We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
A three-part horror anthology sequel directed by Dawn Of The Dead cinematographer Michael Gornick. The writing of Stephen King and George A Romero is in there somewhere
Even by the standards of its predecessor, Creepshow 2 was a slipshod production. The three stories that make up the film were left over from a batch of 10 tales that had originally been considered for the 1982 original, Creepshow. Stephen King had little to do with the writing of the screenplay, which was largely undertaken by George A Romero. Romero in turn relinquished the directorial reins to Michael Gornick who had never made a full feature before. The budget was just $3 million, there was a tight 60 day schedule and one of the chief special effects men, Ed French, was sacked halfway through filming. It's not surprising then, that the end results stink.
The film does at least have a rich visual palette (based on the 1950s EC comics that inspired it) and some well drawn (if distinctly unfunny) animated sequences that play in between each segment. These factors are small compensation for everything else, however.
The first story, 'Old Chief Wood'nhead', tells of the bloody revenge exacted by an American Indian statue when a bunch of hoodlums ransack the store outside which it stands, killing the pleasant old man (Kennedy) who maintains its paintwork. The acting is as wooden as the Indian carving (Gornick even manages to coax a bad performance out of veteran actor George Kennedy who starred in Cool Hand Luke in better days), the gore is unimpressive and the script and story plain daft.
Bad as 'Old Chief Wood'nhead' is, it's a positive masterpiece compared to the second instalment in the anthology, 'The Raft'. This is an exercise in incompetence that gives Ed Wood's infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space some healthy competition for the worst ever special effects. It sees four teenagers stuck on a raft in the middle of a small lake being menaced by what appears to be a gigantic plastic bag. The bag slowly picks off the hapless youths, transforming into a lethal chewing gum like substance when it touches them. Meanwhile they jump around on the raft looking absolutely freezing and mouthing Romero's witless dialogue with the complete lack of conviction it deserves. "Help! It hurts!"
The third tale, 'The Hitcher', is a stern morality tale about an adulteress (Chiles) who runs over a hitchhiker on the way back from a decidedly unromantic assignation and is then chased home by her victim's grisly remains. Chiles copes with the infelicities in the script well, giving a passable turn as a strong woman pushed beyond the edge, and the special effects team manage to create an impressively bloody mess out of the hitchhiker. Compared to the other two stories it's at least endurable, but by any other reasonable standards it's still pretty awful.
A dreadful collection.
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