Jeepers Creepers 2 takes place only a few days after the events depicted in the original sleeper hit, and with one day left in the Creeper’s 23-day feeding frenzy, the winged terror descends upon a group of teenagers riding home from a championship football game on East 9 Highway in Poho County. The film’s opener doesn’t quite match the minimalist high-note of the original’s creepy-crawly highway chase, but it gets the job done nonetheless. The Creeper incurs the wrath of a local farmer (Ray Wise, playing a variant of Lance Henriksen’s Pumpkinhead dad) when he snatches the man’s young son from a crow-infested cornfield. Given the time constraint the Creeper has to work with, there’s no logical explanation for just how particular the flesh-eating fiend gets when it comes to picking out his prey.
Jeepers Creepers 2 isn’t quite as amusing as the original, but it easily bests the first film’s prickly lasciviousness. The tongue-smacking Creeper has a wicked sense of humor, but what’s to be made of his fondness for male flesh? Once again, it’s impossible to separate Victor Salva the director from Victor Salva the convicted child molester. (There are enough boys in the film to make up an entire football team but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many schools send three-girl cheerleading squads to the state championships.) Once the three adult chaperones in the film are disposed of, it’s not long before Salva, err, Creeper descends on the Abercrombie & Fitch models huddled nervously inside their school bus. Even when the boys in the film do manage to put their clothes back on, it’s only a matter of time before the Creeper takes one kid’s shirt off (among other things) via an impromptu surgical switcheroo.
Inspired by Hitchcock’s The Birds and Lifeboat, Salva both evokes the panic of being trapped in close quarters and the hang-ups that resurface when the film’s interracial teens aren’t fending off the Creeper. Though the film’s straight boys repeatedly question one teen’s sexuality with a play on his name, they have no problem shaking their dicks around in front of the kid during a group pissing session. It’s your call whether Salva is calling attention to latent straight male fantasies or if he’s simply getting his rocks off by taking everyone’s clothes off any chance he gets. Of course, Salva is only half-interested in the little personal melodramas that cripple his “cock-of-the-walk” teens.
The lecherousness of Salva’s gaze has a way of spilling over onto the entire production, which probably makes the film a whole lot scarier than it should be. If not for the elegiac, sun-drenched allure of many of the film’s images, it’d be much harder to take its many absurdities, namely the fact that one girl is offered the particulars of Creeper’s feeding frenzy via her dreams. A horror film first, Jeepers Creepers 2 is in many ways a throwback to the cheesy ‘70s disaster flicks like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Only a seriously disturbed mind could move from one punchy, heart-pounding set piece to the next with this much lunatic abandon.