Jeepers Creepers remains one of the most controversial horror movies of all time, but not because of its content. The director, Victor Salva, was convicted for child molestation and procuring a child for pornography. His abuse of child actor Nathan Forrest Winters started before they even made Clownhouse together, and went on for nearly six years—he was the young son of friends of Salva’s. Salva did serve his time in a treatment centre, but the fact he ever got work again in the film industry is stunning: never mind that he had a smash hit with Jeepers Creepers, which spawned a trilogy of films, all directed by Salva.
It will be interesting to see whether Salva’s career will be finally over, now that #MeToo has sent shockwaves through the film industry. He does have two films in development, according to IMDb, but hasn’t made anything since 2017. That year’s offering was Jeepers Creepers 3, which had a child molestation joke removed before its release, after public outcry. It’s not like Salva is actually a particularly talented director, unlike Roman Polanski, which makes separating the art from the artist that much easier.
The film itself is an incredibly boring, predictable, early-noughties horror picture with some of the dumbest characters to ever inhabit the genre. Justin Long and Gina Philips play a brother and sister who decide to investigate after they see something dumped in a tunnel… what a bright idea! They stumble upon a tunnel full of bodies lining the walls, which gives knock-off IT vibes. Naturally, they report it to the police, but the “Creeper” of the title has seen them.
It seems that Salva doesn’t understand human beings in a way that is actually kind of remarkable. The results is that the characters are both moronic and incredibly bland. He is only interested in the creature and horror elements, which is fine, and to some extent the Creeper is a “cool” design. But the story just slogs on and on for 90 minutes. It also feels somewhat unfinished and rushed, especially during the last act. Reportedly they ran out of money, so Salva’s intended ending was chopped. The only scary aspect of the film is Salva’s crimes against Nathan Forrest Winters.
101 Films obtained the UK rights to the trilogy with the release of the third film, and brought out a DVD boxset. They have now finally released the first film on Blu-Ray. The release is basically a replica of the Shout Factory release, with just Behind the Peepers – The Making of Jeepers Creepers on a separate DVD disc, not the Blu-Ray. Unfortunately, most of the extras include Salva, who is one of the creepiest, most grotesque-looking people I’ve ever seen.