Jeepers Creepers – Amazon Prime Week

Jeepers Creepers is currently available on Amazon Prime.

“After making a horrific discovery in the basement of an old abandoned church, Trish (Gina Philips) and her brother Darry (Justin Long) watch their routine road trip home turn into a heart stopping race for their lives.”

“Okay, you know the part in scary movies where somebody does something really stupid and everybody hates them for it, this is it.

Jeepers Creepers is a very good slasher film. Knives are not really involved but tonally it plays out more like a slasher film than a monster movie.

Rather than introduce us to a group of stereotypical cardboard campers/teens/students (the jock, the nerd, the clown, the promiscuous girl, the druggie, the virgin), Salva introduces us to siblings who feel real. They love each other but they still bicker. This relationship is at the heart of the movie. It would have gone for naught had the two leads not been so likable.

Justin (Galaxy Quest, Live Free or Die Hard) Long plays brother Darry Jenner. His vulnerable, comedic performance is a major selling point of the film. Gina (Ally McBeal, Boston Public). Philips plays sister Trish Jenner, a smart sarcastic woman who challenges her brother at every turn. In spite of being over thirty at the time, she is able to play a college student quite well.

In spite of the only three important characters being the siblings and the monster, Salva got a couple good performances out of his supporting cast. Patricia Belcher is a dear as Jezelle Gay Hartman, a woman who may be psychic. She can now be seen as Caroline Julian on Bones. Veteran actress Eileen Brennan has a lot of fun as the crazy cat lady that lives in every neighborhood.

There are two monsters in this film. The first is the Creeper played Jonathan Breck (who also plays the bald cop). Breck does a great job of animating the Creeper suit (especially since the contacts made him blind) and the makeup job on him is excellent. The Creeper is very creepy. The other monster is the enormous battered truck that initially stalks our heroes. The initial road rage encounter is frightening because it is so real. I think a good percentage of us have seen a driver go off the rails in real life.

Jeepers Creepers is excellent all the way through until the all-too-obvious ending. Salva starts the tension off right with a harrowing road encounter with a mysterious truck, followed by a disturbing scene where the siblings wonder if the driver was really dumping bodies and just escalates horrifically from there. There are a few moments where one of the siblings does something stupid but it seems human instead of scripted as do their brighter moments.

People Watch: Writer/director Victor Salva has a cameo as one of the bodies in ‘The House of Pain’.

Sequel-itis: Jeepers Creepers spawned a sequel, the imaginatively named Jeepers Creepers II (2003) which ditched everything but the monster and told a tale of a bus full of young students under siege. Jeepers Creepers II is a straight but entertaining monster movie and is not scary and creepy like the original. imdb lists Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral as being released next year.

Aliens Attack! Species Edition

Those aliens just can’t beat us down. Species is currently available on instant Netflix.

One-line Review: Gorgeous alien models (Giger and Henstridge) enlivens otherwise routine move.

Species (1995) – Rated R

“When government scientists (led by Ben Kingsley) receive a transmission from space containing alien DNA, they create the ultimate femme fatale: a hybrid woman named Sil (Natasha Henstridge) with supermodel looks, deadly shape-shifting abilities … and raging hormones. When Sil escapes, a team of specialists scrambles to find her before she can reproduce, culminating in a fright-filled climax in the Los Angeles sewer system.”

“Nobody ever asked me to find anything they didn’t want dead.”

Species is definitely a guilty pleasure. It is neither written nor directed well and the acting is all over the place, in spite of the cast. Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Dante’s Peak) is an adequate director but is often too by-the-numbers to produce something memorable. Dennis Feldman has seven writing credits – three of them are Species films.

Donaldson assembled a nice cast of solid ‘B’ performers. Ben Kingsley is our resident Frankenstein, Xavier Fitch, tampering with the forces of nature. Kingsley proved he was a great actor with Gandhi but since then has appeared in anything anyone asks him to. As usual Michael Madsen plays the killer, though no one seems to get the performance out of him that Tarantino does.

Marg Helgenberger is actually good as Dr. Laura Baker. The same cannot be said of the normally reliable Forest Whitaker as the world’s most clueless empath, Dan Smithson. Alfred Molina rounds out the cast of hunters as the hapless Dr. Stephen Arden.

The real find here, of course, is Natasha Henstridge in her debut performance. She is really good here channeling a Daryl Hannah Splash-type of alien and the camera loves her. From her emergence from the womb, naked and completely covered in KY (I swear I’m not making that up), well let us just say that she had me at hello. I liked her so much that I watched several more of her movies before I realized that I really just liked her as Sil.

The other real star here is H.R. Giger’s creature design. He does a wonderful job of creating monsters that convey an uncomfortable level of sensuality. His Alien design was so classic that it helped spawn a whopping five sequels and now a prequel (of sorts) in Prometheus. His Sil design is reminiscent of the classic Alien crossed with a human which, not coincidentally, is pretty much what Sil is.

Not only is Giger a great artist but he had such a commitment to the project that when MGM canceled the ‘nightmare train’ shoot because it was too expensive, Giger put up a hundred grand to film it. I like that they kept it because it looks neat but it is not actually integral to the plot.

The film is somewhat by-the-numbers. Sil, an unstoppable alien hybrid, escapes from a scientific facility and ;earns human behavior while trying to find a mate. The government assembles a team of experts to hunt her down but can they find her in time? This formula and the other factors would have produced a classic film had portions of this movie not been so terribly stupid.

Notes to filmmakers: Cyanide gas is invisible. Arcade games should be plugged in. Empaths should be empathic. Lab grown aliens do not have pierced ears. You don’t need an empath to state the obvious. You don’t need a psychologist to state the obvious. You don’t need a biologist to state the obvious. Oh fine – let’s just say you don’t need to state the obvious. For goodness sake, learn to hide the boom (Film 101).

Species is a guilty pleasure that I enjoy in moderation but the script is deeply stupid. Every one of the hunters states the obvious repeatedly and almost none of what they say or do requires the expert knowledge they supposedly possess.

People Watch: Look for Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, Shutter Island) as the young Sil (prior to her transformation into Natasha Henstridge). Patricia Belcher, Caroline on Bones, appears briefly as a hospital admittance clerk.