Jeepers Creepers 2

Starring: Ray Wise and Luke Edwards
Pathé Distribution
RRP: £15.99

Certificate: 15
Available now

When a small boy is snatched from the cornfield on a farm by a hideous humanoid winged creature, his father listens to the police frequencies hoping for a clue as to where the creature has gone. A school bus carrying teenagers home after a sporting event is disabled and then attacked by the Creeper. Swooping down, it takes the teachers in the blink of an eye, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. When the Creeper returns it appears to select particular victims, causing selfish conflict within the bus. One girl suffers precognitive visions in which a boy (the main character from the first film) warns her. He tells her that the creature returns every 23 years for 23 days, to eat (body parts being the mouth-watering menu). As this is day 23, the trick becomes to survive until morning. However, the missing boy's father chooses that moment to turn up with his truck-mounted harpoon gun fashioned from a post-puncher, and take the fight to the Creeper...

In any suspense thriller, particularly horror, the unknown or unseen is significantly more daunting than something which is evident from the outset. Your individual imagination automatically rises the chill factor to your own level; whatever your subconscious finds frightening, which is why a good book can seldom if ever be realised as effectively on film. Once you know what the foe is, its power is considerably diminished. Writer and director of both films, Victor Salva obviously realised this when making the original. For at least half of the film the viewing audience had no idea who or what the perpetrator was. In the early scenes it appeared to be human, seen dumping a body down a pipe and driving a down and dirty truck. Although this is essentially a good film well made, it fails to reach the heights of its predecessor.

In any sequel which falls short of the original, I can't help but find references to other projects, although in most cases they're probably entirely coincidental. The farmer has an A-Team moment when he fashions his post puncher weapon; the Creeper has Batman-type utility belt weapons; and there's the almost obligatory teens in peril situation. However, I did like the dream sequences utilising the key character from Jeepers 1, it was a fine way of paying tribute to what the young actor achieved in creating this new horror franchise.

In one of the handful of mini documentaries on this disc Victor Salva reveals that he purposefully created the 23 days every 23 years scenario so that a sequel could not be made without setting it in the past or future. When he was approached by Francis Ford Coppola with a large paycheque... I mean, a request for a continuation, Salva realised they intended to set it within the same 23 days. I do enjoy watching some making-of documentaries and commentaries, particularly when the writer has also directed the piece, which is probably why I'm such a big admirer of John Carpenter's work. Here Salva seems somewhat subdued, a far cry from the almost overwhelming bubbling-over of enthusiasm on the first DVD. There it is obvious he knew he had cleverly managed to avoid all the usual pitfall clichés and stereotypes of modern horror flicks.

It might sound like I'm down on Jeepers Creepers 2; you couldn't be more wrong, because this film succeeds despite the points I have already raised. The first film created something new, mysterious and exciting, with the timing for shocks and suspense spot on. This is a more conventional format, which means that much more invention is required for the Creeper to keep a prospective follow-up new and refreshing. In other words, let's put the mystery back in.

Ty Power

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