Bloody, brutal and unpleasant, Victor Salva's skilful sequel to his superior creature feature lacks the chills of the original, but ramps up the action.
The set-up is simple: a busload of jocks breakdown in the sticks and leathery demon-freak The Creeper chows down. As the titles tell us, Every 23rd spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat...
This is straightforward, flesh-crawling horror, which goes off its bloody boil in the clumsy climax, but will still terrify green viewers. Hardened gorehounds, meanwhile, will appreciate the writer-director's savvy manipulation of genre conventions.
It starts with a sinister set-piece in which ol' sloppy chops pretends to be a scarecrow, snatching peeks at an unsettled farmboy, before snatching him into the sky - away from his horrified father, Taggart (Ray Wise).
It's indicative of the action to come: both ruthless and inevitable (The Creeper always gets his man/woman/limb).
On the bus, meanwhile, a radio report reveals the gruesome details of a burning body dump discovered by police (and us in part one). Conveniently filling in franchise freshers and scaring passengers, it also triggers nightmare visions for cheerleader Mixie (Nicki Aycox), who receives warnings from the original's victim (Justin Long).
These prove pretty redundant, as The Creeper isn't exactly subtle - the picture's biggest problem. It's often what's unseen which scares the most, but the winged beastie is too often front 'n' centre, even if this does lead to an unsettling scene where he licks the rear windshield and sniffs out those whose organs he wants to 'harvest'.
It's impressively objectionable and the character is horrific: a lecherous sadist who evokes an aura of evil. Forget Krueger, Myers and Voorhees, The Creeper is the ultimate bogeyman.
The finale feels forced, lacking the callous quality of its predecessor, but this is still several slices above every other horror series. Do fear The Creeper.