Keeping the Memory of EC Comics Alive in the 80s
In 1982, George Romero and Stephen King translated their love of E.C. Comics to the big screen in the horror anthology Creepshow. Five years later a second anthology, entitled Creepshow 2 was released.
I believe Creepshow 2 gets a bad rap. Like a lot of sequels, people generally agree that it's not as good as the first film. O.K., I can buy that - I don't think its best moments come close to the best moments of the first Creepshow... but then I don't think its worst moments are as bad as the first Creepshow either.
This time there are only 3 stories instead of five, which allows for a little more tension to be developed. The wraparound animated story featuring 'Billy', however, is expanded into a four part story. As usual, the stories are hosted by 'The Creep', an homage to EC hosts like 'The Crypt Keeper'.
The first story, "Old Chief Wood'nhead", is about an old couple still running a general store in a dying western town. The man continues to extend a line of credit to the locals, including a local Indian tribe, but is rarely paid back. One day a member of the tribe brings him all the tribe's treasure as collateral - but that night robbers steal the treasure and kill the couple. But the old cigar store Indian outside the shop avenges their deaths. This installment is excellent, it's both reminiscent of the old E.C. Comics, but seems to have a more depth than just the simple 'bad guys get their comeuppance' theme that most of these stories have.
Sandwiched in the middle is "The Raft". This story is both the best in that it builds the greatest tension, and the worst, in that it's a pretty simple story about a monster attacking teens, with not much else to say.
The final story, "The Hitchhiker", is about a woman named Annie Lansing who accidentally runs down a hitchhiker, and then flees the scene, only to be tormented by the hitchhiker coming back again and again, no matter how much damage she causes him.
Stephen King, whose acting talents leave a little to be desired, was one of the weakest parts of the first Creepshow, as he was featured as the protagonist of one of the stories. This time, however, he plays a truck driver who happens by the hit-and-run in "The Hitchhiker". Keeping his part brief was a good decision, he makes a much better bit player. One of his few lines is, "Guy got creamed. Happens all the time" referring to the pedestrian struck by Annie Lansing. Ironic given that Stephen King himself would be struck by a motorist several years later.
Creepshow 2 if not great, was at least a nice bridge between the 70s British EC homages like Tales from the Crypt, and Vault of Horror, and the much better HBO direct adaptations in 'Tales from the Crypt'.