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Creepshow 2
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English PCM Mono
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio Commentary with director Michael Gornick
  • Poncho's Last Ride - a brand new interview with actor Daniel Beer
  • The Road to Dover - a brand new interview with actor Tom Wright
  • Screenplay for a Sequel - an interview with screenwriter George A. Romero
  • Tales from the Creep - an interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini
  • Nightmares in Foam Rubber - archive featurette on the special effects of Creepshow 2, including interviews with FX artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero
  • My Friend Rick - Berger on his special effects mentor Rick Baker
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Image Gallery
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Original Screenplay (BD-ROM Content)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mike Saputo
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Blyth

Creepshow 2

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Michael Gornick
1987 | 90 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $34.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: October 13, 2016
Review Date: January 1, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Horror titans George A. Romero and Stephen King deliver yet another fiendish selection of blood-curdling tales in Creepshow 2 - now newly remastered in 2K! In "Old Chief Wood'nhead", a group of young hoodlums face retribution from an unlikely source after looting a local hardware store. Meanwhile, "The Raft" sees a group of horny teens wishing they'd read the warning signs first before taking a dip in a remote lake. Finally, an uptight businesswoman finds herself with some unwanted company following a hit-and-run incident in "The Hitch-hiker". Whilst retaining the EC comic book flavour that made the original such a hit, Creepshow 2, this time directed by long-time Romero collaborator Michael Gornick, is a decidedly darker and grimmer affair than its predecessor and remains one of the greatest horror anthologies of all time.


PICTURE

Michael Gornick’s Creepshow 2 gets a new special edition Blu-ray through Arrow, who present the film in its original aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 2K restoration scanned from the 35mm interpositive.

As a film, Creepshow 2 certainly hasn’t received the same amount of love as the George A. Romero original, though with good reason. Yet despite the original Creepshow receiving more love and accolades it has received fairly lackluster home video releases in North America from Warner Bros., the latest being a barebones Blu-ray with an acceptable A/V presentation. The sequel, on the other hand, has managed to generate a number of fairly nice special editions, with Arrow now taking a crack at bat.

Despite some very minor limitations with the source Arrow’s transfer and restoration of Creepshow 2 is really striking, and it feeds more into my amazement at how a smaller third-party label can take an average, low-budget horror film from the 80’s and make it look like something new, while a big studio like Warner can’t do anywhere near the same for the more highly regarded, bigger budgeted original film.

The image here looks very filmic, rendering the grain structure quite well (most of the time at any rate), the fine details coming through clearly. The image can occasionally have an ever-so-slight bit of softness to it at times, particularly long shots, but on average the image is pretty sharp and clean. Artifacts aren’t an issue and colours are rendered well, looking natural and well saturated. Black levels are decent, though I felt crush snuck in there a bit during the last segment of the film, which takes place at night; film grain also looks a little blotchy during this last portion.

The restoration work has also cleaned up the image nicely and I don’t recall any glaring marks, at least during the three vignettes in the film. Where the image is probably weakest is during the connecting animated sequences that play between each story, where the image looks a bit rough with some obvious marks. This more than likely is something inherent in the animation sequences. iIt pains me to badmouth the animated portions of the film since they look about as good as what the budget would allow (director Gornick does talk about this in the included commentary), they still look cheap (incredibly choppy) and I think the quick turnaround of the animation probably allowed for the introduction of debris, colour shifts, a very obvious softness, and so on.

looking past those sequences, which are not the norm, Arrow has done a fairly spectacular job on this. It really looks impressive and it’s a shame Arrow can’t get their hands on the original to do the same to it.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Interestingly Arrow includes three soundtracks: a mono and stereo surround track, presented in 1.0 and 2.0 linear PCM respectively, along with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. I listened primarily to the 5.1 track and then sampled the other two. The 5.1 track is a weak one, though, very front-heavy with only a handful of noticeable sound effects making their way to the rears, most heavy during the film’s last vignette, The Hitchhiker. A majority of the film’s sound, including the music, sticks mostly to the fronts.

The mono track is a bit weak whereas the surround tracks at least how more range and better fidelity. Still, I can’t say I noticed anything glaring in the ways of damage or problems. It will come down to personal preference.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow is releaseing a couple of editions of the film on Blu-ray, a simple special edition and then a limited edition (to 3000 copies) that comes with a slip box and then a booklet featuring a new comic adaptation of the unfilmed sequence, Pinfall. I only received a copy of the non-limited special edition, so did not receive a copy of the comic book adaptation.

At any rate, Arrow has still put together a rather sharp little edition for this film, providing new material along with material that appeared on previous editions. New to this edition is an audio commentary featuring director Mike Gornick and moderator Perry Martin. The track was a very pleasant surprise, more because I didn’t expect much from it. Martin brings up topics to discuss and Gornick goes into a lot of detail. Gornick is well aware of the film’s shortcomings, especially in comparison to the original, and explains why this is the case. The primary reason (no surprise) is that his budget was pretty sparse, not a surprise considering the film was being produced by the then-collapsing New World Pictures. This severely limited him in many aspects of the production, the big negative being he was unable to afford the same comic book look and effects of the original film. The film was also intended to be made up of five shorts, like the original, but the budget restraints forced him to cut two of them (one of the stories, The Cat From Hell, would eventually show up in the film Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, but Pinfall would never see the light of day). Another limitation he had was how to do the interconnecting story between each vignette, and he had to go the route of the animations, though with very little money for them. He talks about filming the various sequences (The Raft being the most difficult because of the cold weather) and he shares a few surprises (at least for me) like how Tom Savini was supposed to direct the film initially, along with a story about how he had actually done work on a Creepshow television show. The film’s production proves to be rather interesting, even when he gets into the nitty gritty of having to work around bond companies and a penny pinching New World Pictures. A really good track.

Moving on to video material Screenplay for a Sequel features an 11-minute interview with George A. Romero, director of the original film and creator of the original screenplay for the sequel. Romero talks about the obvious influences of EC comics and the elements he and writer Stephen King tried to bring from those sources to the stories used for both films before talking about his original intentions with the sequel. He talks a bit about the two stories that didn’t make it into the final film and even some of the other Stephen King adaptations he has tried to get off the ground over the years. Romero does address the quality of the sequel, admitting it’s not as good as the original because it’s missing the “glee” that was found in that one, but he commendably doesn’t blame Gornick at all, instead blaming it on the limited budget. It’s a short interview but like the commentary it offers further wonderful insights into the film’s production and the original intentions. I was also heartened at Romero’s desire to make more films like Creepshow (forgetting the in-name-only sequel Creepshow 3).

Tom Savini also shows up for an 8-minute discussion on his brief role in the film under Tales from the Creep, with Savini talking a bit about his work on the first film and his cameo as the Creep in this film. Daniel Beer, who played as Randy in The Raft, also participates in a discussion under Poncho’s Last Ride. According to most of the material on here The Raft was the most difficult segment to shoot thanks to the lake setting and the cold weather. Beer recalls the difficulties and troubles that came up, which included him and others getting hypothermia, which still affects him to this day. His interview runs about 15-minutes.

A really great “get” for this edition, though, is an interview with actor Tom Wright found under The Road to Dover. Running 14-minutes Wright talks about The Hitchhiker segment and working with Lois Chiles, but the interview is at its best when he recalls the make-up and stunt work involved in the vignette (the latter of which he did himself), which is accompanied by home movie footage of Wright undergoing the various stages of make-up application.

Carried over from the older Anchor Bay DVD release is the documentary Nightmares in Foam Rubber (with “Rubber” misspelled as “Ruber”), featuring effects artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero. The two, filmed separately, first both talk about how they became interested in effects work and getting into the business, both meeting first while working on Romero’s Day of the Dead. Moving on to Creepshow 2 the two then both talk about the individual stories in the film, with a lot of focus (not too surprisingly) on The Raft and its “creature.” The budgetary limitations were easily the film’s biggest hurdle, and some of that does unfortunately show in the film’s effects (the water creature in The Raft specifically) but these two and everyone else involved did what they could and it was fascinating learning about some of the innovations they came up with. The documentary runs 32-minutes and is also accompanied by My Friend Rick, which features Berger talking about how he came to work for Rick Baker. This last segment runs about 3-minutes.

The disc then closes with a few fairly standard features. 6-minutes’ worth of behind-the-scenes footage shows Tom Savini having make-up applied for his brief cameo, and then multiple takes of his scene that opens the film. An image gallery is presented as a 3-minute slideshow with music from the film, showcasing production photos and behind-the-scenes ones, and then we get two theatrical trailers and one TV spot that looks to have been sourced from a VHS tape, more than likely recorded off the television at the time. Limited to first pressings only (and the limited edition) is a booklet featuring an essay by Michael Blyth. Like most of the essays provided by Arrow it’s a great read, very honest in its analysis of the film: he points out its merits and does have some praise, but is also quick to point out its many flaws.

I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the material on here. It helps that the film’s production history is fascinating, and I also appreciated the overall honesty in everything. Everyone of course offers their defenses for the film, and everyone also offers their gratefulness to Gornick for what he accomplished, but none of it feels insincere and everyone is very open and honest about the film, even Gornick. Fans or even general admirers should be pleased.

8/10

CLOSING

Arrow has put together a sharp edition for the film, complete with a nice film-like presentation and some entertaining supplements, putting Warner’s release for the original Creepshow to shame and showing what can happen when you have people who actually care working on a release. Highly recommended.




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