He can taste your fear.
In 2001, writer/director Victor Salva (Powder) garnered a lot of buzz for his horror film Jeepers Creepers. If you were to believe the reviews and early test screenings, this was to be the second coming of the horror movie—even Clive Barker sang its praises. While it certainly didn't end up being a smash hit, the low-budget film nonetheless brought in respectable box office numbers, thus paving the way for the inevitable sequel. Enter Jeepers Creepers 2, helmed once again by Salva and featuring everyone's favorite face sniffing, teenager eating, wing expanding demon, The Creeper. Jeepers Creepers 2 is now on DVD in a new "special edition" care of MGM Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
"Every 23 years,
That phrase, in theory, is the whole idea behind director Victor Salva's Jeepers Creepers 2. In the first film, audiences were introduced to The Creeper (Jonathan Breck), a gargoyle-like hunter who feeds on the body parts of human beings. In Jeepers Creepers 2, the monster's feeding frenzy buffet of human body parts is coming to an end. As day 22 comes to a close, the Creeper snatches the son of Taggart (Ray Wise, Robocop), a local farmer who squints his eyes a lot to show he's really worried about his boy. The film then cuts to a group of championship basketball players, their coaches, and a few girlfriends as they're heading home from a winning game. Suddenly the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, which is officially the worst place to have a breakdown. After inspecting the blown tire the adults come to the conclusion that this is no normal breakdown, especially after finding a sharp spinning weapon made out of human bone, teeth, and skin lodged in the rubber tire. Once the coaches and bus driver are dispatched, it's up to the kids on the bus to survive a night with the dreaded Creeper. As if that weren't enough, they also have to contend with each other's prejudices and attitudes, including hotheaded Scotty (Eric Nenninger, Malcolm in the Middle), the sexually ambiguous Izzy (newcomer Travis Schiffner), and Minxie (Nicki Aycox, Slap Her…She's French), a girl who is having dreams and visions about the Creeper. As the Creeper's hunt comes to a close, one thing is for sure: The Creeper's about to descend on a smorgasbord of teen meat that's about to fight back for their lives…and quite possibly their very souls! (Cue dramatic, swelling music…)
I had very low expectations going into Jeepers Creepers 2, and yet I was still surprised at how much I liked it. At the very least, I anticipated enjoying it mildly and came out with a smile on my face. No, Jeepers Creepers 2 isn't the cinematic equivalent of the Mona Lisa, but it is a fun, sometimes scary, often gory thrill ride.
The original Jeepers Creepers was both a great scare show and a disappointing let down. The last half couldn't match the suspense Salva generated during the introduction of the main characters and The Creeper. Though multiple viewings have given me a new appreciated for the film, it's still a flawed horror movie. So imagine how happy I was to find Jeepers Creepers 2 an enjoyable, goofy little action/horror flick. Here is a movie that makes no bones about what it is—a horror sequel that knows its place in line. The budget for Salva's follow-up isn't big, yet he gets the most bang for his buck out of tossing around buses, cars, kids, and demons. I kept an eye out for the kitchen sink, but to no avail. While the film starts out somewhat slowly, it builds into a fascinating pinball game where the characters (and various inanimate objects) are thrust from one end of the screen to the other in an orgy of gore, grizzle, and screams. It's enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most seasoned horror movie fan.
Now wait just a minute. I'm not saying that Jeepers Creepers 2 is the Second Coming, or even the sixty fifth going. There are some problems with the screenplay, most notably the kids being as interchangeable as those two Olsen twins. Yet for what it is—and what it's trying to be—Jeepers Creepers 2 works wonderfully. In one gruesomely funny scene, the body of a decapitated student fights futilely as the Creeper uses the boy's noggin for a surgical procedure that still grosses me out just thinking about it. That's the mark of a good horror movie—if I feel queasy, it's a sure-fire winner.
Jonathan Breck (who in real life looks like a really happy marine) plays the Creeper with as much lip smacking relish as Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger. Fitting, since The Creeper is one of the only memorable horror movie characters from the last decade or so. With his white Bon Jovi hair and a face that only a mother could love (if that particular mother was Jabba the Hutt), The Creeper makes a great addition to such classic modern monsters as Michael Myers, Pinhead, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and the ever lovable Leatherface (little known fact: he's an avid golfer). Making up for the bland teens is Ray Wise as a local farmer whose boy is snatched by The Creeper. My most vivid memories of Wise are from Robocop as Leon Nash, one of Clarence Boddicker's henchmen. It's nice to see Wise playing the good guy for once, even if I don't get to see him shoot holes in Peter Weller's torso.
Salva directs with a flair for pacing and action. While there were moments that seemed to border on gay porn (half-naked men peeing next to each other in a horror film seemed slightly out of place), overall it's a tightly paced story with little room for boredom. Say what you will, one thing's for sure: Jeepers Creepers 2 is the perfect length and never overstays its welcome. Will there be a Jeepers Creepers 3? Considering how much I enjoyed this movie, I wouldn't complain too loudly if that ends up being the case.
Jeepers Creepers 2 is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Overall, this is an excellent looking print of the film. MGM has made sure that the transfer is clear of any major defects, including dirt, grain, and edge enhancement. The colors (lots of yellows and gold) and black levels, including the night scenes, are well rendered and solid. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find any true flaws in this image. Jeepers Creepers 2 may have been a second rate sequel for some, but there's no arguing that this transfer is top notch.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Whoa, Nelly! Jeepers Creepers 2 sports a fantastic surround sound experience. Both the front and rear speakers receive a hefty workout with lots of directional effects throughout the length of the film. There are many moments when sound is a factor for the scares, and Jeepers Creepers 2's 5.1 mix takes full advantage of them. A thoroughly great mix. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack in French and Spanish, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
MGM did a nice job with the first Jeepers Creepers DVD and fans won't be disappointed with their work on this special edition of Jeepers Creepers 2. First up are two commentary tracks. The first includes director Salva as well as cast members Eric Nenninger, Josh Hammond, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Marieh Delfino, Garikayi Mutambirwa, and Shaun Flemming. The second commentary features actor Jonathan Breck (The Creeper), storyboard artist Brad Parker, and makeup man Brian Penikas. It's probably obvious which track is more fun: the first featuring the cast and director is chatty, goofy, and filled with anecdotes about the shoot and story. Salva himself tosses off a lot of information about the film's conception and production, while the kids just seem to be having a blast recording the track. The second commentary is far more technical; Breck and crew discuss the creature effects more often than not, though if you're interested in that sort of thing this track will most certainly be worth your time.
"Lights, Action, Creeper: The Making of Jeepers Creepers 2" is a nearly 40-minute long making-of documentary. The feature has been broken up into four separate parts: "Lights, Camera, Creeper," "Creeper Creation," "Creeper Composer," and "Digital Effects." Salva guides us through the film's creation (the story originally focused on one of the first film's surviving characters), how the effects were achieved, the music scoring, and the casting (Salva enjoys casting unknowns so he can give struggling actors "a break"). "A Day in Hell" is a video-diary like feature that plants the viewer smack dab in the middle of the film's shoot. For those who've always wanted to know what it's like to be right alongside the actors and director as they're shooting, this may be the next best thing.
Next up are nearly 19-minutes of deleted scenes from the film. Unlike most cut sequences, these are presented in anamorphic widescreen and look just as good as the final film's transfer. Some of the scenes are good, some of them not so good—you'll have to be the judge of that. "Storyboard Reconstructions" is a six-minute that includes two scenes ("The Creeper's Lair" and "Ventriloquist Creeper") that never ended up on screen but are available here in a storyboard format.
Finally there are two still galleries of publicity and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as the film's theatrical trailer, presented in anamorphic widescreen.
I went in with low expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. Jeepers Creepers 2 is a fun slasher throwback (bus full of kids + monster = carnage) that is rarely seen these days. MGM's work on this disc is very good—if you were a fan of the film, you'll definitely want to pick up this disc.
Jeepers Creepers 2 is free to feed!
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track by Director/Writer Victor Salva and Actors Eric Nenninger, Josh Hammond, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Marieh Delfino, Garikayi Mutambirwa, and Shaun Flemming
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