The original "Jeepers Creepers" had little in the way of buzz around its release. Despite being produced by Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope company, the trailer looked like it was promoting something that would belong on Cinemax early on a Sunday morning. The film itself, however, was a moderately decent chiller, throwing two teens on a deserted stretch of road against a seemingly undefeatable creature. The film did fine business theatrically, then managed to gain more of an audience once it hit video and DVD. It even had something of an imitator in "Darkness Falls".
Did we need a sequel? Not particularly, but I have to say that the filmmakers have found more moderately inspired situations for the "Creeper" character. Apparently taking place days after the events of the first film, we see a family working on a local farm. In a particularly eerie sequence, we see the creature appear out of hiding and snatch the family's young child, Billy. Billy's father, Jack Taggert (a very good performance from Ray Wise) is traumatized by his son's disappearance, but eventually, he decides to seek out who or what was responsible for the loss of his son.
Elsewhere, a busload of teenagers is stranded when their bus breaks down under mysterious circumstances along the highway - at night. Guess who's keeping watch over this new snack? The original film, which was not scary, did manage to develop a pretty strong atmosphere and provide some tense moments. The sequel does the same - the dark, abandoned road thing always works to generate some creeps (and even moreso, given the situation of the kids being stuck on the bus). The film's attempts at scares are largely unsuccessful "boo!" moments, but when the film decides to stay quiet for a while, it becomes much more effective. Not in the sequel's favor is the fact that the original film mainly focused on 2 characters and this one focuses on many. All the adults on the bus are taken out pretty quickly, so we just have the kids - who are all rather cardboard and standard-issue - left to fight for themselves until help (Jack and a truck loaded with a weapon) can arrive.
The film's performances are fairly decent, but all of the characters are interchangable and none are developed much, although one suddenly manages to get ESP for little reason aside from being able to fill the audience in on the rest of the story and offer a cameo from one of the characters from the original film. The visual effects remain pretty decent for a film that only is working with a limited budget (according to the DVD's documentary, the original film had 5 effects shots - the sequel has about 140). The vivid, deeply saturated color palette presented by the cinematography also gives the film a surprisingly surreal, eerie look.
Overall, this is by no means great cinema or even a really good genre film. However, all I expected was a decently entertaining way to pass 90 minutes and this sequel generally delivered.
VIDEO: "Jeepers Creepers 2" is presented by MGM in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image quality is generally quite good, but there are some concerns worth noting. Sharpness and detail were consistently good, but never really reached greatness, as the picture seemed to be filmed with a slight amount of intentional softness. Dark scenes looked pretty decent, but lacked crispness and fine definition.
Further issues did occur, as well. Moderate amounts of edge enhancement were visible during several of the daylight sequences, while other scenes displayed a few light compression artifacts. On a positive note, the print didn't show any defects or wear. Colors remained impressive throughout the presentation, with strong, well-saturated colors that didn't suffer from smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "Jeepers Creepers 2" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is generally a very good soundtrack, with a strong, dynamic sound and a fairly pleasing amount of surround activity. As for the rear speakers, they do kick in nicely during some of the attacks and other intense moments, but they could also have been more involved during the subtler moments to add a greater level of ambience. Low bass is quite powerful at times, and the most menacing elements of the score are put forth with very nice low-end and overall clarity. Dialogue remained clear and clean throughout.
EXTRAS: The DVD's main supplemental features are two commentary tracks - one which features writer/director Victor Salva and many members of the film's cast, the other featuring the actor behind the "Creeper" mask, as well as the film's make-up and storyboard artists.
Lights, Camera, Creeper: This 40-minute "making of" documentary covers just about every aspect of the making of the film. We learn more about casting and the specific actors, visual and practical effects and obstacles that the production encountered. The first quarter of the documentary does fill in with a little too much "happy talk" as the cast and crew discuss how great it was to work together, but once that's over, the piece starts to go deeper into talking about the film's visual style, development, make-up/Creeper creation and overall production experiences.
A Day In Hell: Better than the main piece is this 26-minute documentary, which simply follows production during one very long day of shooting. Taking place during the 41st day of the shooting schedule, exhaustion from the long and tough shooting schedule has set in. There are few major dramas taking place during this documentary, but at least it does provide an interesting perspective on many minor challenges that a production has to face during a day.
Also: Storyboard sequences for 2 deleted scenes, photo gallery, theatrical trailer and promos for other MGM titles.
Final Thoughts: "Jeepers Creepers 2" provides 90 minutes and change of moderately entertaining chills. The picture is certainly at its most effective when it realizes the concept of "what you don't see is scarier than what you do", but unfortunately, the film seeks out the "boo!"s more often. MGM's DVD provides very good audio/video and lots of supplements. A rental recommendation for horror fans - fans of the film should consider a purchase.