• Jeepers Creepers



    Released by: MGM
    Released on: September 11, 2012.
    Director: Victor Salva
    Cast: Justin Long, Gina Philips, Jonathan Breck
    Year: 2001
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    The Movie:

    2001 was not a banner year for horror movies but Jeepers Creepers, directed by Victor Salva and executive produced by his friend Francis Ford Coppola, managed to do pretty decent box office numbers and spawn a sequel (with a third film slated for 2013). Without wanting to get into the controversy surrounding Salva’s conviction as a child molester on the set of his film Clownhouse, and hoping to evaluate the movie on its own merits, how does it hold up?

    When the film begins, two teenagers - Trish Jenner (Gina Philips) and her brother Darry (Justin Long) – are on their way home for spring break. Their travels take them through a rural part of Florida where a massive, rusty old truck tries to run them off the road. Once that’s over and done with, they notice shortly after the same track parked near an abandoned old church where a hulking man decked out in a long coat and hat is dumping what looks like a body down an old pipe. The stranger sees their car pass and recognizes them, at which point he hops back into his truck for round two but they again escape. Despite the fact that they’ve almost been killed twist at this point, Darry talks Trish into heading back to the church so they can investigate. He insists on trying to look down the pipe to see the body but when she loses the grip on his feet and he falls down there, he quickly realizes there’s not just a body, but seemingly hundreds of bodies all stashed below. He makes it out and they get out of there as quickly as they can, heading into town to talk to the cops, but soon enough that thing they saw dumping the body down the pipe reveals its true nature and starts killing off anything that gets in its way…

    Jeepers Creepers does quite a few things right, but so too does it do quite a few things wrong. First, the good – the two principal characters are likeable and we get to know them enough from their conversations to care enough about what happens to them. Long comes off as a nice guy, and Philips as just as well meaning. In a genre where so many teenage characters exist solely as slasher fodder, these two are a bit more than that and given that pretty much the entirety of the movie hinges on making us care about what they’re going to be put through, it’s important that the film was able to pull this off. Additionally, there are some great sets and effects work scattered throughout the scene. The moment where Darry wakes up in the basement full of bodies is eerie and effective and there are some great shots of the creature set against a pitch black night sky that give the movie some welcome atmosphere. It’s got a nice southern gothic thing going on for much of its running time that helps make it visually more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

    The bad? Well, the characters in this movie fall victim to the same dumb decisions that characters in countless other horror movies make, the most obvious one (which sets everything off) being Darry’s insistence that his sister help him get down the drain pipe. Given that they’ve almost been killed twice by this ‘person’ you’d have to be a complete fool to want to try this, and yet there he goes, making exactly the wrong move and in doing so, making it a bit tough to suspend our disbelief. The film also plays its trump card – that being the monster itself – way too early and way too often. While the creature is cool looking in a ‘big winged lizard man’ sort of way, putting him front and center in the middle of the frame drenched in light takes a lot of the mystery out of his presence.

    Ultimately, the movie is fun. It’s an enjoyable monster movie with some good kill scenes and creative murder set pieces with some very nice cinematography and good use of sound. You could do a lot worse than this one, it’s a fun time killer – but really nothing more than that, and certainly not the ‘best US horror movie of the last ten years’ as the hyperbolic quote from Ain’t It Cool News on the front of the packaging claims.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Jeepers Creepers debuts on Blu-ray in a good AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1. The film’s grain structure remains intact here, there’s no evidence of noise reduction or any sort of filtering nor are there any issues with edge enhancement. Some minor print damage shows up here and there but it’s not a big deal and the color reproduction is handled well here, though it should be noted that the movie is quite dark and relies on a lot of drab looking earth tones, so it never really pops the way a more colorful film would. Skin tones look pretty natural, black levels are good and detail and texture consistently surpass what DVD could ever offer.

    The main option on this disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, though Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks are offered in Spanish and French with subtitles provided in English SDH and Spanish. Surrounds are used well here, and quite frequently, to offer up some fun jump scares. Bass response is pretty strong but never quite buries the dialogue and the sound effects are mixed in nicely. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the score sounds good. A pretty solid track, overall.

    MGM have carried over all of the extras from the last DVD release but added nothing new to the supplements for this movie. Extras kick off with a commentary track from Victor Salva who speaks quite candidly about making this picture, where some of the ideas came from, the locations, the effects and what it was like working with the cast and crew that he assembled for the film. It’s a good commentary, followed by an equally good featurette called Behind The Peppers, which spends just under an hour interviewing the cast and crew and showing off some nice behind the scenes footage. There are also ten deleted scenes here, totaling about seventeen minutes worth of material. Rounding out the extras is a quick with on the director’s cameo in the film, a still gallery and the film’s theatrical trailer. Pop-up menus are provided as is chapter selection and all of the supplements on the disc are in standard definition except for the theatrical trailer.

    The Final Word:
    Fans of the film ought to be happy with the upgrade offered by MGM’s Blu-ray reissue of Jeepers Creepers. The transfer is good as is the audio and there are plenty of extras here, even if they’ll look familiar to many. As to the movie itself? It’s a decent enough monster movie with some cool kills, some nice atmosphere and a couple of decent performers. A fun popcorn movie, no more, no less – and there’s nothing wrong with that. This makes for decent entertainment…


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!