The new episode of the Black Sheep video series looks at the 1987 horror anthology Creepshow 2, from King, Romero, and Gornick
The Creepshow 2 episode of The Black Sheep was Written and Narrated by Andrew Hatfield, Edited by Brandon Nally, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.
Its hard for a sequel to be better than the original – no, hey! Don’t close the article and please hold all hate in the comments until the end. I’m not saying Creepshow 2 (watch it HERE) is better than the first movie, that’s just silly. Ok, so it’s hard for sequels to eclipse their previous iteration. Godfather II is always the answer to that but there are other things that you can prefer. Some people prefer the breakneck action of Aliens to the slasher in space of Alien. Others may enjoy Friday the 13th Part 2 with its higher violence (although it does have the same body count) and introduction to Jason to part 1’s mommy revenge story. Creepshow 2 sits in an interesting spot as it lost its original director and writer (for the most part) but does an admirable job trying to capture the feel of part 1. Could be worse right? Part 3 is one of the worst sequels of all time. While I prefer its spiritual successor Tales from the Darkside, Creepshow 2 deserves its time in the sun and is one of the better Black Sheeps in horror.
It was originally going to be 5 stories like its predecessor but both “Pitfall” and “Cat from Hell” would be cut for budgetary reasons and instead we were left with 3 stories and a wraparound. “Old Chief Woodenhead”, “The Raft”, and “The Hitchhiker” would carry the load as the entirety of the anthology movie. Its hard to decide on how many stories an anthology film should get. Too many and it doesn’t get a chance for any of them to breathe but fewer entries means that if even one is bad then you could have a third or so of your movie be a stinker. As said before too, not only is it hard to follow perfection but they lost a lot of key elements too. Stephen King was still involved as he wrote the outline that George A. Romero would turn into a screenplay. “The Raft” segment would be based on one of his own short stories while the other two were original tales that he came up with specifically for the movie. While “Pitfall” never made it into a final movie release, “Cat from Hell” would show up in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, which is, come on, that’s the REAL Creepshow 3.
While the stars here aren’t quite on par here with the first movie, there are some fun ones. George Kennedy and a very young Holt McCallany lead the first story, Daniel Beer in the second segment, and Lois Chiles in the third. George Kennedy is the Oscar winning actor that was old Hollywood but made it all the way into the early 2010s. While he won his Academy Award for the timeless Cool Hand Luke, he was also an incredible part of the Police Squad show and later Naked Gun series of films. In terms of horror, he has today’s movie, Death Ship from 1979, and the Terror Within a decade after among others. He also seemed to be the unlucky pilot in all of the Airport disaster movies. Look, one of the big misses with this movie is the cast. Lois Chiles was a Bond girl in Moonraker and a good batch of other movies but that’s about it. Holt McCallany is cool too but not a ton to speak of for us horror fans apart from that cool Mindhunter TV show and Alien 3. There just aren’t any heavy hitters like Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, etc.
Stephen King has a much smaller role but does show up in the third story and there are some funny coincidences like Hal Holbrooks son having a minor role in this and Leslie Nielsen being George Kennedy’s costar in the previously mentioned Police Squad and Naked Gun stuff but the cast, and if I’m being honest, the acting just doesn’t measure up. The director is guilty of this too. While Romero came back to write, he stepped away from the directing duties and in his stead, we have, let me check my notes… Michael Gornick. Not exactly a big name but when you look deeper, the pedigree is there. While this is the only feature film he directed, he also gave us episodes of Monsters and Tales from the Darkside as well as two episodes of the mini-series Golden Years. While that doesn’t sound overly impressive, he was also the DP for Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and, most importantly the first Creepshow. He was around George and the other movies enough to be ok, and he is. It’s not fantastic direction but it’s not bad.
Where the movie doesn’t falter at all are the stories. They may not all be your favorite anthology segments, but they follow the old EC vibe of jerks being jerks and paying the consequences. “Old Chief Woodenhead” follows an elderly couple played by Kennedy and another Hollywood legend Dorothy Lamour. They run the general store in a dying town, but Ray just refuses to leave. The local Native American tribes’ elder visits and leaves very expensive jewelry and trinkets until they can pay off their debt. Of course, since they finally have something good happen to them, a young gang comes in and takes the stuff they were just given and ends up killing the elderly couple in the process. The story is called “Old Chief Woodenhead” for a reason however and the wooden Native American that Ray was painting and has in front of the store comes alive and gets his vengeance for death of his friends. It’s a fun story and has some cool ways for the gang to die.
The second story, the one actually adapted from a King story, is “The Raft” and it follows a group of 4 teens who want to go out rafting on a fairly secluded lake at the end of summer. One of the things I really like about this section is that the girl the movie looks like is setting up as the final girl is the first one to be killed off by the floating flesh-eating tar pile that plays the villain. The teens aren’t likable except for the guy that figures out what’s going on but even he ends up making decisions that demand he be killed off too. The special effects here shine as well. At first glance, the creature just looks like a bunch of black trash bags assembled together but the way it moves, eats, and strips the flesh from its victims is great stuff. Speaking of the make up and effects, it was during the filming of this segment that original artist Ed French left the production when allegedly the director sought help beyond his to fix the way the lake monster looked and moved. He was offended and left but ended up being replaced by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero. This is also fitting as Tom Savini plays the Creep in the live action segments featuring the character. Ed French is no slouch either with over 100 makeup or special effects credits so it’s good that we had who we had on hand to take over. None of the kids make it either as even the last one makes it to the shore but our blob friend has one last trick up its… well not sleeve… but you get it.
The third story has easily the scummiest protagonist, and I use the term loosely, in the entire film. Lois Chiles plays a businesswoman who is cheating on her husband with a prostitute. It’s not like it was a one-time thing or that she even feels bad either, it’s clear this isn’t her first rodeo, or will be her last. At least it wouldn’t be her last if she didn’t make a massive and fatal mistake. On her way home to her house in time that her husband won’t find out, Annie absolutely obliterates an African American hitchhiker. Of course, instead of doing the right thing, she merely drives off. She’s much more concerned about getting the damage to the car fixed than the moral or legal consequences of her act. She seems to get away with it and probably would, if this were a different kind of movie. Its not even the police that catch her but the ghost of the hitchhiker, relentless and bloody. He keeps causing damage to the car, but she keeps getting rid of him in more and more gruesome ways. He keeps saying “thanks for the ride lady” as he attacks her too as a reminder. She makes it home and into her garage before he is finally able to kill her and leaver her for her husband to find.
The original movie had fun fades to an actual comic book between each story and a wraparound of a young boy reading the Creepshow comic but this one has animated sequences. It also has live action segments at the very beginning and end, but the animated ones also help it stand out. They serve dual purposes. One is that there are only 3 stories instead of 5 here so it helps pad out the runtime, the other is to give it the bread for the anthology sandwich. The Creeper makeup is much better in the first one but that’s also without much movement. This had to be put on by someone to act fully in and Tom Savini does it well. Most anthologies, especially the ones that run 4 or 5 deep on the story front, tend to have one or two that don’t measure up. While all of these aren’t 10/10, none of them fall flat and are entertaining even if they could all just be episodes of Tales from the Crypt later on.
The Creepshow series, that’s the 3 movies, not the actual Shudder TV series, gets kind of a bad wrap after the first one. Creepshow and Creepshow 3 are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to quality but part two is a hell of a lot closer to 1 in terms of being good. Its biggest issue, like so many good horror sequels, is that it’s not as good as, and directly follows its amazing predecessor. While the first flick is getting all kinds of attention with 4K releases and the show really being more based on it, give Creepshow the love it deserves. Stream it when and where it’s available and pick up the awesome Blu-ray from Arrow that has loads of special features. It stands up well within its own IP and with other anthologies in general.
A couple of the previous episodes of The Black Sheep can be seen below. To see more, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!