Victor Salva is, well, let’s say the guy has issues. But to be fair, he IS a pretty darn good director, even if he’s also a terrible human being. He directed ‘Powder’, for instance, about a magical electric albino (seriously), and that is one of my favorite films – although there is a part of me that cringes at the thought of Salva working with young actors!
In any case, back in 2001, Salva wrote and directed a rather unique, quirky little horror movie that manages to be scary and funny while still being rather original and clever.
‘Jeepers Creepers’ is about a brother and sister driving home from college, through Florida. And as a Florida native, I gotta say that nothing about this movie seems particularly farfetched to me (except the license plate, which we’ll get to later). Because that whole state is a big old bunch of weird.
Anyways, the siblings run afoul of some weirdo in what has to be the scariest looking truck I’ve ever seen, who seems to be killing people. Turns out that, yes, he is, but that’s not the bad news.
You see, the Creeper is an immortal monster that hibernates for 23 years, then goes on a 23 day rampage, killing folks and eating various body parts, which it then converts into its own body. Okay, I get how that sounds when you just spell it out, but it’s actually pretty cool how they handle it.
In any case, it takes a liking to something or other one of our duo is carrying and the chase is on.
Now, this thing is pretty intense looking. Whatever the Creeper IS, and we’re never really sure of that, it’s an ugly one. The big hat and overcoat are covering one gruesome, winged monstrosity that is VERY hard to kill. Even his truck is ugly!
Which brings me to the license plate. See, the brother/sister protagonists spend their road trip scoping out custom license plates on passing cars, because they are extremely easy to amuse. And the Creeper’s license reads ‘BEATNGU’, which the young folks thing says, “Beating You,” but which actually means, “Be Eating You.”
I think it’s great that an immortal monster has a sense of humor, but I gotta wonder, WHERE did he get a custom plate? The DMV? Surely he’d stand out in a place like that. Then again, Florida. And, you know, he kinda goes underground for decades, so you know that he has to get new tags every time he resurfaces. seems like a bit of a time-waster, especially when he can FLY.
But somehow, the movie rises above that. It honestly doesn’t matter because you just buy into the whole concept. That’s why I’m saying Victor Salva is pretty darn good at this whole filmmaking thing. Either that or his own life has taught him that people will get past just about anything, if you let them…
So, I’m not gonna give away the whole movie, but suffice it to say it does end. And while it doesn’t really seem like a sequel is really called for, it goes without saying that there is one.
Actually, ‘Jeepers Creepers 2′ is one of those rare and wonderful creatures: a horror sequel that’s much better than the original. That’s like finding a unicorn who can sing the Doobie Brothers’ Greatest Hits while piloting a UFO.
While Justin Long (who was in the first one) makes a cameo, this movie isn’t about the characters from part one. Instead, it takes place a few days later, as the Creeper continues his 23 days of killin’ and eatin’. This time, a school bus breaks down, which for the Creeper – and possibly the director – is like a buffet.
Meanwhile, Ray Wise plays a farmer who has a grudge against the monster, so you got a nice revenge motif there in addition to the Creeper’s usual shenanigans. I cannot overstate how much better this film is than the first one, which was very good. The budget seems bigger, the special effects look better, the Creeper is, well, creepier.
Now, the good news is, there is a Part 3 on the way! And quite possibly a Part 4 as well, because the idea is to shoot them back to back. Salva is back on board, as are the surviving cast members from the first two, teaming up against the Creeper, who, like most great monsters, doesn’t stay down for long.
Or was I describing Victor Salva? Hmm, either-or…