The Creeper is coming
A Shivers interview by Steve Gidlow
|Selected from Shivers #91|
Jeepers Creepers, whered
you get those peepers?
If youve heard that famous ditty from 1937 and never thought it had a creepy element to it, all that is about to change, thanks to writer director Victor Salva. With an impressive list of thrillers on his resume, including Clownhouse and Nature of the Beast, Salva has set out to rejuvinate the almost extinct breed of classic Horror movie with his road trip scare-fest Jeepers Creepers. And he succeeds quite well we might say.
Jeepers follows the tale of brother and sister team Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long), as they head home to visit family while on spring break. En route on a deserted highway the duo are reminded that this was the same highway that took the lives of a teenage high school couple 20 years ago on their prom night. Urban legend has it that his body was never found and neither was her head...
Title aside, a Scooby Doo mystery is about the furthest thing any Jeepers Creepers viewer is going to get, as Salva escorts you on one of the most suspenseful cinema thrill rides in years.
A self confessed Horror devotee, Victor Salvas passion for Horror comes from a love of growing up watching creature features with his brother every Saturday night in the San Francisco Bay area where they grew up. And for the director, Jeepers Creepers embodies parts of all the movies that influenced him. Borrowing in part from Duel to every Ray Harryhausen movie he loved as a kid, he confesses this is a homage to every movie I ever loved.
But unlike the tales of Horror that usually surround getting a movie made, the story of Jeepers Creepers reads like a fairy tale. Like most of my films, I kinda collect little titbits and concepts that may not go together well, begins Salva, describing the genesis of Jeepers. But when enough of them come together I try and write the story. In this case it was the summer of Sixth Sense and Blair Witch, both of which I loved, and as I walked out of the theatre it left me saying, These are the kinda movies I made in high school, how come I cant make one of these?
Four weeks to write
I thought Why cant I just be 15 again and make one of the movies I started out making and loved? So I sat down and wrote a script that had everything I loved when I was a teen. Basically I really tried to scare myself silly. Most of my scripts take a year or more, but this one took four weeks. I was really excited about it so I gave it to my agent and I thought Id have a wait for it to do the rounds and be passed on twice (laughs) which is normal.
With Jeepers, in the week it was out, four studios said they would do it, says Salva, which has never happened in my history of making films.
At the urging of his manager, Salva sent Francis Ford Coppola a copy of the script. I was sure hed laugh me out of the office if he read it, he reminisces. But he actually liked it so much he called MGM and said he wanted to make this the first film of his 10 picture slate.
From somewhere in the depths of Victor Salvas subconcious hed managed to create a clever tale of terror that threw so many curve balls, its reader never knew what was going to happen next. Thats what Francis liked about it and definitely what I liked about it, adds the director. Ive never been a fan of slasher movies, and to me the Scream stuff was trying so hard to be hip that it wasnt really scary to me. All I could do was the kind of movies I liked, where you just got really scared and see yourself in the situations. I also tried very hard to make the film logical, so anyone watching it could believe the reasons the characters did things they did...
See Shivers #91 for the full version of Steve Gidlow's interview with Victor Salva
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