Creepshow 2 Blu-Ray Review
*George Kennedy as Ray Spruce
*Dorothy Lamour as Martha Spruce
*Dan Kamin as Old Chief Wood’nhead
*Holt McCallany as Sam
*Paul Satterfield as Deke
*Jeremy Green as Laverne
*Daniel Beer as Randy
*Page Hannah as Rachel
*Lois Chiles as Annie Lansing
*David Beecroft as Annie’s Lover
*Tom Wright as The Hitchhiker
*Domenick John as Billy
*Tom Savini as The Creep
Story: In “Old Chief Wood’nhead” , a group of young hoodlums face retribution from an unlikely source after looting a local hardware store. Meanwhile, “The Raft” sees a group of horny teens wishing they’d read the warning signs first before taking a dip in a remote lake. Finally, an uptight businesswoman finds herself with some unwanted company following a hit-and-run incident in “The Hitch-hiker.”
The original Creepshow, released by Warner Bros in 1982, was a loving tribute to the days of EC Comics long before HBO thought about putting together Tales From the Crypt. It didn’t adapt any of the stories, choosing instead to pay homage in tone and visual style. It featured a script from Stephen King (adapting some of his stories) and direction from George A. Romero, with Tom Savini providing the special effects. The film is considered a minor classic in the genre and while not a huge success by Warner Bros’ standards, it still managed to almost triple its budget.
Warner Bros. elected not to move forward with the sequel and the rights eventually went to New World Entertainment. You may remember them from films like Hellraiser or C.H.U.D.. The result was a film that was dialed back a bit (three full stories instead of five) but definitely maintains the atmosphere established by the first. Romero returns in a different role (providing the script), handing directing duties to Michael Gornick. Savini’s also back to play the Creep while Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero (two-thirds of KNB Effects) handle the special effects.
The first of the three stories (excluding the wraparound) is “Old Chief Wood’nhead”, which is probably the least of the three. It stars George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour as an elderly couple running a shop in a dead end town. When they’re robbed and murdered by some young punks, the titular wooden Indian chief comes to life and seeks vengeance.
This is the least of the three because it’s probably the dullest. The animatronic head on Chief is good, but it’s a truncated slasher with mostly bloodless kills. It also doesn’t seem to have the same vibe as the other two stories. To compare it to the first film, that opened with “Father’s Day”, a story that also had a supernatural monster offing people that may deserve it. But that had a tongue in cheek take while this is played straight and loses any sense of fun.
It picks up with the best story of the film, “The Raft”, which is about what else, a raft in the middle of a lake. A group of young people swim to it only to find themselves trapped when a mysterious creature shaped like an oil slick begins to devour them one by one. It’s a little like The Blob remake if the entire film were the scene in the sewer.
This is the best for a variety of reasons. While it plays the story straight, it retains a dark sense of humor. After all, there’s a moment when one of the leads knows there’s a flesh eating creature underneath them but still decides sex is the best possible choice. The special effects here are also great, not so much from the creature itself, but from the design of the people’s bodies dissolving as they’re eaten alive. It’s a scary, suspenseful tale with just the right amount of gross out moments to fit the right tone.
While “The Raft” may be the best overall, “The Hitch-hiker” comes the closest to capturing the right tone from the original. A woman is on her way back from cheating on her husband when she strikes a man with her car. Instead of sticking around, she drives away. The hitchhiker continues to haunt her and drive her crazy on her way back, while she continuously kills him in order to escape.
It’s a great segment. It’s gory, it’s funny and it features the film’s most memorable effects. It also has a great cameo from Stephen King, essentially giving his blessing to the movie. According to the commentary, he was busy writing IT and couldn’t contribute to the screenplay. There’s also a wraparound story in animated segments, but it’s not really notable except to see giant Venus fly traps eat some teenage bullies. It’s silly but inoffensive.
It would take the total failure of all three segments for Creepshow 2 to be a bust. Anthology films are usually enjoyable just because there’s usually at least one that’s worth the price of admission. In the case of this sequel, two of them are very entertaining. Both “The Raft” and “The Hitch-hiker” would fit right in with the first film’s “The Crate” or “Something to Tide You Over”. Creepshow 2 is not only a fitting addition to the first film’s legacy, but it’s a very fun horror anthology in its own right.
You get several options for this release, including the original LPCM Mono 1.0, Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround. No complaints from any of the tracks, as it all sounds pretty good.
Creepshow 2 is presented with a great AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. It looks really good and the gore effects really get shown in all of their grisly detail. It’s a very vibrant and colorful movie and Arrow’s transfer properly shows that. It should also be noted that it’s a better transfer than Image’s release a few years ago, with an overall brighter picture that’s been opened up quite a bit.
Audio Commentary with Director Michael Gornick: This is moderated by Perry Martin and it came from Anchor Bay’s “Special Divimax Edition” in 2004. It’s a very casual talk about the film and how they had to fight off a low budget, a tight schedule and the occasional weather issue to get the film made.
Screenplay for a Sequel: George A. Romero, who wrote the script for the sequel, talks about both films and how they came to be. He grew up loving EC Comics so he talks about that too. It’d be nice if he could do another Creepshow like he wants.
Tales From The Creep: An interview with Tom Savini, who played the Creep during the live-action portions of this time. He didn’t provide the special effects in this one but he still gives a brief rundown of his work on the film, his relationship with the director and making sure he got paid by New World.
Poncho’s Last Ride: Daniel Beer, who played Poncho, reflects on the filming of “The Raft.” To sum it up in one word: it was cold. You could tell that in the movie, as the reactions to the water seemed genuine. He reveals it was worse than we thought, as he had hypothermia during the shoot. At one point, director Michael Gornick threatened to walk off the set if they didn’t let Beer recover.
The Road to Dover: Tom Wright, who played the titular Hitch-hiker in the third story, talks about his work on the film. It’s an interesting interview, especially since he was basically covered in makeup for most of his entire time on screen.
Nightmares in Foam Rubber: This also made the Anchor Bay release in 2004. It is by far my favorite feature on the set. Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero talk about the special effects and makeup in the film, which ranges from simple to surprisingly difficult (such as the creature in “The Raft”). This is also the longest feature on the set at half an hour, so you really get your money’s worth here.
My Friend Rick: Howard Berger talks about meeting Rick Smith and becoming friends with him. Feels like an outtake of the last feature, but that’s fine.
Behind-the-Scenes Footage: A six-minute feature with clips of the making of the movie, mostly focused on special effects. It’s an effects-driven movie, so that makes sense.
There’s also a photo gallery, a trailer and a TV spot. If you have BD-ROM, you also get the screenplay.
Arrow really delivered here. They could have simply ported over the Anchor Bay features and called it a day (or provided nothing, like Image did), but instead they filmed new interviews and made this the most complete version of Creepshow 2 you could possibly get.
Special Features: 8.0