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  Jeepers Creepers Eyes Fright
Year: 2001
Director: Victor Salva
Stars: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Eileen Brennan, Brandon Smith, Peggy Sheffield, Jeffrey William Evans, Patrick Cherry, Jon Beshara
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Siblings Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long) are driving home across the countryside, back from college. As the roads are very straight, the landscape very flat and there are very few other vehicles to be seen, the chances boredom will swamp them are strong and they resort to bickering and making up pointless games to pass the time. When they do see, for example, a motorhome, they make up a phrase out of its license plate, but all of a sudden there's a huge truck bearing down on them from behind, horn blaring. Darry, in the driver's seat, tries to get out of the way, but the truck appears to want to terrorise them before overtaking them... they don't know the half of it...

Jeepers Creepers was a surprise hit in its year: there were no stars, little sensational pre-release buzz and to all intents and purposes it was simply another shocker. But it briefly caught the imagination thanks to intriguing plotting that revealed its surprises gradually, keeping its cards close to its chest until the sick joke of a final shot. In actual fact, the more that is revealed the less the mystery holds, but writer and director Victor Salva was wise to open with a terrific first fifteen minutes that start as a variation on Steven Spielberg's Duel - the monster truck - and then opt for suspense in the Texas Chain Saw Massacre mould.

Thanks to that scene-setting first act, which culminates in the payoff of seeing the truck parked at an abandoned church, with its driver dropping what appear to be dead bodies wrapped up in bloody sheets down a corrugated iron tube leading underground, the viewer is keen to see where all this is going. As there are no recognisable stars, at least for the time, the outcome could go either way, but there is a tendency for Trish and (especially) Darry to embark on foolhardy actions that get the plot moving but would leave them much safer if they had kept on driving and called the cops.

That old, reliable theme of horror fiction, that you shouldn't stick your nose into other people's business, particularly if those other people have murder on their mind, is well to the fore here, and you'll be rolling your eyes when Darry not only decides to investigate the iron tube (in case there's someone left alive down there), but also gets his sister to hold his ankles while he hangs inside it peering into the darkness with the aid of a flashlight. No prizes for guessing what happens next, one of the few examples of predictability in a script that prefers surprises.

If not exactly shocks, as once you are aware that the monster on the loose has supernatural powers and basically has Terminator-like abilities of invulnerability then you can guess that any encounter with this fellow will not end well. Dropped into the mix is a psychic (Patricia Belcher) who has had a vision of something terrible happening to the duo while the oldie "Jeepers Creepers" plays in the background, but as it goes on it becomes clear that the Creeper (Jonathan Breck) is after one of them alone, for what could be interpreted as the motives of a homosexual predator coveting a particular part of his prey (he even sniffs his underwear). But in the main this was a decent, nuts and bolts horror movie that was efficient enough to satisfy, even if that first fifteen minutes were the brightest. Music by Bennett Salvay.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Victor Salva  (1958 - )

American writer and director who favours creepy subject matter. After a short film, he made his feature debut with horror Clownhouse, but it was seven years later that he directed his next, Powder. It was then revealed he was a convicted paedophile who had molested one of the young stars of Clownhouse. After thriller Nature of the Beast and drama Rites of Passage, he enjoyed an unexpected success with Jeepers Creepers, which he followed with a sequel, and chiller The Watch.

 
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