Victor Salva’s “Jeepers Creepers” is a pretty excellent and haunting horror gem in the early aughts when horror was pretty stagnant for a while. A mix of Duel and a genuine monster movie, director Salva presents a well paced and very scary film that only accentuates how terrifying films on the wide open road can be with the proper premise. Justin Long and Gina Phillips is top notch, keeping the film afloat with their memorable chemistry and fantastic interplay. They play siblings Trish and Darry, two college students tasked with delivering a car to their cousin across the country. Along the way as they bicker and deal with boredom, they’re confronted with a menacing truck that nearly runs them off the road.
While mistakenly crossing its path, they find the truck and its menacing driver seemingly sliding corpses down a storm drain. Deciding to investigate it, the pair arouses the anger and obsession of the truck’s driver, who slowly reveals himself to be anything but a simple psychopath. Quite obviously working on a limited budget, director Salva keeps a lot of the elements of the villain ambiguous and left wildly up to speculation by the viewer. Rather than piling on a lot of knowledge, our characters literally drop right in to the lair of our villain and slowly realize the severity of their discovery and how it will greatly affect their lives if they don’t get off the road and back to civilization.
The terror is amped up minute by minute, as both protagonists slowly run out of options in their efforts to get home, and try to outwit the monstrous driver who reveals himself to be much more clever and vicious than they ever imagined. Long is especially very good as his sanity slowly dwindles the deeper in to this nightmare he and his sister drop. Phillips plays well alongside Long, keeping up with his strong turn as a very strong heroine. A lot of “Jeepers Creepers” is beautifully paced and well edited, allowing for a ton of simple but brutally creepy moments. Some of the best scenes involve an attack on two beat cops in the background as our characters drive ahead of them, and the final reveal of our villain which is both jarring and shocking.
What would have been a simple “Duel” knock off spirals out of control in to a bonafide tense monster movie that keeps its pace pretty brisk and introduces us to a twisted new horror fiend with survival instincts that make it relentless, vicious and remorseless. What’s more is that many elements are introduced that are very supernatural and out of the ordinary with ideas about premonitions and fate that either favor this being’s hunt for prey, or ultimately work against it. “Jeepers Creepers” is a fine horror yarn, and one that goes criminally under appreciated mainly for Salva’s very public sordid criminal past, and the sub-par sequel.
Disc One from Scream Factory includes an audio commentary with director Victor Salva, whose work on this feature is informative, if kind of tedious. The second commentary features Salva with cast members Justin Long and Gina Phillips. It’s a fun little reunion, as the trio seems very casual and friendly toward one another. On Disc Two, there’s the thirty seven minute “Jeepers Creepers: Then And Now” a collection of interviews with the cast and crew. “From Critters To Creepers” is a twenty minute interview with producer Barry Opper, who discusses in length his career, working with legends of horror, and his involvement with the film.
“The Town Psychic” is a seventeen minute interview with Patricia Belcher who plays the town psychic introduced in the second half. “Behind the Peepers” is an hour long HD transfer of the original Standard Definition documentary. It’s a six part making of for “Jeepers Creepers,” with cast and crew interviews, video clips, production stills, the creature designs, and so much more. There’s a seventeen minute “Deleted Scenes” reel containing extended scenes and alternate openings and ending. There’s also the original trailer, a radio spot, and a trailer gallery with production stills, on set photos, and concept designs for the creature.