Who is Victor Salva and should I watch Jeepers Creepers 3
Who is Victor Salva? On the surface it’s an easy enough question. Who is Victor Salva? He is the director of Jeepers Creepers, it’s sequel and the Disney film Power. But did just a little deeper, just a few extra lines on most search engine results and you get a little darker answer. Because Victor Salva is also a convicted sex offender. He’s either an individual with a troubled past trying to move on, or a monster who deserves to still be in prison…or worse.
I honestly had no clue who Victor Salva was when I first saw Jeepers Creepers, or even it’s sequel. I wasn’t as deeply into film then as I am now. I just loved watching them, and JC was one of my favorite. I saw it in the theater and later bought it on DVD (full disclosure I still have it). It wasn’t until years later that I heard about the directors past, and even then I didn’t really dig into it. Eventually curiosity did get the better of me and a quick Google search brought up the results.
The story isn’t pretty, and it’s not with much if any ambiguity. During the filming of Clownhouse, his debut film. One of the child actors accused Salva of sexually assaulting him. The police searched his home to find video taped evidence of him having sex with the underage boy, among other child pornography. Salva confessed to the crime. Open and shut case, Victor Salva was convinced, served 15 months of a three year sentence, and was placed on the sex offenders list. Who is Victor Salva? He is officially a sexual predator.
So where does that leave fans of Jeepers Creepers and his other work? Personally I haven’t been able to enjoy any of his work since I found out. If there was any doubt to his guilt, maybe, but knowing what I do I just cant. I don’t stand on my moral high ground and tell others not to watch his movies, everyone has to make their own choice. I made mine. But what about other fans? Fans who still don’t know about his history. Fans who are more casual, who really don’t know who directs what movie. Those people are out there.
Just the other day a friend excited posted a link to Jeepers Creepers 3. She was so happy the film was about to be released. Now I have posted about Victor Salva on Facebook before, but she had either missed it or maybe had no clue who he was and kept scrolling. So what do I do? Do I tell her? Do I ignore the post or simply “like” it? I waited several hours after she posted, and finally said, “Not sure how I feel about this, knowing what I do about Victor Salva.” “Who is Victor Salva?” She asked me, along with “please don’t ruin this for me.” What to do? I just said if she wanted to know more to do a Google search.
I am not trying to start a crusade to ban Victor Salva films. Part of me thinks I do have a moral responsibility to let people know who he is, and what he has done. Being in a family where sexual abuse happened, I know the damage that can come from it all too well. But another part of me just wants to let them enjoy whatever they choose to watch. It’s just entrainment right?
And after all Victor Salva has served his time. He has a right to work and earn a living just like anyone else. Would any of us want our past misdeeds held against us forever? Doesn’t he deserve the same consideration’s the rest of us? A shit ton of people would say no. Plus he only served 15 months, out a an extremely short sentence for what most people would say is an unforgivable sin. His victim will have to live the rest of his life with what happened. Why shouldn’t Salva pay for the rest of his life?
If I thought Victor Salva was a reformed man, maybe I could forgive him. Maybe I could watch his films and not feel horrible. Salva’s fans and supporters will quickly tell you he has done his time. Others would say enjoy the art, regardless the sins of the artist. But that falls apart a bit when you look closely at his art. I have only seen Jeepers Creepers, it’s sequel and a few moments of Rosewood Lane. Powder never really appealed to me. I could have possibly seen Clownhouse long ago, but if so it wasn’t memorable enough, well for me to remember it. Clownhouse is a movie about a group of kids being terrorized by insane clowns. From my understanding the three male leads spent a lot of time in their underwear, and there was even a nude scene involving one. These things cant be overlooked when we judge Salva, not after forcing one of those kids to have sex with him. Was this even art or a successful attempt to get vulnerable boys into his grasp? As much as part of me wants to see this now, to try and understand it, I just can’t. Maybe someday, for editorial purposes only, but not now.
On to Jeepers Creepers, which on the surface is a horror movie about a monster chasing a group of teens. Granted these kids are older than the ones in Clownhouse, played by adult actors, but we still have kids in peril. For a large part of the movie, they are chased by what we think might just be a man, who fans affectionately call “the creeper.” The creeper chases the kids in an old beat up truck. See where this is leading, just slightly leading? We have an old creeper, in an old truck, chasing kids because he likes the way they smell…and taste. Nothing creepy or pedophillic about that, right? Not from a director who forced a young boy to perform and receive oral sex on him. Hell, the creeper even prefers boys, as he takes Justin Long’s character over the one played by Gina Phillips. This is just info pulled from my mind as I haven’t seen the film in over 5 years at least. I wonder what I would notice if I watched it again, knowing what I do about Victor Salva.
Jeepers Creepers is the sequel, set 23 years later, as the creeper reawakens to hunt again. This time one isn’t enough and he sets his eyes on a bus full of high school athletes. Once again he seems to prefer males and all high school (read minors) students. We are all so used to seeing teens in peril, we don’t even make a connection with the directors past. Powder I haven’t seen, but I know the premise. Powder is a pale, young man who doesn’t fit in. He’s an outcast, until it’s learned he has the power to awaken feelings inside people with his touch. Apparently he can even awaken a persons dormant sexuality with a touch, and there is a scene where the lead has his head softly and some might say seductively rubbed by an older male. Might I remind you this is a Disney film? Disney claims it was mislead to the extent of Salva’s criminal past. Remember this was the 90s when it wasn’t quite as easy to get information as it is now. Still it’s shocking to know that Disney would allow a convicted sex offender to work under their brand.
So three movies after his conviction, rehabilitation and released deal with older men stalking or obsessing over young boys. By the time Rosewood Lane came out, I had heard of his past and just couldn’t watch it. I didn’t have to ask who is Victor Salva. I have read a brief synopses and I know it concerns a woman and her father being stalked by a psychotic paperboy. Maybe it’s not fair to make a call without watching it, but could this be the director’s way of saying “It wasn’t my fault. He came after me.” It’s pretty common for sexual predators to blame the victim. Maybe this is his final way of coming to terms with his past.
So now, what about Jeepers Creepers 3? Should you watch it? Should you support it? In the end that is a question you have to answer for yourself. Ignore his past and enjoy the film, or take a stand and say you can’t support Salva. Personally I just can’t watch it. Who is Victor Salva? He is a film maker that I just can’t support, can you?
PS. I cant link Salva’s work but here is a book wriiten by someone who lived through abuse. If you enjoy Salva and can still support him, I urge you to read this book