The PC Thug: I Still Love “Creepshow 2” a bit more than “Creepshow”

“Juvenile delinquency is the product of pent up frustrations, stored-up resentments and bottled-up fears. It is not the product of cartoons and captions. But the comics are a handy, obvious, uncomplicated scapegoat. If the adults who crusade against them would only get as steamed up over such basic causes of delinquency as parental ignorance, indifference, and cruelty, they might discover that comic books are no more a menace than Treasure Island or Jack the Giant Killer”.

I often describe “Creepshow 2” as a mean spirited sequel, but I think that’s why it stands apart from the original. And granted the original movie was also a bit mean spirited in and of itself, so I don’t know why I continuously give it such a label. The whole janitor and med student being eaten by the yeti in “Creepshow” just pour cruel, harsh deaths. Anyway, I love “Creepshow 2” and my re-watching it in its crisp restoration from Arrow Video confirmed that. There are a ton of movies I adored as a kid that just hasn’t held up very well, but “Creepshow 2” still maintains its inherent quality.

It’s a very barebones and more simplistic sequel to the original film. Where the first was an all out celebration of EC comics with George Romero trying hard to make the movie in to a living EC Comic, the sequel celebrates the same aesthetic but in a different format that’s just as creative. Plus where the original film hinted at the Creeper, “Creepshow 2” puts Tom Savini in full make up and places the character front and center. Savini as the Creeper is fantastic and he’s a wonderful horror ghoul who should be as iconic as the Cryptkeeper. I’d love someone to revive that character someday very soon. I have a long history with “Creepshow 2” which is half of the reason why I love the movie so much. Yes, it’s a great anthology horror film with three very creative stories, but I fondly remember a lot of my experiences with it on TV.

Back before we were wired with cable I turned to TV for all my horror movies, and “Creepshow 2” was my favorite. Many times in the nineties local stations played movies late at night and often times I’d get up at night to see if my favorite local network was airing “Creepshow 2” and record it on VHS. I must have seen that VHS a thousand times before wearing out the wheels on the tape. Though many horror geeks consider “The Raft” to be the best segment of the trio, “Old Chief Woodnhead” has always hit a chord with me. I just love the idea of an inanimate object being given so much love and care over the years that it garners a sentience and pure emotion if for a brief moment, allowing it to avenge its masters that were slain for ridiculous reasons. Old Chief Woodnhead is already the embodiment of traditional Native American values and ideals and when he watches his owners being dealt harsh injustices, he really gets angry and murderous.

Even Benjamin notices the chief has suddenly garnered a life of his own after immediately giving elderly shopkeepers Ray and Martha the sacred jewels of his tribe. I love how Dan Kamin’s movements are so subtle that you could immediately miss them if the director didn’t focus on him in the foreground. When Sam Whitemoon and his friends murder Ray and Martha, as they bolt from the store, you can see the statue’s expression slowly creep down in to pure anger. I remember watching this segment when I was five and it blew my mind. I wouldn’t say the segment ever scared me, but I loved the character and the way he balanced out the moral scales once and for all. We’re not sure what sparked the statue to come to life, or how, or if it was always alive in some way, but we’re just happy to see Sam, Fatstuff, and Andy get their comeuppance. “The Raft” has its appeal mainly because its simple premise that also allows for a lot of terror and gruesome gore.

A Lot of what the ooze in the segment is ambiguous but if you look at the newspaper during various interludes, you can see the news of an environmental disaster of some kind involving pollution. So clearly not only is the ooze sentient, and a predator, but it’s a predator we made. Admittedly I check out once “The Hitch Hiker” is introduced, but re-watching it again recently made me appreciate how it’s another very looney segment in a very demented movie. The premise itself is based around the cruel actions of a selfish woman, and she gets her comeuppance by a monster that not only doesn’t stop, but gradually destroys any and all of her sanity. I love the new animated introductions mainly because they just add to the lunacy. They tell a larger story than the original film, and we’re able to view a young boy turned rotten by the comics, get his revenge on a gang of ruthless bullies over the course of the film.

The animation feels like a healthy mix of Ralph Bakshi, and the EC Comics literally come to life before our eyes. It’s really sad we never got “Creepshow 3,” as I’d love to re-visit the Creeper once again and see how he’s menacing other small towns with the evil comics, but at least we got the “Tales from Darkside” series which carries the spirit of EC, even if it abandons the story frames from the original films. I’ll always love “Creepshow 2” and perhaps even appreciate it a bit more than the original film. It’s very in vogue to appreciate “Creepshow,” but I think the sequel is a tad more menacing, frightening, and thrives thanks to its simplicity. Hell, I might check it out again before the year is up.