The first story is "Old Chief Woodn'head", in which a cigar store Indian springs to life after the kindly proprietors of a general store in a do-nothing dustbowl town are knocked off by some star-struck locals on their way to Hollywood. Next comes "The Raft", a lackluster rendition of one of King's best short stories, where two couples swim out to the titular chunk o' wood in an out-of-the-way lake and find themselves lined up as a buffet. The final tale is "The Hitchhiker", a return to the "rich people attacked by the undead" premise that made up three of the five stories in the original "Creepshow". An adulterous socialite rushes to arrive home before her wealthy attorney husband after a triste, and in her haste, she makes roadkill of a hitchhiker on his way to Dover. If the very idea of someone that desperate to get to Dover weren't sad enough, the guilt-wracked gigalette is continually assaulted by the all-too-mobile corpse of the hitchhiker, who chants "Thanks for the ride, lady" while being hit and run...and hit and run...and hit and run...
How does "Creepshow 2" compare to the original? The structure is the same -- tales of horror emerge from the pages of a Creepshow comic as a tow-headed young reader exacts revenge on his tormentors with some nasty little items discovered in the books' ads. Billy's frame story is more of a distraction than anything else, with an excruciatingly long set-up, excessively dull bullies, and an ending predictable from the get-go. The the fleshing-out (pun intended) of the formerly-skeletal Creep, or Tom Savini cackling in a dime-store fright mask, is also an irritation, lacking the smooth transitions between stories found in the original "Creepshow". The cast of the original was spectacular, Stephen King's obligatory appearance aside, starring Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Leslie Neilsen, Ted Danson, and E.G. Marshall, but when the best the sequel can muster is George Kennedy, it's time to duck and cover. Fewer, longer tales with relatively-low production values and acting as wooden as the Old Chief himself makes "Creepshow 2" seem more like a collection of "Tales From The Darkside" episodes than a big-screen effort. Considering that I like "Tales From The Darkside", that's admittedly not exactly the most damning comparison I could make. Though none of the tales come close to matching "The Crate", easily the highlight of the original film, "Creepshow 2" has enough gore, nudity, and mayhem to easily make this DVD worth a purchase for horror anthology buffs such as myself.
Video: I'd read a few complaints about the quality of the 1.85:1 widescreen-enhanced transfer before plunking down my $20 for the disc, particularly about some grain and overall softness. Maybe I'm just not as discerning as other reviewers, but I was very impressed with Anchor Bay's work on "Creepshow 2". The sharp, colorful image makes the film appear far more recent than the goofy synth-heavy score and firmly-entrenched-in-the-'80s fashions reveal. Dust and assorted specks, by far my biggest gripe about the Warner release of the original, are entirely non-existent. Black levels are rock-solid and never devolve into a murky, grainy mess, even in the very dimly-lit portions of "The Hitchhiker". Edge enhancement and artifacting are nowhere to be found. If only the original "Creepshow" could look this good...
Audio: "Creepshow 2" is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and is entirely free of hiss and distortion. The laughably bad score, which ranges from what sounds like Mr. Mister outtakes to car chase music from the third season of "T.J. Hooker", never overwhelms the clean and always discernable dialogue.
Supplements: Nothing particularly enthralling this time around, but they can't all be special editions. The only extras are a spoiler-filled trailer and around three minutes of production stills displayed in succession with the film's score playing underneath.
So, The Conclusion: "Creepshow 2" doesn't hold up too well compared to the original, but for those of you out there similarly afflicted with a love for the horror anthology, this disc is definitely worth a rental, if not a purchase. A typical solid effort by Anchor Bay. Recommended.