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John’s Horror Corner: Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), giving the franchise a supercharged upgrade in budget, horror action, and just plain cheeky “Florida demon” fun.

February 17, 2023

MY CALL: This is like comparing Fast Five (2011) to The Fast and the Furious (2001). It’s bigger and better and more fun and more exciting and the story builds… but we’ll never forget the solid foundation and the magic of its more humble progenitor. MORE MOVIES LIKE Jeepers Creepers 2: Not 100% necessary, but I’d recommend seeing Jeepers Creepers (2001) before seeing this sequel. Then you might move on to Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017), which actually takes place between the events of parts 1 and 2. But I’d recommend a hard pass on Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022). And this may sound way out of left field, but “normal people vs. The Creeper” in these movies feels a lot like Dutch and his boys versus the Predator (1987).

In part 1, we learned that The Creeper is a creature of unknown origin that emerges every 23rd Spring to eat people for 23 days… and once it finds a scent it fancies, it will stop at nothing to devour it! This sequel transpires on days 22 and 23 of the infernal feast, just days after the events of Jeepers Creepers (2001).

When a traveling basketball team’s bus blows a flat, they find themselves stranded like a buffet on The Creeper’s final binge nights. The same day a farmer (Ray Wise; Digging Up the Marrow, ChilleramaThe Rift) loses his son to The Creeper and dedicates his time on fabricating weapons to hunt the monster that took his youngest son. While presented with a completely straight face, this gets conceptually bonkers since this farmer manages to mount a fully operational harpoon gun (fashioned from his posthole puncher!) to the bed of his truck in a matter of hours before hitting the road to hunt The Creeper like Captain Ahab seeking the White Whale.

The Creeper’s game is upped in this sequel. The action is much more dynamic, with more striking visual execution. I love when the coach (Thom Gossom Jr.) gets snatched into the air while laying road flares. Then the assistant coach (Tom Tarantini; Prom Night, Jeepers Creepers) and the bus driver (Diane Delano; The Wicker Man) get snatched. The shots are all meant to be like abruptly funny jumpscares, and this just works. It’s fun and feisty. And now the team of kids are left to their own devices.

Meanwhile the writing is surprisingly decent for a horror sequel. The teen drama might make it more entertaining. For whatever reason, part 1 and this sequel each have a different psychic character (Nicki Aycox; Joy Ride 2, Perfect Stranger) who inherently understands the creature’s motive and its basic rules. Frankly, I’d like more answers about this Florida demon. Did a demon possess a Florida man, maybe when he was on a bath salts bender? Or do demons just fancy rural Florida for their holiday escapes? And why did a random high schooler on a bus suddenly start experiencing psychic premonitions? Is she somehow connected with the monster? Did The Creeper eat one of her ancestors? Is God trying to protect her from this infernal beast? So many questions!

Having taken in a scent that it must have, The Creeper terrorizes the teenagers on the bus. The horror action is pretty solid, with the Creeper taking a pole through the eye socket and skull. That said, the gore is maybe better in this sequel. But like part 1, the film relies less on gore and more on its monstrous villain and action. I love how much high-speed flying and swooping and diving The Creeper does in this movie. I’m reminded a bit the flying/chase scene from Underworld: Evolution (2006). The creature effects in flight are great! The whole “Farmer versus Creeper” thing is also a blast! They’re harpooning back and forth… it’s a great battle actually. The effects and stunts when things get hot are excellent.

The budget is definitely better, and so are most aspects of this sequel. The Creeper’s wings look great. He eats a kid’s head, rips off its own heavily damaged head, and then the kid’s head is sort of regurgitated and used to replace its own head. The CGI is definitely wonky by today’s standards, but it’s a neat scene nonetheless. And now we have some inkling into the purpose behind its “skull claw facehugger batwing” thing on its head. Still we never learn what the heck that is, or why that is, or how that came to be.

This franchise treats its monster like a big bad Marvel villain. He is presented out in the open, well-lit and in full form, brandishing his claws and wings. He leaps impossibly high into the air in but a blink and flies away fast into the sun with his victim screaming in tow. And like a good villain in the spotlight, The Creeper enjoys attention and showing his cheeky personality.

Building the mythology of The Creeper—which is steeped in mystery even by the end of part 1—we learn that some of the 300 bodies in its subterranean “mannequinized corpse lair” (which Darry saw in part 1) had wooden false teeth, meaning that some victims were killed upwards of 200 years ago. He also wields a magical knife with Biblical illustrations carved into the ivory hilt (not in part 1). I feel like we’re meant to assume he is a fallen angel or actual ‘named’ demon. But if we were to learn anything, this movie makes it abundantly clear that The Creeper is pretty much unkillable. This movie ends 23 years later, with the farmer waiting for the next awakening—and no, sadly neither Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017) nor Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (2022) will pick up from this point.

I really enjoyed Jeepers Creepers (2001) and it holds up rather well for me. But this sequel is probably even more fun and definitely more readily rewatchable than part 1. This movie amps up the horror action and does it really well. This was a blast.

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