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Jeepers Creepers

What's so bad about a good knock-off? They aren't original, but they can be diverting. Such can be said of Jeepers Creepers (2001) — like a bottle of generic supermarket medicine, it may not have a fancy label but it does the trick. The story concerns brother and sister Darius and Patricia Jenner (Justin Long, Gina Phillips), who are driving home from college when a huge truck tries to run them off the road. After recovering from their near-accident, the two notice the truck parked in front of a dilapidated building, only to see its driver dumping what looks like body bags down a tunnel. Darius decides that they should see what it really is — even though Trish thinks it's an awful idea — but he falls down the hole only to find a ghastly surprise. The two run from the scene to get some cops, but the surprises continue as the truck driver takes pursuit and a psychic woman (Patricia Belcher) offers an unusual prediction. As a recipe (mix 2 cups Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1/2 cup Halloween, 1 cup Duel, 1 tsp The Evil Dead, and a dash of The Blair Witch) it would be easy to dismiss Jeepers Creepers, but the film understands the genre and works the creepiness factor to the hilt. The first half is particularly effective, following the Texas Chainsaw template of creepy Southern back roads and their inhabitants. But Creepers also does a great job with the protagonists, who are more than just slasher-bait. Both Phillips and Long imbue their characters with enough presence that the audience can identify and fear for them (and buy them as brother and sister), which after a couple years of Scream-inspired "ironic" slasher movies is a welcome change. MGM's DVD presents the film in both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and pan-and-scan on the same side of the disc, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 (also included is French 2.0). Features include a commentary with director Victor Salva, a 60-min. behind-the-scenes documentary, 10 deleted or extended scenes (17 minutes in total), a still gallery, and trailers for this and other MGM horror films. Keep-case.

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