Creepshow 2 ReviewJoe Shaffer
Logically, I should hate Creepshow 2. It cuts back on the visual stylization reminiscent of EC Comics, and almost completely eschews the original's dark comedy elements. Creepshow 2 also sports a slim three stories (four if you count the frame narrative), as opposed to the original's five tales. Each story plays out in a more standard fashion, without ridiculously accentuating camp in a fashion similar to the original film. However, beneath the surface of each tale there is an underlying theme that can often be found in comics like "Tales from the Crypt" and "The Haunt of Fear": poetic justice.
Most of Creepshow 2's central characters are scumbags. Yes, there are a few decent human beings in each story's cast, but the most important players in each twisted drama tend to be miscreants: murderers, rapists, hit-and-runners, and even young bullies. Each of them commits a grave transgression, and each of their suffers in an ironic or fitting manner for their misdeed.
For instance, the first story, "Old Chief Wood'nhead," stars a man named Sam Whitemoon. Sam figures he's going to be a major celebrity, mostly because he has long hair (yeah, I don't get it either...). The only problem is that Sam lives in the middle of nowhere rather than in Hollywood, where he imagines his dreams of striking it rich for having hair down to his butt shall come true. So what's the solution to his problem? Selling his belongings and taking a bus to California? Nope, instead it involves robbing and killing an elderly couple who own a convenience store, complete with a cigar store Indian sitting on the porch...
The story suggests that Sam has forgotten the honorable ways of his Native American ancestors, and that unseen forces may have concocted a suitable means of punishing him. For Sam does not realize that there's more Chief Wood'nead than... well, wood. The statue is more than an advertisement, decoration, or a wooden caricature; he's a wrathful guardian. Following the murder of the old couple, the chief steps down from his mount, dons warpaint, and cuts loose the most eerie war howl you can imagine. As you may have guessed, Sam has wrought his own grim fate by killing the couple, and now nothing can save him from the chief's vengeance.
Chief Wood'nhead isn't a monster in the conventional sense. Neither are the other two antagonists when dealing with their respective stories' miscreants, actually. Rather, the chief is more of an antihero, and Sam Whitemoon is more of a monster. This makes for some excellent commentary on the nature of humanity, but the real question lies in whether or not this makes for truly horrifying storytelling.
Honestly, that's where I'm torn on Creepshow 2. I definitely enjoy the movie, as it is a fierce and fun '80s horror flick, but certain parts of it don't scare me much. For instance, it's a bit difficult to feel terrified for the characters when watching "Old Chief Wood'nhead" when you're rooting for the chief. The same can be said at the end of "The Raft," when we discover the true nature of that segment's protagonist.
On the other hand, Creepshow 2 does feature a few frightening moments, especially in its second story "The Raft." There we follow a quartet of hedonistic college kids taking a trip to a secluded lake. Upon arrival, their plans are to swim to a raft in the middle of the lake, smoke a few doobies, and bone till the sun drops. There's one fatal snag in their plan: the lake is currently occupied by an amorphous (and carnivorous) floating slime. One by one, the slime picks off the characters and leaves only blackened skeletons. We're not talking quick and painless deaths, either. One of the most disturbing scenes in the movie involves a girl waking up and realizing that the thing has ceased her. The terrible look of realization on her face, followed by desperate screams that belie the absolute knowledge that she's well and truly screwed are not only heart-breaking, they're damn terrifying.
Maybe Creepshow 2 isn't as memorable or stylish as its predecessor, nor as fun, nor as lovingly shot and edited. If you can stomach some shoddy acting and its cast of morally wayward protagonists--the likes of which are not usually effective characters for horror stories--then you'll find an old school horror flick that's well worth a watch.
...which is way more than I can say for Creepshow III.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.