What's eating you?
It seems as if horror movies are in short supply these days. In the summer of 2001 it was slim pickings for horror fans—if memory serves me correctly, the only real choices were the Nicole Kidman supernatural thriller The Others and the MGM horror flick Jeepers Creepers. What, no Friday The 13th or Halloween sequel this time around? Jeepers Creepers was a low budget film that went on to earn a respectable chunk of cash at the box office. Starring a bunch of relatively unknown actors (including Gina Philips and Justin Long) and executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Jeepers Creepers oozes onto DVD in a new "special edition" care of MGM.
Facts of the Case
On their way home from college, Darry (Long) and his sister Trish (Philips) are accosted on the road by a hulking, rusted vehicle. Later that day the two spot the track near an old dilapidated church…with a strange man throwing bound bundles down a long drainpipe. After having car trouble the teens backtrack to the church to satisfy their morbid curiosity. What they find chills them to the bone: below the pipe are hundreds of bodies "preserved" and hung around the room. Fleeing the scene the twosome head to a local diner—but they're not alone. Not far behind is a mysterious creature…and he's got his eye on Darry and Trish. His name is the Creeper and he's about to turn the kids homebound road trip into a living nightmare!
Jeepers Creepers had a lot of potential. It's got a lot of great moments in it, but by the last third starts to collapse under the weight of its own story. While this isn't a great horror movie, it still rises above many contenders to become a genuinely frightening film. Director/writer Victor Salva (Powder) has crafted an interesting story around a new and scary monster.
Much has been written about the first half hour or so of Jeepers Creepers. The Los Angeles Times is quoted as saying that it's "the scariest opening sequence of any horror picture in recent memory." I don't know as I'd go that far, but it is pretty damn good. Salva sets up a mysterious opening that leaves the viewer guessing as to where the story might go. The ominous vision of the Creeper standing in the woods watching our protagonists drive by is a very eerie sight. The film is populated with these kinds of images. In one sense, this is a very original horror movie; in another, it's really a throwback to the horror movies of yore. Jeepers Creepers is not a typical teen slasher movie, though it easily could have veered off onto that path. Instead, the film plays with the conceptions and constrictions of the genre. Trish and Darry are likable kids who don't always make wrong moves (which usually happens in most slasher movies). Except for one stupid mistake (I don't know about you, but I ain't lookin' down any drainpipes no matter what might be in it) the kids just really want to get the hell away from whoever—or whatever—is following them. Tension mounts as both the kids and the audience are clueless as to what is after them. Set in the middle-of-nowhere, the color schemes of drab browns and blues enhance the terror already in the air. The teen actors do a nice job with their roles, actually coming off like a sister and brother. Gina Philips is effectively sarcastic and doubting as the sister, and Justin Long plays off her cute quips with humorous zingers. The Creeper, a mix between a gargoyle and a scarecrow, comes off as a neat looking villain, even if he does have long curly hair that makes him seem like a reject of some 1980s heavy metal hair band.
Unfortunately, the film ends up veering off into familiar territory by the last third of the movie. It seems that the script runs out of gas and doesn't know where to go. With such mounting suspense, I suppose that it was hard to keep up that level of tension without starting to deflate. The explanation for the Creeper, and where he came from, doesn't make him quite as interesting as when we didn't know his history. While I did like the ending (much different from most horror films I've seen), it came much too abruptly. When the credits started rolling I actually felt baffled for a moment, wondering if somehow I'd accidentally hit the fast forward button at some point during the film.
I can recommend Jeepers Creepers to you horror fans out there, and to those who aren't fans of excessive gore. The effects and violence are plentiful, but not as graphic as some recent horror films. Jeepers Creepers hits its target just off the center—it's a fun ride, but by the end something feels like it's missing.
As a side note, I'd like to mention the director Victor Salva. For those of you who don't know, Salva was convicted of videotaping himself having sex with an underage boy a few years back. Some people feel that a convicted child molester shouldn't be making movies. While I agree with this sentiment, there's no denying that Salva has directed a well written tale. Sometimes you can't separate the dance from the dancer. Viewer take heed.
Jeepers Creepers is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Keeping in tone with the movie this print has a documentary-style look to it. Blacks and browns were all solid with a slight amount of grain showing up in the picture (which, says the director, was intentional). There is a bit of edge enhancement and some digital artifacting in a few scenes, but overall this is a solid looking print boasting bright colors and a well rendered image by MGM.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, as well as in Dolby 2.0 in French and Spanish. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is effective and very well mixed. While this is not a hugely aggressive track, the directional sounds are utilized well in many scenes. I spotted no distortion in any of the dialogue, effects, or music. This is a nice track that should have you cringing in your seat with every squish of eyeball and crack of bone! Also included on this disc are French, Spanish, and English subtitles.
Jeepers Creepers is presented in a "special edition" from MGM and includes a plentiful amount of extra features. First up is a commentary track by director Victor Salva. Salva seems genuinely pleased with his efforts on the film, and this track pretty much runs the gambit of Salva reciting behind-the-scenes stories and information about the writing of the script. The track sometimes gets a bit long winded, though it is a nice companion piece for fans of the film.
Flipping the disc over to side two starts off with a making-of documentary titled "Behind the Peepers" which can be played as either one single feature or as six mini featurettes. These six featurettes include "Finding Trish and Darry," a short about the teenage actors and their characters, "Designing The Creeper," a look at the creative process behind making the Creeper, "Cars and Trucks," which focuses on the two cars (Trish and Darry's, and the Creeper's truck), "The Creeper Comes To Florida," a short about casting the Creeper (Jonathan Breck), the make-up, and other tidbits about the monster, "Night Shoots," about the shots caught at night for the film, and finally "Composed by Bennett Salvay," a quick look at the film composer and his duties on Jeepers Creepers. Comprised these features are a very in-depth look at the making of the film and last almost an hour.
Ten deleted scenes are next, including an alternate opening sequence and an alternate ending (which isn't all that different from the film's much bleaker ending). All of these scenes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and have a very rough feel to them. Much like most other deleted scenes, it's obvious why many of these were cut from the final film. However, they're still nice to have and give a slight amount of extra insight into the characters and their motivations.
Finally there is a nine-minute photo gallery of images from the film, a few filmographies, and theatrical trailers for Hannibal, Jeepers Creepers, The Silence Of The Lambs special edition DVD, The Terminator special edition DVD, and the Carrie special edition DVD.
Curiosity seekers will want to check out Jeepers Creepers and see what all the minor fuss is about. This won't go on to be a classic, but it does offer up some good scares and a few nice horror effects (and it's a great diversion from the teeny-bopper horror crap filling up the video and DVD shelves). MGM has done a very respectable job on this disc with some great video, audio and supplemental features!
Jeepers Creepers is free to go, as is MGM for their work on this disc!
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Scales of Justice
• Deleted and Extended Scenes Including Alternate Opening and Ending Sequences
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