EDITOR’S NOTE: Bloody Disgusting has since decided it will no longer cover the Jeepers Creepers franchise or any of Victor Salva’s past, present, or future projects.
On February 29, 2016 Scream Factory, the horror genre subsidiary of Shout! Factory, announced that they would be releasing Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 on special edition Blu-rays on June 14, 2016. With this announcement came an understandable amount of backlash for two reasons. First, the films are already on Blu-ray (the first one as a solo release with minimal extras and the second one as a double feature release with the first film and no extras). Second, Victor Salva, the director of both films, is a convicted child molester. There has been a pretty significant debate online regarding the release of the films (and it’s not like it’s the first time a similar debate has started over the director and his films), so I wanted to just weigh in on the subject and open it up to discussion among all of you. As horror fans, do you think Shout! Factory is making a mistake by releasing the films on Blu-ray? Should all of Salva’s films be discontinued?
This seems like a pretty cut-and-dried case. Salva is a perverted monster who deserves every bit of vitriol thrown at him. Just look at the header image on this post. That is his mugshot and the man is smiling. That being said, many feel that by releasing these Blu-rays, Shout! Factory is showing support for his actions. That is where the situation gets a little polarizing. Here’s a brief summary of his crimes according to Wikipedia:
In 1988, Salva was convicted of sexual misconduct with the then 12-year-old Nathan Winters, one of Clownhouse‘s underage stars including videotaping one of the encounters. Commercial videotapes and magazines containing child pornography were also found at his home. Salva pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct, oral sex with a person under 14, and procuring a child for pornography. He was sentenced to three years in state prison, of which he served 15 months. He completed his parole in 1992
To give a little bit more backstory on the subject, Salva’s biological father abandoned him and his mother when he was still a baby, and the stepfather he had growing up was an alcoholic that also abused him. His mother and stepfather disowned him when he came out as gay at the age of 18 in 1976. I mention this not because it excuses his crimes (and they are just that: inexcusable), but just to provide a bit more context into Salva’s life.
I’ll make a bold move and voice my opinion on the matter. I don’t think Salva’s films should be discontinued and I have no problem with Shout! Factory releasing those films on Blu-Ray (nor do I have a problem with the impending Jeepers Creepers 3), or any of his other films for that matter (save for Clownhouse, which should probably never be released again). I don’t believe that Salva spent a long enough time in prison. He should still be in there today. Unfortunately, that is not what our justice system decided and I (along with everyone else) have to accept that fact.
I’m not aware if Salva gets royalty checks for all of his films (he wrote all but one of his films, after all), but maybe film studios could start putting clauses in their contracts stating that royalties will be forfeited if criminal charges are made at any point after the film’s release. I should point out that my knowledge about the business side of Hollywood is rather limited so these suggestions may be fantastical. Still, it may not be a bad idea. If that happened, then maybe the idea of a home video company re-releasing his films won’t spark as much controversy (if the issue truly is that people don’t want more money going to the man), but I digress.
The fact that Salva is a free man and still getting work in Hollywood bothers a lot of people. This is completely understandable, but there are some issues I have with this. What sort of irks me about some of the people who do protest his films or raise a stink about Shout! Factory releasing Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 on Blu-ray is that that same stink wasn’t made when Rosewood Lane or Dark House were released in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Sure, neither one of those films saw a theatrical release, and neither one was actually a good film, but why wasn’t there an uproar surrounding their limited release as much as there was when these Blu-rays were announced or when Jeepers Creepers 3 was announces for the third time?
Salva has made eight movies since his release from prison and only 3 have sparked any significant controversy: Powder (because it was produced by Disney), Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 What about The Nature of the Beast, Rites of Passage, Peaceful Warrior and the aforementioned Rosewood Lane and Dark House? If you want to protest Salva, I 100% support your right to do that and I do understand, but you can’t be selective in your protests. You’ve got to be all in, even if his movie is getting dumped on home video. You can’t just protest only his three successful films (if you can even call Powder a success).
One must also look to other directors surrounded by controversy. I mean, it has even been said that Lewis Carroll had a sexual interest in children! Look at Roman Polanski, who fled the country just 11 months after being convicted of sexual assault towards a 13-year-old girl. If you would like to protest Salva’s films (all of them), then the same standard should be held for Polanski’s as well, and any other director who has committed a crime, even ones that aren’t related to child molestation. You can’t condemn one person over the other just because you believe one crime is worse. A crime is a crime.
Can you separate the art from the artist? If you can’t, that is okay. You should not be criticized for that, but neither should anyone who is able to separate the two from each other. If you look at the comments on Scream Factory’s Facebook post announcing the release of the Blu-rays, you can see the debate in full force. Once commenter even drew conclusions about the hidden meanings behind Powder and Jeepers Creepers (Powder is an allusion to a child having power over an adult, in reference to Salva’s history as a sex offender; Jeepers Creepers is about his desire to kill the boy that put him in prison). Even our own article announcing the release inspired some significant heckling. I for one love Jeepers Creepers. I think Jeepers Creepers 2 is alright but it wasn’t a fitting end for the Creeper or some of those characters (read: Trish). Hell, I’ve already pre-ordered my copies of those Blu-rays so that’s my stance on the matter.
I’m also still clamoring for a film in which Trish (Gina Phillips) gets her revenge on the Creeper. It may sound silly to have such an emotional investment in these films, but you have to understand that I was just 12 when the first film came out so I pretty much grew up with it. That doesn’t mean I think Salva should be involved with a potential third film (I say potential because I won’t believe it’s real until production actually starts), but I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting another entry in the series.
This is all just my two cents on the matter. None of it is meant to be incendiary (and my opinion certainly doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things). I’m mostly interested in starting a discussion and maybe even spreading awareness of the issue. If you read the comments on the Scream Factory Facebook page, you will notice that many (younger) people were not even aware of his crimes until they read those very same comments. I don’t claim to be a know-it-all on the matter and maybe I am not fully informed on the subject. This post is not me defending a child molester and I am not saying that I excuse what he did to that boy. I’m interested to hear you thoughts on the matter. What is your stance on Salva and Shout! Factory re-releasing his two most successful films on Blu-ray? Do you want to see Jeepers Creepers 3 and if so, are you still interested if Salva is involved? Let’s discuss in the comments below.