Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creepshow 2 - Quintessential 80's Fright In Bite Sized Nuggets

Creepshow 2
Directed by Michael Gornick
(Written by Stephen King & George Romero
Starring George Kennedy, Daniel Beer & Lois Chiles
Rated R - Approx. 92 Min.

Tag Lines:
- When The Curtain Goes Up, The Terror Begins!
- Good to the last gasp!

- 3 blood curdling tales of horror!

Alternative Titles:
Show de Horrores (Show of Horrors) - Brazil  
Cuentos de terror (Tales of Terror)Mexico

Show kreatury 2 (Creature Show 2)Poland
 Kleine Horrorgeschichten (Small Horror Stories)W. Germany
Dead & Undead:  Creepshow 2 - USA Alternative Title

" Look at this. Look at this sweetheart. Tell me this ain't a movie star. What're you, kiddin'? They gotta make me a movie star. Hey. As soon as they see this hair they gonna say 'Sam, get over here. Get in front of these cameras. There's a hundred million women out there just waitin' to run that hair between their legs'"             
                                               -Sam Whitemoon in "Old Cheif Wood'nhead"

Best. License Plate. Ever.

That's Tom Savini under all that make-up!

When people ask me what my absolute favorite horror film is, my usual response is "I can't pick just one."  However sometimes people are persistent and just won't accept that answer.  So if I REALLY had to cement an answer to the question, here it is:  Creepshow 2.  The quintessential 80's horror anthology film.

Let's talk a little about each segment, shall we?

Old Chief Wood'nhead

This is a supernatural revenge yarn done right.  Some of the segment's flaws are what I love the most about it:  It's exposition.  Right from the start as we watch Ray Spruce touch up the war paint on the titular wooden statue that sits out front of Spruce's General Store, we are told that this is one of many touch ups that the Chief has received over the years.  Next, we meet Ray's wife, Martha.  She wants Ray to close up shop and enjoy what time he has left.  Ray is a good man and has a strong sense of community and charity.  Martha believes that he's letting the local Native American's take advantage of him.

Spruce's General Store...why there's Ray now!  Getting ready to paint up the Chief

Ray and the Chief are best buds.  Ray sings to him while fixing his warpaint.

Ray and his wife Martha.  Ya can't help but love them...they're quite lovable!

Benjamin Whitemoon drops off the goods.

Old Chief Wood'nhead stands guard as always.

When Benjamin Whitemoon, an elder of a local tribe,  comes to Ray and entrusts him with his people's most valued treasures, which look to be a bunch of turquoise jewelry.  He tells Ray that if the tribe is unable to pay their debt to him in two autumns, the treasures are his to keep.  I always found this scene to be interesting.  As Benjamin is leaving, Martha tells him that she was just scolding Ray about being too good to his people and that they didn't deserve it.....but that he had proved her wrong.  The part I find interesting is that when she first appears from the back room as Benjamin is leaving, he says "Good Afternoon, Martha Spruce." to which she replies "Goodbye, Benjamin......that is.....Good Afternoon."  Here's what I think was going through her head:  Her plan was to take the jewels and skip town.....and something tells me that ol' Ray wouldn't have had much of a say in the matter.

Benjamin's nephew, Sam comes to pay the Spruce's a visit.

Talk about a WTF's pretty clear this was not part of the plan..... late now............


Goodbye, Ray.

The Chief is all kinda pissed now.

That plan would never get realized however because Sam Whitemoon (Bejamin's nephew) along with his pals Rich Boy and Fat Stuff (charming nicknames, eh?) hold up the Spruces at shotgun point.  Apparently Sam and Co. are headed out to Hollywood where Sam is going to become a movie start because he's been growing out his hair for 9 years.  "This hair is going to get me paid and laid" he says.  After the goons take what they want from the store, Sam holds the shotgun to Martha and demands the jewels his Uncle had just delivered.  Let's just say things don't end up going well and the Spruce's are slain and their store shot up.
This naturally spurs Old Chief Wood'nhead, the silent sentinel that has stood guard over Spruces General Store, to come to life and exact a brutal and bloody revenge on the young criminals.

The sequence in which Sam shoots the Spruce's is another interesting bit to me.  To me, it is quite apparent that Sam did not mean to pull the trigger, killing Martha.  The look of shock on his face however is quickly replaced with a grim resolve to see his actions through as he turns the barrel on Ray and guns him down.  Fat Stuff immediately vomits, crying that he'd "Never seen nothin' like that before..." to which Sam replies "Well now you've seen it.....and now you're going to forget it."  I always took this to be more than Sam intimidating Fat Stuff.  Sam was also telling himself to forget what just transpired.  As the three of them speed off in Rich Boy's Firebird, Old Chief Woodn' head awakens and let's out an eerie and quite disturbing yell/howl.

Fat Stuff meets his end at the tip of The Chief's arrows.

Rich Boy doesn't do much better.  He get's Tomahawked.

The Chief comes for Sam last......

One more point of interest here, is the continuity of the three punks being hunted down by The Chief.  Before each of them dies, they are shown in their respective homes with a scene from "The Cisco Kid" playing on TV.  I've often wondered exactly what the relevance and meaning behind this was.  This continues into the next segment in a way......

The Raft

The next segment follows a group of college students that are going up to a lake for some autumn swimming.  Apparently there's a raft in the middle of the lake that the kids want to swim out to.  Why?  Who the fuck knows!  They're college kids and they've got weed, so why no smoke it on a raft in the middle of a lake!  What could possibly go wrong?  Am I right?  Eh?  Eh?

Nothing like driving out to the middle of nowhere with some pot!  What could go wrong!

Deke charges in to the lake

Pretty sure his outtie is now and innie

Randy follows suit.  Dumb ass.

This story is a little lighter on exposition as the opening scenes show the quartet in Deke's car, heading to the lake,  There's pot smoking and a lot of "The raft better be there, cause we've been driving 50 miles" type dialog.  Once they arrive at the lake, Deke immediately strips down to his yellow speedos and jumps in the freezing water.  He taunts Randy into the water "Come on Cisco" he says "Oh Poncho..." replies Randy.  Boom.  Another Cisco Kid reference!  What the hell is it with The Cisco Kid?

While swimming to the raft, Randy sees a bird getting swallowed up by some goop in the lake.  After reaching the raft, and seeing how far out the girls are, he yells for them to hurry up.  The group thinks he's still high and seeing things.  He tries to explain that it looked like that goop was going after the girls.  Well, the goop is actually referred to as an oil slick at first.  Though Randy recants how he and Rachael would go to Cape Cod and help wash oil off ducks and such.  He tells the group how the oil slick they saw was just a chaotic mess....but this....thing that they were looking at looked like it had a purpose.

"Don't tip the raft.....don't tip the raft...."

Yep.  Pot should warm us up!

"Hey Rachael don't get too close to the..."  GLOOP  "Damnit"

Well, wouldn't ya know it, someone had to get it.  Rachel gets a little too close to the oil slick monster and it lunges a gooey tentacle (sorta) at her and pulls her in.  She is then dissolved fairly quickly, but quite painfully.  I suppose it's better than being digested by the Sarlaac pit over a thousand years.

Deke is next to go when the slick monster floats under the raft and the kids find out the hard way that they need to stand on the wooden boards and not expose any skin to the cracks between the boards.  Poor Deke.  He gets sucked down through the raft and it looks like gets bent in half in the process.

Yeah....let's leave the car running!  I wanna listen to some tunes....

There is no yoga or pilates in the world that would get you ready for that... 

Oil Slick Monster 2, College Kids 0

Randy and Laverne end up spending the entire night on the raft, watching the thing and making sure it doesn't go back under the raft.  Of course, they both fall asleep and in true 80's horror movie fashion, after Randy wakes up, he lives up to his name and decides to expose Lavern's boobs and feel her up, while doing a piss poor job of keeping one eye on the oil slick monster.  This scene actually makes me giggle a bit.  As Laverne is sleeping and Randy is running his hands all over her, we hear her moan.  "Okay,"  you start to think  "She's slightly into it, even if she's sleeping".  Well that all ends abruptly.  See in order to fondle her lady bumps, Randy lays her down on the raft.  He then completely forgets about the creature as his latent sexual impulses take over.  Bad move Randy.  Laverne's eyes pop open and as she turns her head to the camera, we see that ol' Mr. Oil Slick Monster has drifted back under the raft and has started snacking on the side of her face.

I know there's an oil slick monster trying to eat us but.......

Well that's not good.

Wow, that really got exacerbated quickly, didn't it?

Poor Laverne, didn't even get properly felt up before dying.

While I love this segment as much as the first, there is much less context to it.  This segment plays very campy and that's exactly how it should be.  Everything comes together perfectly, from the rock music that continues to play out of the car, which they left running, to the crushing isolation that the surviring (and constantly dwindling) kids feel as they realize that they are trapped on this raft in the middle of nowhere.  As Randy puts it:  "No one knows we're out one at all."  Little pieces of dialog clue you in that this segment takes place somewhere between September and October.  So who knows how long it would be before someone came up to take in the raft or do whatever lake caretakers do before the heavy frost hits.  All he would find would be the abandoned car, with it's battery dead.

The Raft is a perfect middle ground between the sentient wooden Indian and the lonely and intensely person terror that is.......

The Hitchhiker

This segment is, I think, the creepiest....but it's also probably the cheesiest and funniest of the lot, too.  Lois Chiles plays Annie Lansing, the adulteress wife of a lawyer.  Having gone for a carnal visit with her man toy, she awakens to find that the power has gone out and she is going to be late getting home and have to explain to her husband where she was.

I'm just a Gigalo.....

Mrs. Lansing is running late!

The majority of this segment takes place in Annie's car as she rushes to make it  20 miles in about 7 minutes.  Yeah, that might happen.  As Annie drives along she plans out her defense, trying to come up with a viable excuse for where she was.  After lighting a cigarette on a lonely, dark stretch of road, she drops said ciggy and swerves dangerously across the road.  She desperately tries to correct course and ends up plowing right into a hitchhiker, killing him immediately.

Twenty Miles in Seven problem.

Road Pizza!

Stephen King:  Truck Driver

Annie starts to get out of the car, but when she see's headlights she hightails it out of there, leaving the dead man on the road.  She continues to talk to herself, now wondering if she can live with the guilt of killing a man and walking away.  The monologue is actually quite hilarious and culminates in her seeing the dead hitchhiker appear on the side of the road.  She slams on the breaks, but when she looks behind her, there's nothing there....and that's when she delivers the best line ever:  "You're seeing things, Bitch!"


Yeah, I would probably be making the same face.

"Thanks for the ride, Lady!"
 Of course that's when the hitchhiker reappears at her door and says "Thanks for the ride, lady!" for the first of many, many times.  That actually is where a big part of the dark comedy comes from.  No matter what she does, the hitchhiker is always right there.  She runs him over, shoots him and rams him into a tree over and over.....still he reappears....."Thanks for the ride, lady!"

Just driving around the woods with a zombie ghost on my roof...

He's starting to look a

So much for roads...... Tree. Hitchhiker.

He'll be okay......right?

It's fun to see the hitchhiker as he gets more and more fucked up as Annie does everything in her power to rid herself of the spectral menace.  You can't help but ask yourself what you would do in the same situation.  Some of Annie's detours into the woods are a bit on the questionable side, but again, it's all part of the fun.  If you are looking for completely logical horror then you've come to the wrong place.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll
Old Chief Wood'nhead:  We get 5 deaths in this one.  Not too shabby!
The Raft:  4 nubile young people meet their grisly end!
The Hitchhiker:  2!  Hey, it's not always about body count.....
That's a total of 11, folks!  Unless you want to count the cartoon interludes, in which case that total would be upped to 14!

Old Chief Wood'nhead:  Nadda, amigo.
The Raft:  We get a good look at Laverne's breasts!
The Hitchhiker:  Annie gives us a quick glance at her boobs as she's dressing.
So all in all, we get two pair!

Things that Go Bump In The Night:
Old Chief Wood'nhead:  Supernatural Wooden Indian Chief.
The Raft:  Oil Slick Monster
The Hitchhiker:  The Hitchhiker himself gets all kinda jacked up.  He's like a ghost zombie.  Sorta.
Three per segment.  Not bad!  If you wanna add the giant venus flytraps from the animated wraparound segments, then we get FOUR monsters!

Final Thoughts
I read somewhere that Creepshow 2 was originally supposed to have five segments, much like the first one.  One of which was The Cat From Hell, which ended up being used in Tales From The Darkside:  The Movie....which is essentially an unofficial Creepshow 3.  I think that these three segments ended up balancing out perfectly between each other.  I think that each of the segments holds up well on their own, where as the first Creepshow had a few weaker segments.  Not that the first film or any of the segments were bad....just a bit unbalanced, I thought.  As I said before if I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite horror flick, then my final answer would have to be Creepshow 2

Final Rating
Five out of Five Pizza Rolls!

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