George A. Romero and Stephen King’s 1982 anthology horror film, Creepshow, definitely took me by surprise when I watched it. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much. The film consists of five shorts, each telling a uniquely weird and/or scary story.
Creepshow 2 features only three vignettes instead of five, which doesn’t leave much room for error. While the last two stories are really entertaining, the first one really lowers our expectations. But maybe that’s the idea.
We’re told the tale of a cigar store Indian that comes to life and exacts revenge for his store owner’s murder. The concept would have been creepier if the Indian played an antagonist role rather than that of a hero. The story is sluggish and constantly towing some non-existent line between heartfelt and dark–never knowing which one it wants to be. The charm of the first Creepshow lies in its simplicity, but already we’re seeing this cigar store Indian story is trying to do too much.
While the effects on the Indian, himself, are fairly impressive, the idea should have been scrapped once they realized they wouldn’t be able to show much of him outside the shop–including any of his killings (we see them via shadows on the wall and other underwhelming ways). Fortunately, the effects in the 2nd and 3rd story are much better.
The second tale, called The Raft, follows a group of teenagers swimming in a small lake when an amorphous oil slick comes to life and starts killing them. The story is simple, but presumably plays as an allegory for pollution. Though not much happens, the sequence is entertaining and probably the most evenly paced out of the bunch.
The final segment is about a rich white lady who accidentally runs over and kills a black hitchhiker on her way home from having an affair with a gigolo. She flees the scene of the crime and is shown stressing about her own fate, as well as the damage done to her car, rather than the lost life of the man she hit. This story gives us, by far, the strongest themes and actually takes us on a journey throughout the woman’s escapades.
As a thread running through all three shorts, there’s definitely something unrealized stylistically. In the first Creepshow there was a cohesiveness among the stories, but here the only thing they all have in common is that they have some social commentary to say.
Michael Gornick, the cinematographer on the first film, now acts as the director. While Romero, who directed the first film, now pens the script based on stories by Stephen King.
Often times it feels like Gornick lacks a complete understanding of his characters, who, for the most part, have been well-set by Romero’s script. For stories that are so grounded in well-established themes, there’s a lot of minute details that go overlooked with the execution.
Creepshow 2 is a worthy addition to the anthology horror sub-genre, but possesses the same inherent problems that unfortunately plague almost every anthology film ever–inconsistent quality.