Jeepers Creepers

on August 31, 2001 by Paul Clinton
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   "Jeepers Creepers" sacrifices a fairly intriguing set-up--two teenagers stumble into the lair of a flesh eating, backwoods stalker--at the altar of mindless gore.

   Cruising down an isolated road in their powder blue Chevy, siblings Trish (Gina Phillips) and Darry (Justin Long) eye an odd-looking figure dumping bodies down a corrugated sewer pipe. They decide to investigate, after a battered ominous truck tries to force them off the road.

   Trish and Darry return to the pipe, which leads to the basement of a deserted church, and stumble into the laboratory of a demented lunatic who cuts up his victims and preserves their body parts. Once they've witnesses the grisly scene, the two become targets for the creature--a cross between a redneck biker, vampire and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

   Victor Salva ("Powder") is a much better director than he is a writer. Salva's smooth camera work accentuates the ominous atmosphere, giving the movie an appropriately creepy tone. But Salva falls into nearly every cliché of the rural-horror sub-genre: black crows, old ladies with shotguns and medieval torture devices.

   Essentially, the movie is "Motel Hell" without the clever twist or tongue-in-cheek humor.

   Philips and Long make a good team, however: Philips sinks her teeth into a fairly paltry role, and Long uses a good range of facial expressions to telegraph Darry's terrified reactions. The two have an appealing and natural rapport as they needle each other like brothers and sisters do.

   Eileen Brennan, as a shotgun-wielding cat lady, shows up in a bizarre cameo whose absurd dialogue is guaranteed to cause some snickering in theatres.

   The blaring soundtrack and overly cute title are other examples of the movie's tendency to overplay its hand. Starring Gina Philips, Justin Long and Eileen Brennan. Directed and written by Victor Salva. Produced by Tom Luse and Barry Opper. An MGM release. Horror. Rated R for terror violence/gore, language and brief nudity. Running time: 90 min

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