Creepshow 2 (1987)
What’s It About: Three segments of horror from the imaginations of George A. Romero and Stephen King. The first Creepshow is one of my favorite anthology horror films and perennial Halloween classic. However this sequel barely scratches the surface of what made the first one so great and enjoyable. The film opens with a boring street in some boring, innocuous town. Young Billy is waiting for the delivery truck with the latest shipment of his favorite comic book: Creepshow. (Question #1: Why would a comic “book” be called a “show?” and Question #2: Don’t newspaper trucks arrive very early in the day, what kid in his right mind would wait for the delivery truck at the crack of dawn?) The truck pulls up and The Creep, a very old, ugly and sinister looking man teases, taunts and borderline harasses Billy about getting his Creepshow and throws the shipment of the magazine onto the curb. Then the film becomes animation (for no good reason) and Billy races home on his bike. Cue credits and off we go.
Segment 1: “Old Chief Wood’nhead” — George Kennedy is the owner of a old ghost town general store near a native American reservation. He hasn’t had customers in days and still has hope that the town of Dead River will thrive again. (Question #3: Would naming a town Dead River have anything to do with it now being dead?) He doesn’t have much on his to-do list this particular
day month so he decides to re-patch the war paint on his wooden Indian on his store front porch. His wife tries to talk some sense into him about closing shop and splitting this no horse town but he’s way too daft optimistic to leave. From across the street they see the local native American tribal leader get in his beat up Cadillac, do a quick turn to the other side of the street to get out again to talk to Kennedy and his wife inside the store. (Seriously, he gets in the car from directly across the street, they do a half a K-turn to park it again in front of Kennedy’s store…lazy much?) The tribal leader and his tribe have debts to pay to the store, so greatly that in lieu of actual payment he gives them about $10,000 worth of sacred treasures to hold on to until they can properly pay back the store. Kennedy reluctantly agrees to take the worthless turquoise tchotchkes.
Just then (literally just as the door closes behind the tribal leader) are three hooligans up to no good in Kennedy’s store who plan on robbing him. The ring leader is Sam (who is also the tribal leader’s nephew) armed with a shotgun threatening Kennedy and his wife to give them all their money. He also tells the other two idiots to take whatever they want. He then goes on about how his awesome long hair is going to instantly get him a career in Hollywood. So not only do Kennedy and his wife know these guys because they live in town but they also tell the store owners their whole plan. SMART.
Anyway, things get out of hand when Kennedy tries to defend his wife and the tribal jewelry and both are shot dead. So not only are they thieves and vandals but now murderers. And what do they do next? Shoot up the outside of the general store in plain sight. And then they drive as fast as they can out of town to Hollywood. NOPE. They all go back home and prepare their things for their drive to L.A. (Question #4: Even if your plan was to rob a store and move to Hollywood, wouldn’t you at least pack first?) While separated and waiting, the wooden cigar store Indian comes to life and dispatches the three jerks one-by-one. Whenever you see Old Chief Wood’nhead on screen he’s slower than molasses on a sloth. He’s all wood but somehow has joints but he’s slow as hell but still has enough time to go to three separate houses and quietly kill three young thugs. (Question #5: If Chief Wood’nhead could come to life whenever he wanted, why wouldn’t he choose to do it BEFORE Kennedy and his wife were shot dead? That would’ve been helpful Chief.)
The next morning, the tribal leader wakes up with the bag of his tribe’s treasures in his hand. He immediately high-tails it to the store and gives thanks to Chief Wood’nhead. Kennedy and his wife still dead inside I’m sure.
Interlude #1: Billy is at the post office picking up his package of Venus Flytrap seeds. This is further elaborated later on.
Segment 2: “The Raft” — Four college students are racing down an empty highway, listening to generic rock music and smoking weed. There’s Deke (the jock), Laverne (the slut), Randy (the nerd), and Rachel (the prude) and they are driving to the lake where they know of a raft anchored in the middle of the lake. Deke parks the Firebird at the shoreline in “style” meaning he stops really fast, leaves car running and the radio on really loud and leaves the doors open to go swimming in icy cold waters (its early Autumn). They all swim to the raft and Deke somehow produces more pot. I think he had some sort of water-proof can in his bright yellow speedos but whatever…yeah more pot! Randy notices some sort of large sludge whom he can’t identify moving on its own closer to the raft. He just knows its trouble! He earlier witnessed it swallow a gull. When Deke scoffs at Randy’s concern he says probably the dumbest line I ever heard in a movie: “Besides I don’t believe in oil slicks, man. I only believe in things I can smell and see and touch.”
Rachel, for whatever reason, attempts to touch it when it floats closer to the raft. The sludge grabs her and pulls her into it. The friends panic but wisely go against instinct and do not dive in after her to save her. She floats up for a while to calmly tell them that it hurts before she is dragged down again to never be seen again. Deke and Randy argue about if they should quickly swim their way back to shore. When Laverne voices her panicky concern Deke then says: “Listen! Stop it Laverne…I swear to God I’m gonna smoke you! I mean it! I’m not kidding!” While shaking a fist at her. Deke’s a gentleman for warning her first.
So they banter back and forth about how fast it can move, why its there and why its eating things. Um, guys, your friend just died a moment ago in a horrible and supernatural accident. Show some respect please. While Deke is explaining that he’s a fast swimmer and can make it back to shore the sludge grabs his foot from between the boards of the wooden raft. It breaks through the wood basically breaking his legs to pull him into the water. So now Randy and Laverne stay alive by only stepping flatly on the boards and not in between. With night-falling soon they take turns resting and looking out for the sludge. When it gets too cold for them they embrace themselves for body heat, falling asleep on each other. The sludge seems to have slept then too. In the morning, Randy awakens and calmly lays Laverne down onto the raft. Then and only then does he think its the perfect time to lift up her shirt and kiss her abdomen. Two of his friends have died in front of his eyes, he’s next on the menu for a killer oil slick and this is his horny time. Laverne feels nothing of what Randy is doing, so he must not be that good. But within moments Laverne’s face is adhered to the sludge and is dragged off the raft to her doom. Good move Randy, you are now the reason for another friend’s death. With Laverne now breakfast, Randy quickly dives off the raft and slowly swims back to shore. I mean he’s practically doggie-paddling! Despite his Phelps-like speed, he makes it back to shore and proclaims, “I BEAT YOU!” Just then the sludge creates a wave of itself engulfing Randy and making him brunch. With the car radio still playing the same rock song as when they left it; the camera pans over to the side of the lake to a sign clearly stating No SWIMMING.
Interlude #2: Billy gets accosted and harassed by some bullies as he rides his bike home. Billy manages to get a good kick in the main bully’s crotch and rides as quickly as he can away with the bullies in chase. The main bully comically says: “I want his ass!”
Segment 3: “The Hitchhiker” — A well-to-do woman is late waking up from a tryst with a gigolo and has to rush home to her husband. She has to go 20 miles in about 7 minutes. (Question #6: Is 20 miles the closest distance to get a male prostitute?) She also loves talking to herself as she tries to come up with a valid alibi to why she’s home late. She also makes up possible silly conversations between herself and her husband if she actually came clean and told him of her infidelity. While on the way she clumsily drops her cigarette and swerves on the road ultimately hitting and killing a hitchhiker. In a moment of panic she flees the scene when she notices another car approaching. The passer-by stops to assess the accident and calls 911 on his car phone while other passer-bys stop including a truck driven by Stephen King, who ironically answers a woman’s question of what happened with: “…A guy got creamed, what do you think happened? Happens all the time.” King knows a lot about being a victim of getting hit by a moving vehicle alright.
So the woman again talks out-loud to herself to calm herself down and gauge the situation and if she can live with it and get away with it if she doesn’t turn herself in. In the distance she sees the hitchhiker running towards her. She shrugs it off in disbelief caused by guilt. When he approaches her car he looks banged up good and utters: “Thanks for the ride, lady!” She speeds off again disbelieving what she saw. He again appears, this time on her roof and she speeds off with him hanging on, often repeating: “Thanks for the ride, lady!” When driving and swerving really fast prove useless to get the hitchhiker off her car she decides to drive into a forest. He manages to cling on pretty well despite the bumpy ride and low branches swatting him. He’s no match for the large tree branch though and is knocked off. The woman stops and grabs a small pistol from her glove box. Just in time to shoot the hitchhiker a few times when he opens the passenger side door. With her guilt now fully abated and in full defensive mode, the woman is now deliberately hitting him with her car and running him over to kill him completely. She then pins him against a tree and repeatedly smashes him with the car a few times until she passes out. When she awakes she just thinks she got into an accident, that there was no hitchhiker to begin with and begins again to drive home in her very wrecked car. She talks to herself again happily believing that she now has a valid excuse to being home late to her husband. When she arrives home she parks the car in the garage and notices her husband isn’t home yet either. In a shocking moment the hitchhiker attacks her again this time chocking her to death. The husband comes home to discover her dead in her still running car with a closed garage—but with the hitchhiker’s DOVER destination sign around her neck!
Epilogue: Billy manages to escape his bullies long enough to make it to a construction site where he lured them into a trap. Venus Flytraps to be exact, giant ones who eat the bullies much to Billy’s delight.
Is It Actually Scary: “Old Chief Wood’nhead” is a slow boring revenge tale. When the supernatural element in a horror story is the good guy it ceases to be scary. “The Raft” has some good shocks, especially the ending but not really scary. “The Hitchhiker” is a good story about guilt and remorse and has a good zombie hitchhiker with a funny catch-phrase. So no none of these stories are scary.
Scariest Moment: The only time I could honestly say there’s a scary part is when the hitchhiker actually jumps out from underneath the car and grabs the woman who killed him and chocking her to death.
How Much Gore: Not too much actually. The first two segments have virtually none. The only gore to be seen in “The Hitchhiker” is the progression of how much the hitchhiker is dying and essentially becoming a zombie.
Dumbest Moments: In my detailed review above I picked out a lot of dumb parts but the dumbest aspect of this film is the whole animation involving Billy and his Venus Flytraps. First of all the film begins and ends with live-action Creep scenes so why did they animate the scenes in-between? The Creep was a good-looking ghoul with decently done make-up but instead the animated Creep looked like Thurston Howell, III with a monk’s robe on. The live-action Creep looks nothing like the animated one! The whole subplot of Billy sending away for a Venus Flytrap bulb to plant himself and the bullies trying to beat him up is so over the top and ridiculous that it makes “Old Chief Wood’nhead” look like a Twilight Zone episode. And the fact that at the end, giant Venus Flytraps come and eat three kids is ghastly and sick, I don’t know why anyone would think of something so dumb.
Any Nudity: While on the raft, Randy lifts up Laverne’s shirt to reveal her ta-ta’s before she gets eaten by the giant man-eating sludge.
Overall: I always used to fast-forward “Old Chief Wood’nhead“ whenever I used to watch this back in the day. I was very wise in doing so. I always liked “The Raft” and of course “The Hitchhiker” often quoting “Thanks for the ride, Lady!” whenever it seemed appropriate. This sequel is pale in comparison to the original darker and funnier Creepshow but this one has two decent stories. The best aspect about these kinds of horror anthologies, whether its Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror or Creepshow is they are all nicely packaged morality stories that highlight the common evils and misdeeds of humans and how they receive their comeuppance. The only failing of Creepshow 2 is only “The Hitchhiker” is a story with a parable but otherwise its still a lot fun to watch the last 2 stories. The only other gripe is while the first Creepshow had numerous and recognizable stars, the only name I really knew was George Kennedy, fresh off his hot co-starring role in The Naked Gun.
Score: 5 Venus Flytrap bulbs (out of 10)