“This is Andy Buck. Can anybody hear me? We’re stuck in a broken down school bus out on East 9 and we are in serious trouble.”
Jeepers Creepers 2
By David Mumpower
November 18, 2003
Andy, I’ve got bad news for you. Your situation is even more precarious than you realize as you also happened to be simultaneously trapped in an execrable movie…and you’re not even a lead in it
The film is Jeepers Creepers 2 and I want to admit my bias upfront here. I hated the first film the same way that men hate wearing condoms. It’s not impossible or even that unusual for me to like some of the films in a franchise while disliking others, but in the particular case of Jeepers Creepers, my loathing is so significant that I feel it bears noting going in. Here’s my review of that one if you’re interested in seeing the degree of bias.
Any hopes I might have harbored about being able to overcome my distaste of the original were based upon the fact that I love Nicki Aycox, ostensibly the lead actress here, from her exceptional work on the television show Ed. The reality that smacked me in the face upon my viewing of Jeepers Creepers 2 is that she is only one of several relative unknowns who get equal face time in this instantly forgettable mistake of a movie. Since the concept is still wildly off-putting to me and the mythology isn’t even consistent, my visceral reaction prior to the screening turned out to be valid. 2003 has already been a bad year for slasher flicks as garbage like Darkness Falls, Final Destination 2, and Wrong Turn has been the rule and yet Jeepers Creepers 2 still manages to throw under two of those. Hell, if there are enough horror flicks released in coming months, Final Destination might even wind up being passed off as the upper tier of the genre this year. And I hated Final Destination 2.
The sequel is placed within the same 23 day timeline as the original. The evil Creeper, a combination gargoyle/Creature from the Black Lagoon guy in a rubber suit, shows up every 23 years to harvest humans for their organs. He has 23 days to get as many suitable teenagers kidnapped and flayed before he has to go back into hibernation. The Creeper effectively nominates his own sort of National Honor Society of high school students, though he has made the unusual decision to make selections predicated upon odor. Olfactory-based decision making might seem arbitrary but we have to allow movie mass murderers their quirks.
At the same time the Creeper is stealing the face of television’s Warren Cheswick, a bus full of football players, coaches, equipment managers and cheerleaders is making its way back home after a victory. The bad guy’s sniffer detects multiple potential organ donors among this crew, so he breaks out the trusty Villain’s Shurikens in order to spike the tires and stop the bus.
The coaching staff is certain that the first tire explosion is just bad luck but when a second tire busts and they find shrapnel in it, reality sets in. Of course, adults are never supposed to be the focus of slasher flicks, so it’s easy to pick out which people are going to die first in this game of Ten Little Indians.
Once the bus breaks down for good and the kids are stranded without adult supervision, the movie degrades into a Lord of the Flies rip-off where everyone is auditioning for the role of Piggy. The kids all see their survival instincts kick in, so they begin to turn on each another. There’s one plucky lass who fights this urge, and tries to talk the macho football players into a “no I in team” strategy, but it goes over about as well as preaching pre-marital abstinence at a porno shoot.
The usual sorts of exaggerated killing sequences take over from there, as this film in no way, shape or form intends to offer plot development. Other than a couple of dream scenes involving Aycox’s character, Minxie (yes, Minxie is her name…accept it and move on), the killings and the kids turning against each make up the entirety of the last two acts of the movie. If nothing else, Jeepers Creepers 2 gets a gold star for delivering on exactly what it promises, a C-grade horror character disemboweling everyone in sight. If that’s your cup, this one might be passable. For me, the aptly titled horror flick instead qualifies for the Bad Movie Hall of Fame.
A large portion of my annoyance stems from the fact that all of the teen characters in this movie are fresh from the cookie cutter. If you asked me to pick Izzy, Bucky or Rhonda out of a police line-up, my only saving grace would be that Rhonda has breasts. The other two would be a complete crapshoot. I’m pretty sure Bucky is the whiny one who appears to be doing his best Paul Reiser-in-Aliens impression the body of the film, but for the life of me, I can’t decide if Izzy is the African-American kid tired of all the underlying racism, or the sexually ambiguous equipment manager. And I’ve just gone into more depth with character development than the movie does.
The most amusingly flawed character, though, is definitely Scott, the homophobic, racist jock. Imagine if you will the Ted McGinley character from Revenge of the Nerds being placed in the middle of a slasher flick. That’s pretty much all you need to know about him and also all the thought given to the development of the character. It’s obvious which sorts of folks picked on director Victor Salva when he was a teen. Vic (I can call you Vic, right?), I have but one personal request here. Please stop projecting. You’re 45-years-old. Let whatever bad things happened to you in high school go.
The only character who gets even a second nod is Jack Taggart (Ray Wise), the angry father who sees his son abducted in the first scene. The rest of the movie occasionally intertwines Jack’s pursuit of the monster with its pursuit of the kids. The theory here is to build up the tension between them in order to make the final conflict dramatic and Ray Wise certainly offers a brave effort in a losing fight. When Man and Beast do battle though, there is no feeling of urgency, accomplishment or mystery. Knowing the genre’s habits, there is no way for the villain to be permanently whacked and knowing the ending of the first film, it’s unlikely that the sequel may offer up the same surprise twist. We are left with a meaningless progression to an empty conclusion followed by a quick exit out of the theater. It’s only the last event that holds any amount of satisfaction.
If you like to see teenagers killed by having various parts of their body plucked right out of their bodies, this movie is a satisfactory choice. though I would maintain that watching a couple of hours of surgery on the Discovery Channel would be equally satisfying. If you want anything resembling plot, character development, wit, humor, drama or intrigue, chewing a stick of bubble gum offers the same amount of satisfaction as a viewing of Jeepers Creepers 2.