Friday, January 28, 2011

Film Review: CREEPSHOW 2 (1987, Michael Gornick)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 92 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Directed by Michael Gornick (cinematographer on CREEPSHOW, KNIGHTRIDERS, DAWN OF THE DEAD). Starring George Kennedy (DELTA FORCE, COOL HAND LUKE), Dorothy Lamour (a shitload of Bob Hope movies), Holt McCallany (FIGHT CLUB, THREE KINGS), David Holbrook (Hal's son, VAMPIRE'S KISS, DEADLY ILLUSION), Don Harvey (DIE HARD 2, THE THIN RED LINE), Daniel Beer (POINT BREAK, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN), Page Hannah (SHAG, GREMLINS 2), Lois Chiles (MOONRAKER, BROADCAST NEWS). Written by Stephen King and George A. Romero. Soundtrack by Les Reed (former member of the John Barry Seven, writer of "It's Not Unusual") with contributions made by Rick Wakeman. Special Makeup Effects by Tom Savini (who also plays the Creep), Greg Nicotero (MULHOLLAND DR., PLANET TERROR), and Howard Berger (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, KILL BILL).
Tag-line: "Good to the last gasp!"
Best one-liner: "This hair's gonna get me paid 'n laid"

"CREEPSHOW 2, huh?"
–"What, you don't think it's gonna be good?"
"Well, I mean..."
–"What?"
"I heard some things about CREEPSHOW III."
–"You shut yer fucken face! There'll be no more talk about CREEPSHOW III. Not while I'm around. Allow me to make an analogy. We'll use Italians, because I like Italians. If CREEPSHOW is the Dario Argento of CREEPSHOWS, then CREEPSHOW 2 is the Lamberto Bava of CREEPSHOWS, and CREEPSHOW III is like the 'CGI-luvin', mentally disabled brother of Bruno Mattei' of CREEPSHOWS."
"Then what's the Lucio Fulci of CREEPSHOWS?"
–"TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE."
"Fair enough- let's give CREEPSHOW 2 a whirl."
–"Let's. But I must warn you, it's a step down in quality. The budget's lower (it's a New World Picture), there's three stories instead of five, the animation's not as good, Romero handed off the directorial reins to his buddy Michael Gornick, and we got Holbrook's son instead of Holbrook. No Tom Atkins or Ed Harris freakdancing, either."
"Awww."
–"It's alright, though, you'll still have fun. But right off the bat here, look at this:


Yeah, that disfigured senior citizen there is the new Creep. Tom Savini's under that makeup, but I still gotta say I prefer a floating, shrouded skeleton to a mutant handyman. The kid seems a little overproduced and a little under-sincere, too."
"Well, at least the Creep has got his own vanity plate."

–"That's certainly true. But look at the kid in animation- he looks like a poorly-sketched evil elf! I didn't sign up for THE TIN DRUM: THE ANIMATED MOVIE, I signed up for CREEPSHOW 2!

Anyways, the frame story is moderately amusing, involving bullies and flesh-eating plants,



Is that eyeshadow?

but the animation is so damned cheap and bright and cheery, it doesn't really contribute to the spooky atmosphere like in the first one. It's even the same animator (Rick Catizone) as CREEPSHOW 1, so you have to imagine that budget and shortened schedule must have been the culprits."
"What about the main stories, though?"
–"Shaddup, I'm not done. The music's shitty, too. Gone are the graceful strains of John Harrison, and they've been replaced by some free-form synthesized tinkling by Les Reed. Some Rick Wakeman bizarro-electro-melodies show up in the segment 'The Raft,' but on the whole, the music's damn disappointing. There's even some wakka-wakka SHAFT-style music that rears it's completely inappropriate head during 'The Hitchchiker' section."
"Whaaaaaaat?!"
–"Yeah, right? Anyway- let's hit up 'Old Chief Wood'nhead."

"Is that wooden Native American statue going to come to life?"
–"Just shuttttt it! So George Kennedy is singing 'Jimmy Crack Corn' and trying to maintain his dignity. Dorothy Lamour plays the missus. They're a sweet old couple trying to make ends meet at their general store in a dying town."
"You mean like a dying town? Like there's gonna be some DYING?"
–"Just let me finish.

Times are tough, but everything's relatively fine and dandy, until three ridiculous punks, who possibly escaped from the set of DEATH WISH 3, come to crash the party. We got Don Harvey as Andy, 'the rich boy punk who's slummin' it.'

He's fun to watch, and he got a lot of bit-character work in the years to come. Here he strikes me as kind of a young proto-Peter Weller combined with a proto-Kevin Bacon. Then there's David Holbrook (Hal's son) as Fatso, 'the fat thug.'

Remember when it was the 1980's and all you had to do was show a fat person, and it was automatically funny? You didn't even have to make a joke. The filmmakers were like, 'hey, here's a fat person!' And then the audience said, 'Aww-hawhawhawhawhawwww!' I kid, but there's somethin' to that. Also, his hat says 'Bullshit' on it. Finally, we got Holy McCallany as 'Sam Whitemoon.' I guess he's supposed to be Native American, and he's got the ludicrous wig to prove it.

He's the most sadistic of the bunch. You can tell because he says stuff like 'Guess you don't hear good, shitface!!!' He's got a ridiculous plan to skip town with the proceeds of the robbery and live a free and easy life based on his terrific hair. 'This hair's gonna get me paid and laid,' he eagerly announces."
"What happens?"
–"Well, let's just say that Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy don't fare so well, but thanks to some ersatz Native American mysticism, they, uh, might get avenged."


"So you're saying the wooden Native American statue comes to life?!"
–"Just watch the damn movie. Next, we got 'The Raft,' which is probably the best segment. Some one-dimensional partytime teens (who are supposed to be students from Horlicks University from 'The Crate') are out and about in the great outdoors."

"What is this, a Jason movie?"
–"No- it's way better. This segment's nearly genius in its simplicity: the kids go for a dip in an isolated mountain lake and find themselves trapped on a raft, far from the shore. Their adversary? A blob-like clump of God-knows-what.


The mise-en-scéne is great: you can almost feel the cold, shimmery water; smell the clean forest air and the pine needles. It's not just the isolation and the stillness, the fact that the setting is so serene and appealing perfectly accentuates the horror- something that I think the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies never quiiiite understood. The gore is ridiculous and the suspense is genuine. Who'd have thunk it– a first-rate tale of terror where the monster is quite obviously a tarp! The ending also features the greatest use of the line 'I...beat...you!' in memory."
"Sounds like this movie's really cookin'!"
–"I'll say. But then the final segment, 'The Hitchhiker,' is a real buzzkill, and my least favorite of the three. A rich lady has a tryst with a gigolo and must hurry home so that her husband doesn't realize she was out. Along the way, she steamrolls a hitchhiker, then flees the scene. Only the hitchhiker ain't done with her yet..."

"The Hitchhiker. The Hitchhiker? Haven't I heard you talk about this before?"
–"Not that Hitchhiker, ya goofus. Regardless, the segment features some over-the-top, DEATH PROOF-style stunts,

some mind-blowing gore,

and a cameo by Stephen King as a bumpkin trucker (!),

but the pacing really drags. And while CREEPSHOW endings are often predictable, they're usually given that extra push of insanity to really put them over the edge (see: 'They're Creeping Up On You' from CREEPSHOW 1). 'The Hitchhiker' certainly has the gore goin' on, but it takes so long to get there, it kind of fizzles out. Ahhh, well."
"What about the frame story? What about the Creep and his awesome, vanity-plated truck? Do we see them again?"
–"Well, it's funny you should mention it, because we sure do. Savini's Creep is driven off into the distance, waving at the camera and flinging CREEPSHOW comic books into the road. Then the credits roll. He just keeps on flinging them as he is slowly, slowly driven into the distance.



Who is driving that truck? Does the Creep have a sidekick? What's the use of littering the highway with CREEPSHOW comics? So that random hitchhikers have reading material? If so, why is he flinging them so haphazardly? He's gonna use up his entire supply on like a quarter-mile stretch of road. Is this an in-joke? In the last movie, Savini played a garbageman. In this one, he plays a litterer. Who knows."
"Sounds like CREEPSHOW 2 leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions."
–"That it does. But it's gross, it's fun, and it goes well with pizza and beer. What the hell else do you want?"
"Nothing else."
–"That's right. Here's to you, CREEPSHOW 2. Three stars."

-Sean Gill

8 comments:

J.D. said...

"Thanks for the ride, lady!" is probably the most quotable bit of dialogue from this film but I agree with you that "The Raft" is easily the best segment of this uneven film. It certainly doesn't hold up to the original and suffers from the laws of diminishing returns. Still, it is a pretty decent time waster.

Tempest said...

The Raft was my least favorite of the segments. Not to get on a feminist pedestal, but I found it pretty misogynistic. LaVerne was a bimbo and the nudity was gratuitous. The actress who played her was not very solid. Though, I have to say I tend to think about The Raft when I see No Swimming signs. I thought the hitchhiker was sort of funny, but the point is well taken--Creepshow 2 is not just a very good film.

Sean Gill said...

J.D.,

Ah, yes 'thanks for the ride, lady!' Initially amusing, overused to the point of annoyance, and then finally, through sheer persistence, entering that sublime realm of over-the-top genius. On the whole, the film held my attention, and that's more than can be said for way too many horror films these days.

Tempest,

I have to say that I found the male characters in 'The Raft' (drawn in such broad strokes as they are) to be misogynistic, but not the presentation of the segment itself, if that makes sense. I.e., Randy's (Daniel Beer) early-morning molesting leads to some gratuitous nudity, sure, but it also leads to his immediate and gruesome downfall.

It's interesting, though, (or perhaps appalling) how so many horror films exist on the dual level of A. "Look at this sex crime in progress and feel self-righteously judgmental" and B. "Check out them ta-tas!" It's something I give some thought to on occasion and admittedly I often give a free pass to cheap n' sleazy flicks for the same behavior that I'd get on my high-horse about if it were in, say, an Oscar-nominated film or a high-profile box-office hit. Annnyway, I see where you're comin' from.

LittleoftenAnnie said...

haha i love this movie, ever since i was a kid u know..like 20 years ago. now im old i saw it on netflix and i finally understood the first part at least, for some reason that was confusing for me back then as a 6 yr old.
also i thought that they were smoking cigarettes instead of weed on the 2nd part, thats my favorite part :)

Anonymous said...

yup it's really me poncho, and yup I'm trying to get folks to my fb fanpage. cool behind the scenes stuff on there, and fun chatting with you all . DB
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daniel-Beer/160732237328005

Sean Gill said...

Little Often Annie,
Thanks for the comments– yeah, this is a nice nostalgia trip.

Daniel,
Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for your contributions to a lot of films that I enjoy, including this and POINT BREAK!

Tech-Muncher the Great! said...

Loved the review man. Your quote on the "shaft style" music for the Hitchhiker was spot on Lol! Wachting the segment now and it REALLY does sound like Shaft :)

Sean Gill said...

Tech-Muncher,

Glad you enjoyed!