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JEEPERS CREEPERS 2

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck
Director: Victor Salva
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes
Release Date: December 23, 2003

“He was trying to warn all of us that this thing has been around for thousands of years and that nothing has been able to kill it.”

“This is a dream you had?”

“Well, the boy was dead so yes, I’m ASSUMING it was a dream!”

Film ***

The sequel is a type of movie that almost always can never begin to surpass the quality of its predecessor. Every once in a while, a sequel will manage to match up to its first chapter, or for that matter even surpass the quality. However, in the horror genre, this is hardly ever the case, but if there was ever an exception to this set rule, it would appear in the form of Jeepers Creepers 2.

The original Jeepers Creepers was a most inventive horror movie that ushered in a newly notorious figure in the history of memorable horror movie adversaries, one simply known as The Creeper. The level of mystery building up to what exactly this menacing figure looked like was intriguing in itself. However, the movie’s weak point was, for me, a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion, one that was unusually brutal even for a contemporary horror movie. However, the events and action in this second installment has made me further respect the first movie altogether.

With Victor Salva returning as the writer/director, Jeepers Creepers 2 combines action, horror and tremendous visual effects, which add up to a superbly entertaining rarity of a movie experience. The first movie was a much inexpensive horror movie which became a breakthrough hit. As a result of this, Salva has understandably been given a bigger budget and extended the production values to help in delivering something of a bigger bang this time around.

It is stated in the very opening of the movie, as it was in its predecessor that every 23rd spring, for 23 days, the Creeper gets to eat. For Jeepers Creepers 2, the story’s setting is on the monster’s final two days of food stalking. Watching the sequel, I realized that the first movie didn’t reveal a specific setting in terms of the Creeper’s 23 day food hunt. In terms of continuing a story for a sequel, Salva has executed something of a masterstroke.

The movie opens on a terrifically strong note on a farmer’s corn field, on Day 22. A young boy is installing scarecrows in the field, when he realizes that one of them looks a bit out of the ordinary. When the revealed monster leaps from the field after the boy, farmer Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) can’t believe his eyes when he witnesses his youngest son maimed and flown away for dinner. Needless to say, Taggart is hell bent on vengeance. The buildup in this scene is of uncompromising suspense as is much of the movie, with scenes of equal intensity, accompanied by composer Bennett Salvay’s powerhouse score to the film.

The story then cuts to Day 23, where a school bus of high school basketball players and cheerleaders heading home is traveling down the terror laded East 9 Highway in Poho County. The team is returning home from a victorious game, when their bus suddenly breaks down due to a supposed flat tire. The coaches are then stunned to find a sharp speared object in the middle of the flat tire.

As day turns into night, the faculty members attempt to signal their location with flares, when all of a sudden the notorious Creepers picks them off one by one, in very fast motion. Having no idea what is happening, the students are soon forced to defend themselves from the force of monstrous presence that awaits them outside their bus. They soon come face to face with The Creeper, and also discover that it isn’t after everyone, but only some of those on the bus.

I’d be lying if I said this is a movie of sheer surprises in terms of plot. It does follow a certain formula, and you basically know what to expect. However, what Jeepers Creepers 2 delivers is pure top of the line craftsmanship in almost every pivotal sequence. This time around when The Creeper strikes, you get a jolt in every attack. Another strong aspect of Jeepers 2 is the building up of suspense throughout the movie. Writer/director Salva has, I feel, a much greater level of control over the way the story plays out and is executed, and buildup he lends to the film is most impressive, especially by horror movie standards.

If the movie has a flaw, it’s unquestionably some of the inane dialogue delivered by the fresh faced actors portraying the high school students. Not all of the dialogue is completely disposable, but there are some cases where such obvious lines are uttered and you find yourself scratching your head. One character in particular, team captain Scott (Eric Nenninger), is so intensely unlikable that you keep hoping The Creeper selects him for dinner at some point. However, these elements don’t detract from the overall entertaining quality of the movie at hand.

And as for The Creeper; if you thought he made your skin crawl—you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With the help of some superior visual effects, The Creeper, played by actor Jonathan Breck, has been given a larger than life feel to it. In the first movie, he spent much of the movie on the ground, but this time The Creeper gets to enjoy its hunting action from the sky, thanks to its humungous wings. One amazing sequence is one I won’t reveal too much about, except to say that it’s not that hard for Mr. Creeper to get a quick facial replacement.

Two other sequences late in the movie also deliver big time jolts. One includes The Creeper’s duel with Farmer Taggart’s weapon of revenge, in the form of a homemade harpoon. The second is a spectacular chase scene between The Creeper and a speeding pick up truck, which has a truly knockout finale.

In terms of comparing the first movie and the sequel, I’d have to say that Jeepers Creepers 2 is without a doubt the better of the two. The execution of the story is so well done, and every inch of the technical aspect has evolved to a level of near-excellence. I simply found myself having more of a fun time with this installment, which also happens to include a much more satisfying ending.

Video ****

Just as Jeepers Creepers 2 is something of an improvement over the original, the DVD release by MGM is also an improvement in its own right, especially in the video and audio department. Starting with the video transfer, where MGM has issued a most outstanding looking presentation. Presented in a glorious anamorphic form, the picture is of pure cinematic quality from first frame to last, helping in breathing extra power into the sets and spectacular effects. A tremendous job well done from the folks at MGM!

Audio ****

The 5.1 audio track is just about as fast and menacing as The Creeper monster itself. MGM’s dynamic soundtrack is pulse pounding in all areas concerned, be it key sequences of The Creeper making its numerous attacks, various jolts caused by individual scare moments, or the thunderous music score which is one of the best scores I’ve ever heard in a single horror movie in quite sometime. It all adds up to one superior sounding presentation that does nothing of heightening the suspense and horror even more.

Features ****

MGM has delivered a monster-sized DVD Special Edition package that’s sure to satisfy any hungry appetite. For starters, there are two commentary tracks; one with writer/director Victor Salva and various cast members, the second with Jonathan Breck (The Creeper) along with production illustrator Brad Parker, makeup effects artist Brian Penikas.

In addition, there are five featurettes, which cover the making of the movie, the design of the Creeper, composing the score, and digital effects, as well as a production diary. Lastly, there are deleted scenes/moments, two storyboard renditions of two un-filmed sequences, 2 photo galleries, and a trailer.

Summary:

Jeepers Creepers 2 is a rare cinematic entry—a horror movie sequel that much more satisfying altogether than its predecessor. Twice as stylish and intense as any scare fest can get, this makes a grand selection for good late night entertainment.