Again, as in the case of my review of Victor Salva’s original Jeepers Creepers (2001) I want to immediately acknowledge Salva’s 1988 child molestation and child pornography convictions and subsequent jail time served. A filmmaker’s personal misconduct, no matter how repugnant, doesn’t necessarily need to color one’s perception of their films. Everyone is free to criticize artists/entertainers for their personal failings and boycott their work accordingly. However, unlike Roman Polanski or Mel Gibson, the ramifications of Salva’s transgression actually lie at the heart of his two-part (2020 edit: now three part) horror opus. I understand that I am walking a fine line here, because I risk downplaying the seriousness of Salva’s crimes by contextualizing them this way. Please, believe that this is not my intent as I explore the themes of these shockingly autobiographical movies.
When their bus is crippled on the side of a deserted road, a team of high school athletes discover an opponent they cannot defeat – and may not survive. Staring hungrily at them through the school bus windows, the Creeper returns again and again. But when the teammates discover that it's selective about whom it attacks, it will test their ability to stick together – as the insatiable menace tries to tear them apart! (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)
Whereas Jeepers Creepers pushed most of its neurotic content back into subtext that the average moviegoer could easily overlook, Jeepers Creepers 2 is positively brimming with psycho-sexual overtones. The only women in the entire film are the bus’ driver, Betty (Diane Delano), and three cheerleaders, Minxie (Nicki Aycox), Rhonda (Marieh Delfino), and Chelsea (Lena Cardwell). The girls discuss team drama while three of the boys – a cocky runningback named Jake (Josh Hammond*), Bucky (Billy Aaron Brown), the nerdy team manager, and Izzy (Travis Schiffner), a writer for the school paper – urinate together (Jake, who is already shirtless, removes his pants entirely and pisses on Bucky during an argument for good measure). Jake tells Izzy, who is portrayed as sensitive and moody, that the other students assume he’s gay. He accuses him of being too critical of another player, Dante (Al Santos), because he has a crush on him and informs him of a nickname – “Izzy, or Isn’t He.” There is even a rumor that Izzy’s facial scars were the result of a brawl at a gay bar. In the next scene, Salva positions the bored, stranded players atop the bus with their shirts off, their bare chests glistening in the sun. Ignoring Salva’s history, the image is pretty progressive, or at least subversive, considering that the nearly nude young men aren’t really any more gratuitous than the fully nude women seen in traditional slasher movies.
When the grown-up chaperones are all killed, self-obsessed star player Scott (Eric Nenninger) assigns himself leader and immediately picks fights with Izzy (classically, the insecure jock doth protests too much while hurling homophobic insults) and Deaundre (Garikayi Mutambirwa), who is one of only two black players on the team. Shortly after, the Creeper attacks again – this time showing its face, then smiling, winking, and pointing to his prey, before shuddering with orgasmic glee and licking the window. From here, Salva sharpens and solidifies his Freudian metaphor. When half of its head is damaged, the Creeper decapitates Dante, ingests his head, and regenerates a new head, briefly donning Dante’s face, in effect indicating that its “evil'' has assimilated him. Convinced that the Creeper is only going to attack specific members of the party, Scott singles out the people he doesn’t like – who are, coincidentally, also the people that make him feel insecure – and demands that they sacrifice themselves. He himself is consumed shortly after.
Jeepers Creepers 2 comes awfully close to being the first out-of-the-closet, gay-themed, mainstream horror movie. If that line had been crossed and these vaguely homosexual characters actually engaged in on-screen sex (R-rated friendly sex, of course), which then doomed them to the same fate as their hetero slasher movie counterparts, Salva’s sequel might have been a genuinely important and memorable entry in the post-millennial horror canon. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one’s tolerance for convicted sex offenders portraying sex in their movies), Salva or, more likely, MGM wasn’t willing to explore that option and Jeepers Creepers 2 is a mostly by-the-numbers franchise entry with a handful of stylish moments and an unfortunate legacy.
Jeepers Creepers 2 received another special edition DVD treatment from MGM, but wasn’t released on Blu-ray until just two years ago. It was a bare bones release, so Scream Factory has the advantage of bringing back old extras along with their new ones. They didn’t go back to the negative for a new transfer, but the old transfer is serviceable. Details are sharp enough and subtle textures aren’t lost in the utter darkness of many scenes. The colors skew a bit brown, but the hues usually seem relatively accurate compared to the palette set by the first movie (this is my first time sitting through the sequel in its entirety, so I don’t really know what the colors should look like). At the very least, the hues are quite vibrant. Black levels are also suitably deep and consistent. Unfortunately, the entire transfer is brimming with digital artifacts, including machine noise, minor blocking, and big edge haloes. The major issue is over-sharpening and overloaded highlights during those aforementioned dark sequences.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is similar to the video in that it is acceptable, but not outstanding. The advantages begin with the Creeper–heavy sequences, which are even more dynamic this time around, because the creature has loosed its wings. Its sneaky, swooping attacks offer the excuse for loads of directional movement and a huge volume range. There’s a lot less highway driving, but the bus’ blown tires and Big Jack’s homemade harpoon attack are still quite punchy. Bennett Salvay has returned as composer and really upped the ante on big, brassy scare cues and these end up being the track’s loudest and most defining element.
Commentary with Salva and cast members Eric Nenninger, Josh Hammond, Nicki Aycox, Marieh Delfino, Garikayi Mutambirwa, and Shaun Flemming – This time, both commentaries are taken from MGM’s original DVD release. The first track is kind of a mess, because Salva is basically herding the mostly bored young cast through various behind-the-scenes memories, when they’d rather be cracking jokes and giggling.
Commentary with actor Jonathan Breck (the Creeper), production illustrator Brad Parker, and makeup effects artist Brian Penikas – One might think that the lack of Salva would leave the second technical commentary short on subject matter, but Breck, Parker, and Penikas actually fill the time well, even if they tend to lose steam when the Creeper isn’t on-screen.
Jeepers Creepers 2: Then And Now (22:30, HD) – The first of the sequel’s exclusive Scream Factory extras includes more new interviews with Salva, FauntLeRoy, Marx, and Tarantini. Salva (rather inelegantly) states that the first film’s box office chances were undermined by the events of 9/11 – it opened huge and dropped off quickly, in part because no one wanted to watch scary movies in the weeks following the terrorist attacks – and then goes on to describe the film as a 9/11 parable. Marx recalls Salva originally describing the film as a take-off on Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), rather than a reaction to 9/11, which leads me to believe (along with the fact that he never mentions the event during his commentary track) that this is something the director arrived at after re-watching the film and while preparing for the reported upcoming third movie in the series. FauntLeRoy’s memories are mostly of being uncomfortable on the tiny bus set, but also says that the bigger budget made his job a lot easier.
A Father's Revenge (15:20, HD) – Ray Wise’s new interview covers the cult character actor’s affection for horror, his working relationship with Salva (he had previously appeared in Powder, 1995) and acting in the film.
Don't Get Off The Bus – New cast interviews with Tom Tarantini, Thom Gossom Jr., and Diane Delano close out the Scream Factory-exclusive extras.
A Day In Hell – A Look At The Filming Of Jeepers Creepers 2 (26:40, SD) – Raw behind-the-scenes footage.
Lights, Camera, Creeper: The Making Of Jeepers Creepers 2 (14:20, SD) – EPK-style cast & crew interviews.
Creeper Creation (11:30, SD) – Interviews with the creative crew.
The Orphanage visual effects reel (5:20, SD)
Creeper Composer (9:30, SD) – Interview with Salva and composer Bennett Salvay.
Storyboard renditions of two unfilmed scenes – "The Creeper's Lair" And "Ventriloquist Creeper" (5:40, SD).
Deleted/extended scenes (15:50, SD)
* It’s amusing to note that Josh Hammond bears more than a passing resemblance to Robert Rusler, who appeared as the secret love interest in Jack Sholder’s similarly homoerotic Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985).
The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.