This post is a part of the Take Another Stab series, where the horror films I hate get a chance at redemption through an openminded revisit. There will be blood. There will be spoilers.
Whenever you bring up Creepshow 2 in conversation, it’s always met with “I LOVE The Raft.” And that’s it. That’s the extent of the conversation every goddamn time. What else is there to say about a horror anthology sequel with only three segments and garish animated breaks? This beaten stepchild of a film appears to have the right stuff on the surface. We still have King and Romero on board. Familiar names, but different roles, alright. It has the animated bits to help keep alive the whole comic aspect of the franchise. Yet, it’s still flacid. The first Creepshow premiered five years earlier, which may have been a touch too long for a follow-up. This was also a feature directorial debut for Michael Gornick, who had some experience with the horror television series Tales From The Darkside. But this is all technical shit that anyone can look up and report on. I’m here to talk about the feels. Me personally? I get down with some anthologies. The House That Dripped Blood, Trick ‘r Treat, Asylum, Tales of Halloween, A Christmas Horror Story, and of course Creepshow. I blame this penchant on all the The Twilight Zone and Tales From The Crypt I binged growing up. Not to mention all the book anthologies I’ve chipped away at over the years. I like bite-sized portions that give me that zip, that zing (I’m sounding like a fucking mayonnaise commercial now). But they’re tough to perfect. They say the shorter the story, the harder the writer has to work. And that’s what makes them so magical when they’re really, really good.
Balancing an anthology is also tricky business. They should start strong and end strong. The weaker links need the support of the middle to keep them afloat and to keep viewers engaged. Weaker doesn’t mean bad. It just means they aren’t sticking out quite as much as the others. Creepshow 2 has the benefit of sharing the same director but there still seems to be a disconnect with the tone of the stories. Anthologies have one shot of making you stay and one shot at leaving you satisfied. This is how anthology structures work in my mind and Creepshow 2 seemed to have missed the mark. Was three segments enough? Was the animation remotely entertaining? When I brought this movie up to my husband, he seemed surprised that I didn’t like it. I then rattled off the very first sentence and there was a silent checkmate exchanged between us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that this sequel isn’t up to snuff, but I want to revisit it with a healthy sense of scrutiny. I’ll go into this examining each segment individually while also keeping in mind The Creeper wraparound story. I’m not optimistic.
About 1 hour and 32 minutes later
‘Old Chief Wood’nhead’
“This hair is going to get me paid and laid.”
This initial segment kicks things off with a wooden Native American statue coming to life and dishing out revenge. The effects and the content are a bit of a brutal segue from the animated Creeper but what can ya do? Face the racism, elder abuse, and gun violence, I guess. The elderly couple who run the shop are very sweet and you genuinely feel bad when they’re offed. However, there are some one-liners throughout the whole movie that I had forgotten about. Somebody just slipped these randomly hilarious sentences in and nobody went back for a final edit. Balance is key, right? You can’t show this sad shit with a bunch of violence and have some kid proclaim, “this hair is going to get me paid and laid” with a serious face without anymore goofiness to set the tone. I liked it but man, it was a downer to get the party started. We’re missing that vein of sly humor from Creepshow that seamlessly ran throughout. I was expecting The Creeper host to jazz things up a bit. Sadly, he glows even more dully when the segment is wrapped. I wasn’t into his dialogue at all and the delivery was…flat. Onto the next!
“I feel the need, the need for weed.”
The second segment was adapted from a Stephen King short. I had some questions right away. Who the fuck goes swimming in October? Why is she swimming in her clothes? Where are the food and drinks? So this may not be my idea of a good time as a young person in the 1980’s but I didn’t even see towels. I think horror fans like this segment because of the effects. The monster is essentially a circular tarp that floats on the water but once it grabs you, it turns into this black lube-like oil spill that seeps all over you. Wicked cool and gross. I like it because it does something that’s hard to do, which is making the idea of drowning even more terrifying. I remembered why I was never head over heels for this one, too. Does everyone forget what shits these guys are? One chokes up Laverne and screams in her face. The other one molests her while she’s sleeping. You know, molests her WHILE THEY ARE STRANDED ON A RAFT WITH A CRAZY OIL MONSTER STALKING THEM. Maybe those elements were intentional so that I wouldn’t care about them when they die. But where’s the fun in that? Why does the trash get to live longer? It does nail the “true horror ending” and I can’t complain about that. It’s also the most unique tale of the bunch (can three things be called a “bunch”? Will Google later).
“You’re seeing things, bitch.”
The final segment was lost on me when I started writing this post. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what it was about. Once it started, I understood where we were going. The story itself felt familiar. After brief research, I learned it was written by Lucille Fletcher, who originally wrote this for a Twilight Zone episode. Go figure. It was hilarious how much they emphasized the main character was paying for sex. They mentioned it like 6 or 7 times. It was redundant lunacy. Out of all three, this one really gave off old-school horror anthology vibes. The premise is simple but the dread didn’t dissipate. I enjoyed the main character’s dialogue. She talked to herself in the car before and after she hit the hitchhiker and it sounded realistic. Except maybe the “you’re seeing things, bitch” part. I dunno. I’ve probably said that, just not as forcefully. I also loved Stephen King as the semi-truck driver. I really think he should have acted more because he brings that goofy *hick* energy to everything. And again, we have a true horror ending that is reminiscent of Tales From The Crypt. Nobody is a winner and lots of people are dead. Fin.
I don’t think this anthology would have been remotely successful without the Creepshow name. The balance wasn’t there for me. The first segment seemed too long with all the horror unfurling in the end. The second was punchy and to the point. The third had the tone and mood I expect from horror anthologies. If only there had been a fourth addition to round it out. I would have preferred that to the animated wrap around story. This animation did not fly with me. We have Tom Savini sporting this dope ass Creeper costume in the beginning and then we’re subjected to this animated story of a kid getting bullied for buying Venus Fly Trap bulbs. Savini should have stayed on screen because he looked the part and probably would have delivered the dialogue with more gusto. I will say that I don’t hate Creepshow 2. It had a lot of potential and there is good in it. It just isn’t on brand for a Creepshow anthology. I missed those zany blue and red lights. I missed the humor, the puns. I missed the comic aspect of the first movie. You know, the whole aspect that made Creepshow so cool. The animation in this flick didn’t translate as comic. Maybe that’s the risk you take when you try something new. But when you use an established name, fans have certain expectations and in this case, they weren’t fully met for me.
Until next time, thanks for taking another stab with me.