Bare chests and man-flesh

Second installment in Creeper series is by-the-numbers gore

SHHHH … HE’S SLEEPING<br>The Creeper lies in wait to fashion his own bloody-limbed scarecrow

The Creeper lies in wait to fashion his own bloody-limbed scarecrow

Jeepers Creepers 2 Starring Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck and Travis Schiffner. Written and directed by Victor Salva. Rated R.
Rated 2.0

Convicted pederast Victor Salva serves up another documentation of his post-prison expurgation, in which a gargoyle with a taste for the man-flesh preys on a stranded busload of testosterone-drunk jocks. If you’ve seen the first entry, Jeepers Creepers, you know the routine: Every 23rd spring, some winged homunculus reawakens to binge-feed for 23 days, picking out random choice bits from whatever pretty boy he comes across, reapplying that bit to whatever extremity or organ happens to be falling off of his decaying body.

Granted, Salva is a gifted director, or at least he thinks he is (Francis Coppola apparently does too—he executive-produced both entries). The first third of the flick has a certain nostalgic beauty to it, with golden-hued cornfields and chirping crickets corrupted by the shadow of evil. After sniping a farm boy from the field, the Creeper turns his attention to the aforementioned bus, blowing out a couple of tires to strand the teens on a desolate strand of rural asphalt, giving Salva an opportunity to glom with his camera over the buff, bare-chested cast as they flex in annoyance at their situation. At one point he even offers them up in repose, laid out like a sushi bar on the roof of the idle bus.

However, as night falls and the action is contained to the tropes of bunker horror, the proceedings become more and more familiar. The first three-quarters are moderately entertaining, but the film loses it in the final stretch. While the first film offered up a study in restraint, here the proceedings decay into self-parody. Looking like a ratty refugee from a spaghetti western spun on Ecstasy, the Creeper leers lasciviously through the windows, winking at the boys and licking the glass. Any internal logic is thrown out the regenerating bus window, continuity disregarded; characters disappear without explanation. The final climatic chase garners laughs rather than suspense—and then there’s the coda. Oh, boy.

Personally, I enjoyed the first entry. It did sort of implode toward the end (less so than this one), but as far as the final image I had no problems. Unlike here. I’m all about pervs finding a catharsis for their inner demons, but here it is blatantly obvious that Salva views his creation as personification of his baser instincts. To have the closing image of the film presenting that representation crucified Christ-like is creepier than I suspect Salva intended.