STEPHEN KING WEEK: Creepshow 2 (1987)

In a perfect world, Creepshow 2 would be even better than the original. But sadly, the world is not perfect and we often have to make due with what we have.

Directed by Michael Gornick, who was the cinematographer for Romero’s MartinDawn of the DeadKnightriders, Day of the Dead and the original Creepshow, this follow-up is based once again on King stories (but screenwritten by Romero).

Creepshow 2 was originally going to be five stories (Pinfall and Cat from Hell went unfilmed, although Cat does appear in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie), but a lower budget forced the film to only include three tales.

PInfall was to be about the rivalry between two bowling teams with one coming back from the dead to kill the other. It reminds me a lot of the story in Haunt of Fear #19, Foul Play!

Instead of what wasn’t filmed, let’s get into what was: In Dexter, Maine, a delivery truck pulls up and drops off the latest issue of Creepshow, with the driver being the Creep himself!

In Old Chief Wood’nhead, an elderly couple named Ray and Martha Spruce (George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour in her last role) live in an old town on its last legs. No one in town has money and soon, the store they own — and their lives — will fade away, too. Chief Whitemoon comes to visit and gives them sacred jewelry to pay back his debt. It’s not money, but the thought is what counts.

As the wise old man leaves, the wooden Indian that stands guard in the store nods to him, which frightens him. It foreshadows what happens next, as that night, the chief’s nephew Sam and his gang rob the store and kill the kindly old couple. Their blood splashes all over the old wooden chief as they depart with the stolen sacred jewels.

The gang plans to go to Hollywood, where Sam thinks his long hair will make him a star. But he and his entire gang are killed, with their scalps and the jewelry left for the old chief.

In The Raft, four teens (one of them is Page Hannah, the sister of Daryl and all of the characters share the surname of the actor playing them) try to go swimming but have to contend with a black blob that wants to kill them all. Again — this is an incredibly simple tale told well. I’d say it’s the highlight of the film, but the more I write about these, the more I remember how much I truly enjoy this movie.

Finally, The Hitchhiker concerns a businesswoman who is trying to get home from a tryst with her lover before her husband notices. Along the way, she hits a man who keeps coming back. And coming back. And coming back. Again, simple idea, but told really well. Ironically, the hitchhiker is played by Tom Wright, who played the civil rights activist who comes back from the head in Tales from the Hood. It’s an amazingly similar role! Even stranger is that Barbara Eden was to play the woman before her mother’s illness caused her to drop out.

Ed French was the original effects guy for this, but got upset when director Gornick asked Howard Berger for advice, as he wasn’t happy with the look of the creature in The Raft. Greg Nicotero and Berger ended up finishing the movie and they enlisted Tom Savini to play The Creep.

Creepshow 2 doesn’t have the gloss of the original. That doesn’t make it a horrible movie. But the original sets a bar that’s incredibly high.

Now that I think about it, there are some great moments in this film. It’s worth checking out. Diabolik DVD has the Arrow blu-ray, which has some gorgeous packaging. Fright Rags has you covered with an entire series of t-shirts and pins for the movie! And Waxworks Records has you covered with the soundtrack!

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