Ah yes, the anthology horror film. At best a worthwhile novelty, at worst...well, go rent Deadtime Stories or Tales from the Hood some time soon and then tell me how you feel. Ask your parents about anthologistic horror movies and they'll undoubtedly mention "Oh! That one with Karen Black and the freaky Zuni fetish doll!" (1975's 'Trilogy of Terror'). Ask your friends and they'll most likely mention their admiration for "Creepshow" or "Cat's Eye" or (if they have really bad taste) "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie". But the sad truth of short-story horror cinema is this: the movies are always as good as their best segment...but each segment is only about 20-some minutes long.
Anthology horror often sells poorly because horror freaks are a picky lot. If we want a vampire movie, we go find one. Slasher flicks, zombie romps, killer cars, satanically-possessed laundry machinery, we know where to find it. But the anthology flick wants to spread across a wide array of horror sub-genres...in only a few short minutes apiece. Tough to build any real characterization or tension when each tale is only 22 minutes...
Which brings us to Creepshow 2, which is obviously the sequel to the extremely well-remembered collaboration between George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Stephen King (virtually every horror novel ever written). The original Creepshow offered five ghoulish tales and it was backed by the wide pockets of Warner Bros. studios. While not a massive hit, the movie proved more than popular enough to warrant a second visit. But WB wasn't biting. In steps New World Pictures, which offers to do Part 2 on the cheap. (We're talking New World Pictures, folks.)
So with a slashed budget and Mr. King participating through story credit only, Creepshow 2 was kind of doomed from the get-go. It's a slipshod and relatively unimaginative production, yet it still retains enough of the creepy old EC Comics charm to warrant a visit. We're offered three stories this time around, two of which are quaintly gruesome enough to enjoy...and one that's a bona-fide Gorehound Delight!
Chapter one focuses on one of those massive cigar-store wooden indians. But instead of just standing there, quietly promoting outdated racial stereotypes, this particular Indian comes to life and demands bloody vengeance from a gang of drooling criminals. Not too shabby, but (aside from the particularly cool make-up work on the Indian AND the campy onscreen pairing of George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour) it's nothing we haven't seen before.
Skipping over the second chapter (be patient) we come to a tale about an undead hitchhiker who torments the absolute hell out of a snooty lady motorist. It's pretty much a one-joke affair, but there's still a few nuggets of genre goodness to be found: Stephen King in yet another hayseed cameo appearance, heaping helps of gruesome gore, and a jolly sense of gothic good humor...not to mention a running-gag tag-line that will haunt you for, well, a few hours anyway.
But the crowning jewel of Creepshow 2 (and any horror fan worth their salt already knows where I'm going here...) has got to be The Raft! Nestled in between two fluffy pieces of blood-soaked bread is the real MEAT of Creepshow 2...and I'm talking about four teens, one raft, and about a dozen wet Hefty bags tied together and covered with twigs. Long story short: four photogenic teenagers swim on out to one of those stationary wooden rafts in the middle of a lake. Enter an underwater monster who looks pretty much like a giant, soaking wet garbage bag. But the gravy starts to pour when the Evil Lake Monster gets a hold of these screaming weenies. The Raft runs maybe 20 minutes, but we get four gruesome kills, two naked boobs, a truckoad of watch-your-toes tension, and about six buckets worth of great, slimy, goo.
Even if chapters 1 and 3 were grade-A garbage (which they're not), then "The Raft" would still warrant a rental (or a purchase, depending on your purse-strings). But wait a second, this is an Anchor Bay DVD release, so you just know you're bound to get a little something extra for your fifteen bucks. Released under AB's Divimax banner, Creepshow 2 is presented in a Widescreen Anamorphic format, with audio delivered in Dolby 5.1. No, this is not a flawless transfer, but it's as close as you'll ever get for a low-budget horror sequel from 1987. The audio presentation was surprisingly solid, though, so that was a pleasant surprise. English captions are also included, which is extremely good to see, because Anchor Bay has been notorious for omitting English captions/subtitles on many of their releases. Good move there.
The main goodies in the Special Features department are a full-length audio commentary (with director Michael Gornick and moderator/Anchor Bay producer Perry Martin) and a brief featurette with FX gurus Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. Horror hounds will enjoy both of these features, although they're not exactly 'revisit' material. (Special mention to commentary moderator Perry Martin for instigating a thorough and surprisingly insightful audio track.) You'll also find the original theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and a collection of original storyboard art.
Bottom line: If you already know and love Creepshow, and most of you do, the sequel's something you'll probably enjoy...in a Jaws 2 or Halloween 2 kind of way.