The Creep is your guide to three new tales of terror from the creepiest comic book of them all! In "Old Chief Wood'nhead," kindly storekeepers (screen legends George Kennedy) and Dorothy Lamour) are slaughtered by hoodlums and unleash a most unexpected avenger. Four teens out for fun find themselves on a lake monster's menu if "The Raft." And in "The Hitchhiker," a cheating wife (Louis Chiles) is in for the ride of her life when she runs down a hitcher who won't stay dead. Gore FX legend Tom Savini and Stephen King himself co-star in this scream of a sequel co-written by King and George Romero (Dawn of The Dead) that's bigger, better and wilder than ever!
Of the millions of movie posters to choose from, the artwork for the two 'Creepshow' films remain as some of my personal favorites. The images of a rotting corpse inside a ticket booth, and a hooded skeleton gleefully smiling and pointing at the silver screen, tempt audiences to sit through something truly horrifying. Those images fester in my childhood memories of the first time I saw them hanging in theaters or as the cover art of the VHS tapes at my local video store. They're not necessarily at the iconic level (that's an entirely different conversation), but they're evidence of a good poster's promotional effectiveness, especially on the imagination of kids convinced of what the artwork promises.
Of course, by the time I finally mustered the courage to watch 'Creepshow 2,' fresh in the box on the "New Releases" shelf, I had already spent years sitting through some of the goriest and most violent movies in Italian horror cinema, particularly the Bava-Argento partnership for two 'Demons' movies. It should come as no surprise that I felt rather stupid and embarrassed to discover the posters had lied to me; they created an expectation which, at first, I thought the Romero-King alliance failed to satisfy. It was only after a short time I came to realize the horror-comedy anthologies are actually a celebration and homage to the E.C. horror comics of the 1950s, such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear.
The posters participate in this reverence for the classic comics of spooky entertainment by featuring a modern, more gruesome take of the Crypt Keeper, inviting moviegoers with his gaunt, cadaverous smile. Unlike the first movie, however, the hooded figure of the artwork doesn't actually make an appearance. Instead, the filmmakers of this sequel, directed by cinematographer and producer Michael Gornick, bring back the original haggard host with his grey stringy hair, crooked pointed nose and a protruding chin. A live-action version of The Creep, played by none other than gore-effects maestro Tom Savini under very heavy makeup, appears in the prologue and epilogue while radio and television personality Joe Silver provides the voice during the in-between story with little Billy (Domenick John) and his collection of pet Venus Flytaps.
'Creepshow 2' is nowhere near the level of its predecessor — not that it set the bar very high to begin with, but that it lacks much of the same comical zeal for the ultra-weird and uncanny. It commences with a tale starring George Kennedy that's largely uneventful for the first half and is neither spooky nor thrilling. Watching a cigar store Indian come to life and avenge the murder of its owners is bit of a drag and somewhat depressing with a bizarre heavy-handed preachiness that sets to the wrong tone for a horror comedy. The story that follows improves things as four college kids visit a desolate lake with a very hungry, otherworldly black blob that patiently hunts after them. It's not exactly any scarier than the previous, but it has its moments of tension and suspense, aided by some amusing gore.
The anthology, from a screenplay by George A. Romero and based on stories by Stephen King, concludes its journey into the darkside with a twisted black comedy that makes the entire movie somewhat memorable. The laughs are pretty silly as well, as an unfaithful wife is haunted by the zombie-like ghost of a man she ran over. His "Thanks for the ride, lady" jingle has become a funny catch phrase in this household when showing gratitude. But as much I get a kick out of the hysterical woman repeatedly running over, mangling, and battering the hitchhiker in her Mercedes-Benz, I must contend the horror anthology sequel is a bit of a disappointment with only a few moments of amusement. 'Creepshow 2' is still watchable, but not nearly as good or entertaining as the first movie.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'Creepshow 2' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc that goes straight to a static menu screen with music at startup. It's housed inside a blue, eco-elite keepcase.
Looking as if it slowly crept out a dank, dirty crypt, 'Creepshow 2' puts on a show with a mostly good 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that has several appreciable moments along with some rather disappointing ones. The 1.85:1 frame comes with a consistent thin layer of grain throughout while contrast levels are nicely balanced with clean whites, though highlights are just a tad on the hot side. Blacks are generally stable and accurate, providing the image with an attractive cinematic appeal, but shadows can appear somewhat murky in many sequences. Definition and clarity fail to impress with only a few moments of strong, distinct detailing. It's not too terrible, but the overall presentation is largely on the soft side. Colors benefit the most, with bold primaries and healthy skin tones, making the high-def transfer passable but still on the average side.
The horror-comedy sequel fares a bit better in the audio department, with a fairly active and pleasing DTS-HD MA stereo soundtrack. The music of Les Reed is probably most apparent as it spreads evenly across the screen, creating an engagingly wide and expansive soundfield. Thanks to a clean and detailed mid-range, the various instruments in the score are quite distinct without a hint of distortion. The rest of the movie doesn't offer much in terms of channel separation or movement, but the soundstage exhibits excellent presence and fidelity throughout. Low bass is pretty mild and tame, but it's just audible enough to still appreciate. With precise, intelligible dialogue in the center, the lossless mix is very good and consistent to the film's age.
Though not as good or entertaining as its predecessor, 'Creepshow 2' still makes for a decent follow-up that offers a few amusing moments of horror comedy. Only, viewers will have to suffer through the first tale before arriving at the meatier parts about a flesh-eating gooey blob and a dead hitchhiker. The Blu-ray arrives with a mostly good picture quality and a slightly better audio presentation. Lacking in bonus material, the overall package is one that only fans could love.