Creepshow II (1987) – movie review

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Creepshow II -1987

Directed by Michael Gornickmy-top-10-1980s-horror

Based on stories by Stephen King
Screenplay by George A. Romero and Lucille Fletcher

 

Many movie critics called Creepshow II, lackluster and gave it generally negative reviews. I strongly disagree. How many of us that originally saw this film spent the rest of 1987 gurgling out the phrase, “thanks for the ride, lady!” If you remember that phrase then you remember The Hitchhiker segment from which the line was spoken. I’m sure you all had a s much fun with it as I did. We’ll get to that segment, but I want to review the stories in order so let’s start from the top.

 

The first story, Old Chief Wooden Head concerns an elderly couple, owners of a general store in a dying Midwest town, loaning goods to the local tribe. They can barely afford to loan products to the tribe chief, but trust his word to be paid back in full. When a young renegade native from the tribe decides to make his own path in life and rob the store’s proprietor, he is not prepared for the wooden statue with the soul of a native warrior to take offense by his actions. Flush with cash and valuables the renegade and his henchmen prepare to leave the dusty old town in their rear creepshow-2-dvdview mirror forever. Unfortunately for them, old Chief Wooden Head has other plans for the thieving youth.

In The Raft, two young couples find a beautiful roadside lake calling them for a swim. The warm morning leads to a swim to the diving raft secured some 30 yards out in the lake. The swimmers soon find that an oily-tar looking sludge seems to be following their every move. At first chance the oil slick swallows one of the swimmers, digesting them in its folds. The remaining three have to decide how they will survive and escape the confines of The Raft.

In the last story, The Hitchhiker, a woman having an affair overslept in the hotel room and needs to get back home before her husband gets suspicious. She pushes the limits of speed on the highway while concentrating on an alibi. With her mind distracted she doesn’t see the hitchhiker at roadside and accidentally runs him over. She leaves the scene of the incident, leaving the man to die. When she finally seems to be calming down she sees the hitchhiker ahead on the road again. He’s calling, “how bout a ride lady.” She keeps seeing him every few miles and finally runs him down again, making sure he could not possibly survive. It’s only a few miles more when she sees him once again exclaiming, “thanks for the ride lady!” This continues until the spectacular and horrifying ending, when she finally reaches home.

The cartoon/comic wrap around story is a simple but coherent story involving a boy who is bullied and purchases a Venus Fly Trap from the back page ads in his comics. When I was that age, the mail order items in the back of comics and Famous Monsters magazine kept my young mind active with possibilities. I completely related to this aspect of the film and found it wonderfully portrayed.

The only reason I have for thinking the first Creepshow was better than II is it had more stories. The truth is you could exchange any of the stories in II with those in I and not notice much of a difference. I think both films are equally good.

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Trivia:

Another segment called, The Cat from Hell, was originally planned for Creepshow II, but trimming of the budget caused it to be abandoned. It was later filmed for the Tales from the Dark Side movie in 1990.


 

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Pumpkinhead (1988) – Movie review

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Pumpkinhead (1988)

Directed by Stan Winstonmy top 10 1980s horror

Lance Henriksen
Jeff East
John D’Aquino
Kimberley Ross
Joel Hoffman
George ‘Buck’ Flower
Chance Corbitt Jr.

By now it’s become obvious what I like about 80s horror films, original creatures and monsters, practical effects, some good eerie Synth music, and most of all, classic storytelling. Pumpkinhead is simultaneously an original and unique creature-feature film and a throwback to classic 1950s sci-fi/horror flicks. The monster is an amazing humanoid design with a unique origin/manifestation story. A spiritually demonic entity in pumpkinhead 1988 dvdphysical form is a subject in horror films rarely handled as good as it is here.

To recap the story, the cutest kid in the world has Lance Henriksen as a dad, how cool is that? Kinda’ makes up for not having a mom. While helping his ‘Pa’ at the farm stand, the boy is run over by a dirt-bike riding, city slicker who, along with a group of friends, quickly seek shelter at their nearby log cabin. Ed Harley(Henriksen) takes his boy home. Now get the tissues ready, cause the boy dies. Harley asks the locals about an ol’ woman rumored to have some powers and who can assist with vengeance. The witch woman, Haggis, is one creepy witch and one of the highlights of the movie. She offers Ed Harley a means to avenge his son but it comes with a terrible price. Pumpkinhead is called forth and hunts down the city folk. Seeing the wrong in his hateful vengeance, Ed Harley joins the battle to try and stop the creature.

This film is the directorial debut from Stan Winston, famous effects artist responsible for bringing to life: Alien, Poltergeist, the Thing, and the Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, among others. I love the duo-tone lighting in the night scenes of this film; blue tints for outdoors, yellow-orange for the indoor scenes. The back lit scene when Pumpkinhead enters the hallowed land of the burnt out church, drips with dark atmosphere and mood. The creature hisses at the cross and halts his relentless pursuit of the city folks in order to break the cross into pieces in a nasty display of evil.

Pumpkinhead follows a classic mythological storyline involving the fulfillment of a wish or desire and adhering to the adage, be careful what you wish for, because you just might not like what you get. Self destruction by the desire for revenge is another theme here, along with similarities to classics like The Monkey’s Paw, Pandora’s Box, and the cursed granted wish of a Genie. The film spawned several sub-par sequels which I would ignore, the effects were not handled as well and the stories were not nearly as good.

I’m sure most horror fans have seen this fantastic film but for those looking for a not-so-gory Halloween Creature Feature, this would be a great choice. I can’t even guess at how many times I have watched it; it’s one of my all time faves. A true Modern American Gothic classic!

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Fun Facts:
The film was inspired/based on a poem by Ed Justin.

The boys dog, Gypsy, was the same dog that was in Gremlins

Lance Henriksen gathered his own props for his character, including visiting Pawn Shops to purchase silver dollars to pay the witch for her services.

Though the creatures head is not shaped like a pumpkin it is birthed from a pumpkin patch.

George “Buck” Flowers was an often called upon character actor in the 80’s, playing small parts in films like, The Fog, They Live, and Back to the Future