Judge Steve Power knows where he got his peepers...
On this road in the middle of nowhere, evil has found the perfect place to hide. It has a face. It has a home. And worst of all, it has a plan.
In a genre so saturated as horror is in low rent, low budget exercises in schlock and awe, Jeepers Creepers made something of an impression when it hit theaters in the fall of 2001. Cult status and sequels were to follow, but here we are, over a decade later, and the original has hit shiny high definition Blu-ray. Is this one worth creeping into your collection?
Facts of the Case
Tween siblings Darry (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard) and Patricia (Gina Phillips, The Sick House) are driving home from college for spring break when a chance encounter leads them into a confrontation with a mysterious evil force.
By 2001, the horror genre had become a stagnant beast. The slasher-flick heyday of the '80s had given way to a stripped down, tongue firmly in cheek smug self-awareness. This "douche-horror" as I like to call it, really permeated the genre to such an extent, that by 2001 all we were getting were Scream rip-offs and outright parodies that played for absurdist humor rather than chills and blood spills. Jeepers Creepers largely succeeds because it isn't afraid to embrace the tropes of the '70s and '80s. It's more The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with a touch of A Nightmare on Elm Street's supernatural underpinnings than anything truly, fiercely original, and I think it earns most of its "cred" from the fact that it had the fortuitous luck to come out at a time when people were sick of I Know What You Did Last Summer sequels, and pop culture skewering like Scary Movie.
It's not that Jeepers Creepers is a weak film, or that it isn't competently assembled, because neither of those is the case. More to the point, it's actually a pretty effective thriller for a good chunk of the run time; it's appropriately moody and a tad unnerving for a while, but rather than ratchet everything tightly into the final act, Jeepers Creepers drops the ball a little early, and what was an exercise in tension becomes a chase film a little sooner than it should. The action is pretty well shot, and the creature, which we see far too much of, is still a scary bugger, but it just feels like the whole affair is in this massive hurry to get to the credits.
In spite of this, most of what's on screen actually does work, regardless of pacing or plotting issues, but it does instill a certain degree of deja-vu, especially when you're well versed in the flicks from which Jeepers Creepers draws its inspiration. Our leads and our supporting cast are all well-worn horror tropes, which may have worked fine in 2001 when everyone was used to horror films that may as well have starred the Scooby-Doo gang, but it hasn't helped the film age particularly gracefully in the horror renaissance that's followed it. There are horror re-makes out there, based on genre classics from the '70s, that feel more original than Jeepers Creepers, so don't be at all surprised when everything feels a tad too reminiscent.
Laying all that aside, if you're just looking for an effective scary movie in the old school vein, Jeepers Creepers really does fit the bill.
The disc on display here won't set the retina ablaze, and the sound mix won't rattle fillings, but, much like the movie itself, it works well enough to endear itself. The mix is a touch grainy, with some noise here and there, but it's got some fine color and detail. The sound kicks enough to the rear speakers to let you know it's a surround mix, and everything is nice and clear, with just enough low end oomph to satisfy. It's all pretty textbook really, and as good as one could expect given the source material.
Coming from an era where DVD bonus features were all the rage, MGM has seen fit to port over the features found on the old DVD release, including a commentary track by director Victor Salvia (Powder) and a surprisingly extensive hour-long feature about the making of the film. Both are worth the effort for fans, though the deleted scenes and photo gallery can be ignored.
No, Jeepers Creepers doesn't reinvent the horror genre or deliver anything particularly new to the table, and what was a breath of fresh air in 2001 has gotten a little stale in the years since. It does, however, remain an effectively creepy little flick with some solid performances and slick direction. If you loved it before, it's never looked or sounded better than it does now. If you haven't, and you've a hankering for some good 'ole fashioned horror akin to what we saw in the '70s and '80s, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Jeepers Creepers.
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