Lois Chiles) who has been having an affair accidentally hits and kills a man (Tom Wright) while driving home one night, but he refuses to die no matter what she does to him. He just keeps popping back up, more and more disfigured, uttering, “Thanks for the ride, lady.”
As premises go, this setup is about as basic as the one for “The Raft,” but in this case the horror elements are meant to function as a metaphor for the guilt of infidelity that the Chiles character simply can’t shake off. It’s really a one-joke piece, but follows one of my favorite rules of comedy, in which the thing repeats itself until it stops being funny and then becomes funny again because it just keeps going. Plus, the one joke is pretty good, particularly as the segment goes on and the man haunting Chiles becomes bloodier and more gross-looking. By the time his tongue is rolling out of his half-missing head and licking Lois Chiles’ face, it’s impossible not to be cackling along with the movie.
The original commentary with director Gornick and Perry Martin has been carried over from a previous release, as have a behind-the-scenes featurette, still gallery, and two featurettes with KNB EFX Group—one a general look at their work on the film and the second a brief interview with Howard Berger about his working relationship with the great Rick Baker. New to Arrow’s release are jovial interviews with screenwriter Romero, cast members Tom Wright (“The Hitchhiker”) and Daniel Beer (“The Raft”), and makeup effects creator Tom Savini, who pulls double duty in the movie playing “The Creep” under prosthetics. Rounding out the bonus content are two trailers and a TV spot, plus the original screenplay accessible via BD-ROM.
In another world, Creepshow 2 might have come closer to approximating the first movie’s greatness. Originally intended to include five stories, two segments were cut for budgetary and time reasons. One of those stories, “The Cat from Hell,” would later appear in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, which George Romero has referred to as the “real” Creepshow 3 (a movie with the title Creepshow 3 does exist, but should be avoided at all costs). In this world, we’ll just have to settle for Creepshow 2 being a decent if uneven little horror anthology that, like most horror movies of the 1980s, has developed a sizable and devoted cult following over the years. It’s never going to be my favorite Creepshow, but hey… we’ll always have “The Raft.”
Blu-ray release date: December 13, 2016
DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English), LCPM 2.0 (English), LCPM Mono (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH)
Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Commentary with Director Mike Gornick
George Romero Interview
Tom Savini Interview
Daniel Beer Interview
Tom Wright Interview
Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger Interview
Howard Berger Interview