Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Creepshow II

(1987) ***1/2

Five years after the original Creepshow, the King/Romero tandem brought us another chapter in the Creepshow anthology. This one was shorter and had fewer chapters and pared down much of the comic book style of the original.

Ol' Chief Woodenhead

Ray Spruce (George Kennedy), a general store owner in a dying town is on the verge of retirement. In more prosperous times, the store put food on the table, put his daughters through college, and helped them start families of their own. Now it's nothing more than a lifeline for an Indian reservation with no money left to spend. As Ray is lovingly touching up the paint job on his wooden indian statue, he's approched by Ben Whitemoon, a trusted representative of the tribe. Ben bears a satchel filled with precious stones and metals -- the only collateral the tribal families have left to offer and convinces Ray to accept it until the tribe can arrange more suitable payment for the debt they've accrued.

Shortly after he leaves, Ben's thuggish nephew Sam barges into the store with his two white stooges. They toss things about, clean out the register, and demand the satchel of loot. In the mayhem, Sam shoots Ray's wife Martha point blank with a shotgun, before killing Ray as well.

When the thugs flee the scene of the crime, Ray's trusty Indian statue wakes up with a blood-curdling howl. He hunts down the three assailants, saving Sam for last.

This segment got completely up in my head when I first watched it at age 10. It was the shotgun blast that killed Martha that disturbed me so. Ben and Martha are kind people, people of warmth and honor. Their killers are such despicable slimeballs, so brutish and obnoxious. What God would allow them to be taken so coldly by such, well, annoying shits? The vengeance, when it comes, is swift and righteous.

And this Indian statue could take the little Zuni dude from Trilogy of Terror and just kick his ass all the way to Milwaukee and back.

The Raft

Based on a short story from Stephen King's Skeleton Crew anthology, The Raft tells the story of two couples, pot-loving college kids who drive up to a remote lake for a bracing November swim. There's Deke (hunky football jock), Laverne (Deke's slinky, sexy girlfriend), Randy (Deke's sidekick, who obviously would rather be smooching Laverne than his own girlfriend), and Rachel (Randy's moody girlfriend, played by Darryl Hannah's homely sister). The four nutty kids wade out in the ice cold water to a raft in the center of a lake. There, they notice a curious mass of sludge floating towards them.

Rachel crouches at the edge of the raft, staring into the sludge, transfixed. Suddenly, the sludge snaps out at her, melting the skin off her forearm and hauling her into itself. The swimmers stand horrified as her body is quickly eaten away. There's a brief panic during which Deke decides to try to swim for shore. He doesn't even make it back into the water before the slick attacks him through the boards of the raft, whipping a snaky appendage up his leg and pulling him through the boards. Now it's down to Randy and Laverne, who stay up until morning keeping watch, holding each other closely to keep out the chill.

In the early morning, Randy decides, in an inexplicable bout of horniness, to try to put the moves on the slumbering Laverne. He lays her down on the raft, lifts her sweater (Marked "Horlicks University" -- the same school featured in "The Crate" in Creepshow I) and places some tentative kisses on Laverne's breasts. Laverne turns her face up to look Randy in the eye and that's when we learn that the slick has already eaten off half her face. She screams in terror, pain, and accusation, and is pulled into the slick just like Deke and Rachel before her.

Randy wastes no time, diving into the water and swimming back for shore. He manages to make it out of the water, but only gets a couple seconds to savor his escape before the slick curls up in a mighty wave and smothers him.

Top notch gross-outs in this sketch, what with all of the acid-melted skin and everything. Heavy kudos to Tom Savini (who also appears as the Crypt-Keeper-like narrator -- ironically, the make-up job for his own character is really, really stupid looking) for his work in all three chapters.

The Hitchhiker

The snobbish wife of a successful New England attorney is hurrying home from one of her trysts when she drops her lit cigarette onto her lap. While frantically trying to put it out, she mows down a hitchhiker. She looks on, dumbfounded, as his destination placard (Dover) flips onto her windshield and then tumbles away. Seeing headlights looming around the corner, she screeches off uttering excuses and rationalizations.

A few miles later, she skids to a halt. Peering into her rearview, she sees the same hitchhiker limping down the road towards her car. He attacks her, repeating over and over again, "Thanks for the ride, lady!"

The hitchhiker hounds her all the way home. She smashes up her car to bejeezus and back trying to lose him but she only succeeds in mangling him more and more with each encounter, his "Thanks for the ride"s becoming more and more gutteral and blood soaked with each turn.

One final note: the narrator tells us as the movie comes to a close, "Until next time kiddies, try to stay scared." This movie came out TWENTY freaking years ago and the third one still hasn't come out. How much fear do they expect us to muster in that time?


Well, that's it for me. It's been great fun being involved in this year's Thon. I began with the sole intention of increasing upon my pitiful total from last year. I managed to toast that goal in the first 40 hours of the contest. Proudly, I have now met my revised goal, which was to average at least one movie a day through the month of October. My last reviews turned in, it's now time to sit back and wait to see if Summerisle managed to squeak in more last minute movies than I did.

Immense thanks to everyone who read the blog, whether you left comments or not. It's been a privilege taking part in this insanity, alongside such fine writers and funny, funny guys. And it's been an honor knowing that people I've never even met before have been reading my words. This whole experience has been a delight. Thanks a lot, everyone.


I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

PS -- I just broke the record for most consecutive reviews published in this Thon. Hopefully that holds up through the final onslaught.

Summerisle said...

My god man, you are a writing machine! I haven't been able to write a single sentence that makes sense in DAYS.

Summerisle said...

This gives Marc a total of 33! That's one for every day of the month with 2 leftover.

We should all nod our heads in approval to Marc for a) adding a 4th perspective that really fleshed out the blog, b) writing consistently funny/illuminating reviews, c) watching the Leprechauns that I would need a gun to my head to sit through, and d) for being (from what I've gathered) an all around standup guy.

And that's the last nice thing I'm ever going to say on this blog!

I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

alright, summerisle: let's see what you got!

Jordan said...

1) I really liked the original "raft" story. It had a nutty, nihilistic quality that I admired. In the context of King's prose, that weird abortive love scene made perfect sense.

Other good details from the story: there's a hypnotic effect of some kind coming from the slime. We never see it or get it described, but the first victim girl (I think there were more characters in the prose version) is caught staring into the slick like you said, and then she says this really creepy line: "It has colors!" (Nobody else can see anything like that). Of course, like all good monsters, the slick dispenses with all nice illusions once it's actually killing you, so as she's being burned/ripped apart she gets off a heart-rending "It hurrts—!" scream before she's dead. There's another good part near the end of the story, where it's just down to the one guy, and he's finally so crazy and despairing that he pathetically tells himself he'll just dive in and maybe it won't be so bad because he remembers the line about the colors; maybe it will somehow be a peaceful end of some kind. (He's wrong about that, obviously.)

2) I thought he wasn't Marc

Jordan said...

3) I am "nodding my head in approval"

Jordan said...

4) Where are you getting this bizarre idea that anyone else is reading this?

JPX said...

I love The Raft! It freaked me as a kid and to this day I still think about it whenever I find myself swimming in a pond, which is never.

Jordan said...

My problem with the "Creepshow" concept is that the stories are just a little too dependent on the "revenge from beyond the grave" motif.

But, the original "Tales From the Crypt" were like that, too, I guess.

JPX said...

True, with hundreds of Stephen King stories to choose from, it seems to me that there is the potential for a better film. Creepshow 3 is on its way, by the way, check it out:

Jordan said...

Scariest Stephen King line of dialogue ever (presented as part of a transcript-within-the-story):

Oh my God they're in my head they're eating my fucking br

Name the story for two points!

I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

ps - i also totally loved that line, as i did the colors bit, which was sort of what i was thinking when i used the word "transfixed," also that's really what she does, but having read the story, i knew why she was doing it.

do you love, jordan?

Jordan said...

"So nice"

I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

HOME DELIVERY - that matter of fact commentary by the British dude is hilarious

I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

oh what? are we playing the quote game now? the Boogeyman (scoop a' chocolate, scoop a' vanilla -- don't waste my time)

Octopunk said...

They taste like lady fingers, fuckos!

Man, I crashed out on my first night off from the 'thon and you guys got real chatty. But I say:

Props to Heisn'tMarc for joining our ranks with such wit and chutzpah this year!

Octopunk said...

I want to leap to the defense of my fearsome Zuni warrior, but every time I run the internal battle simulator on Woodenhead vs. Pissed-Off Zuni my little guy either gets squashed or clove into two thrashing, angry pieces by a tomahawk.

Ol' Chief beats Karen Black by being fearless and made of wood. Darn it.

Jordan said...

Octo, whose side is Ditko on?

"There were worse things than crucifiction. There were teeth."