Every 23rd Spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat... Welcome to day 23.
A while back, I had posted my thoughts on Jeepers Creepers (click here for that review) and how I thought it was an original concept, giving me a new horror film to watch annually. I find that the horror franchises I like best are the ones that feature some sort of boogeyman as the villain who stalks after teens throughout the films. Jeepers Creepers fit that bill nicely, right on par with Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. As much praise as I had given that first film, I'd never followed up with what I thought about its sequel, Jeepers Creepers 2. So here I go...better late than never, I guess.
Back when 2001's Jeepers Creepers came out on home media, I'd queued it up on my Netflix list and had it sent to me shortly after. It was a simple story, really, about a demonic being-The Creeper-that ate parts of people it needed for itself. If it lost an arm or leg, it would eat the arm or leg of a person to replace its own arm or leg. To do this, it drove some antiquated truck with a souped up engine that had one whopper of a horn and travelled the local highway for its victims.
Such a simple concept, yet it propelled this demonic being to the ranks of all the well-known horror icons in an instant. But that film was only the tip of the iceberg, as we had more to learn about this mysterious creature, and that's where 2003's Jeepers Creepers 2 comes in.
When I had heard about that the sequel was going forth and being filmed, again written and directed by Victor Salva, I was pretty happy about it. I had heard that the first film was cut here and there, as requested by the studio, to be able to skim it down to a shorter running time, so I was hoping we'd get a bit more story to what The Creeper is really all about. As filming was taking place, more info came about as to what the story was going to be, and that's when the whole of the plot came out that it was going to take place on, and around, a bus filled with high schoolers. I was a little disappointed initially because I loved the travelling aspect of the first film and how it took place in multiple locations. Alas, I waited patiently and when the day came that Jeepers Creepers 2 was released in theaters, I took a drive to our town's local movie house and paid my money to see the film.
The film opens on a rural farm with Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) working on his post-installing machine while his eldest son, Jack, Jr. (Luke Edwards), is working on their pick-up and the youngest, Billy (Shaun Fleming), is out in the field, hanging scarecrows. As Billy finishes propping up a scarecrow, he notices one off to the side that seems strange. Seeing that the feet of the scarecrow are actually claws and that it starts to move, Billy runs, screaming, towards the farm. Jack and his oldest run out to the field, but they're too late as The Creeper grabs Billy and flies off into the sky. The film then moves to a school bus filled with a high school sports team and cheerleaders, driving down a rural highway. The bus gets a flat tire and after pulling over, the driver and the coaches find a primitive object embedded in the tire. With the inner tire still good, the bus keeps going, until the inner tire is flattened with another similar instrument. Now stuck on the highway, with nightfall coming, the driver and coaches begin to be carried off by The Creeper, one by one, until only the teenagers are left on the bus. Back at the Taggart Farm, after Jack's young son was taken by The Creeper, he decided he was going to find the creature and kill it, using his post installing machine that he converted into a harpoon cannon. He and his eldest hear a plea from the kids on the bus on the CB and know it's The Creature that took his son. Can he get there on time to save the kids and get his revenge?
For the most part, the film is a worthy sequel to the 2001 hit and does give a little bit more to The Creeper's background...but not much. Again, like the first film, we have to rely on a character that happens to have some sort of psychic ability, this time with one of the cheerleaders who dreams of Darry (Justin Long) as he gives her the information about The Creeper. We get too big of a group of characters, much of them without any character development, and it's hard to care much about them. But we can put ourselves in their position as it would be a bit of a claustrophobic feeling to be trapped in a bus with the unknown danger lurking outside of it.
Ray Wise's character of Jack Taggart was the heart of this movie and should've been more prevalent in the story. He sort of bookends the film with what happened to his son in the beginning and how he comes in to face the creature at the end. But overall, he is the Captain Ahab of this tale with The Creeper being his Moby Dick. The film is saved with that sense of revenge that the character tries to get because without it, the film wouldn't be much fun.
As I'd said, we do get a bit more of The Creeper in this one, but at the same time we're still treated to more mystery about it. One thing for sure, we get to see that there really may be no way to kill it-after seeing the javelin scene, you'll know what I'm talking about. But there's more flying scenes (as it seems to be hispreferred method of travel in this one), its use of weapons and tools, how its body works (sense of smell and if it really needs certain body parts to survive), and how relentless it can be.
Now, the special effects portions of the film are where the film suffers a little bit-just a little, not much. Some of the flying scenes with The Creeper hovering in the air looks a little like stop motion and takes you out of the film a little. Even the moment after the Javelin scene looks campy as they use a bit of morphing CGI, but it comes off looking a little hokey. If this was ten years prior, when bad CGI was predominant in most films, I'd forgive it. But this was 2003, folks...films those days had some really impressive computer effects. Nevertheless, the movie features some good sight gags as well, like the javelin scene I'd mentioned earlier or the wing scene (you'll know it when you see it). The scene where The Creeper is going after the pickup is pretty damned good as well and sort of reminds you of the T-Rex going after the Jeep in Jurassic Park. The good effects cancels out the bad ones, so it's not a total loss and you can thoroughly enjoy the film.
So, what's my final "bit" on Jeepers Creepers 2?
Jeepers Creepers 2 definitely delivers the scares and the suspense, this time giving us a hero that wants to settle a score by avenging his son's death. Though it suffers a bit by including such a large cast of characters, the story is well told and enjoyable. The Creeper is certainly close to becoming a household name, so where's the sequel to this one? It's been over ten years since Salva has mentioned that he has a script for a sequel, so what's the holdup? IMDb has the sequel (Jeepers Creepers 3) under Salva's name, but with question marks where the year should be noted. Are they going to wait the actual 23 years for another story? Is it Salva's past that's in question? What is it? Hopefully we get it soon and keep The Creeper on the minds of horror hounds for years to come. For now, I recommend both films...see them if you haven't already.
Thanks for reading...and I welcome any comments!