In the world of sequels, remakes, or reboots, another one was released this past October, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn. The franchise is over 20 years old, with the first film scaring audiences back in 2001. Featuring Justin Long and Gina Philips, the horror film created a new monster called the creeper. Every 23rd spring, it hunts for 23 days by scaring victims and using the scent of fear to determine what it needs to feed on. The premise was original and unique, and the creature itself was pretty cool. But, more importantly, Jeepers Creepers was genuinely scary and made a solid return of $59 million worldwide based on a $10 million production budget.
The sequel, Jeepers Creepers 2, made around the same amount of money, though it wasn’t critically praised as the first film. Admittedly, I enjoyed the second film, and the creeper remains a fascinating creature in the world of horror. Then suddenly, the franchise went dark. Notably, so did the director, Victor Salva; Granted, he did a few writing gigs here and there, but Salva wouldn’t return to the director’s chair until Jeepers Creepers 3, which came out in 2017. Immediately, backlash made its way into the media before the film came out. The third film had a child molestation joke in screener copies, which was ultimately removed from the version shown in theaters. These jokes were even more controversial due to Salva’s history. The director was convicted of oral copulation with the 12-year-old star of Clownhouse, his first film, which initially got him a three-year sentence. However, he only served 19 months. Salva also pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct and procuring a child for pornography.
It’s shocking that a guy with this rap sheet could find his way into Hollywood. Audiences didn’t know because it was kept hidden until the rise of social media. Salva’s past likely played a decisive factor in why he’s been unable to get a job in Tinseltown, but Disney managed to hire this guy for a kid’s film called Powder. So naturally, the backlash to Salva’s hiring was intense, and studios have seemingly been afraid to touch him. This is all speculation, as I do not know why Salva hasn’t gotten much work within Hollywood. Still, the backlash Disney received in 1995 indicates that studios aren’t looking to deal with that type of controversy. That also stems from Salva trying to cast Jeepers Creepers 3 in British Columbia. Once the Union of British Columbia Performers found out about it, they sent an alert to talent agents warning them about his criminal past.
That’s also likely why Salva didn’t return to the reboot. He wrote a script, but the studio did not move forward with his idea. So when Jeepers Creepers: Reborn was announced, Salva’s name was nowhere to be found on the credits. This was great because Salva’s name became a black cloud over a franchise with tons of potential. However, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn currently stands at an abysmal 0% on rotten tomatoes. This franchise hasn’t seen any growth because it’s simply a bland and mediocre series that fails to capture the uniqueness of its villain. Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is simply wrong. The CGI and effects are horrendous. The recycled cult plot is played out. The creeper looks worse than he has in the past three films. This screams Syfy’s original film, and even then, it’s still terrible by the channel’s standards.
There’s been no evolution of the lore surrounding the creeper’s ideology. However, there are plenty of exciting ideas about the character, which makes this all the more disappointing that the filmmakers keep churning out bland and been-there, done that films. In truth, Jeepers Creepers is dead mainly because it’s just not a memorable series. The villain will always be iconic, but there’s not much else on the surface. Characters like Freddy Kreuger or Chucky stand out due to their colorful personalities and fun movies. Leatherface, or Michael Myers, brings a unique presence to the world of horror with an intriguing backstory surrounding their characters. More importantly, each of these villains has been in great films. Sure, many of the sequels are duds, but more often than not, the characters are a highlight. Is it possible for Jeepers Creepers to get back on track? Maybe, but if this franchise puts out another stinker like the last two, they should pull the plug.
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