Director: Victor Salva
USA - 2001
I have always been a fan of Victor Salva’s Clownhouse.
It’s wildly uneven - the acting is unforgivable, and there are
occasional plot holes the size of small cantaloupes - but I’ll be damned
if Clownhouse isn’t
effective. The film is legitimately creepy. There are even some brief
flashes of genius. Overall, Salva demonstrates a fairly solid grasp of
Creepers proves that Clownhouse
wasn’t a fluke. Unfortunately, it also proves that Salva has yet to
learn from past mistakes.
While making the long trek home from college,
siblings Trish and Darryl pass the time ribbing one another, playing road
games, and catching up on the gossip of their respective love lives. And
being that the long stretch back to the ranch is comprised mostly of
back-roads, they seem to have all the time in the world.
jovial banter soon comes to an abrupt halt when Our Heroes are nearly ran
off the road by a huge truck. At first, the driver’s intentions appear
questionable. The truck looms dangerously close to Trish’s bumper; the
horn honking incessantly. But soon the trucker loses interest, passes the
kids, and makes a beeline down the highway.
Shaken but relieved, the duo figures they’ve seen
the last of the ominous black truck. Alas, this assumption proves false.
Several miles ahead, Trish and Darryl pass an abandoned, boarded-up church
on the side of the road. What proves more interesting, however, is the
huge pipe protruding from the ground nearby. What proves even more
interesting is the large, heavily-cloaked man tossing what appears to be
bodies, wrapped in bloody sheets, down the shaft. And can you guess his
mode of transportation parked conveniently nearby?
chase is on. Once again, Our Heroes find themselves in the impenetrable
shadow of the gigantic black
truck. But this time the truck doesn’t bother slowing down. It only
takes a few good licks before Trish’s considerably smaller vehicle is
knocked into a nearby field. Having made his point, the enigmatic trucker
once again disappears into the horizon.
the panic subsides, Darryl then convinces his sister that perhaps they
should return to the church and investigate. Naturally, being that 98.3%
of all people in horror films
are complete morons, they head back to check it out.
their return, Darryl and Trish find the church deserted. Naturally, this
calls for a closer look. Being said moron, Darryl
soon finds himself lying face-first in the aforementioned pipe while Trish
holds his feet. He shines a flashlight into the inky blackness and asks if
anyone down there requires assistance. Before you can spell “Idiot
Plot,” Darryl inadvertently (yet inevitably) slides down the shaft. Down
below, he makes a startling discovery: bodies - several of them; sewn
together and stuck to the ceiling and walls like grotesque wallpaper.
impromptu spelunker escapes; literally scared speechless. But nothing can
prepare Darryl or Trish for the grave repercussions that entail their
intrusion. Apparently, the creature to which the human jigsaw puzzle
belongs does not appreciate trespassers. What it does appreciate, however,
is the tangy (yet satisfying) taste of human flesh – and has absolutely
no problem adding Trish and Darryl to the menu.
Clownhouse, the majority of the
good stuff is distributed evenly throughout the entire course of the film.
In Jeepers Creepers, the good
stuff is mostly in the first 45 minutes. But I must admit, those first 45
minutes are pretty entertaining – albeit a bit derivative. Anyone with
just a little knowledge of the genre will see immediate similarities
between this film and The Texas
The truck from Hell. The isolation of those pursued. In-breeders galore.
these similarities as you will – thievery, or perhaps an homage; all in
all, they prove fairly effective. At least the first half succeeded in
giving me the willies. And isn’t that what a scary movie is supposed to
then we come to the unfortunate second half – standard, half-baked
contemporary horror (with a dash of Terminator
thrown in for good measure). The authorities that don’t believe the
kids. The unstoppable killer. Cheap scares that play on your nervous
system (eek! loud noises are scary!).
The convenient catalyst used to provide unnecessary exposition (in this
case, an annoying psychic). It was like the well of inspiration was
drained early, and thus a decision was made to half-ass the remainder.
It’s no worse than, say, I Still
Know What Your Breasts Did Last Summer - but sadly, it’s nothing
annoys me most about Salva, however, is his apparent inability to create
sympathetic characters. In Clownhouse,
leads are the most annoying brats since the Tanners from “Full House.”
Though considerably older, Trish and Darryl prove to be just as annoying.
If they’re not bickering, then I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts
that absolutely no dialogue is taking place.
perhaps Our Heroes are too busy doing something incredibly stupid. There
are several instances in Jeepers
Creepers where you find yourself yelling, “Hey moron(s)! F*$#ing run!!!”
is that wild ‘n crazy demon ripping out a state trooper’s tongue?
Let’s just stand here politely and wait until he’s finished.
have absolutely no problem suspending disbelief when it comes to things
like monsters running amok, supernatural occurrences, and Dimension actually
considering a Dolemite remake.
But when a demon is within immediate proximity of a prospective human
snack, one might surmise that the individual in question might take flight
wet ‘em. Perhaps a combination of both.
the creature with eyes wide and mouth agape does not strike me as standard
operating procedure. Granted, I have yet to come face to face with a
terrifying monstrosity spawned from the bowels of Hell itself; but if I
did, chances are pretty good that I’d run my fool ass off.
are also pretty good that if I witnessed some madman (or madwoman, for
that matter) tossing blood-soaked bodies into a makeshift pit, I probably
wouldn’t return to the scene to investigate the matter. The job
description of “upstanding citizen” does not include making like
Scooby-Doo and immersing myself in supernatural hijinks. It just ain’t
gonna happen. Trish and Darryl have a tendency to do things any rationale
human would avoid without question. Heck, some of their endeavors are so
stupid, there are probably certain breeds of goat that wouldn’t partake.
Of course, I’m talking about genetically-engineered super goats, but I
any rate, in order to make a horror film truly horrifying, the viewer
must, to some extent, be able to sympathize with the victims. When you
have the audience (namely myself) rooting for the creature to devour the
film’s obnoxious principals, there is probably something awry in the
in summary, Jeepers Creepers
has a strong first half, and a significantly weaker second. But Joe, you
ask, where does it all lead?
a dumb joke.
brainless zinger at the end guaranteed to induce severe eye rolling and
exasperated sighs of cinematic frustration. As the credits began to roll I
remember thinking, “That’s the big payoff? I wonder how many chimps
pounding away at typewriters it took to come up with that?!”
Dumb jokes are not worth $7.50 a pop (Admission only. Let’s not get into
popcorn and such).
have dumb jokes a-plenty. Best of all, they’re free.
-- Copyright ©
2001 by J. Bannerman