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TAC Reviews...Jeepers Creepers Trilogy

Date Posted: 20/04/20

 

The first film in what would become a trilogy (with a possible fourth instalment in the pipeline) was released in 2001 starring a 22-year old Justine Long with Gina Phillips. The second followed in 2003 and the third finally came in 2017. All films in the series have been written and directed by Victor Salva. The only actor to have starred in all three films is Jonathan Breck who portrays the role of the Creeper.

 

Jeepers Creepers Trilogy Art

 

With the majority of the country my ship is currently cloaked on in lockdown I have been forced, like the rest of you humans, into isolation. I am unable to escape the pandemic and whilst I have tried to find a cure, my knowledge of human anatomy is so limited that I would be unable to do so without assistance from the Grand Seniority’s Science Division. I cannot contact them because my phone is tied up trying to combat the Invasion Division and I am unable to terminate the call. If it means anything though, I really wish that there was something I could do to help this world that has become so familiar, perhaps I am starting to go soft on you humans.

 

Anyway, I am going to give a quick synopsis of all three films and then explain why I think they were worth talking about.

 

In Jeepers Creepers Darry (Long) and his sister Trish (Phillips) are driving back from college for Spring Break. They are travelling along a lonely road in the Florida countryside when a rusty tuck pulls up behind them, driving erratically and threateningly. The truck eventually passes them and later they spot it parked up by a derelict church. The driver appears to be dumping bodies down a pipe, spotting the two; the truck driver gets back behind the wheel and once again starts chasing them.

 

After escaping the vehicle Darry convinces his sister to return to the church to investigate.

 

Darry ends up falling down the pipe and finds a room full of corpses that have been stitched together into a grotesque tapestry. Fleeing the sight and calling the police, the siblings hear that the church has been consumed by a fire. The officers eventually arrive to escort the two back to the police station to make a statement but the truck’s driver attacks the officers killing them both.

 

Alone and terrified Darry and Trish must face the driver, learning that the man stalking them might not be human...

 

Jeepers Creepers II (2003) takes place four days after the events of the original film, and we learn that the Creeper awakens every 23rd Spring and is able to hunt for 23 days before returning to a state of hibernation. On day 22 he finds a young boy, Billy Taggart in a corn field. The child is snatched and as his father Jack Sr. (Ray Wise) and brother, Jack Jr. chase after the sounds of Billy’s screams they witness a winged creature flying away with the boy.

 

A school bus full of children heading back home after winning a basketball are attacked by the Creeper after it disables their bus. The driver and coach are taken by the Creeper. Trapped and alone the children struggle to come to terms with what they are facing plus which of their number it wants to devour.

 

Meanwhile, Jack Sr. and Jack Jr. have built a homemade harpoon out of a fence-post digger (or something) and are hunting the Creeper intending to avenge the death of Billy Taggart...

 

Jeepers Creepers III (2017) this film is still within the same 23-day cycle as the original two films and takes place the morning after the attack on the police station in the first film. It seems that there are a select group of people who have encountered the Creeper before (in its previous 23-day cycle three decade beforehand) and are determined to kill it.

 

The police response is a task-force lead by Sherriff Dan Tashtego (Stan Shaw) who is well aware of what the Creeper is. The Creeper’s truck, left outside the Police Station when it attacked to find Darry is found to contain numerous bodies, but is also booby trapped and almost impales an officer that tries to go inside.

 

The truck is sent to the Police Impound by Sergeant Davis Tubbs (Brandon Smith reprising the role from the original film) before Tashtego arrives. The Creeper attacks the tow-truck, reclaiming its truck and continuing its murder spree after killing the tow-truck driver but sparing the officer with him who was frozen with fear.

 

Tashtego and his teams race to find and end the Creeper once and for all knowing that if they fail they are going to be too old or dead to face it in another 23 years time...

 

Back in the day I actually went and saw the first film in the cinema as it looked like a creepy horror movie. I was getting more into horror at the time but as things went on and the truck’s mysterious driver was revealed to be not human I pretty much sighed. What was making the film creepy was the not knowing what the driver of the truck actually want and in all honesty once it was revealed to be a demon of some kind I was not especially impressed. Apparently the creature (not named the Creeper here by anyone but it seems that is what it is called) consumes the organs of its victims and once it does they become a part of it. A crazy mystic lady in the first film says that it has consumed so many hearts that its own will probably never top beating, it eats eyes to see, lungs to breathe and so on. It stalks is victims because once it smells something in them that it likes it needs to consume that part into itself.

 

I know the first two films are pretty old but just in case...

 

 

The reason the driver is after Darry and Trish is because one of them has something it wants and the only way to get a person’s scent is through fear. We learn that it is Darry the creature wants and at the end of the film it abducts him, ripping out his eyes and so things end with a downer. The moment I really rolled my eyes was when Trish basically runs over the driver repeatedly, mashing him into mostly powder, only for it to sprout wings, and with that moment any real tension was broken with a pretty deafening crack.

 

The only reason that I watched the second film was because at the time I was across the pond in the USA, separated from my ship with only a handful of bad horror movies to watch, one of them being Jeepers Creepers II so I watched it a few times. Perhaps mainly due to Stockholm syndrome it did start to grow on me and the character of the Creeper itself got more screen time. This is when I realised that out of everyone on screen the antagonist is the most interesting character.

 

Whilst it never speaks we learned more about it, and the obvious delight that it takes in hunting down its victims. However, it also doesn’t just kill indiscriminately, generally only going after those who have something it wants and ignores those who don’t. It does almost a line-up of the kids on the bus pointing to some and waving others out of its way as it chooses who is going to be its next meal. It also waves a finger dismissively at a police officer that attempts to shoot in (in JC III not this film)

 

Justin Long also makes a brief cameo in the film reprising the role of Darry in an attempt to warn one of the cheerleaders on the bus about what they are facing.

 

The third film fits in between the first and second films and therefore we already know that the Creeper will not be defeated. I have to admit that the third film was the worst, but it was also possibly the best, because everything about it was so bad that I couldn’t help to be entertained. The tangled mess of the plot makes no sense in terms of the context of what has happened before and after the film. In all honesty it is the third film that warrants being talked about the most.

 

In Jeepers Creepers III we discover that the Creeper is something of an Urban Legend in Northern Florida. The infamous licence plate BEATNGU – which translates to “Be Eating You” – appears on some truck or another around Halloween so the locals are quite aware of the stories of the Creeper. There are those that have encountered it before and the spirits of those that were taken by it can communicate with loved ones left behind warning them of the monster when it returns to feed once again. I liked the idea that people who’s loved ones were taken by the Creeper previously have banded together to fight it. Although it is a bit of a stretch that one of them is the local Sherriff. If the Creeper’s hunting ground is always in and around the same area then why aren’t there records of the mysterious murderer that appears every 23 years??

 

Like I said, the first film basically established that whatever the Creeper eats becomes a part of it, thus making it effectively immortal. When one part of it is damaged, that part will be replaced by whatever it eats, so if its foot is damaged and it eats a foot, his own will grow back.

 

Getting back to JC3 whilst there are those that have naturally dismissed the stories of the Creeper as nothing more than stories, there are a small group who have seen the monster in action so want it dead. The premise is fine in itself. However, the execution of the idea is laughable. The Creeper’s truck is seen to be entirely bullet proof, even shaking off fire from what appears to be a 50-calibre mini-gun that looks like it was stripped off an attack helicopter, without slowing down. The tyres are also bullet proof, as they are made from the same material as the Creeper itself, despite the Creeper not being bullet-proof. Plus if any part of the Creeper becomes separated from it, anyone that touches it will learn the monster’s secrets. So we get a couple of sequences of people taking hold of the severed hand of the Creeper and being dragged into the air as they are shown its origins. We discover that every 23 years for 23 days it gets to eat...er, didn’t we know that already?? Plus it is never revealed how it can be killed so how exactly does the hand help in any way shape or form?? Plus the various weapons that the truck is equipped with defy logic, a series of spikes will drop from the door or rise from the panels, yet there is nothing inside the truck to demonstrate where the spikes are stored when not in use. Also the Creeper falls foul of one of his own traps making the truck itself a death trap to its owner as much as anyone who stumbles across it.

 

The Creeper itself is the best thing about the films but Salva doesn’t seem to really know what to do with his own idea. If the Creeper only gets 23 days to feed when why does it piss about stitching together its victims into grotesque tapestries?? How was it able to beef up its truck?? Where does it get fuel for said truck?? When does it find the time to craft its weapons?? Why does it spend an entire day chasing Darry when in subsequent films it generally just drops out of the sky and snatches its intended victims before they know what-the-fuck?? I guess you could argue that it relishes the hunt which is why it takes its sweet time with Darry but uses it full powers when assaulting the bus because that is the final day of its cycle. At the end of JC II it falls into its hibernation cycle whilst it is in the middle of a corn field whilst still pursuing another victim, would it not have a secure location to retreat to if it knows it is going to be dormant for the next 23 years?? If it passes out in a cornfield doesn’t it risk getting sliced and diced the next time a combine harvester comes round to reap the harvest??

 

Where does it hide for those 23 years and does it park its truck somewhere nearby?? Or does it lie dormant within the truck itself, and that was the reason it was so obsessed with getting the vehicle back in JC III whilst the truck made no appearance in JC II??

 

There are so many plot holes and things that make so sense, why are there no records of the Creeper in public record?? Why didn’t Darry and Trish know about the legend when they were driving home from college?? When the police station was attacked why weren’t the National Guard called?? If the Creeper is disabled by a home-made harpoon then why doesn’t the 50-calibre mini gun rip it in half?? How can its truck be so fast and completely impervious to weaponry?? Where does it hide when it is hibernating?? One of the characters from JC III gets into a school bus at the end of the film, the same school bus which was attacked in JC II so why does this guy have no idea about the Creeper?? If he wasn’t on the bus at the time did he not tell anyone about the monster he faced the day before??

 

Probably the best of all of the stuff that makes no sense is the scene at the end of the second film when the possibly deceased Creeper is being displayed on a wall after being described as a Bat out of Hell and people are charged a few dollars to see it. Why is an Old Jack Sr. sitting watching it with a harpoon aimed at its heart just waiting for the 23 year cycle to be over to see if it wakes up?? Why hasn’t this anomaly of nature been given to medical science?? If the police are aware of it why haven’t they taken possession of the remains?? Why hasn’t Jack Sr. ground the remains into powder?? Or my personal favourite which is what I would have done. Why did Jack Sr. not completely dismembered the body (or if that isn’t possible) encase the remains in a solid metal coffin, which was filled with concrete to prevent any movement should the Creeper wake up, dig a big fuck off hole in the ground, place a lidless box with two feet think walls of reinforced steel within the hole, put the concrete filled coffin in there, then fill the room with yet more concrete, then seal the room with another roof of two foot think reinforced steel welding the whole thing shut before burying it once again?? I don’t know about you but I seriously doubt the Creeper would be able to escape from that even if it has managed to survive being stabbed multiple times by Jack Sr. I mean come on you have 23 years to figure out how to kill this thing in a way which means it cannot come back and the best Jack Sr. comes up with it sticking it on a wall with a harpoon aimed at it?? I tell you some people have got no imagination

 

The film progression reminds me of the original Bruce Campbell Evil Dead films in which a series starts off with a more serious edge but they get campier and increasingly silly as the franchise continues. The first Jeepers Creepers is relatively straight, the second one leaned a bit more outlandish, and the third is almost a parody.

 

However, Jonathan Breck just seems to be having some fun underneath all the make-up which is pretty decent, and the Creeper itself demonstrates intelligence, a sense of humour, and almost honour as it doesn’t kill those who it finds uninteresting plus when Trish tries to offer herself to it to save Darry it does appear to consider it for a moment. The truth is that the films themselves are pretty bad, yet they are just bad enough to be good, and the Creeper itself is a monster that deserves more mainstream attention like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers.

 

There is some controversy surrounding the films due to the fact that writer and director Victor Silva is a paedophile who was convicted  in 1988 for sexual abuse of a 12 year-old and possessing images of child pornography. As a result people have read things into some of the dialogue that has come from these films, now my personal opinions on what should be done with paedophiles is not the issues here, and whilst some of the dialogue could be interpreted in other ways, I don’t really think that was the intention.

 

All in all the three Jeepers Creepers films are just bad B-Monster Movies, that are only good if you go into them expecting something bad but entertaining. The Creeper is an interesting villain and I know how to beat it. In a number of my own novels and short stories featuring different immortals, I came up with the idea that one of them simply fights the Creeper until it returns to hibernation. Every 23 years they fight for the 23 days so the Creeper cannot feed, and if it cannot feed, then sooner or later it will die. So I have come dangerously close to writing my own fan fiction.

 

If you are bored in isolation and want to just watch some really bad, cheesy but strangely entertaining horror movies then give Jeepers Creepers a watch. As they fall into the category of so bad they are kind-of good I will award the films an overall Thumbs Up.

 

 

6/10 – Even though I have given them a Thumbs Up the movies are pretty bad, and whilst they do get some good performances out of Justine Long and Ray Wise from the first and second films respectively, by the third we are basically watching a parody and the biggest joke is that the film doesn’t even know.

 

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© Chris Sharman