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Clemenza's Corner

  Jeepers Creepers 2
Victor Salva, USA, 2003
Rating: 1.4
 

Posted: September 4, 2003

Ever wondered how we here at Shaking Through World Headquarters come up with our highly respected and closely scrutinized editorial ratings? I know I do. Well, wonder no more! In the transcript that follows, Senior Writer and self-proclaimed futurist/provocateur Laurence Station and the Contributing B-Movie Buff known only as Clemenza retire to the Shaking Through Break Room after a special screening of Jeepers Creepers 2 to discuss their thoughts on director Victor (Powder) Salva's sequel to the 2001 sleeper hit. Here, for the first time, is an unvarnished look the ratings process in all its gory details. But be warned: Despite my best efforts to camouflage the recorder, I think our movie staff caught on to the fact that I was taping their words for posterity. -- Kevin Forest Moreau, Monster-in-Chief

The film focuses on the Creeper, a winged, bat-like creature that feeds on humans for 23 days before going into hibernation for 23 years. When a bus transporting a high school football team and cheerleaders breaks down in the rural heart of nowhere, it doesn't take long for the fear-smelling Creeper to begin snacking on the buffet of flesh.

Let the discussion begin.

Clemenza: So, Jeepers Creepers 2: Monster movie or poorly executed horror flick? I say kudos to the rebirth of the "monster movie," even if it's somewhat flawed in execution.

Station: Yes, Jeepers sticks to its genre guns, even if there's less horror and more staged action sequences than this well-documented and deservedly discriminating reviewer cares for.

Clemenza: Uhhh, yeah, right. Word. And look, let's get this outta the way right now. The people behind this thing blew a huge chance for some gratuitous nudity! I mean, really, would it kill anyone if the Creeper happened to snatch the bra off of a blonde now and then? Unnecessary boob shots are a staple of the genre!

Station: Yes, well, moving along. The main problem for me is that the characters don't have to defeat the creature per se, merely outlast it. Here the movie fails to generate any real tension. The built-in internal clock that will render the winged beast harmless by morning minimizes the threat. To quote Proust (who is preferably read in the original French rather than some poorly handled English translation): "We are healed of a suffering only by expressing it to the full."

Clemenza: What the--? To quote Ahnuld: "If it bleeds, we can kill it." Okay, the creature doesn't really bleed, per se, s' il vous plait,  but tension... Are you kidding me? I have two words for you, Station: Postmaster 500. Or Post-Puncher 500. One of those. Straight from an A-Team script, an impromptu weapon is called upon to battle evil. How tense is that?

Station: The blatant phallic symbol that veteran character actor Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) is forced to utilize throughout the film only reinforces the utter lack of tension. The beast never personally threatens Wise. He's merely hunting it as a way of avenging his youngest son's abduction (and subsequent devouring) by the demon during the film's opening moments. Wise drives around, shoots at the Creeper, reloads, and repeats. He is the hunter, rather than the prey. If you're trying to scare people, you need people being pursued, not doing the pursuing.

Clemenza: "Phallic symbol"? What the F movie were you watching? I saw a grizzled man of the land, forced to deal with an otherworldly challenge. This is called going "Old School." Have you not read any of my Steven Seagal reviews? When it's time to beat ass, it's time to beat ass. "Phallic symbol?" Extreme times call for extreme measures! And how do you "realistically" portray an outlandish threat? Ray Wise is a force rather than a victim. He's the representation of the "frontier spirit," the American spirit in a way, facing a threat he knows little about, but ready to go face to face, or at least Post-Puncher 500 to face, as the case may be.

Station: Fine. But where's the horror? Ray strides across the land like some gargantuan defender of the defenseless, channeling his grief for his lost child into an all-out assault on the thing that wronged him. That's all well and good. But give me some genuine scares. The kids on the bus as Ten Little Indians routine quickly grows tiresome. Where's the variety? At least in the first film, we had an isolated situation and a genuine mystery as the brother and sister slowly stumbled upon the true horror of the beast. The fear came from the unknown. Here we have no unknown. The Creeper is seen early and often (though the Creeper as scarecrow motif is a nice touch). Bottom line: Too much Creeper, not enough horror. Although special mention must be given to Jonathan Breck, the actor who reprises his role as the Creeper here. Breck's certainly come a long way since his debut as "Friend #2" in Nancy Malone's post-post-modern ironically unselfconscious satire I Married a Monster.

Clemenza: All right, all right. Much as I hate to say it, I have to agree with you there. The whole school bus thing, it's not unlike a JAWS movie, with the bus substituted for the boat and the Creeper as the shark. There's no real tension here (save for the anticipation of previously suggested bra removal) and, quite frankly, I never cared if any of these kids survived. And what's up with that Rick Moranis looking kid? I mean really, that was just disturbing. Anyway, the bus does not work as a setting for horror. An old abandoned farmhouse, perhaps. And yes, the scarecrow motif was well done. But I think the point you're missing here is that this film (and the previous one) may represent the rebirth of the so-called "monster-movie," as different from the "horror movie." You dig?

Station: Point taken, my good man, and, yes, hopefully this will signal a return to straightforward, not so self-consciously hip horror flicks (see: Scream). Changing gears to a more puzzling issue: What is the significance, or lack thereof, of the number 23? Aside from being former Chicago Bull Michael Jordan's jersey number, what does it mean? We are told the creature "sleeps" for 23 years and then feeds for 23 days. An extensive check of Sumerian and related antediluvian lore turns up nothing. Nada. Zip. It's unrelated to, say, lunar cycles. No known celestial connection. What in Hades does it have to do with anything, other than the film's creators just randomly sticking a feeding period onto the creature? Very lazy at best, just plain artistically irresponsible at worst.

Clemenza: "Artistically irresponsible?" Man, I don't even know you anymore. Y'see, Station, this is the problem with guys like you. "What does it mean? What's the significance?" If we knew every effin' thing, it sorta takes away some of the mystique, doesn't it? Just roll with it. Twenty-three years. Okay, what's two times three?

Station: What?

Clemenza: Just answer the question. What's two times three?

Station: Six.

Clemenza: What's 3 times 2?

Station: Again, six.

Clemenza: You see? 66. One more six and Wham!! Sign of the beast! That good enough for you?

Station: True, much like your arbitrary ratings system, 23 is essentially meaningless. Where does the other 6 come from? You're trying too hard now, Clemenza.

Clemenza: You know, Station, I'm really sick of your snooty attitude here. You know where the other six comes from? That's the number of Shaking Through interns it's gonna take to pull my boot outta your ass! How's that for an explanation?

Station: Don't make me put down my handcrafted mahogany pipe and peel off my crushed velvet smoking jacket, young man. Though the Gentleman has tutored me in the Queensbury rules, I still know how to bare-knuckle brawl should the need arise.

Clemenza: What the eff are you talking about? Smoking jacket? Jeez, what's next, you gonna throw some Grey Poupon at me? I'm sooo scared...By the way, you seen my Lean Cuisine? I put it in the fridge this morning...

Station: You want to talk about scary? Let's talk about Victor Salva, the writer and director of both Jeepers Creepers films. Why does he avoid exploiting female nudity, when similar genre films wallow in nubile excesses of the flesh?

Clemenza: Hey! I asked that question five minutes ago! You trying to steal my point here?

Station: Is he making a comment on these other films, or trying to rise above them? The Creeper, unlike, say, Jason from the Friday the 13th films, doesn't discriminate between good or bad victims.

Clemenza: I could have sworn I brought my Lean Cuisine to work this morning. Okay, Station, look. Two things here: First, he may be trying to rise above the "slasher" genre and, as previously mentioned, return to the "monster movie." You are also correct in that the antagonist here does not serve as a punisher of the morally deficient. Having said that, female nudity, when appropriately done (and by that I mean when the camera shows breasts from an overhead or side shot), does add to the film. It adds a sense of, uh, vulnerability. Yeah.

Station: Maybe he's trying to rise above the clichés of the genre. Or perhaps it has something to do with Salva's conviction and subsequent jail time for molesting the then-12-year-old male star of his 1988 debut film Clownhouse?

Clemenza: Yikes!!! What?

Station: Is the Creeper's desire to devour his victims body and soul connected to Salva's past? Is the Creeper's ability to smell fear akin to a predator of small children sniffing out the vulnerable ones from those who will talk or resist his advances? When the bus breaks down, he has some the jocks strips off their shirts and tan on top of the bus, while a second group converses while urinating and a non-jock's sexuality is questioned. Later, the Creeper, whose fear-selection sniffing process is conveniently limited to the football players as opposed to the cheerleaders, lasciviously licks his scaly lips while sizing up his victims. Think about it, Clemenza. Think long and hard...and not about Monica Keena.

Clemenza: You leave Monica out of this. As soon as she gets my letters -- and lightens her security detail -- we're going to be together. Well, uh, damn, Station, here I am welcoming back the monster movie, and you gotta drop this bomb on me! Zounds! Now the film just seems...wrong. It sounds, actually, like Mr. Salva needs a visit from Mr. Seagal. Damn! I was so willing to give this film a chance. And now this. You see, Station, this is why I never do too much research on films. I may rave about it and then find out the director has a secret past involving intimate relations with baby yaks, or something.

Station: Let's leave your childhood out of this. So, where does Jeepers Creepers 2 rate on the Clemenza scale?

(A microwave bell sounds.)

Clemenza: Well, I originally gave it a 3, just for sticking to the long-lost genre. Then I dropped it a 2.4 for the lack of nudity, and then it shot back to a 3 for shooting the Creeper in the head with a homemade harpoon device. But your disturbing slant on the film's homoerotic subtext casts a gloomy cloud over the whole thing. I give it a 2.0. I thought I was catching a monster movie, turns out I went to a NAMBLA matinee! (Sound of fist striking table.) That's it, Jeepers Creepers 2 gets a 1.4. End of discussion.

Station: Agreed. Let it be written.

Clemenza: Hey, what's that you're eating?

Station: Uhh, just something I brought from home...

Clemenza: DUDE!!! That's my Lean Cuisine!

Station: Uhh, gotta run! Thanks for ironing this out! See you later!

Clemenza: Station, you get back here! Oh, we're gonna see some horror around here in a minute! ...

(Tape runs out.)

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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