Halloween is around the corner, so that always means I need to break out all my fall-themed horror movies to have a month-long marathon of films of that ilk. Besides the obvious choices of going through the Halloween franchise of movies, I love to watch some other gems that scream of fall.
So even though I'm starting a little late (I usually pop in these DVDs and Blu-Rays the first week of October), I opened my media binder and brought out Jeepers Creepers.
This one movie—as well as the sequel—put another icon of horror on the map. We've had Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Pinhead, Chucky on pedestals, crowning them with the cult status of the embodiment of a character that scare the shit out of us in these movies.
In 2001, another icon took up the huge mantle: The Creeper. But before I talk about him (or "it"), let me synopsize this film.
The film opens with Darry (Justin Long) and Trish (Gina Philips), brother and sister, driving through the countryside in a vintage car belonging to Trish. Trish had just picked up Darry from college to bring him home for school break. They're making small talk, doing the out-of-state-license-plate-
Later, as the brother and sister are driving along, Darry notices a building off the road with the familiar truck parked in front. Both he and Trish notice a dark figure in the back, pulling something wrapped in a sheet out from the back and dumping down a large storm drain protruding out of the ground. As they watch, the figure turns suddenly and stares, following them with his gaze. Not long after Darry picks up speed and trying to get out of the area quickly, the vehicle is back behind them, really blaring the horn and tailgating. As the truck smacks into the car a few times, Darry loses control and drives off the road. The truck keeps going, leaving Trish and Darry behind. Darry and Trish agree that it was probably a body that was dumped and decide to go back to investigate (Trish, reluctantly).
I don't want to give too much away, in case you haven't seen this flick. Although, if you haven't seen Jeepers Creepers, you shouldn't call yourself a horror movie fan. But just in case, if you are a newbie to this film, or horror in general, I'll keep this spoiler-free. But basically, The Creeper is after Darry and Trish as they try to find a way to keep away from him. Unfortunately for them, they experience some gruesome images and go through a nightmare before the movie ends.
First off, the story is a nice original work, not your typical slasher fest and not really a supernatural outing either. The direction by Victor Salva is pretty good and well-paced, keeping the audience going along and never really a dull moment. There are a lot of eerie scenes that make you feel uncomfortable, not to mention scared. Without mentioning who, or what, he is, The Creeper is pretty terrifying.
Justin Long gives a great performance in this film, appearing unraveled and spooked, making you feel and believe what he's experiencing. After his character finds out what's beyond the drain pipe, Long puts on a believable performance as he's nearly catatonic after seeing the horror underground.
The idea of this new icon of fright is superb and I wish MGM would get on the ball with Salva's idea for part 3. In this day and age, most studios want remakes, but it's so refreshing to see an original story or intelligently written sequels to an already established franchise.
After watching this film, you may still be confused as to who, or what, The Creeper is exactly. So, in that respect, I'd say watch Jeepers Creepers II right after this one. It's not as good as the original, but it's a worthy sequel nonetheless. You'll find out a little more about his background to answer any questions you may have had in the first film.
So, anyway, what's my final "bit" on Jeepers Creepers?
The film has a feel of the 1980s horror movies with a quickly established new horror icon set. Instead of having a bunch of teens you don't care about getting killed one by one, you have two protagonists you root and care for. The movie institutes a creepy mood most of the time and is shot nicely, mostly during the night (a must for a horror movie in my opinion). Above all else, if you haven't seen this movie, you need to go out and rent it or purchase it. It's a must-own for any horror movie enthusiast out there.
A couple of trivial factoids:
Victor Salva has a couple of cameos; once as one of the bodies displayed in The Creeper's "house of pain" and the other is his picture on the sleeve of the record album during the phone call scene.
Well, thanks for reading and enjoy the Halloween season!
You can reach me on Twitter: @JustCallMeManny.