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January 7th, 2004 Nate Berne | DVD & TV
 

Jeepers Creepers 2: The Sickness of Victor Salva

     
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Viewers, be warned: There's a sickness loose in Hollywood these days, and its name is Victor Salva, director of Powder, Jeepers Creepers and the recently released-to-DVD Jeepers Creepers 2. What's wrong with Mr. Salva? Well, how many other convicted pedophiles have directed films targeted at teenagers lately?

If that sounds harsh, too bad. Americans might be used to filmmakers with vile personal lives--cradle-robber Woody Allen and statutory rapist Roman Polanski come to mind--but Salva is something worse: a confessed child molester whose sick, damnable pathos infects his work. Take a closer look at Jeepers Creepers 2.

The story of a demonic, trenchcoated man-bat who sniffs out and devours selected victims, the film itself surrounds a high-school basketball team that battles the carnivorous Creeper from inside a stranded school bus. No, the premise ain't bad, and yeah, the monster effects are believable enough, but a few flags go up when the mostly male-adolescent cast begins sunbathing, urinating in front of each other, and referring to themselves in song as "the fighting cocks."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with inventing the gay-porn/horror genre of films, but why does the director seem preoccupied beyond simple scares and sex? Well, Salva has something more horrific in mind, and--as evinced in the opening scene of the film, in which the Creeper stalks, abducts and, as we later learn, mutilates and munches on a small child--Salva's work has developed a consistent theme of gratuitous sexual violence towards young boys.

Sexualized violence is by no means a foreign tactic to films, and the horror genre in particular has a long history of stripping down its female stars before brutalizing them with bats and chainsaws. But this is a kid, dammit! And Salva has a history.

In 1988, Salva confessed to five felonies involving sex with a 12-year-old boy (an actor from one of the director's early films, no less) and including three counts of procuring a child for pornography. Salva served 15 months of a three-year sentence and completed parole in 1992.

Forgive and forget? No. Not while Salva still clings to a depraved and disgusting celluloid fantasy. His scary films aside, the horrors that this man inflicted on a 12-year-old boy will haunt that victim forever, as was evidenced when the victim--now a grown man--actually picketed the 1995 release of Salva's Powder.

Of course, it's pointless to expect sainthood from every filmmaker and celebrity out there. The real issue is what we're willing to allow onto the screen, without becoming puritanical stifle-freaks. Should we demand a law barring sex offenders from filmmaking? Hell, no: We need to censure, not censor. But should we avoid Salva's work on principle? You bet your life.

 
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