Jeepers Creepers 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Victor Salva
2003, 104 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on June 14th, 2016
Ray Wise as Jack Taggart
Jonathan Breck as The Creeper
Garikayi Mutambirwa as Double D
Eric Nenninger as Scotty
Nicki Aycox as Minxie
Travis Schiffner as Izzy
Lena Cardwell as Chelsea
Billy Aaron Brown as Bucky
Maria Delfino as Rhonda
Every twenty-three years, for twenty-three days--it gets to eat. Welcome to Day 23.
The high school basketball team has just won the State championship and is on their way home to celebrate, when their school bus suffers a flat tire. The driver pulls a weird object that is possibly a weapon from the wheel and shows it to the coaches. All agree it is best to keep moving, albeit slowly, to the next town rather than wait on the side of the road in the dark. A short time later, a second flat leaves the vehicle permanently stopped. Closer inspection reveals a similar device, and it is quickly apparent that they are not alone. The Creeper has put this bus out of commission and is now leisurely stalking its prey, picking the athletes off one by one. Their only hope for survival is Jack Taggart, a farmer who has recently lost his youngest son to the monster and is on a personal crusade for vengeance. Will Jack make it to the bus in time and even if he does, is he capable of stopping the beast?
Writer/ director Victor Salva (Clownhouse) is back in the driver’s seat with this exciting follow-up to his contemporary classic Jeepers Creepers (2001). He knows the story he is telling and manages to pull off an impressive feat of hiding his protagonist in a crowd of panicked teens. The obvious adult chaperones are not exactly up for the task and the early contender among the players turns out to be a racist, homophobic prick. Elsewhere on the bus, a cheerleader named Minxie has a dream in which a familiar boy comes to warn her and offer insight into the situation. Her classmates are too busy fighting amongst themselves to listen until the danger is not only very real, but intent upon opening the bus like a tin can stuffed with yummy treats. Who among them will rise to the challenge of leading the others to safety, and how can someone escape The Creeper once it sets its sights on you?
Jeepers Creepers 2 comes very close to being the sequel it needs to be. Following the standard genre rules; there are more dead bodies, bigger set-pieces and even more room for the villain to spread its wings and terrorize audiences. There are several elaborate stunts; this time involving cars, trucks and buses, and also more gruesome kills that show what the monster is capable of. What’s missing this time around are the suspense and character development that made the first picture work so well. The sequel begins strongly with a quiet sequence in a cornfield, but once The Creeper shatters that tranquil moment, the story barely slows down to introduce a dozen athletes on a lonesome road before there is a fresh wave of attacks. Salva successfully ups the action, but loses points for his characters’ endless bickering. A lot of time is spent stuck in the bus, but it is all the more unpleasant when listening to potential victims complaining ad nauseam.
The most interesting person in the film is the farmer Jack Taggart, brilliantly played by the always-welcome Ray Wise (Twin Peaks). He is a damaged character straight out of the pages of Melville, complete with a giant harpoon. His entire focus is getting back what he lost and punishing whatever is responsible. By the time Jack learns of a busload of stranded high school students, he is already on the road looking for answers. Wise has played obsessed individuals before and always delivers an intense performance that keeps him endlessly watchable every moment he is on screen. Taggart proves to be quite the opponent to the creature and once their paths have crossed, the inevitable outcome will be bloody. Jonathan Breck reprises his role as The Creeper, and appears to be having even more fun intimidating children this time around, but he receives too many well-lit close ups to maintain the frights of the original film.
The Creeper has been given a sort of makeover that leaves him familiar, but a shade darker and a bit more rubbery looking. No longer content to drive from place to place, the beast exclusively flies from one site to the next, introducing a need for more elaborate aerial photography. Cinematographer Don FauntLeRoy (Munchie Strikes Back) returns to the franchise and does a stellar job when not confined inside a metal tube. The lush cornfield sequence is masterfully shot, even if the logistics fall apart under mild scrutiny, and the night chases are pretty spectacular. Salva’s love of Spielberg is noticeable with the first film’s echoes of Duel, and is back this time with nods to Jaws as the farmer tries to wing the creature with a harpoon. There is a lot going on at times and despite not really pulling for any of the kids in peril, I still had a lot of fun with this movie. The epilogue is a beautiful setup for a potential third installment in the franchise (currently in pre-production) and I am more than happy to see what direction the series takes.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Jeepers Creepers 2 features the same transfer as the previous MGM Blu-ray. Much of this film takes place at night, in the confines of a dark school bus and this transfer proves up to the task. Colors are strong, especially in the early daylight/ twilight sequences. Black levels are solid and there is plenty of small-object detail, perhaps too much so in the occasional green screen shots.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is impressive and aggressive as it roars across the range of speakers, filling the room during the numerous action sequences. Directional sound effects are very well placed and balanced with the dialogue so as not to intrude or obscure. There is a lot to like with this audio mix, but if you are interested in something a bit more contained, a DTS-HD MA 2.0 option has been included.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
A pair of vintage (2004) audio commentaries is included for your listening pleasure; the first featuring Salva joined by several members of the cast, while the second finds Creeper Jonathan Breck paired with some of the artists that designed the make-up. This latter track is the clear winner as it is informative and entertaining while the cast tends to dominate the first track and are a bit rowdy. It is a shame Salva did not record a new solo piece for this release, as he has proven to be quite engaging in other discussions.
Jeepers Creepers 2: Then and Now (23 minutes) interviews with Salva, FauntLeRoy, editor Ed Marx and actor Tom Tarantini. This is a companion piece to the similarly structured retrospective appearing on Scream Factory’s release of Jeepers Creepers. A nice collection of interviews offers the crew a few minutes to reflect on the production and share their thoughts on the process. Salva starts things off on an awkward note claiming the sequel is his analogy for the 9/11 terror attacks, sort of recovers as the piece moves along, but then sputters again in the finale, claiming to be the victim of “terrible luck” in his personal life.
The inimitable Ray Wise discusses the numerous times he has worked with Salva in the new interview segment A Father’s Revenge (15 minutes). He really is a charming man and it is always a treat to listen to him share his passion for the work.
Don’t Get Off the Bus (21 minutes) catches up with the adult cast members, including Diane Delano (The Wicker Man remake), Thom Gossom Jr. (Fight Club) and Tom Tarantini (Jeepers Creepers). All three are charming and wonderful and have nothing but nice things to say about the film.
Returning from the 2004 DVD is the excellent six-part documentary A Day in Hell (27 minutes), shot on location during production and offering a fly-on-the-wall look at the making of the film.
Also from the DVD comes a series of short featurettes including: Lights, Camera, Creeper: The Making of Jeepers Creepers 2 (14 minutes), another behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process. Creeper Creation (11 minutes) presents storyboard artist Brad Parker displaying his early design work, while Digital Effects (5 minutes) is essentially a demo reel for the company responsible. More interesting is the segment Creeper Composer (9:26) that shows Bennett Salvay at work with his orchestra. We also get a glimpse of some abandoned concepts in Storyboards for Scenes Not Filmed (10 minutes), and a collection of deleted scenes (19 minutes) that are more goofing off than actual work.
There are two photo galleries included, one for the cast the other for the Creeper that focuses on behind-the-scenes stills and some promotional shots, well over a hundred images altogether.
The original theatrical trailer is also here for your viewing pleasure.
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