(2003)2Jeremy WheelerYes, the Creeper (Jonathan Breck) is back in Victor Salva's big monster movie blowout, Jeepers Creepers 2. Gone is any mention of the shadowy winged-beast only appearing whenever that terrible song is sung (used to extreme cheesy effect in the first film), though the pseudo-psychic slant still makes a return in this strange follow-up -- a modern update of Lifeboat for monster movie fanatics. If the first film's ending annoyed people by betraying it's atmospheric and intense early intentions, then they've got a big surprise ahead of them with this flick....This is wall-to-wall creature action on display. It's Monster Movie 101 in Salva's land, and everything from Jaws to Rob Bottin's grotesque Thing creations are on the chopping block for the director to hang his own hat on. What works here is the simplicity of the story -- a bus load of kids get trapped in the country with an ancient flying beast outside preying on them who only gets to eat for 23 days every 23 years, this being the last day. With this premise, Jeepers Creepers 2 not only promises a high body count, but also gives room for a truly outrageous performance from Ray Wise as the vengeance-filled father hot on the trail of the beast. His Ahab-like tough guy is a welcome distraction from the bickering, idiotic teens in the bus, of which there are many (half of whom end up running away with no mention of them afterwards).
Though it succeeds mostly at being a jam-packed thrill ride, the sequel does take a few missteps along the way. By making the Creeper the main focus of the flick, you let the audience know right off the bat what kind of fun they're in for -- lots of screamin', lots of killin', and a little more humor added in to beef up the quirky likeability of the creature (something most horror sequels take pleasure in being culprits of). Sadly, they're aren't too many gratuitous kills to be had, nor does the Creeper ever fully grow into the horror icon the filmmakers might've been shooting for with this installment -- there are moments that come off straight-up cartoon-like, while others are nothing more than gross-out monster clichés or downright campy. That said, this is a monster movie, pure and simple. There's nothing much else to it. They could've handled the whole psychic angle much better this time and yes, there are more than a few bare-chested boys in the film (which, given Salva's shady past, comes off suspiciously gratuitous), but overall, it's a decent and mindless monster movie that's well scored, directed, and written to be nothing more than just that.