If there’s any group of people who deserve to be munched like bonbons by a maniacal “bat from hell,” a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic high school athletes would get my vote. The bloodthirsty Creeper is back on his 23-year feasting schedule, toying with a stranded basketball team amid the Midwestern corn fields in “Jeepers Creepers 2,” the latest in a landslide of sequels this summer.
No spoof here. No wink-wink. None of the arch pseudo-sophistication of the “Scream” series. This is horror straight up, talons punching through the roof to grab your neck, music swelling to a crescendo five seconds before the next victim dies.
Subtle as a brick, “Jeepers Creepers 2” is what it is, and you either love it or hate it.
Still, you have to admit that the Creeper (Jonathan Breck) is a fun villain. For those who missed writer-director Victor Salva’s 2001 surprise hit, the batlike Creeper breaks out of his cocoon every 23 years to gorge on human flesh for 23 days — a natural life cycle run amok that allows for plenty of sequels.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, it will be back,” proclaims Minxie (Nicki Lynn Aycox), a cheerleader whose dreams warn of the danger.
Do the other teenagers listen? Of course not.
A creeper's gotta eat
This time the Creeper is at the end of his run and needs to pack on the calories before his long hibernation. After snatching a hardworking farm boy as a snack, he goes in search of more substantial fare, never realizing what a determined foe he has created in the boy’s father (Ray Wise).
Let’s just say Afghan guerrillas aren’t the only ones who can turn farm equipment into mounted rocket launchers on a pickup truck.
The twist today is that the Creeper is a picky eater who “can smell your fear.” Apparently only the most frightened will do. Scott Braddock (Eric Nenninger) is the star athlete who figures this out — and who is also eager to jettison those the Creeper has his eye on.
It’s “Lord of the Flies” meets Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” as those in danger turn on each other instead of their enemy.
Visually two elements stand out — the sepia-toned cornfields and the slimy, sinewy batlike Creeper costume that took Breck and stunt double Darrin Prescott up to 4½ hours a day to wiggle into.
On the down side, horror movies often lack coherence, but could we have some standards here?
No one holds a basketball championship in the early fall, when corn stalks are all yellow and dried out. That would be March, in sleet and snow. And a championship team bus would be accompanied by a convoy of rabid sports parents and fans, not driving alone on a deserted rural road.
And what dad would run half a mile with a gun and not get off one shot at the monster dragging away his son? This comes shortly before the very same guy turns into Farm Rambo.
But I digress. If you like to jump and scream, this Creeper gets his talons into you. After two weeks of Freddy and Jason, it’s time for a new villain anyway.
© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.