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Once every 23 years a flesh eating phantom known as The Creeper comes alive and feasts for 23 days. On the 22nd day of its latest rampage, The Creeper sets its sights on a busload of high school students stranded on a lonely road in the corn fields of Poho County. Out of radio and mobile 'phone contact, the group must put aside its many conflicts to stand any chance of survival. As The Creeper picks off its victims, a ray of hope is offered by the arrival of farmer Taggart (Ray Wise), whose son Billy (Shaun Fleming) was snatched by the voracious flying fiend.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
You know you're in trouble when you start rooting for the monster. This sequel to Victor Salva's 2001 horror hit inspires that very hope as a busload of vapid adolescents is offered up as ritual sacrifice to the box-office god of slaughtered teens. The only genre rule not obeyed in this hackneyed film is "have sex and die," though the filmmakers might be saving that one for the DVD special edition. Salva knows how to create atmosphere and he delivers a few good scares in the early sections but his cast of characters is so feeble and unsympathetic it's too easy for us to simply sigh and wish the monster bon appetite as he picks his victims out of their bus with the ease of an ibis attacking a plastic garbage bag.

The Creeper itself is quite a scary being and his initial appearance as a scarecrow that comes alive and plucks young Billy Taggart out of the cornfield is a promising one. The optimism doesn't last long as we meet a team of high school basketball players and their cheerleaders returning from an out-of-town game. It's the usual stuff: the boys boisterously singing the team song and accusing one another of "being a homo" and the girls rolling their eyes at these hunks who have muscles everywhere except between the ears.

The boys are an appalling lot, with homophobic Scott Braddock (Eric Nenninger) a shoe-in as everybody's favourite to die the grisliest death. The girls are fairly colourless, with the exception of Minxie Hayes (Nicki Aycox) who, for reasons never explained, is suddenly given paranormal powers and becomes an instant expert on all Creeper-related matters. When Salva's dreadful screenplay needs some narrative spark, Minxie can be relied on to fall into an "I see dead people" trance and emerge with inspiring calls for group solidarity like "you guys just worked together to win a ballgame".

It's a pity we have to spend most of the film with kids who are either dull or obnoxious, though Victor Salva hardly thinks so. He lingers so long on barechested boys sunbaking and performing group urination you could easily mistake this for a Larry Clark film. The sole forensic speck of redemption is offered by veteran Ray Wise, who carries a little of Leland Palmer with him wherever he goes and takes on the killer with a harpoon gun mounted on the back of his pick-up truck. In one scene the beast rips the gun clean out of the truck, yet the weapon shows up intact a minute later.

This monster has also been terrorising the same district every 23 years, yet none of these yokels seems to have cottoned on. It's that kind of movie. It's also the worst film Francis Ford Coppola has ever been associated with. A ridiculous ending set 23 years from now makes Jeepers Creepers 3 look like a distinct possibility, though one wishes Salva and company were forced to obey their own rules and wait 23 years before inflicting it upon us. In the 1940's Val Lewton and one of his RKO directors would have made a chilling 75 minute film in which an unseen presence created fear among a group of interesting characters. Here, Salva wastes a good monster on pathetic material and spends 103 very long minutes doing it.

DVD special features include audio commentaries, four mini features, a behind-the-scenes documentary, storyboards of two scenes never filmed and two photo galleries.

Published: August 18, 2004

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CAST: Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Eric Nenninger, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Marieh Delfino, Diane Delano

DIRECTOR: Victor Salva

SCRIPT: Victor Salva

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary; Creeper commentary from Jonathan Breck (The Creeper); Behind the scenes documentary; four mini features; storyboards of two scenes never filed; photo galleries


DVD RELEASE: August 18, 2004

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