Creepshow 2 (1987)
The original Creepshow was a love letter from George A. Romero and Stephen King to the E.C. comic books that inspired them as kids. The comics, which the Creepshow comic in both films is based on, were controversial at the time for their depiction of lurid scenes violence, monsters and hints of sexuality. As usual with any moral panic the loss was to the company that made them and to the fans that treasured them. The win - well, there really was no win, as there never is with censorship.
Romero had meant to keep Creepshow going as a movie series, but there were rights issues with other producers and the movie studio, leading ultimately to the creation of Tales from the Darkside, a syndicated anthology series produced by him and Richard Rubinstein that also resulted in a movie which is considered the spiritual successor to these first two films. The second still featured a script written by Romero and stories from King - this time one from his Skeleton Crew collection and two new ones written for the movie - but directed instead by Michael Gornick.
Billy (Domenick John) can't wait for his copy of Creepshow, and this time it comes delivered courtesy of the Creep (Tom Savini), who goes on to narrate the tales. The first features the story of Ray Spruce (George Kennedy) and his wife Martha (Dorothy Lamour), owners of a general store in a dying desert town. When a local tribal leader by the name of Ben Whitemoon (Frank Salsedo) entrusts his tribe's treasures with Ray as collateral for his goods Martha thinks things may turn around. Unfortunately, Ben's nephew Sam (Holt McCalleny) and his friends have different ideas, leading to a bit of revenge from "Old Chief Woodn'head".
The second story is "The Raft", in which four teenagers visit a lake to go swimming after the season is over. They make it to a raft in the middle of the lake on which they intend to party, but something in the water has a different use for them. Finally, there is "The Hitchhiker", where Annie Lansing (Lois Charles) hits and kills a man on her way home from seeing a male prostitute. She leaves the man for dead, only to have him continue to pursue her no matter how many times she thinks she has killed him. To tie up Billy's story he takes care of his neighborhood bullies with a little help from some new friends.
"The Raft" is pretty effective, although I still like the story better - partially because it explains why someone would reach out to touch the creature (it hypnotizes by using light patterns, something not truly explored in the segment). While the story doesn't exactly paint Randy (Daniel Beer) in the best light, here he is made a straight-up creep, fondling LaVerne (Jeremy Green) as she sleeps. It's more uncomfortable than watching the creature devour people, which has some great effects work from Savini. I have no idea why the decision was made to change Randy into a creepy molester rather than have consensual sex like in the story, but it does enhance the discomfort of watching the segment and removes any desire to root for him to survive.
The other two are not as memorable, and play more as gory Twilight Zone episodes. A big change is that the comic book tone - with the patterns and garish colors, split screens and everything else Romero used in Creepshow - are absent in this film. Many of the stories in the original weren't great, but the way they were filmed made them fun. This just makes them seem a bit dull. I do like that the first two segments were filmed near Prescott, Arizona while the last - which takes place in Maine - was filmed near Bangor. It makes for some good scenery, but I just wish there was a little more fun in this one, which is what this second one is missing.
I also have no idea why there is now a new narrator other than the silent reaper-like Creep from the original and the television show. The new one is an interesting live-action design, but the animated portions make the testicular look of his chin too prominent. I can't guess as to why the change was made as the original shows up in the movie poster and, honestly, is much more interesting. The Creep from Creepshow 2 is way too much like the Crypt Keeper in delivery.
Still, the stories are solid, there are only three and it isn't as bad as it could have been. It also is nowhere as good, and it really needs the dark humor and style the first movie had.
Creepshow 2 (1987)
Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Tom Savini, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour, Holt McCalleny, Daniel Beer, Jeremy Green, Paul Satterfield, Page Hannah, Lois Chiles, Tom Wright
Director: Michael Gornick