Jeepers Creepers 2 

(R) 2 stars

(R) 2 stars

Too often, I watch the closing credits of some dispose-a-movie and wonder how I can possibly come up with enough words to fill the review space allotted. Occasionally though, as is the case with Jeepers Creepers 2, there is so much to write about that I scarcely know where to begin.

The original film, which debuted in 2001, was a mixed bag. The first half, which pitted two teens against a dark space and an unseen creature, was creepy as hell, despite being riddled with plot holes. The second half, which revealed the monster, was nothing special, playing like just another wan attempt to launch a Freddy Krueger-style horror franchise.

Jeepers Creepers 2 sets up an interesting playing field, offering some surprisingly attractive art direction coupled with the promise of tense face-offs between a group of young people and a fearsome creature, conducted in the light of day. Indeed, a few dramatically successful encounters happen before the film drowns in its own silliness.

The creature in question is The Creeper, an odd name since he does far more sprinting and flying than creeping. A mute figure decked out in the latest Halloween chic and sporting a pair of wings that would make a pterodactyl simmer with envy, he makes a serviceable enough Boogey-Man. All we know about him is that every 23 years, for 23 days, he feeds on humans, eating those body parts that need replacing on his own form (plus some extra flesh, just for the hell of it). Presumably, he goes into hibernation in-between, which begs the question: what kind of a life is that? Bingeing, then sleeping excessively. Sounds to me like somebody is suffering from depression.

And how do we know the specs on the Creeper? Telepathic messaging, that’s how. In the first movie, a psychic was the information recipient. This time it’s a teen-age cheerleader. Which brings us to the bus that is carrying home a few cheerleaders and a bunch of jocks after their championship win, triggering more questions. First, where are the team supporters?

The bus “breaks down” on the road, as the Creeper prepares for his smorgasbord, and remains there for many hours, but only one car passes by. So where are the supporters? Surely a championship-winning team would be accompanied by a car caravan. And where is everyone else? As the shortest route between two towns, shouldn’t there be some traffic on this road?

Oh, and what game were they playing? I don’t remember seeing a ball or hearing specifics on the game. You can’t tell from the athletes, as the boys are too hunky for basketball, but not beefy enough for football. Actually, they look more appropriate for an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot than anything.

One thing’s for sure, writer/director Victor Salva remembers male to male high school interactions differently than I do. In his world, lots of jocks ride the team bus shirtless, casually brushing against the bare torsos of their pals (along with a few clothed ones) as the vehicle rumbles along. And when it breaks down, even more of them peel off their shirts, sunbathing bare-chested on top of the bus as an overhead camera lovingly sweeps by. When the guys pee, they line up in a row, shoulder to shoulder, making dick jokes as they relieve themselves. Was it that way in your high school?

When the Creeper attacks, the boys get dressed, but the parade of man-flesh is not over. After the monster rips a hole in the roof of the bus, one kid sticks his head through for a look-see (which tells you all you need to know about the young characters). In the ensuing fight, he loses his head and — oops! — his shirt, leaving a mighty attractive corpse laying on the floor.

Later, in the film’s epilogue, three teens (two male, one female) visit a Creeper-related tourist sight and, amazingly, one of the well-built boys is shirtless. Aside from the overhead “tanning” shot, the camera doesn’t linger on the bodies as much as you would expect, which seemed curious until I realized that Silva’s prime focus was less on the footage and more on his environment. By spacing shirtless scenes throughout the entire film, he guarantees that on most shooting days his set will have at least one, and often many, half-naked male actors hanging around waiting for their shot. Clearly, Victor Silva recognizes the importance of having a happy workplace. If only he had been equally concerned with his screenplay, the film might have risen above genre average.

Aside from a forceful performance by Ray Wise (Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks) as a devastated father determined to avenge the death of his young son, Jeepers Creepers 2 has little to make it stand out from countless other dead teen-ager flicks. Except for a locker room’s worth of hot buttered male torsos, of course.

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