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MORIARTY Takes A Spoiler-Free Look At JEEPERS CREEPERS!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

If you’re sitting in a theater sometime between now and August 31st and a trailer comes on with the MGM logo in front of it, you’ve got a decision to make.

Are you a horror fan?

More specifically, do you love monster movies?

If so, you have to decide what it would be worth to you to be totally surprised by something, and you’ll only have a few seconds to make that decision. That’s why I’m warning you now. If you see that MGM logo, close your eyes and close your ears. Tell the person next to you to nudge you when it’s over. Or, hell... be neighborly and tell them not to watch it either.

That way, when you sit down in the theater to see JEEPERS CREEPERS that opening weekend, you’ll have the opportunity to see something you haven’t seen in a theater since possibly as far back as the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or even ALIEN.

That’s right... I’m talking about an original monster movie. A surprise. Satisfying from start to finish. I’m talking about one of those titles you’re going to revisit over and over, one of those great little movies that flies in under the radar and knocks you flat on your ass.

To be honest, I hadn’t heard a word about this before Harry Lime dropped into the Labs yesterday afternoon and invited me to Redondo Beach. I stared at him like he was a lunatic, reminding him that I’m 230 years old, and I’ve never exactly been a “beach person.” He corrected me though, telling me that’s where the GCC South Bay Theater was, and that’s where they’d be screening JEEPERS CREEPERS. He handed me the NRG passes. It’s been a while since I flew in under their radar... maybe since JASON X. I figured it was time to try again. Always good to keep the old skills limber, just in case.

We settled in for the movie, drawing no attention to ourselves. It’s a good thing, too, since they actually started the movie early for once. I would have been upset if we’d missed the start of the film, since it’s so adept at setting up its premise and starting all the elements into play. This movie wastes no time. It’s told with the same breathless efficiency as a good campfire yarn. A brother and a sister are driving home from college for a holiday. They’re having typical brother/sister conversations along the way, bickering off-handedly until their afternoon is turned upside down by the intrusion of a rusted out bucket of dents truck with a license plate reading “BEATINGU.” The truck terrorizes them for a few moments, then pulls around them and vanishes. They’ve barely had a chance to recover before they drive past the truck again, parked now beside an abandoned church. They slow down and see the driver of the truck feeding what appear to bodies into a pipe that leads into a hole in the earth. As they look, the driver turns around and sees them see him.

And that’s really all you need to know about the set-up. It’s more than I knew going in, and part of the joy with this film, as with the original ALIEN, is the discovery of just what our heroes are up against. And who exactly are our heroes? Well, there’s Justin Long, who made such a memorable impression in GALAXY QUEST, where he essentially played the geeky kid from TREKKIES (and, yes, you know which one I mean). He’s on NBC’s ED right now, doing consistently funny work, and he’s proving to be a nimble comic lead. Nice to see that when it’s time to be serious, he can be. JEEPERS CREEPERS is mercifully free of any of the self-referential humor that has made so many recent films a chore to sit through. I wasn’t that big a fan of SCREAM, so the endless imitation on it has worn my nerves raw. This film plays it all serious, though, and Long rises to the occasion, genuinely terrified as these events unfold. Gina Philips, who I recognize from some of her TV work like a recurring role as Billy’s secretary on ALLY McBEAL, is an equally strong presence as his sister. Darryl and Trish aren’t superheroes, and they’re not stupid hotties preening their way through the film, either. Instead, they’re real kids, caught in a situation beyond their comprehension, desperate to stay alive.

For the most part, the film seemed finished last night. I certainly wouldn’t tweak it any further. There’s a heaping helping of both digital and practical FX work, but there’s nothing that would preclude the film getting an R from the MPAA. It’s intense without being graphic, and it’s grim without being grotesque. Writer/director Victor Salva proves himself a remarkably able genre director here, never giving in to the same old tricks with false jumps and orchestra stings. In fact, this is about as far from what we’re used to as it can be. The characters constantly do exactly what they should do considering what they’re up against, but it still does them no good. The Creeper isn’t an average threat, and no matter what measures are taken, no one’s prepared for what he’s capable of. The physical performance by Jonathan Breck is quite striking, and this film may boast the first use of wire work since THE MATRIX that actually feels fresh because of context. There’s a lot of mythology implied by the film, but very little about the Creeper is made explicit. I found myself wanting a sequel immediately, wanting to know more about this monster, fascinated by where it might have come from, curious to understand more about its motives.

I’m actually going to label this a pre-review, giving myself the chance to go back and see the finished film and review that closer to release. As it stands, I’ve spent today with certain moments and images playing back in my head, and I can’t help but feel like this is another one of those movies that makes my work here at AICN so immensely enjoyable. Like with PITCH BLACK or THE IRON GIANT, here’s a film that I knew nothing about, a film that is in a position to get overlooked. This is coming out on the exact opposite end of the summer from where we are now, the last day of August, opposite Mariah Carey’s ALL THAT GLITTERS. That means there are two horror films opening that day, and audiences will have to choose. As much as the thought of Mariah’s take on A STAR IS BORN chills my blood, I can vouch for JEEPERS CREEPERS. This is exactly the kind of film that genre fans complain never gets made anymore. Well, here it is, ready and waiting. All it needs now is your asses in the seats on opening weekend. I hope we can focus more attention on it, and that FANGORIA gives the film a cover, and that it ends up being a success for the studio. Hollywood imitates success, and the genre as a whole could stand to learn a few lessons from this fresh and ferocious film. I’ll definitely be talking about this more before release. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback
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  • May 3, 2001, 7:38 p.m. CST

    Its about time!

    by trafficguy2000

    Bring on the good ol fashioned monster movies from the 80s! Rawhead Rex, Deep Star Six, and all that shit! HAHA THOSE SUCK! Wheres the real scary stuff like From Beyond, Re-Animator or even some nice family fare LIKE ZOMBIES! mmmm brains.....

  • May 3, 2001, 10:08 p.m. CST

    cool man...

    by tremmor_christ

    Sounds like a good ol' fashioned blast...

  • I had passes to this movie and I gave them to my friend (who hated it with a passion). Having a job and responsibility sucks!!!!! I had to work this week and missed the new Buffy and this cool sounding horror movie. I'm gonna go pull my hair out now.... AAARRRGGHHHHH!!!!

  • its a really hard trick to pull off, actually, taking what had happened a thousand times before but just working the formula so perfectly that it seems like a herion shot to the ass. ala ALIENS (sci-fi/war), or UNFORGIVEN (western) or PITCH BLACK (fresh/hip riff on ALIENS format), heck, even L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (film noir), SEVEN (serial killer/ thriller/dectective story) or SCREAM (slasher/horror genre. and yes, the self-referential stuff WAS actually original and funny the first time around). All of these are standard genre pictures if you look at them, but they tweaked the formula just enough to make it fresh again

  • May 3, 2001, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Boycott this Movie

    by MOSDEF

    As good as this film sounds, everyone should boycott it. Victor Salva (the director) is a pedophile. He was convicted of molesting a young actor from his film CLOWNHOUSE. How does this guy get work? Why is Francic Ford Coppola producing this movie? Where's the outrage. I personally believe tha raping a child is an offense that one should have to serve the rest of his life in prison for. I won't be seing this flick, i hope everyone else follows suit.

  • May 3, 2001, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Holy crap this is from that pedophile "Powder" guy?!?!?!?

    by SethShandor

    Ugh. After the shit storm that flew after that flick I wouldn't think he would get work either. Damn. I was kind interested in Jeepers, but now... fuck him. I mean, it still could be a good movie but... ick. It's like if Jeffry Dalmer wrote a really good book. Would I even want to read it? How low does the hollywood forgiveness factory have to go? I mean, Robert Downey Jr. (so far) has only really hurt himself, but no matter how good a job he does, anytime I see him in a film now I'm always thinking..."Why the hell does anyone hire this guy?"

  • May 4, 2001, 12:27 a.m. CST

    I was excited up until the comparison to "Pitch Black"

    by Benjamin Horne

    Pitch was pretty bad and not nearly worth all the hype it received on this site. From this first impression, I'd say it's good for a rental. "Meesa loved him!" Bwahahahaahaha!

  • May 4, 2001, 1:01 a.m. CST

    ur...

    by straxboy

    wasn't the case a little clouded in confusion - the relationship Salva had was actually a consentual one but the boy was like 15 or something - dont wanna get into the technicalities or anythign but the guy has paid his debt to society and freely admits so. I bet you'd be surprised what a lot of guy get up to in their free time - ever read You'll Never Make Love In This Town Again ? Border line rape is described there - but that's okay because it's grown women and not dirty gay guys, people like Warren Beatty!! Hell no...a film is a film is a film you reactionary bastards. He also made the quality Hatchet Man with Lance Henrickson - an actor who he has worked with twice I might add - not a idiot either. i think the fact that Salva has never talked publically about it might hint toward the fact the knowledge of the case may be tainted-it does happen you know. The case only got so much publicity cos the kid stormed a preview screening!!! Dont want to seem like I dont feel for the kid and that this type of crime isnt a heinous thing but you ever hear of cases where girls cry rape and then it turns out that she wasn't so victimised after all - I believe there's a rather good docu coming out about that same subject sometime soon isn't there - the frat house one. I for one am looking forward to the movie as I am a big fan of Powder - (cue sarcastic reactionary comments by all and sundry)

  • May 4, 2001, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Amen, British Brutha

    by The Yattering

    If the writer-director's script, vision and character were good enough for Francis (father of four children) Coppola, then they're good enough for me and my measly eight bucks. But let's try anyway to keep our fists shaking in the air at this guy while we ignore our cel phone tumors and rolling blackouts. Abre los ojos. Next!

  • May 4, 2001, 3:03 a.m. CST

    idiots

    by Lupe

    consentual sex with a 15 year old kid doesn't make you a paedophile. It makes you the victim of a fucked up society thats so hung op on the concept of fucking being the root of all evil it will happily imprison a couple of same sex lovers than horror of horrors let them kiss in public. I don't know the full facts of this case but if he had consentual frolickings with a 15 yr old kid then fine. it was consentual. In america your quite happy to give the power of life and death to much younger kids and trust them to be responsible, whys cock so bloody different. In England they have just passed a law stating that teachers who have relationships with students can be charged as paedophiles. more terrible, they can back date this. that means that my 38 year old girlfrieng who I love cherish and have been living with for 8 years can be sent to jail for living with me (a 26 year old) because 10 years ago we fell in love and fucked. thats bull shit. I can't stand these polotics of hypocracy.

  • May 4, 2001, 4:26 a.m. CST

    Well... That's My Bush

    by DomisInnerChild

    I don't like the show, but I think that phase works on so many levels as a reation to the previous post.

  • May 4, 2001, 4:28 a.m. CST

    ur...v.2

    by straxboy

    I said 15 or SOMETHING....my point being he wasnt 5 or 6 - not that it's a justification (damn this issues thorny) and I'm not STATING it was consentual. All I'm doing is EXPLORING an issue seemingly clouded in explosive emotive candour - which aint a bad thing, as we must protect our youth of course - but Lupe is right on the money - it is sooooo dangerous to punch the air with sweeping statements that overwhelm both parties in the issue. Salva is a very sad man - look at his films for gods sake - shrouded in pain. Doesn't this interest anyone - or should we lock everything slighty taboo away for it too stew and bubble and boil over and explode forth into an unprepared society. Boycotts and uprisings and mob mentatlity is as reprehensible as the crimes themselves. Debate and intellegent discussion with a view to solutions are FAR more effective than a smack over the head. Brings me to mind of a pathetically amusing case where a paediatrician was attacked by a bunch of gormless, imbecilic, illiterate rampaging yokels who thought he was a kiddy fiddler. Shiouting the odds benfits no one. Hell I dont even know why Im talking about this - this has precious little to do with films, talent, anything else this site is supposed to be about. Didn't see any of you whittering on about the extermination of the Jews when Triumph of Will was being discussed....mmmmm? where's your principles there ? Or is there a statute of limitaions on genocide? Or is it AN IRRELEVANT ISSUE IN THE CONTEXT OF A FILM A WORK OF ART???

  • May 4, 2001, 5:44 a.m. CST

    I saw this movie, too - Mori is dead solid accurate

    by Smilin'Jack Ruby

    This movie is seriously fucking awesome and WAY original. I was blown away by it as was everyone I saw it with. It was completely unexpected. I actually thought it was just going to be a "teens running" monster pic - BULLSHIT. "Jeepers Creepers" is the bomb.

  • May 4, 2001, 6:14 a.m. CST

    Facts....

    by Another Mike

    I'm no expert on this case involving Salva and the "Clownhouse" incident but from what I've read, the kid was 12 years old and it WAS NOT a consensual relationship. Also noteworthy is the fact that this guy has apparently looked for jobs involving children (Writing children's books, a child-care worker, etc.) besides the fact that his first two films ("Clownhouse" and I believe one called "In the Basement", both starring the child he molested) dealt with children in main roles. And yet after all of thought I am of the opinion that the work stands on it's own. I've never been a fan of the guy ("Powder"...ugg) but we'll see what this "Jeepers Creepers" is like. BUT knowing that the child in question was 12 instead of 15, and that it was not consensual sex makes a case for those people who would choose not to see this film. Sidenote: Coppola also produced "Clownhouse".

  • May 4, 2001, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Actually...

    by MartinBlank

    ...the boy in question was 12 at the time -- a child actor in Salva's movie 'Clownhouse' -- and Salva videotaped himself having oral sex with him. So we're talking preteen involvement here. *** Having said that, I should point out that even though I dredged up this past in the other 'Jeepers Creepers' talkback, I didn't advocate boycotting it, picketing it, or whatever. I'd hoped that the issue would spark some debate and perhaps even a Harry or Moriarty thinkpiece on the subject. The subject being, Where do we draw the line. I have to ask myself, for instance, what the difference is between Salva and Roman Polanski, who to this day risks arrest in America because of the 1979 statutory rape charge against him for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. If the 12-year-old that Salva videotaped himself having sex with was a girl, would there be as much revulsion toward him? I ask the question not to answer it myself but just to put it out there. *** Complicating things for me personally is the fact that I admire many of Polanski's films (though not 'The Ninth Gate'), which makes me feel like a hypocrite and even a homophobe (the latter is not true, I like to think anyway) for feeling uncomfortable with watching any of Salva's work simply because of what he did. Perhaps this is because Salva came to my (and many others') attention first as a pedophile and then secondarily as a filmmaker, whereas with Polanski it was sort of the other way around -- I didn't really read up on his case until after I'd seen and enjoyed some of his stuff. *** The other thing is, with Polanski his movies are dark as hell anyway, and were dark even before the arrest (hell, even before Charles Manson and company killed Sharon Tate), and one's knowledge about his personal life feeds into the movies and in some cases makes them more chilling. With Salva, I don't know how you'd watch a movie of his that featured boys and not be thinking of him behind the camera trying to control his compulsion. *** I don't have any easy answers. Maybe if Salva's done the time for the crime (though 15 months seems pretty light), he should be left alone to make movies as long as he doesn't victimize anyone again; or maybe not. The thing that sticks in my craw is that this was a 12-year-old kid and Salva *videotaped* himself having oral sex with him, which definitely suggests he wanted to preserve the experience for later perusal, shall we say. Anyway, that's all I have to say on this. Time for other intelligent voices to sound off on this, preferably without flaming me or each other; that doesn't usually help matters much.

  • May 4, 2001, 8:34 a.m. CST

    The Victim says...

    by MOSDEF

    The victim of this crime, Nathan Winters(I think that's his name) has gone on record to say it was NOT consentual sex and he was indeed molested. He even called for a boycott of Powder. The film Powder itself is a cry for understanding of Salva's pedophile tendecies. Sometimes I can excuse certain actions (Robert Downey Jr.) and did Roman Polanski know that the girl was 13 when he slept with her? But in this case I can't separate the two. To me child molestation (not to mention videotaping it) is the most heinous crime besides murder one can commit. count me out of this one.

  • May 4, 2001, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Moriarty to AICN: "Get the keys boys! It's time to fire up the

    by Sweet Jesus

    And by the by...how can a movie "fly under the radar" when you start reviewing/hyping it four months in advance?

  • I like the sound of this movie... a serious horror film without people acting completely stupid. Imagine that. But, I agree with the others about Pitch Black. I mean, talk about a movie where people act stupid. I can't remember the exact details, but I seem to recall seeing plenty of idiotic actions by most of the characters, leading to nasty deaths... Not to mention the extraordinarily dumb coincidence of them crashing on the planet within days of the only darkness for twenty-whatever years. Maybe there was something major in the plot that I missed, but I don't think so. Plus, that over-exposed brightness was very annoying. Oh well, at least Vin was extremely cool, and the Heroine seemed believable. If they make a prequel, I'll be there.

  • I did not see POWDER, mainly because of the pedophile charges against Victor Salva. It still disturbs me a bit, but I have made up my mind and I will see JEEPERS CREEPERS anyway. Why? Because, flatly, he did his time. I am not condoning what he did. Not in any way. This is not a comfortable position. Name some art you love, or some film, or some book...and I'm sure you can find something reprehensible about the artist, filmmaker, or writer that created it. I guess the real question is - Is there ever a time when someone is allowed to overcome their past? For his credit, I talked to Moriarty about this a bit, and he said in talking to Victor Salva he got the impression that this is a man who has put it behind him and deeply regrets his actions. I'm not comfortable with it, and you can't blame me for that, but I have to bite the bullet and give the man a chance. Is there a point where a person who commits a serious crime can be allowed back into society, and not just physically, but fully allowed to acheive his dreams? I'd like to think so. Would I allow Salva to babysit my daughter? I don't know, but probably not. But I'll see his film. First, it's a monster movie, and that goes without saying that I'm there. Second, I think everyone deserves another chance. Even a pedophile, if he can control his cravings. And in this situation, with so many conflicting stories in Talkback, I can't be sure what happened anyway. God will judge Mr. Salva any way He sees fit, and He may have forgiven him. It is not my job to judge. This is a confusing issue, and I'm sure I didn't make it any clearer. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it. But I guess there just comes a time where actions must be forgiven. I'll see JEEPERS CREEPERS. And if it's as good a film as Moriarty says, none of this matters anyway. I think what makes people so uncomfortable with it is that it was a same sex thing, unlike with Roman Polanski or Woody Allen. I hope Mr. Salva has made peace with his demons. I hope he can be successful as a director. I can't hate the man. The older I get, the more I realize how destructive the very emotion of hate is. I don't know. I'm just rambling now. Thanks for reading.

  • May 5, 2001, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Remember the NAMBLA episode of "South Park"?

    by Elgyn6655321

    ..."But dude - YOU HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN! Seriously, screw you guys!". Nuff said.

  • May 6, 2001, 1:49 a.m. CST

    some proof?

    by half vader

    I was wondering if anybody here has any idea where to find out what really happened in that case? Like a link to news reports or preferably some sort of court report. I have no idea where to look, but I think it's important in a talkback like this where people damn others like they did with Michael Jackson mainly because they'd all seen the same hard copy stories. Even if the guy did it, he may be the scum of the earth and his arse belong in the hole forever, but does his film automatically have no merit? NO. For argument's sake, let's say someone like Spielberg turned out to have millions of naked boy photos on his computer etc. etc. (I'm sure you see why I make that sort of analogy). Does this mean E.T. for example becomes a piece of garbage overflowing with vile metaphors? NO. Or to use another example, there are MANY fools out there that won't watch a film because it's in black and white (oh the irony). Pathetic but true. If you go into a film and let your preconceived notions and personal myopia affect your opinion of the film itself so completely, surely you must admit that your own opinion doesn't count, clouded as it is. I guess while we're on this, let's throw Charlie Chaplin in the ring with Woody. You know what? I just thought of a better one than B&W flicks in general. How about Kubrick's black and white Lolita? I guess this isn't the time to bring up America's hypocrisy with Sex vs. Violence, is it? Harry may justify long-winded reviews by saying that for him the film is everything before, how he feels, the film itself, his personal 'issues' and so on, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, yup - the film is the film is the film.

  • May 6, 2001, 11:09 a.m. CST

    the Salva issue...

    by simian

    Actually I always read that the boy was 10, and that the molestation didnt come into light until the boy was 12, but anyway... From every bit of Sex Crime research I have done, child molestors seem to be a pretty unredeemable lot, who constantly have to fight the urge to do ill things. I can understand the knee-jerk reaction to wanting to never forgive the man for what he has done, but heres the thing- if Salva is capable of moving on, supressing his urges, and creating entertaining works of art, why not watch them? Its no worse than reading fiction or peotry by convicted murderers. If a sicko fuck like Salva can create works of art that help society, than I'm all for it. Its certainly better than having him be out of work and have to much free time to contemplate molesting another young boy... I think what enrages people is that he did USE HIS ART TO FURTHER HIS DERANGED FANTASIES (both in Powder and, especailly, Clownhouse). That I do not support, because that is feeding into his dementia. As long as he can create without including some form of homoerotic content involving young people, I say give him a chance. The only way you condone his deviant actions is by watching works that have those elements. If you watch films by Salva that dont have those elements you support the best thing- The man moving on and contributing to society instead of scarring it.

  • May 6, 2001, 10:52 p.m. CST

    Can't Justify It

    by Daygloblue

    True Story On Friday, in Texas, a guy shot himself in the head. Years earlier he had been convicted of molesting kids, ages 12 to 14, and had been sentenced to eight years in prison. He served his time, swore up and down to the parole board that he was a changed man, knew the error of his ways, had turned over a new leaf. He was sent to a half-way house to start over in society again as a new man. He disappeared. Subseqently, three little girls, ages 9 and 11, did too. When two were found, one after the other, they each gave the same description of their kidnapper. Someone finally noticed a car that fit the description driving repeatedly to a shack. When a policeman approached, a girl leaped from the car and ran to the patrolman. He gathered her up and drove away to the sound of gunshot. This guy had been given a chance and went right out and kidnapped three more victims, and in one case, tortured one of the children. I have a serious problem believing that someone has changed after serving their time when they go right back to making child-erotic work.

  • June 15, 2001, 1:24 p.m. CST

    I'M HAPPY

    by Neosamurai85

    If all this is true then there might just be hope for modern horror films yet! I'm glad I finaly looked at this! The name made me think it was something stupid or maybe another Scary Movie like film. Which by the way... Scream WAS A SPOOF of WES's and horror movies as a whole! How the hell do you make a spoof of a spoof?!?!!?!!!! any way who cares I'm really looking forward to this!

  • June 18, 2001, 2:57 a.m. CST

    i heard...

    by nixon45

    that he kidnapped a 9 (lowest number yet) boy and killed and ate him. then they went to his house, and he had 5 or 6 HUNDRED BODIES there. Some of them partially eaten by what appeared to be a large scarecrow bat-creature. Terrible, terrible tragedy. I have it all on videotape. i cry eat time i watch it. When will these maniac directors be stopped???? and spielberg thinks he's the next kubrick?? fuck that.

  • Dec. 31, 2002, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Last!

    by 2LeggedFreak

    2 of the most stupid teenage protagonists EVER and a second half that decomposes quicker than the creepers victims. Crap of the lowest order. NB I hope that it was pure coincidence that you feel these kids are just "asking for it" and that the boogeyman wins in the end. Yeah of course it is.