Admittedly, issue #2 of Creepshow is nobody's favourite film. Made in 1987 and directed by long-time Romero cameraman Michael Gornick1, it's a distinctly low-key2 affair compared to the original film, paring down Creepshow's five-story framework to three3. In the first story, Old Chief Wood'n Head, a wooden Indian statue comes to life to seek revenge after a kindly shop owner and his wife are slain by some thugs... The middle segment, The Raft has a bunch of teens menaced by the blob-like inhabitant of a lake... The concluding story, The Hitchhiker is about a woman who can't seem to shake off a persistent traveller of the night - even after running him over and leaving him for dead on the highway...
In many ways, Creepshow 2 is best described in terms of other unappreciated sequels like Halloween II and Hellbound: Hellraiser II - they don't hold a candle to their parent films, but in amongst the clutter, there is plenty to enjoy. In the case of Creepshow 2, at least two of the segments are genuine winners. Old Chief Wood'n Head, is a bit of a dud, but The Raft and The Hitchhiker are wonderfully grisly and gory (with FX courtesy of Ed French and two-thirds of KNB, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger).
|Old Chief Wood'n Head in the flesh|
|A sticky end for someone on board The Raft|
|Roadkill strikes back in The Hitchhiker|
Worth mentioning the animated segments of the film, starring "The Creep" who introduces each story. In addition there's a second animated thread about a young Creepshow reader, and one effective way of dealing with bullies. The animation is rather clunky - think Scooby-Doo, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Anchor Bay have dusted off Creepshow 2 for a very fine release on both sides of the Atlantic. The transfer is pretty good considering the film stock of this era - it's still a soft looking film, but at least the colors look solid and the print itself is clean. Audio is good too, as are the extras - a short featurette on the film and an audio commentary by Michael Gornick who discusses the nuts and bolts of the production.
1. Romero fans will know Michael Gornick as the cinematographer on some of the director's key films - Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and Creepshow. Originally Tom Savini was to make his directorial debut with Creepshow 2 but the task eventually fell to Gornick who had previously directed an episode of TV series Tales From the Darkside. Savini does appear in the film, albeit under heavy makeup as "The Creep" in the live action sequences that bookend the film.
2. Low-key and low-budget... Warners who bankrolled the original Creepshow were less enthused about a sequel, and the film wound up at the more modest New World Pictures. The production had its fair share of difficulties. Delays due to bad weather put the film behind schedule, there was a change of principle crew members at one point, and Barbara Eden who was originally cast as the lead in The Hitchhiker episode was forced to drop out of the film.
3. Creepshow 2's trilogy of stories were penned by Stephen King and George Romero. The Raft was an existing story and came from King's 1985 short story collection Skeleton Crew. It was never intended that George Romero direct the film - at the time, the director was preparing his adaptation of Pet Semetary, which of course never happened and the project went on to be filmed by Mary Harron. And while the Pet Semetary film is no great shakes, neither is Romero's adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Half...