The SHALLOWeen Series: Creepshow & Creepshow 2
This Halloween season, I'm presenting a new feature: The SHALLOWeen series! I'll share a series of very shallow assessments of all the movies (and the one music video) that have ever scared me. Get ready... I'm a true 'fraidy cat.
Since this is a post about two movies (but mostly about one), I'll be brief.
CREEPSHOW (1982) is an all-around wonderful anthology movie inspired by the notorious EC Horror comics of the 1950s. Everything in it is great: Crazy old WASP-y dad wants his Father's Day cake from beyond the grave, Leslie Nielsen buries Ted Danson up to his neck in sand as the tide comes in, that horrible murderous thing in The Crate (how much can it eat?), and E.G. Marshall as a racist old megalomaniac who gets attacked by a horde of cockroaches.
The one thing that wasn't great was Stephen King's embarrassing performance in "The Lonesome Death of Jody Verrill." I COULD NOT STOP cringing at his "backwoods" drawl and the incessant mugging. But beyond that, the movie's fabulous.
On the other hand, CREEPSHOW 2 (1987) is almost entirely offensive. Each of the three segments has something objectionable by today's standards: A white actor in brown-face, groping and sexual assault of a sleeping woman, and the vehicular manslaughter of a Black person. I'll get into all that in a second.
My introduction to these movies came on a weekend afternoon in the 1990s. The TV in our living room was tuned to one of our local UHF stations (this was pre-digital signals, my children). I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a weird cartoon, and my curiosity was piqued.
I could tell right away that this was NOT your typical Saturday morning fare. I kept watching and was astonished to see that it was a movie... and actually one of two movies! A double feature. I had no idea what I was in for when the opening titles for Creepshow 2 started.
It would take a while before I would have a chance to watch the first Creepshow again, so Creepshow 2 was the one that would stick with me for a long time. SInce I've decided to include it in The SHALLOWeen series, you've probably already guessed that I feel some kind of way about this movie. There were three stories total, and each terrified me.
Let's start with "Old Chief Wood'nhead": A stereotype carved out of wood comes to life and murders some rednecks and a wayward member of the local Native tribe (played by hot, young Holt McCallany). Nothing to see here. JUST SOME BLOODY SCALPS!
Next up, "The Raft": Insufferable college kids drive to a deserted lake in the middle of October to go swimming and encounter a gross oil slick thingie that is actually some kind of carnivorous beast. PURE NIGHTMARE FUEL.
Finally, "The Hitchhiker": A smarmy, rich adulteress commits a hit-and-run on a hitchhiker played by prolific actor, Tom Wright, and proceeds to be haunted by his rotting corpse for miles and miles on the winding road, all the way home. NOT OKAY.
Once the credits started to roll, I had lots of issues processing what I'd just seen. The night terrors were all queued up and ready to go. Because I was young, it would take years before I was able to see Creepshow 2 for what it was -- A valiant effort with some decent jump scares... but a lack of the self-awareness and sense of humor that its predecessor possessed.
And oh yes, the ISSUES.
Like I said before, each segment in Creepshow 2 has problems. Cultural problems. White dude in dark makeup pretending to be Indigenous? Check. Young college dude creepily feeling up his sleeping female acquaintance in a survival situation? Check. Rich, white criminal repeatedly smashing her car into the corpse of a poor person of color? Check.
Let's never do this again, folks.