Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

Reviewed by Jeremy Melton

Unlike my brother Billy, I have always had a soft spot for the movie Jeepers Creepers. I am sure that context plays a huge role in this. I remember the first time I watched that movie, on the big screen. I knew absolutely nothing about it going into the thing. I think I had only seen the poster and had been told by my dad that he read that it was pretty good.

And it was pretty good. It was very good. Oh hell, I loved it. Sorry, little brother, I know you are disappointed.

I think, though, that experience must have colored my initial viewing of Jeepers Creepers 2. The first time I watched it, I did not think much of it. I can’t say that I didn’t like it… I just don’t think I cared about it one way or the other.

We at Tower Farm, though, firmly believe that all sequels deserve at least two viewings. My steadfast dedication to this rule resulted in the happy occurrence of re-watching this underrated nugget from 2003.

Obviously, we at Tower Farm are big fans of taglines. You know, the little one or two sentence teasers that are put on the front of the DVD box. They are usually not part of the actual title, just clever little space fillers. They are particularly useful when a movie does not have a good quotation from a respectable reviewer to put up instead.

Jeepers Creepers 2 has one of my favorites: “He can taste your fear”. The reason that I enjoy this tagline so much is that, even if you have only watched the original film once, you will be sure to remember that the monster in these movies does not “taste your fear”. In fact, he smells it. But, Jeepers Creepers 2: He Can Smell Your Fear just doesn’t have the same punch. Maybe someone was smart enough to realize that every teenage punk in America would have brought markers to the theaters and changed the tagline on the posters to “He can smell your farts” and decided to avert that catastrophe altogether by going with another of the five senses. So, “smell” became “taste” and who cares if that doesn’t make much sense for the movie.

Early in the movie, we are introduced to the various victims. Unlike other horror movies, where the writers are forced to pool their victims together over the course of several scenes, this movie lumps them all together on one bus. They are a high school sports team on their way from a game. They are excited to be riding on a school bus through the country together.

Now maybe swimming is a different sort of sport, but when I was a member of the Delta High School swim team, I don’t remember us chanting school rhymes in unison. My memories of these bus trips usually involve a group of us huddled together in the back of the bus huffing whipped cream cans. Or, I remember putting on head phones to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and not talk to anyone.

Come to think of it though, had we gelled like the kids on the team in this movie, maybe we would have been State Champs, too.

So, the monster uses a weapon to blow out a tire on this bus. At this point, something truly weird happens. The bus driver, after the weapon is pulled from the shredded tire, says, “what in the hell are we looking at?”. Well, that is what we hear, anyway. Her mouth is clearly saying, “what in the f*ck are we looking at?”.

I am telling you, it is this kind of attention to detail from the filmmakers that ensures a top notch experience for the Tower Farm boys!

While all of this is going on, there is another storyline taking place involving a couple of country bumpkins. The older one is played by Ray Wise, who is a poor man’s Peter Gallagher. And that is poverty level.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Ray Wise. But, this is just a spectacular case a miscasting. Casting Ray Wise as a farmer is like casting Brett Butler as a sexpot. You can put old Ray in overalls and stand him out in a field holding a shotgun, but he will still look like a rich executive that belongs in a Miata, zipping around his gated community (no offense, Dad).

The odd thing about these country scenes is that they seem to be taking place in the 1950s. But, clearly it is not the 1950s. I wonder if these scenes were filmed with the intention of them being back story and, at some point during the shoot, the director/writer decided to use these characters in a modern context and just changed the story.

It is not long before the real action starts.

The best character in the movie, the tough female bus driver, who earlier in the movie was seen teaching the young teen cheerleader girls how to smoke, is grabbed by the Creeper, who, in a flash, flies off with her. Oh, well, I guess I should feel lucky that this character was in the movie at all.

That death leads to the greatest scene in this film. All of the kids actually do what I think anyone in this situation would do. Instead of running wildly in separate directions, as I have so often seen in these movies, the kids all huddle together inside the bus. Most slasher movie villains would not be able to cope with this scenario. Really, no matter how tough Michael Meyers is, he would not fair particularly well trying to get inside of a bus to fight a dozen or so people at the same time.

So, what usually happens in this sort of setup is the killer does things to try to break up the group and send the victims running off and away from each other. Just watch Slumber Party Massacre 3… for the few scenes when all of the kids were huddled together in the living room, that killer was totally impotent. As soon as one girl decided she wanted to sleep in a bed upstairs, the killing was able to take to place.

Here, though, the Creeper just starts climbing all over the bus, scaring the teens inside. Soon, he is upside-down, looking through the big back window of the bus. He is sniffing (because he smells their farts. I mean, fears) and making little noises. The kids are looking at him, petrified. Then, our fiend smiles and points at someone inside the bus.

It is truly a wonderful moment. One that even my wife, who hates these movies (I know, it is embarrassing) really enjoyed.

Oh, then the Creeper does a very Freddy sort of thing and licks the glass.

A few moments later Minxie (the best name for a character in a movie ever), the pretty cheerleader, passes out. All of the kids focus on her while she is down and they all seem to momentarily forget about the slime-man with wings skulking about outside.

While she is out, Minxie dreams of being in a wheat field. Justin Long makes a weird reappearance in the series (he played the victim at the end of the first entry), standing out there with her in the field. He tells her, “Every twenty third spring for twenty three days it gets to eat”. Minxie asks, “Eat what?”. She does not get a reply, so she repeats herself. But this time, “eat what?” comes out like “Eep whud?”, making me think that Nicki Aycox was probably drunk on set.

I’ll bet you can guess what Justin’s next line was.

So the monster starts picking kids off by grabbing them while they are in the bus. Finally, he rips one guy’s head off, and the kids finally decide to run for it. It is surprising again, though, because they all run in a group together. I think that is a little more realistic than what I am used to seeing.

Later, country Ray Wise and his kid show up with some sort of contraption that they built on the farm. It looks like a huge 1950s ray gun and it is mounted to their pickup. It shoots out some sort of hook that they use to catch the Creeper. Ray later refers to it as “… a big, homemade harpoon”.

Honestly, you just don’t get this kind of nonsense in any other type of movie. Can you imagine Tom Cruise showing up with a contraption like this? I mean in a movie. Tom Cruise probably has something like this he has been working on for the Scientologists to catch aliens.

There is no need to go on from here. They fight. The movie leaves an opening for a part 3. It is awesome.

I cannot believe I did not love this movie the first time I watched it.

A solid 3 and a half fingers. Maybe even four.



  1. No offense taken, son. I'm proud that I can afford to live in a gated community, and there's a good reason why your mother and I don't have your name on our guest list.

    Your loving Dad, Ralph Merrye.