Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: If the existence of The Purge: Anarchy has you feeling down on horror sequels, this week we have five great ones to raise your spirits.
Creepshow 2 (1987)
A direct extension of its EC Comics-inspired predecessor, Creepshow 2 is helmed by Michael Gornick but boasts a script based on stories by Stephen King and penned by the original’s director, George A. Romero. Tethered together by animated sequences featuring the pun-loving Creep (makeup whiz Tom Savini) and a young Creepshow comics fan named Billy (Domenick John) who’s dealing with some nasty bullies, this superior sequel offers three macabre tales marked by a mixture of silliness, salaciousness, gruesomeness, and ghost-story eeriness. The fun begins with “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” in which George Kennedy’s store owner in a dying Middle America town has his faith in people reconfirmed by a noble Native American chief. Such cheer, however, doesn’t last long, as he’s soon robbed and assaulted by the chief’s vain Hollywood-bound nephew (Holt McCallany), and is then avenged by his gigantic wooden Indian chief statue, which applies war paint and goes out scalping with his hatchet.
“Old Chief Wood’nhead” employs (and warps) stereotypes, clichés, and historical cultural dynamics to lurid effect, just as the anthology’s final entry, “The Hitchhiker,” gussies up its return-of-the-repressed premise—a wealthy Caucasian adulteress (Lois Chiles) runs over a black man (Tom Wright), who then keeps reappearing on the road looking for a ride—with bluntly effective and increasingly hysterical social/racial undertones. Throughout, Gornick punctuates his material with evocative comics-style visuals, among them a totemic figure in silhouette against a garage door and a class ring slowly slipping off a dying man’s hands. That last sight is merely one of the great moments in Creepshow 2’s pièce de résistance, “The Raft,” which finds four teens in lethal peril after they go swimming in a remote lake and, upon reaching a water-bound raft, are preyed upon by a sentient oil-slick-like creature. It’s a masterful short marked by efficient characterizations, chilling imagery, and shrewd plotting, and delivers everything a horror fan could want in one sterling sequence that segues on a dime from nerdy wish-fulfillment nudity to unforgettable gore.
Availability: Creepshow 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD, to rent or purchase digitally through Amazon Instant Video, and to stream on Netflix.