Back Comments (1) Share:
Facebook Button
I will begin this retrospective review of Victor Salva’s Jeepers Creepers (2001) and its sequel, Jeepers Creepers 2[i] (2003), by acknowledging the elephant in the room – Salva’s 1988 child molestation and child pornography convictions and subsequent jail time served. Normally, a filmmaker’s personal misconduct, no matter how repugnant, shouldn’t [i]necessarily colour one’s perception of their films, at least not from an objective standpoint. Everyone should be free to criticize artists/entertainers for their personal failings and boycott their work accordingly. However, unlike Roman Polanski or Mel Gibson, the ramifications of Salva’s transgression actually lie at the heart of his two-part horror opus. I understand that I am walking a fine line here, because I risk downplaying the seriousness of Salva’s crime. Please, believe that this is not my intent as I briefly explore the themes of these surprisingly autobiographical movies.

Jeepers Creepers Duology

Jeepers Creepers


On a desolate country highway, two homeward-bound teens, Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry Jenner (Justin Long), are nearly run off the road by a maniac in a beat-up truck...and later spot him shoving what appears to be a body down a sewer pipe. But when they stop to investigate, they discover that the grisly reality at the bottom of that pipe is far worse than they could have ever suspected. And now they are now the targets of an evil far more unspeakable – and unstoppable – than they could have ever imagined! (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

Jeepers Creepers helped bridge the gap between the slick, Scream(1996)-born, post-modern slashers and the grittier, ‘70s-inspired horrors that followed Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (2003). There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about Salva’s approach. The film attempted to create a new franchise villain to fill a void left by Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer’s (1997) fizzling popularity and its ‘urban fish in a rural pond’ plotting evokes a direct link to Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) formula. Jeepers Creepers is, however, brimming with what I assume was intended homoerotic subtext, seen most obviously in co-lead Darry’s Freudian slips/overstated homophobia (he laughs as he purposefully misreads a license plate – 6A4EVR – as ‘gay forever’), the reversal of gendered victim stereotypes, and images of scantily-clad young men. What’s more, the residents of the small, conservative town the Creeper calls home seem to prefer ignoring his presence. This was likely meant to express Salva’s own youthful struggles with homosexuality. Here, the specter of gay urges is cast as a literal monster that prefer young male victims displays their mostly nude bodies as trophies. Salva also skews that formula early on by centering the film on two college-aged sibling protagonists, Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry Jenner (Justin Long), rather than the usual cavalcade of sexually promiscuous couples. This immediately undermines the expectation of sexual tension between the central victims and, in the end, Salva deletes the possibility of any further heterosexual content by never really introducing any other sexually-primed characters.

The middle part of the movie plays out like a supernaturally-tinged version of Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher (1988) – another violent, post-slasher thriller with notable homoerotic undertones – with the man-eating, pseudo-bat-like cowboy creature taking the place of Rutger Hauer’s mysterious hitchhiker. Both villains follow the protagonists along the highway, teasing them, threatening them, and murdering anyone that tries to assist them. The Freudian connotations are easily forgotten throughout this part of the film, though the Creeper does, at one point, pause to make-out with a severed head, pulling the tongue from the open mouth with its teeth in loving close-up (a scene Salva admits the studio found discomforting enough that they initially wanted him to cut it).

During the climax, the Creeper catches up with the siblings as they regroup at the police station (shades of James Cameron’s The Terminator, 1984). It corners them, smells them deeply, and even tastes their skin, before rejecting Trish for Darry’s preferred ‘flavour’ (previously, it gained Darry’s scent by smelling the dirty underwear he had left in the car). Trish begs to take her brother’s place as the supposed virgin sacrifice (it is never specified if either of them is a virgin, but it is implied that Trish is not), but the creature howls in defiance. Salva reverses typical horror genre roles to a certain extent by casting the young woman as the hero and the young man as the damsel in distress, but the subversion isn’t particularly revolutionary, given decades of Final Girls triumphing over masked assassins. The picture ends with leering images of Darry’s nude body, trussed up in the Creeper’s lair. His eyes and the entire back of his head have been removed, allowing the monster to peer back at the audience through his gaping ocular holes. The assimilation is complete.

Jeepers Creepers wasn’t Salva’s first attempt at reconciling his homosexuality with horror – shortly after his ‘big, post-prison comeback,’ Powder (1995), he made Rites of Passage (1999), which revolves around a young gay man with a homophobic father who falls in love with a psychotic murderer. Outside of Salva’s personal history and sexual preferences, Jeepers Creepers is a reasonably successful standalone supernatural body-count movie. Along with the aforementioned nods to Scream’s post-modernism, it deserves credit for valiantly attempted to recapture the killer mythological angle of ‘80s horror franchises well before James Wan’s Saw (2004). The first act is an effectively eerie and tightly-knit little mystery and features some particularly well-staged car chases, much in the vein of Spielberg’s Duel (1971). The introduction of a psychic secondary protagonist is a sort of unique spin, but, eventually, the film falters into the more predictable doldrums of every other teen horror movie. It is consistently well-shot and pretty gory for a movie released before the MPAA really loosened their restrictions on R-rated violence.

Jeepers Creepers was released as a special edition DVD by MGM following its original theatrical release and made its Blu-ray debut in 2012 (with most of the DVD extras carried over). The original MGM HD scan also popped up on streaming and digital copy services. To make their 1.85:1, 1080p Blu-ray a worthy double-dip (outside of the new extras, see below), Scream Factory has rescanned the original interpositive in 2K. I don’t have the original BD for comparison sake, but can pretty easily assume that this new transfer is a substantial upgrade, because the details are really quite sharp. Foreground textures are tight and background patterns are neatly separated, leading to only minor edge haloes. Colour quality is consistent, its softer lighting schemes don’t appear smeared, and contrast levels are nicely balanced, despite some occasionally greyed black levels. Film grain appears pretty accurate for a semi-recent 35mm production, but there are some compression issues that keep grain structure from looking natural. The slightly faulty encode leads to some clumping along the more subtle gradations as well, but this is only really noticeable in wide-angle shots, where some of the neutral shades appear a bit blocky.

Jeepers Creepers’ dynamic soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound. The aural highlights revolve mostly around the highway chase sequences. There’s a nice differentiation between the soft ambience of the protagonists simply cruising through the countryside and the roaring engine and explosive horn of the Creepers rust-bucket truck. Multi-directional sound plays a nice role in setting the mood, even during daylight sequences by contrasting sheer silence with the sounds of environmental terrors. Bennett Salvay’s music is certainly a byproduct of a late ‘90s horror aesthetic, but, despite the perhaps dated style, it definitely fits the material with its slightly Herrmann-esque edge.

Extras include:
Disc 1:
  • Commentary with writer/director Victor Salva and stars Justin Long and Gina Philips – The first commentary is new and recorded exclusively for this new release. This is a relatively uneventful track, unfortunately. Most of the time is spent trying to remember innocuous behind-the-scenes anecdotes that don’t have a whole lot to do with the production. It’s charming enough experience, but not an informative one.
  • Commentary with Salva – Salva’s solo track originally accompanied MGM’s first DVD release and is a much more informative portrait of the production. The writer/director comes very prepared, to the point that he almost sounds like one of those Criterion film critic commentators in his mechanical recollection of facts and figures. I admittedly didn’t listen to either track in its entirety (I skipped between them while re-watching the film), but didn’t once note a mention of the obvious subtext.

Disc 2:
  • Jeepers Creepers: Then And Now (36:40, HD) – The first new featurette includes interviews with Salva, producer Barry Opper, director of photography Don FauntLeRoy, editor Ed Marx, and actor Tom Tarantini. Salva begins by discussing the outlet that horror has given him. Again, he never talks about the homoerotic subtext (he keeps referring to both movies as ‘campfire tales’ and ‘fables’), but he does say that the first movie he remembers scaring him was Nathan H. Juran’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), which sounds like some kind of admission. Other subject matter includes the writing process, his various filmic inspirations, early production (including Francis Ford Coppola’s involvement), cast auditions (including pictures of other actors in the Creeper costume), the editing and other technical processes, and how going over-budget before production undermined what was supposed to be a big action climax.
  • From Critters To Creepers (19:40, HD) – A new interview with producer Barry Opper, who recalls his pre- Jeepers Creepers career in B-genre film production, beginning with Aaron Lipstadt’s underrated Android (1982) and including the Critters series (1986, 1988, 1989, 1992).
  • The Town Psychic (16:30, HD) – Actress Patricia Belcher discusses her part as the psychic that warns the protagonists in the last of Jeepers Creeper’s new interviews.Vintage extras:
    • Behind The Peepers: The Making of Jeepers Creepers (1:00:10, SD) – This is the original six-part behind-the-scenes documentary that was created for MGM’s first DVD (it was also included with their Blu-ray). The mostly self-explanatory chapter titles include Finding Trish and Darry (concerning casting), Designing the Creeper, Cars and Trucks, The Creeper Comes to Florida (concerning locations), Night Shoots, and Making the Score.
    • Deleted & extended scenes, including alternate opening and closing sequences (17:10, SD)
    • Image gallery
    • Trailer
    • Radio spot


 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology


Jeepers Creepers Duology

Jeepers Creepers 2


When their bus is crippled on the side of a deserted road, a team of high school athletes discover an opponent they cannot defeat – and may not survive. Staring hungrily at them through the school bus windows, the Creeper returns again and again. But when the teammates discover that it's selective about whom it attacks, it will test their ability to stick together – as the insatiable menace tries to tear them apart! (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

Whereas Jeepers Creepers is relegates most of its psycho-sexual content to subtext that the average moviegoer could easily overlook in favour of its scares and familiar plotline, Jeepers Creepers 2 is brimming with homosexual overtones. The only women in the entire film are the bus’ driver, Betty (Diane Delano), and three cheerleaders, Minxie (Nicki Aycox), Rhonda (Marieh Delfino), and Chelsea (Lena Cardwell). The girls discuss team drama while three of the boys – a cocky runningback named Jake (Josh Hammond*), Bucky (Billy Aaron Brown), the nerdy team manager, and Izzy (Travis Schiffner), a writer for the school paper – urinate together (Jake, who is already shirtless, removes his pants entirely and pees on Bucky during a brief argument). Jake tells Izzy, who is portrayed as sensitive and moody, that the other students assume he’s gay. He accuses him of being too critical of another player, Dante (Al Santos), because he has a crush on him and informs him of a nickname – Izzy, or Isn’t He. There is even a rumour that Izzy’s facial scars were the result of a brawl at a gay bar. In the next scene, Salva positions the other players atop the bus with their shirts off, glistening in the sun. The image is surprisingly progressive, actually, since man-flesh on display is really no different than the equally gratuitous lady-flesh seen in more ‘traditional’ slasher movies.

When the grown-up chaperones are all killed, self-obsessed star player Scott (Eric Nenninger) assigns himself leader and picks fights with Izzy (classically, the insecure jock protests a little too much while hurling homophobic insults) and Deaundre (Garikayi Mutambirwa), who is one of only two black players on the team. Shortly after, the Creeper attacks again – this time showing its face, then smiling, winking, and even pointing at his prey, before shuddering with orgasmic glee and licking the window. At this point, Salva begins to sharpen and solidify his Freudian metaphor. When half of its head is damaged, the Creeper decapitates Dante, ingests his head, and regenerates a new head that briefly has Dante’s face, in effect indicating that its ‘evil’ has assimilated him. Convinced that the Creeper is only going to attack specific members of the party, Scott singles out the people he doesn’t like – who are, coincidentally, also the people that make him feel insecure – and demands that they sacrifice themselves. He is consumed himself shortly after.

Jeepers Creepers 2 comes awfully close to being the first gay-themed mainstream horror movie. If that line had been crossed and these vaguely homosexual characters actually engaged in on-screen sex (R-rated friendly sex, of course), which then doomed them to the same fate as their hetero slasher movie counterparts, Salva’s sequel might have been a genuinely important and memorable entry in the post-millennial horror canon. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one’s tolerance for convicted sex offenders portraying sex in their movies – another example being Roman Polanski), Salva or, more likely, MGM wasn’t willing to explore that option and Jeepers Creepers 2 is a mostly by-the-numbers franchise entry with a handful of stylish moments.

* It’s amusing to note that Josh Hammond bears more than a passing resemblance to Robert Rusler, who appeared as the secret love interest in Jack Sholder’s similarly homoerotic Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985).

Jeepers Creepers 2 received another special edition DVD treatment from MGM, but wasn’t released on Blu-ray until just two years ago. It was a bare bones release, so Scream Factory has the advantage of bringing back old extras along with their new ones. They didn’t go back to the negative for a new transfer, but the ‘old’ transfer is serviceable. Details are sharp enough and subtle textures aren’t lost in the utter darkness of many scenes. The colours skew a bit brown, but the hues usually seem relatively accurate compared to the palette set by the first movie (this is my first time sitting through the sequel in its entirety, so I don’t really know what the colours should look like). At the very least, the hues are quite vibrant. Black levels are also suitably deep and consistent. Unfortunately, the entire transfer is brimming with digital artefacts, including machine noise, minor blocking, and big edge haloes. The major issue is over-sharpening and overloaded highlights during those aforementioned dark sequences (note the bright spots on the Creeper’s face in the final screen cap).

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is similar to the video in that it is acceptable, but not outstanding. The advantages begin with the Creeper–heavy sequences, which are even more dynamic this time around, because the creature has loosed its wings. Its sneaky, swooping attacks offer the excuse for loads of directional movement and a huge volume range. There’s a lot less highway driving, but the bus’ blown tires and Big Jack’s homemade harpoon attack are still quite punchy. Bennett Salvay has returned as composer and really upped the ante on big, brassy scare cues and these end up being the track’s loudest and most defining element.

Extras include:
Disc 1:
  • Commentary with Salva and cast members Eric Nenninger, Josh Hammond, Nicki Aycox, Marieh Delfino, Garikayi Mutambirwa, and Shaun Flemming  – This time, both commentaries are taken from MGM’s original DVD release. The first track is kind of a mess, because Salva is basically herding the mostly bored young cast through various behind-the-scenes memories, when they’d rather be cracking jokes and giggling.
  • Commentary with actor Jonathan Breck (the Creeper), production illustrator Brad Parker, and makeup effects artist Brian Penikas  – One might think that the lack of Salva would leave the second technical commentary short on subject matter, but Breck, Parker, and Penikas actually fill the time well, even if they tend to lose steam when the Creeper isn’t on-screen.

Disc 2:
  • Jeepers Creepers 2: Then And Now (22:30, HD) – The first of the sequel’s exclusive Scream Factory extras includes more new interviews with Salva, FauntLeRoy, Marx, and Tarantini. Salva (rather inelegantly) states that the first film’s box office chances were undermined by the events of 9/11 – it opened huge and dropped off quickly, in part because no one wanted to watch scary movies in the weeks following the terrorist attacks – and then goes on to describe the film as a 9/11 parable. Marx recalls Salva originally describing the film as a take-off on Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), rather than a reaction to 9/11, which leads me to believe (along with the fact that he never mentions the event during his commentary track) that this is something the director arrived at after re-watching the film and while preparing for the reported upcoming third movie in the series. FauntLeRoy’s memories are mostly of being uncomfortable on the tiny bus set, but also says that the bigger budget made his job a lot easier.
  • A Father's Revenge (15:20, HD) – Ray Wise’s new interview covers the cult character actor’s affection for horror, his working relationship with Salva (he had previously appeared in Powder) and acting in the film.
  • Don't Get Off The Bus – New cast interviews with Tom Tarantini, Thom Gossom Jr., and Diane Delano close out the Scream Factory-exclusive extras.Vintage extras:
    • A Day In Hell – A Look At The Filming Of Jeepers Creepers 2 (26:40, SD) – Raw behind-the-scenes footage.
    • Lights, Camera, Creeper: The Making Of Jeepers Creepers 2 (14:20, SD) – EPK-style cast & crew interviews.
    • Creeper Creation (11:30, SD) – Interviews with the creative crew.
    • The Orphanage visual effects reel (5:20, SD)
    • Creeper Composer (9:30, SD) – Interview with Salva and composer Bennett Salvay.
    • Storyboard renditions of two unfilmed scenes  – "The Creeper's Lair" And "Ventriloquist Creeper" (5:40, SD).
    • Deleted/extended scenes (15:50, SD)
    • Photo gallery
    • Trailer


 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

 Jeepers Creepers Duology

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


Links: