*. The most successful genre fiction and films give us exactly what we expect, but with a twist. They make the familiar just a little unfamiliar. Not so much that audiences feel cheated about not getting what they paid for, but enough so that they don’t feel like they’ve seen it all before.
*. The twists on old, familiar stories are very small indeed in Creepshow 2. Here’s what I mean.
*. “Old Chief Wood’nhead”: the archetype here is the Mummy or, an even better fit, the Golem. A statue comes to life and exacts a bloody vengeance on those who have offended against its traditions and its people.
*. “The Raft”: I believe this is the only one of the three stories that had been previously published (by screenwriter Stephen King). The archetype is the Blob, now displaced into a quarry swimming hole. I think King really likes this story, as it also served as the inspiration for “The Lonesome Death of Jody Verrill,” the second story in the original Creepshow anthology (and the one where King himself played the title character).
*. “The Hitchhiker”: the archetype is the vengeful ghost, but there had also been spooky hitchhikers before. The story here may have been inspired by a Twilight Zone episode, and Rutger Hauer’s The Hitcher had only come out the year before. A hint of Spielberg’s Duel also seems to be playing in the background. Meanwhile, the plot of getting revenge for a hit-and-run would be used to kick off another King project in Thinner (1996).
*. I didn’t care for this one too much. Only the second story struck me as any good, with the first and last being far too formulaic. The first was the worst, as we’re just sitting around waiting for the Chief to come to life and do his thing, and the third didn’t have much to it aside from the comic indestructibility of the hitcher and his inane obsession with thanking Lois Chiles for the ride.
*. It was the ’80s, to I won’t mock the big hair or the jock’s yellow budgie smugglers in “The Raft.” I draw the line though at the soundtrack. Just listen to what we get as Chiles drives her Mercedes through the woods trying to knock the hitcher off her roof. It’s so generic, and unsuitable.
*. The frame story struck me as comic-book nonsense, but since it’s presented as a comic book I don’t know if that’s much of a criticism to make. Like a lot of the films made from King stories in the ’80s it all has a YA feel to it, and even the gore effects, which are pretty simple, don’t do much to affect this. All of which means it pretty much gave audiences what they expected. I just think that wasn’t enough.