The Creep, sporting a very different look from the first film, arrives in a small town in Maine to assist another boy named Billy. This Billy isn’t dealing with a mean dad, but a bunch of bullies. With a grim solution to Billy’s bullying problem, the Creep also brings three new tales of terror; “Old Chief Wood’nhead”, “The Raft”, and “The Hitchhiker”. Written by George A. Romero based on Stephen King’s stories, original Creepshow cinematographer Michael Gornick picked up the directorial duties for this sequel. While it may not reach the same heights as its predecessor, Creepshow 2 is still a pretty fun sequel full of great effects.
“Old Chief Wood’nead” kicks off the anthology with a tale of revenge. When a sweet elderly couple are slaughtered by a greedy trio who have come to steal valuable collateral on loan by a Native American tribe elder, the wooden Indian that adorns their store’s front porch comes to life to seek retribution. The makeup effects were created by Ed French (The Stuff, Blood Rage, Terminator 2: Judgment Day), who sculpted the body of Old Chief Wood’nhead. Mike Trcic (Jurassic Park, In the Mouth of Madness) sculpted the head. It was actor Dan Kamin, a mime, who brought the creature to life with stiff, wooden movements. The look and movements of this creature elevate a fairly straightforward segment.
It’s the next segment, “The Raft”, that’s most fondly recalled in this anthology, for good reason. The strange oil slick blob that inhabits a lake devours its victims in gruesome ways. But it was also the most difficult segment to shoot in terms of weather, effects, and contention behind the scenes. Initially, French had designed and created the amorphous creature, mostly with layered latex and mechanical rigs underneath to pull it through the water. It didn’t quite cooperate when it came time to film, though, and Gornick bypassed French to consult Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, who had been pulled into production by a line producer that wanted the duo to oversee the effects. French left production during filming of this segment, leaving Berger and Nicotero to complete it.
Most of the gross-out, ooey gooey slimy aspects of the creature was black UltraSlime, a substance that, at least at the time, was extremely difficult to wash off. The first victim, Rachel (Page Hannah), first has the creature’s slime shoot up her arm. Once she’s pulled in, the slime-covered Rachel that emerges from the lake is actually stunt woman Patricia Tallman (the very one who played Barbara in 1990’s Night of the Living Dead). So, who knows what kind of trouble she endured getting the Ultra Slime off. The lack of time and budget in which the special effects team had to work with, in addition to rainy weather and freezing water, meant even more complications production had to work around for this segment.
Finally, there’s “The Hitchhiker”, which sees a rich adulteress being terrorized by the hitchhiker (Tom Wright) she killed in her rush to get home. Makeup effects creator Howard Berger (2009’s The Last House on the Left, Drag Me to Hell), designed and sculpted all six stages of the hitchhiker’s progressive body damage. As he pops up each time, uttering memorable line, “thanks for the ride lady,” he becomes more mangled the more the woman uses her car to destroy him. Nicotero (2009’s The Last House on the Left, Drag Me to Hell) crafted the dummies that would be used in the instances the woman would run the hitchhiker over. And finally, the last iteration of the hitchhiker was so mangled that a puppet was built. Berger operated the puppet, the facial features were radio controlled, and the tongue hanging from its gaping mouth was mechanical.
Originally, French was cast to play The Creep from the wraparound story, but his departure meant the role needed to be recast. Enter Tom Savini, who was also credited on the film as a makeup effects consultant. With Everett Burrell’s (1990’s Night of the Living Dead, The Dark Half) makeup designs and work, which took six hours to apply, and Savini’s theatrical performance as the Creep (voiced by Joe Silver), it’s a shame he wasn’t featured in the film more.