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The Movie Night Diaries: Creepshow 2

This time up, The Movie Night Diaries has a look at the 1987 Stephen King horror anthology Creepshow 2. The movie features three different stories penned by the American horror master Stephen King and adapted for the screen by George A. Romero. Creepshow 2 is directed by Michael Gornick.

An image of the poster for the film Creepshow 2I’m keeping with the trend of looking into horror films of the Eighties that eluded me during my childhood that are now (as of this writing) conveniently available to view via Netflix Instant in the United States. Like many people my age, I grew up on the stories of Stephen King. I had seen the original Creepshow, but I never made it around to its sequel. It’s not because I didn’t like the first one (I loved it.) but in many ways the second Creepshow got lost in the shuffle.

It came out around the same time as Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which was something I would have been much more interested in at the time. While King’s trio of stories may seem quaint by comparison to other horror fare of that era, Creepshow 2 has aged better than most and is an enjoyable Hollywood take on the classic stories of William Gaines’s EC Comics, two years before they would make their way to HBO with the series Tales from the Crypt.

King is an unabashed fan of Gaines’s creepy comics, from Tales from the Crypt to The Vault of Horror, and Creepshow 2 does a fine job of paying homage to his work.

The trio of tales begins with “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” a story about an oversized wood carving of a Native American chief that exacts bloody revenge on a group of young hoodlums that steals a cache of Indian relics. “Old Chief Wood’nhead” stars George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour as two aged shop-owners who are entrusted with the relics. As much as it pains me to stay it, this is by far the weakest of the three stories. It’s predictable in every way. Without spoiling the fun, I will say that it closely follows one of the stock formulas of the EC comics: bad-actors/evil-doers get their comeuppance at the hands of the supernatural. All of these stories feature lean plots and limited characterization, but the other two vignettes manage to provide more thrills.

The second of the three stories, “The Raft,” stars Paul Satterfield, Jeremy Green, Daniel Beer, and Page Hannah as a group of college students who run afoul of a mysterious, carnivorous lake monster on a late summer swimming holiday. This one is much more engaging than “Old Chief Wood’nhead” and provides a few scares while remaining true to form. Each of the students is a teenage archetype: the pot-smoking quarterback, his loyal sidekick, the alluring girlfriend, and the wallflower. These archetypes serve the story well, as it is not so long as to require character arcs and deep studies. The kids make a bit of noise and splash about in the lake before an oily lake slime makes an appearance and begins wreaking havoc. “The Raft” is a quick and enjoyable horror note.

Last up is “The Hitchhiker,” starring Lois Chiles and featuring a cameo appearance by the man himself, Stephen King. Chiles is Annie Lansing, a privileged, two-timing housewife who finds herself rushing home to meet her husband in time to cover up an evening visit to an escort. Lansing collides with a hitchhiker on the side of the road, and, as you might imagine, the story doesn’t end there. Familiar face Tom Wright plays the hitchhiker who is hell bent on having his revenge in spite of the fact that he may no longer be alive. By far the goriest of the three stories, this one provides some genuine jumps when the hitchhiker makes his appearance again, and again, and again.

And this just wouldn’t be a Creepshow movie without the narrative bookends hosted by The Creep himself, who, this time around, is played by horror FX phenom Tom Savini and voiced by Joe Silver. This time around we follow an animated day in the life of young Billy. Billy, a devoted Creepshow reader, is harassed by a gang of bullies who are soon served their just desserts in classic Creepshow fashion.

Creepshow 2, while inferior to its predecessor, is still a fun fright flick with a heavy dose of nostalgia for those who grew up with the original EC comics of the Fifties or who were fans of Eighties horror cinema.

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