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MGM Studios DVD presents
Jeepers Creepers: SE (2001)

Trish: What the hell was he doing?
Darry: He dumped something down that pipe.
Trish: Wrapped in a sheet.
Darry: Wrapped and roped in a sheet.
Trish: Wrapped and roped in a sheet with red stains on it.

- Gina Philips, Justin Long

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: December 24, 2001

Stars: Gina Philips, Justin Long
Other Stars: Jonathan Breck, Eileen Brennan, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith
Director: Victor Salva

MPAA Rating: R for (terror, violence/gore, language and brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:30m:05s
Release Date: January 08, 2002
UPC: 027616869753
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+A B+

DVD Review

This is the type of horror film that regrettably just isn't made too often these days. Plain and simple, it is an old-fashioned monster movie thrill ride; it's the kind of film that wisely keeps the villain in the shadows for much of the time, lurking in and out of the background, and it consequently builds up a palpable level of tension. There isn't a new marquee villain here to serve as a franchise anchor, ala Freddy or Jason, to spout clever one-liners or to constantly come back from the dead for yet another tired sequel. The gore quotient, in hindsight, is surprisingly low, but the creepiness factor is cranked up to high. There are plenty of dark, disturbing scenes, but it is not necessarily bloody. When all is said , Jeepers Creepers succeeds wonderfully in reviving the often misdirected horror genre with the type of frenetic action and shadowy terror that has sadly been missing for awhile.

Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long) are sister and brother heading home from college on break, traveling across the rural and desolate south in a vintage Chevy Impala. In an event that serves to alter their lives forever, the pair witness a mysterious figure dumping what appears to be bodies wrapped and tied in sheets down an old drain pipe near an abandoned church. It's here the we are treated to one of the film's first truly spooky moments as Trish and Darry slowly drive past, and the figure (known behind the scenes as The Creeper), dressed in a wide-brimmed hat and long, ragged duster, does a slow, deliberate turn to return their gaze. He quickly pursues Trish and Darry in an ominous old truck, literally running them off the road in a sequence that is a tense little homage to Steven Spielberg's Duel, one that director Victor Salva executes perfectly.

To discuss too much more of Salva's screenplay would be unfair, as the bulk of the second and third acts rely heavily on an ever increasing layer of revelations that propel things along at a pretty rapid clip. To really get the plot moving, though seemingly in a moment of typical horror movie incredulity that appears jarringly dopey, Darry decides to return to the drain pipe to see if any of those "bodies" are still alive, and perhaps need help. As he pleads with his sister, he uses an old standby to cajole her into going: "What if it was you back there?" We all know that in horror films it is critical for lead characters to occasionally exhibit nonsensical behaviors, dismissing common logic that would otherwise make for a very dull film, and Darry's need to return to the drain pipe is what ultimately drives the rest of the story.

Darry: "Is it dead?"
Trish: "They never are."

Among what I found most satisfying about Jeepers Creepers were the genuine performances by Gina Philips and Justin Long. The fact that Salva avoided writing his leads as boyfriend and girlfriend is worth mention, because the closeness of the family dynamic here between Philips and Long is refreshing and gives the characters, and their interactions with each other, a nice connection not based on a sexual relationship. Not only that, but the absence of a steady stream of cornball one-liners, generally uttered in the face of danger in lesser genre films, is pretty much absent from Salva's script. The pair bicker easily, like actual siblings, but still convey that natural, familial bond quite well. Philips gives a strong turn as Trish, and she portrays her as a tough fighter, despite her initial concerns about investigating the occurrence at the drain pipe. Philips is naturally beautiful, but Salva isn't compelled to include any leering nude shots, and that also is something almost unheard of in the genre. Long's Darry isn't a one-dimensional macho hero, and he gets to portray real fear very believably. He, too, exhibits some toughness, but not so much that he cannot be thoroughly terrified. After a horrifying discovery in The Creeper's House Of Pain, Darry remains shell-shocked and visibly shaken for quite awhile, which is a completely expected form of behavior under the circumstances. Too often movie characters shake off a disturbing encounter far too quickly, and Salva doesn't allow his characters that luxury.

As he mentions in the commentary, Salva grew up on the old Universal monsters, and Jeepers Creepers follows in the tradition of those classic films. Most of the horror elements in Salva's film are a result of his entertaining script, which focuses on being extremely scary without showing too much to the audience. When Darry is exploring The Creeper's lair it is all done by the narrow beam of a flashlight, which only hints at the grotesque imagery surrounds him, and that is much more chilling than a blatant reveal that doesn't leave anything to the imagination.

I'll go out on a limb and say that this is probably one of the better contemporary horror films I've seen in the last year or two. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

Reviewers Note:
I'm well aware of Victor Salva's criminal conviction in the early 1990s, and how it turned his name into a dirty word to many. Whether you choose to look past that or not is your choice, and I respect your decision. If you choose to ignore films such as Jeepers Creepers, or his earlier Powder, based solely on that fact you are missing some highly entertaining filmmaking.
The debate whether a work of art stands alone, separate from its author, has been debated for hundreds of years and will not be answered here.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: MGM has included not only a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, but a 1.33:1 full-frame option as well. Aside from distracting edge enhancement issues, most notably early on, the overall image transfer is good. Colors here look natural, and are well-saturated, with solid black levels. Some of the darker sequences, such as the scenes in the police station, reveal a bit of grain, but in general provide fairly consistent shadow delineation. Much of the film takes place at night, or in dark locations, and while some of the scenes are a bit dimly lit, most are properly eerie. Salva talks at length in the commentary about how the DVD transfer is more lush than the theatrical print, and it's obvious that it is of some concern to him.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: MGM dresses up this disc with a big, robust Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that makes good use of the front and rear channels, creating a full, natural sound field. Salva uses Bennett Salvay's score quite effectively for dramatic punch, and the audio transfer belies the film's low-budget roots. Just listen to the initial chase scene between Trish, Darry and The Creeper for a solid example of how Salva's use of the score, in lieu of overpowering sound effects, is employed to create a thundering sequence that is showcased nicely here. Dialogue is clean and clear, and is never buried in the mix. Directional imaging, whether it's the roaring whine of The Creeper's truck or the caws of menacing crows, is quite good, too. This is the type of mix that can make one forget that this is basically a low-budget monster movie. 2.0 surround mixes in French and Spanish are also included.

An impressive audio transfer from MGM.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Hannibal, The Silence Of The Lambs:SE DVD trailer, Terminator:SE DVD trailer, Carrie:SE DVD trailer
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Victor Salva
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery - Last Looks
Extras Review: MGM's Special Edition treatment of Jeepers Creepers is pretty impressive for what is essentially a monster movie, and the supplemental material left me completely sated. The only oddity is that most of extras are on the disc's flipside. Let's take a look:

Commentary
Victor Salva's full-length scene-specific track contains a nice blend of production anecdotes and straight-forward technical information that is easy to listen to. He can toss out some humorous tidbits about crow training or Justin Long's ability to urinate on command at one moment, and then launch into a serious discussion on some of the struggles he faced as a writer in bringing the script to the big screen. I found a lot of Salva's comments to be extremely enlightening, such as some of his so-called "Hitchcock reveals" and one particularly insightful analysis of a scene that features an almost too subtle appearance by The Creeper that I missed the first time around. He also points out how the DVD print is more lush, color wise, than the theatrical print, which was pulled down and muted for dramatic effect.

Behind The Peepers
This is essentially one long behind-the-scenes EPK piece that runs about an hour, broken down into a series of 6 separate mini-features that can be viewed individually, or via the "Play All" option. The segments are:

Finding Trish And Darry (11m:35s)
This is discussion from Salva and producer Tom Luse on how the two leads were chosen, and of course features some obligatory puffery, as well as the actor's motivations for the characterizations. Includes footage of not only the first auditions of Philips and Long, but also their first audition together.

Designing The Creeper (8m:12s)
In this segment, designer/illustrator Brad Parker talks about how he originally designed The Creeper, and how those drawings are turned into a "living thing" for the finished film. There are a wealth of great pre-production drawings of creature designs here.

Cars And Trucks (13m:01)
Salva and producer Barry Opper speak about the importance of selecting the proper vehicles, most notably Trish's classic stick-shift modified Chevy Impala and The Creeper's evil and noisy death truck. I found the footage of the insert car effects and process trailer to be quite interesting, as it really gives the viewer an idea of how complicated it is to get a "simple" shot of two characters in a moving car.

The Creeper Comes To Florida (8m:53s)
Here the focus is on The Creeper's makeup effects and application by Brian Penikas, and also includes comments from Breck and Long. Included here is Breck's initial Creeper audition, and his creepy "sniff" test that secured him the role.

Night Shoots (11m:27s)
Stunt coordinator James Churchman gives some insight into some of the night driving shots, and comments on the stunt doubles. The highlight here is footage of the various stages of CGI effects used for The Creeper.

Composed By Bennett Salvay (12m:50s)
The score in Jeepers Creepers is big, loud and eerie, and here composer Salvay speaks about creating the music, including some interesting shots of an orchestral string section experimenting with unusual sounds. There are a few examples of scenes with music only (no sound effects or dialogue) that really reiterate the importance of how an excellent score like Salvay's can be pivotal in building suspense and tension.

Deleted And Extended Scenes
A set of 10 brief deleted and extended scenes, none of which are exceptionally noteworthy. Most of the deleted footage is strictly for timing or pacing, and a couple of the extended scenes, including the original opening, suffer from the same chatty excess. The film's original ending is also included, and Salva indicates in the commentary that is was changed after test audiences balked at it. I for one, am glad it was changed. The scenes are:
Original Opening (03m:01s)
Worried About Mom (01m:09s)
Where There's A Hell, There's A Way (01m:07s)
Drive To The Diner (01m:25s)
Strip-O-Gram Cop (01m:02s)
More Creeper, More Tongue (01m:32s)
The Creeper Attacks (03m:20s)
Calling Home (01m:57s)
It's In The Building (:44s)
Original Ending (01m:22s)

Photo Gallery - Last Looks (7m:51s)
An automated montage of primarily behind-the-scenes stills, in widescreen, set to Salvay's memorably creepy score.

In addition to the theatrical trailer, there are a set of four thematically consistent trailers (Hannibal, The Silence Of The Lambs:SE DVD trailer, Terminator:SE DVD trailer, Carrie:SE DVD trailer), 24 chapter stops and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Jeepers Creepers is a welcome throwback to the good old days of movie horror, and it is a real heart-pounding good time. Victor Salva bypasses the predictable creation of a monster movie franchise by wisely choosing to leave a lot of the film's villain, known affectionately as The Creeper, to our imagination, at least well into the third act. I know a lot of horror fans have been split down the middle on this one, though I can't really understand why. This isn't a Freddy Krueger/Jason Vorhees slash-fest, so if that's what you want, then I suggest you look elsewhere.

An excellent Special Edition disc from MGM, with a solid mix of behind-the-scenes extras, easily make this a required purchase for all horror fans.

Highly recommended.

 


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