Darry (Justin Long) and his older sister Trish (Gina Phillips) are on their way home from college, having taken the scenic route through a desolate stretch of road in Florida. After an ominous truck runs them off the road, Darry and Trish see what appears to be a body bag or two being flung down a large drainpipe by a strange figure in the grounds of a deserted church. When Darry feels compelled by his conscience to see if anyone’s still alive, he steps into the world of The Creeper, whose hunger for body parts is directed by the smell of fear in his potential consumables.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Too many people in the diner. Too many cops in the sheriff’s office. Aw shucks, don’t be such a picky ninny, you might say, but when it comes to genre films (any films, really, but especially genre films) I like my details detailed and credible. Otherwise, I’m jolted out of my movie trance into picky ninny mood. How come this isolated community can afford more cops than Sydney Central? And where do all those roadside diners come from? All at the same time? Now I don’t want those thoughts crossing my horror and terror as The Creeper chases our innocent brother and sister heroes - and anyone else he comes across - to sniff into a stiff. Using smell as the film’s unusual genre contribution for The Creeper’s evil, Victor Silva is almost onto something in this wonderfully performed horror-cum-creature feature. His screenplay is a bit like his monster, a bit of everything; a sort of cinematic blancmange. The Creeper is not human but human like (drives a mean truck), not alien but unearthly, not a bird but with wings (and can fly, but not always – like when he is threatened by a car he doesn’t fly to safety). You see, here I go nitpicking again; once I start there’s no stopping me, which is why detail and credible fantasy are so important. It’s like the thread of you jumper; tug a loose one and the whole thing unravels. But I don’t want to put you off a good scare if you need one (and we all need one sometimes just to escape the dross of routine); there are many Good Things in Jeepers Creepers, including a tongue in cheek closing credits song (no, not the one you think), a really good score - and a fine outing by the unknown leads. Plus a very scary truck.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's something about horror movies that make my skin crawl. I guess that's the idea. But I'm an easy target. Fill my head with notions and tantalise my imagination and I'm as impressionable as they come. Jeepers Creepers begins as a superbly made horror creature feature, with plenty of genuine scares and anticipation, before disintegrating into a slightly overdone, predictable slasher thriller. You may have to look away a couple of times – I certainly did! Fear has a smell, we are told, and we can sniff the terror from the moment the monster truck with the BEATNGU number plate speeds into view. Victor Salva's screenplay and direction starts innocently with innocuous banter between brother and sister on their way home from college. 'I have to bring home laundry; if I don't, Mum gets depressed.' says Darry, when Trish comments at the pungent pile of dirty clothes in the back seat (Mothers will smile knowingly at that line). The real scares begin at the deserted church, where squawking blackbirds hold court, and by the time Darry falls down the ominous chute, we are well on the way to being totally unsettled. It's then, that Bennett Salvay's magnificently chilling score finds its footing, and we are gripped in a claustrophobic bubble of fear. The music alone takes us on a terrifying ride and convincing performances from Justin Long and Gina Philips ground the film. While the set up is top notch, the final execution is problematic, ending up rather melodramatic and heavy handed. Of course the theme tune of Jeepers Creepers will stay in your head long after the film has ended, and in case you're wondering (if you are familiar with the lyrics), you will certainly get the answer you are looking for.
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JEEPERS CREEPERS (MA)
CAST: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith,
DIRECTOR: Victor Salva
PRODUCER: Tom Luse, Barry Opper
SCRIPT: Victor Salva
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don E. FauntLeRoy
EDITOR: Ed Marx
MUSIC: Bennett Salvay
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steven Legler
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 17, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: July 3, 2002
Also available on DVD - theatrical trailer included