Victor Salva’s highly anticipated sequel, JEEPERS CREEPERS 3, is finally getting a release later this month in a one-time screening before heading to VOD. The first two films were commercially successful and a hit amongst horror fans. However as Wikipedia (and the internet in general) became more popular since the last installment 14 years ago, fans became outraged as Salva’s disturbing past came to light. In 1988 he was convicted of sexual misconduct involving actor Nathan Forrest Winters, the 12-year old star of his film, CLOWNHOUSE. Police also confiscated video tapes and magazines featuring child pornography from his home. Salva plead guilty and was sentenced to 3 years in prison, but only serving 15 months. Salva’s first encounter with mainstream success as a director is the Disney-produced, POWDER, in 1995. While the film was a commercial success it was plagued with controversy when Nathan Forrest Winters, the victim of Salva’s abuse, came forward in an attempt to get others to boycott the film in protest at Disney’s hiring Salva.
When JEEPERS CREEPERS was released 6 years later it came with critical accolades- not controversy. Even when the 2003 sequel came, a movie that features several underage characters in subtly sexualized images, more accolades and box office results came. However 14 years later as the third installment was in production and the director’s past became more known to the public there was an immediate backlash. According to Wikipedia, before filming could begin in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canadian talent agencies sent out an alert to warn others about Victor Salva’s criminal past, and then the casting calls were removed, which halted the production. When the film was finally completed, it was scheduled for a special screening at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood, California for September 13th, but was ultimately cancelled due to threats of protests. The film will now have one-night only screenings on September 26th in select AMC and Cinemark theaters across the country.
I have conflicted feelings of paying money to see this movie myself. I knew of Salva’s past while watching the first 2 movies, but I’ve also paid money to films with others who have done unspeakable things. I also recently saw CLOWNHOUSE for the first time in almost 20 years but couldn’t make it past 15 minutes. Not because of the quality of the film itself, but because of the director’s lingering shots of a pre-pubescent boy’s body. The movie is very inappropriate and disturbing with its sexualization of young boys and when you take in account what was happening behind the scenes, even before a single frame was filmed, it’s hard to not be disgusted. It helps that the new movie looks like shit and I’ve gone 14 years without seeing the Creeper so there may be no love lost in the end. If anyone does see it, let me know how it is. Or not. Either way, due to the resurgece of the controversy Salva may not work again.