Who's this driving up in his delivery van? Why, it's The Creep (Tom Savini), and he has a new batch of Creepshow comics with stories to delight you and chill your blood. Young Billy (Domenick John) cannot wait to open his copy and devour its contents, and we get a chance to see what is on offer too as The Creep invites us to watch the first of three tales, called Old Chief Wood'nhead. In it, store owner Ray Spruce (George Kennedy) applies war paint to the wooden Indian who stands guard outside his shop, which now is at the heart of a less than thriving community. But Ray will have more to worry about than his finances that night...
After Creepshow was a fairly big success for the team of director George Romero, writer Stephen King and makeup artist Tom Savini, it was natural that a sequel happen along eventually and so, five years later, this is what arrived. And arrived to near-universal derision, with even those who enjoyed the first film looking down on this second instalment from a great height; however, over the years fan appreciation has mellowed in some quarters to the extent that some feel it may have been underrated. Certainly there's nothing underrated about the first segment, which sees Dorothy Lamour as Mrs Spruce in her last role.
Where she dies of a shotgun wound, not the best way for a cult screen icon to go, but this introduces the underlying theme of Creepshow 2, and that's guilt. The guilt in the first part belongs to the three thugs who rob the Spruces and end up killing them, and fair enough, after what they've done they deserve to be punished and the wooden Indian's revenge is much what you'd expect, but with such lead-footed presentation that you might be wishing Romero had done more than write the script, adapting three King short stories, and not left those directorial duties to his cinematographer Michael Gornick.
In the next, and strongest, segment the retribution is a lot harder to stomach, as four teens are punished for the crimes of smoking marijuana and feeling horny, suggesting an Old Testament morality to the tone. Say what you like, the thought that you will be beaten down so decisively for an infraction which is a lot less serious than murder is a potent one, and if you find it unsettling all the signs are that this is precisely how you are intended to feel. The plot to this, The Raft, is a brief rehash of The Blob, where the teens swim out to the middle of an isolated lake and fall victim to what they describe as an oil slick, a featureless, gooey creature that means to eat them all for dinner.
The lack of fairness to the satisfaction of this monster's appetite means that The Raft is the one story most likely to stay in your memory, but for laughs, there are none unless you count the sick joke of an ending. No, for giggles you have to turn to the final section, where Lois Chiles is spending her rich husband's money on a gigolo and notices the time, realising she is late and her husband will be home soon so she must get there before him. The reason for her guilt is twofold: that she is committing adultery, and that she leaves the scene of an accident. An accident? Yup, she runs over a homeless hitchhiker who gets his own back by turning into an extremely persistent zombie which keeps thanking her for the ride she doesn't want to give, in such over the top terms that most viewers' reaction will be to start laughing. So Creepshow 2 is no masterpiece, that's for sure, but for easy to watch horror it's really not that bad once you make it through that first part. Music by Les Reed.