Horror anthologies have been a beloved staple for any fans of the genre, a chance for some classic chillers, in a condensed form, perfect for letting the imagination flow. In 1987, Tom Savini, Stephen King, and George Romero, three names that even the most passing fan of horror would recognise and revere, combined the efforts to tell three more compact collections of spooky goings-on, in Creepshow 2.
As with many anthology horror films, Creepshow 2 chronicles three tall tales of terror, and here has created another interesting wraparound narrative. About a young boy named Billy, (as is the case with scenarios like these) is being picked on by neighbourhood youths, but they will soon learn the error of messing with him and the comic books that he reads. The main vignettes are a fascinating assortment of horror theme tales, including a wooden statue that brings some vengeance on a gang of violent delinquents; a scary escalation of the children’s game don’t step on the cracks; an adulterer will learn the harsh lessons of road responsibility.
Some may bemoan the fact that the sequel only has three tales, as opposed to five previously, yet Cat from Hell, which got its debut three years later in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, was previously planned to be shown here. The remaining three stories are all a prime collection of modern hubris, mixed with a delightful supernatural element that makes the comeuppance all the more ironic, resulting in three memorable entries into the horror pantheon. Creepshow 2 manages to achieve this with practically half the budget. While the original had the likes of Leslie Nielsen, here we have his on-screen partner, George Kennedy, with Creepshow 2 focusing on an equally competent but less well-known cast. Even a cameo from Stephen King, carrying on his track record of appearing in adaptations of his work.
The effects are also still impressive, although it would be redundant to say that Savini’s practical style still shines. Particularly in the second segment with the nightmarish black tar-like thing that has a certain attachment to human flesh is a well-crafted nightmare to behold. The animated interlude is a nice way to break up the acts, while also feeling true to the comic-book roots of the project (especially considering the actual comic-book bookends that each segment has). All help underlines the pulp factor that the Creepshow franchise tries to evoke.
Though Creepshow 2 had to work with less than it did before, it transforms into a textbook example of how you can do similar with much fewer resources and receive the same bang for your buck. Maybe it’s a testament to the talents of the big name behind the camera, or the people in front of it. The critics may doubt the wholesome values that these stories have on the many viewers, but the continuing entertainment legacy speaks volumes.
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