Monday, October 21, 2013


Every horrorhound's favorite month is upon us, and to celebrate, I'll be dishing out a personal pick from the genre for every day in October. Some will be obvious and rather unoriginal (sorry that I like movies other people like), while some will be a little more oddball and off-the-wall. Some may even challenge your idea of what constitutes a "horror" movie. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the month with some good movies, even if they aren't ones I recommend!

Today's Pick: Jeepers Creepers (2001)

At one point in cinematic history, the monster movie was America's number one horror export. The legacy of the Universal monsters is undeniable, but as our sensibilities changed, so did our monsters. Dracula and The Wolf Man gave way to giant insects and invaders from space, who gave way to the supernatural horrors of The Omen, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby. Eventually, we'd reached a point in our culture where real human monsters (like Hannibal Lecter or Michael Rooker's Henry) began to captivate and repulse us. That's why Jeepers Creepers feels so special. It was an original idea that sought to create a brand new creature for us to ponder over, and really felt like a return to the monster movies of yesteryear.

Trish (Gina Phillips) and Darry (Justin Long) are two siblings returning home after a year at college. Along the way, they are harassed by a driver in a decrepit van, who they spot later down the road, dumping what appear to be bodies down a pipe. After investigating, they discover a grisly cavern of victims and run to tell the local authorities. However, the driver catches up with them and slowly, it's revealed that he is something truly inhuman and much more dangerous than they thought.

There's so much right about Jeepers Creepers that it's hard to talk about without sounding like a gushing fanboy. The methodical way the film tells you more and more about the villain, the incredibly natural performances by the two leads and the truly iconic makeup and special effects are all worth paragraphs in of themselves. The film is shot beautifully and has a truly timeless look to it. Nothing feels dated or anachronistic, making the movie infinitely rewatchable for ages to come.

But, if I have to praise only one thing, it would be the very concept of the Creeper. As a monster, he balances that feeling of strikingly new and yet anciently familiar. His inspirations seem to be a blend of gargoyles, scarecrows and even witches. The movie continually surprises you by revealing more stages of the Creeper's physicality, all the way up to the very ending. It's a triumph in every sense of the word.

Jeepers Creepers also feels like a very important film, not just because of its return to a monster mentality, but because of when it was released. It came out less than two weeks before September 11th, and therefore kind of holds an unofficial position as the last in a certain cycle of horror films. After that, things went back to human horrors and became extremely dark and brutal (Saw, Hostel and all of their imitators) and we also began to see the first wave of big horror remakes. Jeepers Creepers certainly isn't some lighthearted romp, but it still maintains a sense of fun while being scary and grim, and it's a completely original concept. It's a fantastically structured horror yarn and could even be considered one of the last classic American monster movies.

Tomorrow, we're gonna do one for the kids! Well, sort of. You'll have to come back and see!

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