Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot features a tag-team of underrated monster movies with Victor Salva‘s 2001 film, Jeepers Creepers, and Stan Winston‘s 1988 directorial debut, Pumpkinhead.
Trish Jenner (Gina Philips) and her brother Darry (Justin Long) are cruising through the Florida countryside in a 1960 Chevrolet Impala, on their way home for Spring Break. Suddenly, a mysterious driver in a rusted-out ’41 Chevy COE appears in the rearview. Barreling down the highway, the truck nearly runs them off the road.
Later, Trish and Darry see the same truck pulled off on the side of the road. A hulking man in a dirty duster coat and an undertaker’s hat carrying a body wrapped in blood-stained sheets. Turns out this man is actually an ancient immortal demon known as the “The Creeper,” which hunts every twenty-third spring for twenty-three days to feast on human body parts which, upon consumption, rejuvenate part of its own body.
That Creepy Scene:
While the film is filled with plenty of creepy scenes, the most unsettling is the ending so, if you haven’t seen it: Spoiler Alert!!! The final scene shows The Creeper in its new hideout, an abandoned factory, where the audience finally learns what the ancient demon wanted… Darry’s eyes.
After ripping out the back of Darry’s head, The Creeper takes his eyes – carving perfect eyeholes in the boy’s skin – clearly taking a page from Leatherface’s playbook of human skin-suit fashion. “Jeepers Creepers” plays in the background as The Creeper looks at the audience through the empty eyeholes…
Victor Salva‘s Jeepers Creepers combines elements of Steven Spielberg’s Duel and Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre with a touch of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes to create a spirited horror film for the 21st century. While most will be quick to dismiss Jeepers Creepers as the Z-grade Taco Bell beef equivalent of horror, the film has too many redeeming qualities to ignore. Firstly, The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) itself is one of the better horror characters to arise from the blood and bile since the days of Freddy and Jason.
With his signature duster and hat, his bad-ass truck, and his whole “I’m a demon with batwings who eats people and stitches their bodies together to create fucked-up wall art,” The Creeper is just fun to watch. Jeepers Creepers has a promising, suspenseful start – but it succeeds more on setting up ideas than following through with them as the tension quickly deflates into genre clichés as the film barrels forward. But that’s OK, because where some see cliché, I see homage – and Jeepers Creepers definitely pays tribute to those ’70s exploitation flicks that inspired it.
Jeepers Creepers is one of a handful of films responsible for Hollywood’s nouveau-grindhouse revival – a fresh, original film that got producers and studio executives interested in revisiting ’70s cult classics like Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and simultaenously cut out a niche for films like House of 1000 Corpses, Saw, and Hostel.
I won’t say Jeepers Creepers is a cinematic classic – but it’s totally underrated. Actually, if you’ve listened to The Cabin in the Woods‘ audio commentary with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, they both namedrop the film and its sequel, Jeepers Creepers 2, as reference points for their own spirited tribute – which tells me that perhaps it’s more influential than we think.
1988’s supernatural horror flick Pumpkinhead tells the story of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), a bereaved farmer who enlists the aid of a terrifying demon to help avenge his son, who was killed in a fatal hit-and-run accident by a careless kid on a dirt bike. Ed nearly goes berserk with grief and seeks the help of Haggis, an old witch who lives deep in the swamps, to see if she can bring back the boy. Unfortunately, it is beyond her considerable powers so Ed, now equally desperate for revenge, calls upon Pumpkinhead, a terrifying demon with the power to make the dickhead biker and his friends pay.
Pumpkinhead marks the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston, who decided to create his own original boogeyman after designing some of the most iconic monsters of the ’80s, including The Predator and James Cameron’s Terminator. While it isn’t a particularly amazing film, it’s gained a cult following over the years and has spawned THREE direct-to-video sequels: Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994), Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (2006), and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud (2007). Seriously, Blood Wings!? Maybe the best/worst title for a movie ever…
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