Color, 1987, 89m.
Directed by Michael Gornick
Starring Lois Chiles, George Kennedy, Dorothy Lamour, Tom Savini, David Holbrook, Paul Satterfield, Jeremy Green, Daniel Beer, Page Hannah, Tom Wright
Arrow Video (Blu-ray) (US RA HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), 88 Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), Image (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Anchor Bay (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Creepshow 2

Creepshow 2While the original Creepshow wasn't exactly a critical favorite, its stock increased rapidly when George A. Romero and Stephen King returned to the same well with Creepshow 2, which pares down the five story format of the first film to three here. At the time of its release, the movie felt like a wobbly attempt to make a few bucks without the love for E.C. Comics found in the original; it's a tackier and cheaper effort in every way, but oddly enough, that's made it weirdly endearing over the years with its low-rent charms aging surprisingly well.

The framing device this time is more complicated with Tom Savini first appearing in heavy make up as "The Creep," dispensing Creepshow comic books from his truck to an eager young boy longing to buy some giant Venus Flytraps. The boy's story then turns into a cartoon, juggled back and forth with animated footage of the Creep narrating the stories in a castle. (So yes, at the end of the film we then have to back out of three separate framing stories... quite awkward.)

First up is "Old Chief Wood'nhead," which stars George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour as a couple of shop owners near Indian territory in the desert. Despite their failing business, George keeps up good relationships with the natives and takes care of the large wooden Creepshow 2Indian adorning the front of his store. Creepshow 2When the chief of the local tribe rewards George for his service with some precious jewels, the chief's son and his delinquent friends crash the store, intending to grab some quick cash for an escape to Hollywood. However, the wooden Indian outside has other plans...

The second and most memorable story, "The Raft" (adapted from King's short story), features four pot smoking teens hopping onto a large raft aloft in an isolated lake, only to be surrounding by a large carnivorous mass resembling an oil slick. Though light on story, the tale moves along at a nice clip and features some memorable horrific highlights, including a terrific sucker punch climax.

Finally, the most oft-quoted episode, "The Hitchhiker, stars Moonraker's Lois Chiles as Annie Lansing, an adulterous woman whose speedy post-coital trip back to her husband is interrupted when she accidentally runs over a road worker (Wright). She then takes off instead of calling the police, only to be continuously harassed by the decaying human roadkill, who keeps popping up and chiming, "Thanks for the ride, lady!"

Unlike the colorful and stylized first film, Creepshow 2 feels more like three episodes of Romero's Tales from the Darkside strung together Creepshow 2and spiced up with extra nudity and gore. Each one could have been trimmed by Creepshow 2about ten minutes, but horror fans should find enough to eke out plenty of entertainment value thanks to some delightfully overripe performances (especially Chiles) and memorably grotesque imagery, especially the second segment (which was later ripped off mercilessly in Cabin Fever). Director Michael Gornick (a regular Romero cinematographer) does a professional if unexceptional job; in fact, everyone performs adequately except for composer Les Reed, whose droning, perky synth score (with an assist from Rick Wakeman of all people) really should have been scrapped, and the animators of the linking story, which looks ragged even by '80s Saturday morning cartoon standards.

Anchor Bay's first DVD in 2000 looked okay for the time, with extras including the theatrical trailer -- which casually spoils the endings of all three stories! -- and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, include a nice chummy image of Chiles and King (who has a longer-than-usual cameo in the film as a trucker). In 2004, Anchor Bay revisited the title as a Divimax (i.e., high bit-rate) release featuring the trailer, a DVD-Rom screenplay, galleries of storyboards and publicity stills, a lively commentary with Gornick and Perry Martin, and "Nightmares in Foam Rubber," a Creepshow 232-minute featurette with Creepshow 2future makeup superstars Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero about their days as "kids" hopping between Arizona and Maine to come up with their props and monsters. (Lots of great behind-the-scenes footage, too!) As with the bulk of New World's titles, the rights eventually migrated over to Image Entertainment in 2011, resulting in a no-frills edition on Blu-ray and DVD that looked pretty drab by technical standards at the time, featuring the mono and a matrixed 5.1 audio options.

In early 2016, 88 Films debuted the film on Blu-ray in the UK with an expanded special edition featuring an improved transfer that cleans up the many speckles and contrast issues of the Image release; extras consist of "Screenplay For A Sequel" (10 mins.) with Romero chatting about expanding King's original and preexisting stories into a script (which dropped two additional stories) as well as the other King projects he drifted in and out of over the years, " Tales From The Creep" (7 mins.) with Savini chatting about moving from behind the camera to the front of it after the prior film (and ending up in an odd three-picture "pay or play" deal with New World), almost 6 minutes of Savini-as-Creep behind-the-scenes footage, the trailer, a TV spot, a still gallery, and bonus 88 Films trailers.

At the end of 2016, Arrow Video took its own stab at the film's first North American special edition Blu-ray release, featuring what's touted as a "brand new 2K restoration from original film elements" and several of the earlier Anchor Bay (Gornick commentary, Creepshow 2"Nightmares on Foam Rubber" featurette, trailer) as well as both of the 88 Films featurettes with Romero and Savini and behind-the-scenes footage. In addition to two trailers (one of them including the hilarious "nothing of significance" voice Creepshow 2over) and an expanded stills gallery, you also get the fun new 14-minute "The Road to Dover" with Wright chatting about how his ability to do stunts came in handy with this film after roles in movies like The Wanderers and how much he appreciated the deep passion of the effects team, the 14-minute "Poncho's Last Ride" with Beer (the "nicer" guy from "The Raft") offering amusing stories about his co-stars and recalling his severe hypothermia that shut down production for a few days, and the 2-minute "My Friend Rick" featuring Berger briefly talking about how he first wanted to make monsters because of Rick Baker and went on to work with him.

As for the new transfer... wow! It's a radical improvement over the previous one seen on the older Blu-rays, featuring much more robust colors, better refined film grain, and most significantly, additional image information on the sides including a huge amount on the left that now makes all of the compositions better centered and more visually appealing. The framing adjusts to 1.85:1 from 1.78:1 as well, all for the better. The LCPM English mono and stereo and DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio features optional English SDH subtitles (and all three sound pretty fantastic and much clearer), and the disc is available as either a standard edition or a limited deluxe slipcover one featuring a liner notes essay by Michael Blyth and the debut of a previously unseen Jason Mayoh comic adaptation of the King story "Pinfall," which was dropped from the film's script along with "The Cat from Hell" (which became part of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie).


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Updated review on November 26, 2016.