Jeepers Creepers Is Worth Another Bite On Blu-ray
Even way back in 2001, the idea of a cannibalistic monster-man terrorizing attractive and annoying kiddos wasn’t exactly ground-breaking. And yet there was something about Jeepers Creepers that made it stand out from the rest of the early-2000s dreck that passed as horror (seriously, those were dark times). The main reason for its moderate success is evident in the opening sequence that recalls Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre mixed with Steven Spielberg’s feature debut, Duel, in which a massive semi-truck rages war with a travelling salesman. That’s enough of a compliment to forgive the film’s less inspired midpoint and climax.
Jeepers Creepers begins with two squabbling siblings (Justin Long and Gina Philips) driving through the countryside on their way home for spring break. Shortly after barely surviving some vicious tailgating by a rusty old truck in broad daylight, the duo witness its driver throwing what appears to be wrapped-up bodies down a large pipe next to a creaky, crow-infested church. Of course they decide to investigate, and not before long the film switches gears to a more paint-by-numbers creature-feature involving a local psychic, skeptical townsfolk, a bloodsucking winged freak, and a jazzy 1938 song with the foreshadowing lyrics, “Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?” While I’m making this out to be a complete letdown, it’s not. In addition to its standout opening, Jeepers Creepers features some top-shelf practical effects—and some campy digital ones, too. Suffice it to say, the “Creeper” is a pretty rad amalgam of old school movie monsters, and it’s probably best to encounter him sans spoilers.
If you make it all way through Jeepers Creepers (I don’t see why you wouldn’t), you might as well give part two a spin, since Scream Factory decided to give this 2003 sequel the equally deluxe Blu-ray treatment. Picking up right where part one left off, we’re given a far more conventional storyline and a fresh cast, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. Whereas the previous film was somewhat of an atmospheric slow burn, Jeepers Creepers 2 is more action-centric, kind of like Aliens to Alien, but way less prestigious than either film. The story centres on a high school basketball team that gets picked off one by one after their school bus is stranded in the middle of nowhere.
For the sake of consistency and overall coherence, it helps that both films are written and directed by Victor Salva (who has an extremely reprehensible criminal past that I won’t get into, because that’s not what I’m here to write about), and he’s clearly invested in his horror mascot. Strangely enough, both movies are produced by Francis Ford Coppola, who helped kick-start Salva’s career when he made his debut feature, Clownhouse. If you’re a fan of this odd pairing, you’ll be happy to know Salva and Coppola are currently working together on Jeepers Creepers 3, which is set to take place between the events of the first and second film.
While part two features even less likeable youths than its predecessor, its casting is greatly redeemed by the presence of Twin Peaks’ Ray Wise as a vengeful father. His character, combined with the film’s half impressive/half kitschy special effects, makes for a worthy sequel to an above-average chiller. This ain’t the Godfather saga, but it’s good, dumb fun nonetheless.
Fan shouldn’t hesitate to devour Scream Factory’s two-disc Blu-ray sets for either film. Both editions feature two separate audio commentaries (with Salva, the cast, the “Creeper”, and more), lengthy Then and Now featurettes (with Salva and his crew), amusing and informative interviews with crewmembers (producer Barry Opper, illustrator Brad Parker, makeup artist Brian Penikas, composer Bennett Salvay) and castmembers (Ray Wise, town psychic Patricia Belcher, ill-fated coach Tom Tarantini), deleted scenes, and a whole bunch of making-of footage from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases. The films also haven’t looked or sounded this good since they ran in theatres. If that’s not incentive enough, you’re probably just not that into Jeepers Creepers.
Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2 are out now on Blu-ray, courtesy of the good folks at Scream Factory. Sink your sharp teeth into both trailers below.