4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Jeepers Creepers (DVD)
I hear an amazing amount of chatter nowadays about the generally poor quality of recent horror film releases. Fans of the genre point to films plagued with cliches, the endless stream of remakes, and just about anything else they find objectionable as evidence that the era of horror is over. I'm not absolving myself here; I do a fair amount of complaining myself from time to time. It's easy to do when you watch something like "Shatter Dead" or "Slash." If I truly thought these two films represented the future of horror, I would volunteer to shovel the first bit of dirt on the grave myself. Then again, there are people who genuinely like these two movies and wish to see more films like them. Personally, I am getting to the point where I welcome the good with the bad. For one thing, I secretly enjoy watching terrible films. There is something enormously entertaining about trashing a real piece of schlock. Too, I would rather see ANY horror film arriving on the scene than none at all. Think about it: if people quit renting horror, the next wave of fans turned talented directors and producers might never fulfill their destinies. All of this is a rather convoluted way to say the following: "Jeepers Creepers" is a pretty good modern horror movie. It's definitely not another "Shatter Dead" or "Slash."
"Jeepers Creepers" tells the horrific tale of Trish Jenner (Gina Philips) and her brother Darry (Justin Long). The problems begin when Darry drives his sister home from college. This isn't your normal jaunt across town or through a couple of neighborhoods, but a cross-country excursion that takes several days. Worse, the two have to navigate their way through the flat plains of the Midwest, which, as I can assure you from personal experience, is a daunting expedition. In the true tradition of Hollywood, they can't pick anything up on their radio except some loudmouth preacher bible thumping about the apocalypse. Since the trip takes place during the summer, the heat makes them antsy. The opening sequences of the movie show the two quibbling with each other about personal problems and their parents. Trish also takes Darry to task for straying far from the security of the interstate system in order to take the "scenic" route. Needless to say, she's more right than she knows. Things take an ominous turn when a souped up black truck/van hybrid roars up behind them. With horn blazing away, this vehicle repeatedly swerves, bumps into Darry's car, and generally acts like most drivers in my hometown. He runs the two kids off the road but doesn't bother stopping.
Later, when the two happen to cruise by an abandoned church just in time to see the driver of the aforementioned black vehicle dumping what looks like a body wrapped in a bloody sheet down a drainpipe, the trip takes on ominous dimensions. He--at least we think it's a he although it's hard to tell with all those black clothes and a coat on--jumps into his car and comes after them again. Trish and Darry manage to avoid another confrontation but foolishly decide to head over to the church to see what went into the pipe. Down into the ground goes Darry, only to discover an enormous cavern decorated with human wallpaper. It appears that the guy dumping corpses into this pipe has been doing it for eons considering the number of bodies hanging all over the place. Darry manages to get out, reunite with Trish, and hightail it down the road to the nearest diner to make the obligatory call to the cops. But yet another weird incident occurs, this time an out of the blue phone call to the kids on the payphone from a woman claiming to be a psychic. She knows all about what they saw and warns them of extreme danger. What we eventually learn about this guy is that he's no guy at all, but some flying demon awakened from his years long sleep. He's out collecting humans and now he has his sights set on Trish and Darry. Throw in the Cat Lady (Eileen Brennan), a couple of cannon fodder cops, good gore, and you have all the makings for a fun filled horror romp.
The first part of "Jeepers Creepers" works better than the second half. The rather calm world of the Jenner kids suddenly shattered by a weirdo in a spooky vehicle out in the middle of nowhere is a terrifying proposition that the film pulls off well. Just as eerie is the glimpse of this black clad figure dumping the corpse in the drainpipe. Although I can't find it anywhere on the web, I swear that the writer got the idea for this scene from an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" where the same situation happened to several travelers somewhere in the United States (minus the flying demon, of course). Once the psychic Jezelle (Patricia Belchar) physically enters the picture, the movie loses some of its steam. By this time Trish and Darry are in a police station facing the prospect of the Creeper running rampant in the building. The resulting scenes of carnage reminded me too much of a similar scene in "Darkness Falls" even though "Jeepers Creepers" did it first. In short, I think the movie is scarier when we don't know what Trish and Darry are up against.
Still, "Jeepers Creepers" is definitely worth watching. For once MGM actually loaded up for bear with the extras. We get a commentary track with director Victor Salva, plenty of deleted scenes, stills, cast and crew filmographies, and a making of featurette. Followed by an intriguing sequel that is in and of itself entertaining although it doesn't quite capture the magic of the first installment, "Jeepers Creepers" is a prime example of how horror movies can still attain a measure of originality and scares.