23 July 2009

JEEPERS CREEPERS II REVISTED

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I will start this review off by saying I really liked writer/director Victor Salva’s Jeepers Creepers II as much, if not more, than the first film despite the flaws and storyline holes. One can always say that there is nothing new under the sun and certainly regarding the horror film genre everything has been done before and if by chance something original crops up it soon will be duplicated to death. Whenever I watch a horror film I am well aware that what I am about to see will no doubt be derived from tested formulas that have come before. In this regard that is why I enjoyed this sequel more than the first film, because of the clichés it wisely relied upon. The most apparent cliché would be having more teenagers to hunt down than the first film did ergo more dead bodies. The first film did great for the first part of the movie, with siblings Trisha and Darry being pursued through the back roads of Alabama by the satanic, supernatural serial killer dubbed the Creeper. The film though really starts to lag towards the end and the sequence in the police station was simply absurd filler. Jeepers Creepers II does not fall into this trap since we have a bus load of teenagers with personality issues to keep the Creeper busy.
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Another well used, to a degree, horror film formula here is using the bus to create a sense of claustrophobia. Some of the best horror movies are the ones that exploit a closed in, trapped situation where the potential victims not have to contend with the evil outside but with other and themselves as well. Alien, The Thing, Dawn of Dead and any number of cheesy haunted mansions have employed this theme to effective or dreadful effect too many times to calculate with the unaided human mind. If you are not a fan of derivative horror (as though there were any other kind as I have tried to argue already) then this film will not do much for you. I am and I have enjoyed each time I have watched it. The film, as well as the first Jeepers Creepers, gets hit hard in reviews online even from some sites I usually align myself. I am not sure what all the hostility is about. Maybe the name of Francis Ford Copplola and his Zeotrope Studios makes everyone have extremely high expectations. Maybe director Victor Salva’s criminal record, that includes prison time, for sex crimes against a minor taint his work. These things can affect the way one sees a film and can cause them to read much more into the movie than may really be there. Some people just can’t watch a Woody Allen any more but I am still a devoted fan. I just would not have either Salva or Allen babysit for me is all.
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Jeepers Creepers II takes up on the very next day where the last film left off. It is now day 23, the last day of the Creeper’s feeding cycle he performs every 23 years. Hardworking farmer Jack Taggart (Ray Wise) and his son Jack, Jr. are terrified and devastated when little Billy is swept away by one of the scarecrows. A strange knife like weapon is found in the area of the corn field where Billy vanished. Jack sits and bids his time by the police scanner. Far away on Kassel County’s Highway 9 a yellow school bus loaded with a group of victorious and pumped up basketball (maybe football, not sure) players are returning from a game. There is tension amongst the players that stem from both team rivalry and racism. The cheerleaders, coaches and crew are along for the trip as well. The bus gets a flat tire and the source is a strange, flesh decorated throwing star. A girl is soon having psychic dreams that connects her with the dead Darry (Justin Long) from the first film. She is jolted awake when the bus receives yet another flat tire from another demonic looking throwing star. The film accelerates for a time and all the adults are picked off quickly, leaving the competitive and hot headed teens to sort out the serious situation without recourse to grown up wisdom. They soon find themselves trapped inside the bus as the Creeper peers in through the window, sniffing for the types of fears that tell him whose body parts will serve as meals later. Of course we know by know that the Creeper eats selected body parts to replace his own and is probably immortal.
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Jack Taggart finally arrives on the scene, after some carnage has eliminated a few kids, with a homemade harpoon mounted on the back of his truck and is soon impaling the Creeper who fights back much the way a marlin might struggle with a fisherman’s hook. In fact he is like Captain Ahab seeking Moby Dick in his maniacal obsession to destroy the Creeper and avenge Billy’s death. Despite negative reviews I feel the action at this point is decent and the Creeper is brought down in bits by the last part of the film. Of course the thing cannot really die and at the film’s conclusion he appears to go into some sort of dormant state and the ending, with Jack Taggart standing vigil over the now desiccated carcass of the Creeper, is a perfect set up for a Jeepers Creepers III, which I understand will be released way off in 2011. Jeepers Creepers III is supposed to focus on a fully grown and established Patricia (Darry’s sister in part 0ne) twenty three years later and her concerns that her son will become a target for the Creeper’s insatiable appetite. Like the first film there is certainly a need to suspend disbelief. And while we know what the Creepers behaviors and powers are we still have no idea who he is and where he comes from. Maybe this is not necessary really and if a story was contrived to explain all this it would have to be really good. Jonathan Breck reprises his role as the Creeper and over all the Creeper is still one of the scarier serial characters I have run across in a while. Definitely one for horror fans or even action fans who do not take these types of films too seriously. I regret that part three will not appear until eight years after two but I will certainly check it out when it is finally out.
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