Thursday, August 9, 2012

#724. Jeepers Creepers II (2003)

Directed By: Victor Salva

Starring: Jonathan Breck, Ray Wise, Nicki Aycox

Tag line: "Every 23rd Spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat. Welcome to day 23"

Trivia: On the set, Victor Salva referred to the school bus as the "Creepers Lunch Box"

Jeepers Creepers II not only continues the story from Jeepers Creepers (picking up a few days after the events of that film), it carries it in a couple of new directions.

Following an opening scene in which a young boy named Johnny (Shaun Fleming) is abducted by the Creeper, an ancient winged creature that returns to life every 23 years, then feeds for exactly 23 days, we join a busload of High School basketball players, on their way home from a championship game. Suddenly, one of the bus’s tires blows out, and the driver (Diane Delano) discovers it was hit by a weapon of some sort, made entirely of bones. After a short delay, the bus continues on its journey, only to lose a second tire, leaving it stranded on a back road in the middle of nowhere. And when the driver, as well as the team’s two coaches (Thom Gossam Jr. and Tom Tarantini), mysteriously disappear, the teens panic, locking themselves inside the vehicle. It isn’t until the Creeper returns for another “visit” that they begin to grasp the severity of their situation, and realize they have little choice but to make a run for it.

The beginning sequence, in which Johnny is kidnapped by the Creeper from right under the noses of his father (Ray Wise) and older brother (Luke Edwards), is strong, yet pales in comparison to the film’s best scene, where the driver and coaches meet their doom. With another tire gone and no spare to fix it, one of the coaches starts setting flares along the road, while the other gets the kids off the bus, trying to calm them down. As he does so, we see the Creeper snatch up the first coach in the background. Then, once the driver goes looking for him, she’s taken in much the same way, leaving the remaining coach to rush everyone back onto the bus. He himself nearly makes it on as well, but at the last minute, something grabs him, dragging him kicking and screaming into the night. The effects are impressive, but more than that, this sequence sets a desperate tone the movie will adhere to from there on out, as the teens, with no authority figures left to watch over them, start fighting amongst themselves.

I liked how Jeepers Creepers II switched back and forth between the family from the opening (the father, played so well by Ray Wise, decides to track down his son’s killer) and the stranded bus. Eventually, these two stories will merge, increasing the film’s tension while also offering a number of exciting thrills, as the characters team up against what seems to be an invincible foe.

Jeepers Creepers was an excellent horror movie, and unlike many sequels, Jeepers Creepers II is every bit as good.

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