Released on May 1, 1987, Michael Gornick’s Creepshow 2 just happens to turn 35 this month. That’s some respectable company to be in. The summer of 1987 was epic for movie releases. I can’t even begin to do it full justice. Let me just mention a few: The Lost Boys, Predator, Robocop, Dirty Dancing, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Back to the Beach, Revenge of the Nerds 2, Jaws: The Revenge… and the list goes on. Some are undisputed classics. Some are just classics to me. One in particular that screams summer awesomeness for me is Creepshow 2. I LOVE this poster art. Something about it evokes that high of anticipation that we got during our formidable years when something we cannot wait to see finally came to town.
New World Pictures released Creepshow 2 on a smaller budget than the first. This is usually not a good sign, but New World was as epic as Cannon Films in the mid 1980s. Seeing that New World logo made me even more excited.
The same talent that brought us the first Creepshow (1982 – our retro review) was still behind the scenes. George Romero wrote the screenplay based on Stephen King stories. Tom Savini (our interview) didn’t do the makeup, but he did play The Creep. Romero’s go-to Director of Photography, Michael Gornick, took over the directing duties. I’m a huge fan of both 1 and 2, but this one is special. It seems more lighthearted that the first, and even though it’s leaner with only three stories, it still feels like a labor of love.
“Old Chief Wood’nhead”
Hollywood royalty George Kennedy (Wacko! 1982 – our review) and Dorothy Lamour play shopkeepers in a dying Arizona town. They once had a booming business, but the tide has turned, and retirement seems to be looming sooner than they had anticipated. One of the many constants of the store is a wooden Indian that Ray Spruce (George Kennedy) regularly touches up with loving care. When the local tribe give Ray their sacred jewelry to hold as collateral for debts outstanding, things begin to go awry. The local bad element robs the elderly couple, and Chief Wood’nhead exacts swift and appropriate vengeance.
This installment has a charm that almost feels like Highway to Heaven, a show that I used to watch with my grandparents. You almost expect a mysterious stranger to turn things around for the kind couple. When it goes dark, it’s all the more jolting and evokes the feeling that justice will come not with the store being saved but by everyone involved in the wrongdoing being disposed of in the grisliest of manners. Creepshow always tells horror morality tales at their best, and this one is both heartwarming and brimming over with EC Comics charm.
George Kennedy nails the kindly shopkeeper role and Dorothy Lamour is as lovely as June Cleaver still wearing pearls and dresses to do housework well into the 1980s. Keen observers will notice that Sam Whitemoon is played by Holt McCallany, who’s best known now as FBI agent Bill Tench in Mindhunter. There’s also a nice callback to Hal Holbrook in the casting of his son, David Holbrook (The Parish 2021 – our review), as Fatso.
If a horror film comes out in the summer, it makes perfect sense if the story has something to do with staying out of the water. Well, “The Raft” fills out that capacity in an unlikely but effective way. Four students drive to an isolated pond and brave the cold waters of an early fall. The raft in the middle of the pond seems like the perfect spot to swim to, sunbath and get a little stoned. Then, the kids notice what looks like an oil slick floating in the distance. What happens next is the result of The Blob and Jaws getting run through the great centrifuge of Stephen King. This one is my favorite. It hits all the great tropes of ’80s horror: popular jocks, brainy nerds, the jock’s pretty girlfriend, and even a Camaro with a car bra on it.
The original special effects artist was dismissed by the director because the blob creature didn’t look realistic enough. Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero’s company was brought in to bring up the production value. Nicotero now produces the Creepshow series on Shudder. Also, the jock’s girlfriend wears a Horlicks University shirt as an homage to “The Crate” from the first film.
The classic horror trope about your sins always finding you really hits home in the final segment of Creepshow 2. Bond girl Lois Chiles plays adulteress Annie Lansing. She’s kept quite comfortably by her wealthy husband but still calls on the services of the local professional gigolo from time to time. While rushing to beat her husband back home, she accidentally kills an innocent hitchhiker. As anyone knows, this story is EC comics inspired, and anyone wronged and murdered doesn’t stay dead. Stephen King doesn’t stay nearly as long in front of the camera this time. He’s in a really brief cameo as a truck driver.
Creepshow 2 is still a fun watch after all these years. It could be compared to what Evil Dead 2 is to Evil Dead. Still visceral, but maybe a little more tongue in cheek. I’m still not clear why the Cisco Kid references carry through from “Old Chief Wood’nhead” and into “The Raft” but not all the way through to “The Hitchhiker,” unless I’ve missed it for three decades. A minor anomaly and something that adds to the nuances of one of the best anthology films ever. Another fun fact: I mentioned that this one was the more economical entry at only three stories. The other tales that were planned ended up in Tales From The Dark Side: The Movie. Most horror fans consider it an unofficial Creepshow 3.
I’m always up to add more Arrow Videos to my collection, and their release of Creepshow 2 has the only special features extras that I know of. I have it and I can’t recommend it enough.
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
- Original Uncompressed PCM Mono 1.0, Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Audio Options
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with director Michael Gornick
- Poncho’s Last Ride – an interview with actor Daniel Beer
- The Road to Dover – an interview with actor Tom Wright
- Screenplay for a Sequel – an interview with screenwriter George A. Romero
- Tales from the Creep – an interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini
- Nightmares in Foam Rubber – archive featurette on the special effects of Creepshow 2, including interviews with FX artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero
- My Friend Rick – Berger on his special effects mentor Rick Baker
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Image Gallery
- Trailers & TV Spots
- Original Screenplay (BD-ROM Content)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mike Saputo
Even after 35 years, we’re still saying, “Thanks for the ride, lady!”