Monday, December 28, 2009


Hard to believe it was a year ago that I started this blog.

Though I have managed to make an entry here and there, when my schedule permitted, I feel that lately I have been particularly absent. Three months absent from the looks of the date of my last entry.

Even now, I am trying to get a new entry published during this 'calm before the storm' when preproduction on my new film starts up in earnest in the next couple of weeks.

I would LOVE to report that the film is Jeepers Creepers III: Cathedral, and that it is at last in actual preproduction but I cannot.

While it is still a possibility in the coming new year, I am tired of reporting to you just how close we came to getting this thing up and running, and then having plans fall through again and again.

I used to think it was the financial crisis the movie industry is in (along with the rest of the businesses in this country and around the world) but I have come to believe now that the reason the third Jeepers film is now almost half a decade delinquent, is because of greed and incompetence.

Exactly the same kind of thinking and "gimme, gimme, gimme" mentality, the same mentality that says "screw everyone else, I got mine!" that has the world in financial turmoil right now, continues to keep the last and final Jeepers flick from yet reaching the screen.

It's not because of the Jeepers family, who have been ready now for three years with a great script that everyone likes and the promised participation of Ray Wise, Gina Philips, Justin Long, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith, and of course the Creeper himself, Jonathan Breck - all waiting in the wings to make Jeepers Threepers.

(Sent to me by a friend, some catalog where the Jeepers poster is part of the tonal decor. Don't recall if they're selling the poster or the furniture in the catalog this was a part of)

And when I say the Jeepers family has been ready now for three years, I also mean my incredible team of artists, whose magic has been responsible for so much of what is good about the previous Creeper tales. This team of friends and collaborators includes composer Bennett Salvay, editor Ed Marx, director of photography Don Fauntleroy, production designer Steven Legler and make-up FX wizard Brian Penikas, just to name a few.

After the terrible roller coaster ride of the last few years for JC3, the news I have for Creeper fans for 2010 is this: There is now a very strong chance that Jeepers Threepers will get before the cameras this year -- and with a very strong chance of it being in 3D.

(The most recent script cover for the third Jeepers film - someone sent this amazing piece of Creeper art to me, that I liked so much I used it for the in-house script cover. I wish I knew more about this artist and this work because he should be doing poster art, whoever he is. Anyone know the artist here or how to contact he or she?)

In Other Worlds

With New Years day just a week away, I wanted to look back on 2009 and acknowledge the good with the bad.

Though the year was one of the worst financially in the short history of my adventure down here in Los Angeles, there were some good things that happened along with the struggle and turmoil that I am sure we all had to endure this year.

The good things that come to mind

2009 was the year I became a published author, first in The HORROR BOOK of LISTS, and then with my short story THE WANDERING UNHOLY published in the third edition of the Dark Delicacies books, this one subtitled "Haunted".

(Both these fine books for horror fans like myself can be purchased at good old DARK DELICACIES Bookstore in Burbank - signed by some of the biggest names in horror. If you don't live in Southern California, you can order from their website:

The not so good things that come to mind

I am not sure of the exact chronology, I think it was also the year I sold my first script to television: A NIGHTMARE IN LACE. My teleplay, originally written as an episode of my proposed DARK DELICACIES TV series, was sold to NBC as an episode of the weak and mishandled FEAR ITSELF anthology series.

It resulted in the weakest and most inept screen version of anything I have ever written, and I am forced to look at it from two perspectives: One, this is what happens where there are too many cooks in the soup. And in the case of FEAR ITSELF, the problem is magnified when the cooks know so little about storytelling and even less about what makes horror really work.

The other perspective is financial. And from that aspect, all I can say is thanks. Thanks for the paycheck.

It makes me want to do the DARK DELICACIES TV series even more. I am convinced that horror fans have settled for mediocre and downright awful stuff, long enough. Time to give them something that reminds them of what we loved about horror and suspense and why we used to be so excited about it.

2009 was also the year I got to make contact with so many of you, through this blog. Thank you for taking the time to contact me, write me, ask questions, and just connect. It has been terrific getting to know some of you.

John Carpenter said that his fans are very scary people. He said that when he meets his fans it's like, "be afraid, be very afraid".

The public can be a very cruel and very scary place. There are a lot of people who forget that human beings are on the other end of their emails, critiques and remarks.

It is easy to go toxic and corrosive when banging away on those keys. And slamming a movie, an actor, a filmmaker, a singer or whatever, might feel good at the moment -- as long as you stay unconscious to the fact, that anything you are commenting on -- has a flesh and blood human being behind it, just like you.

A human being who created what you are commenting on, and is just as human, just as flawed and probably just as insecure as you might be.

The difference is, they have put their ideas out into the world. That is always a brave thing to do for anyone -- and why I think artists of all kinds, are some of the bravest people in the world.

I have to remember this often, when I'm having a bad day and really want to vent. Some of the comments you read on IMBD and other sources - are so toxic, corrosive and damning, you have to wonder what the authors of these comments are doing with their own lives, to make them so miserable and hateful.

In my own experience with this kind of toxic exposure to some people, their anger and disgust almost always traces right back to their ignorance on the subject (or the person) or how they are really feeling about themselves.

I have to say, as opposed to John Carpenter and his fans, I have had the opposite experience getting in touch with so many people who are either Jeepers fans or just appreciative of my work in general. I know I have a different body of work than John Carpenter, and that might skew my fanbase (I cringe a little, for my presuming I have a fanbase, but I do, as evidence continues to indicate) and I am thankful for all the communications from all of you.

Nobody gets into this business to stay anonymous, a famous saying goes. And anybody who says they aren't in this biz to draw attention to themselves and their talent, is bullshitting you or at least themselves.

My point is, that no matter who people are in this biz, or how big or how small, contact and resonance from fans and aficionados, is important. I am a big fan myself, of movies and music and art, and so much -- so I see it from both sides of the equation.

Letters, emails, you name it, they may not seem important in the grand scheme of things, to the people we hold in high esteem, but you might be surprised how encouraging, uplifting and remarkable many of us find, getting a note from someone who simply took the time to say: I like what you do. Thanks.

So, to all the great people I've had the chance to email and talk to this year, through this blog, a big thank you. It means more than you might think.

The email address to contact me is supplied somewhere on this blog site, I think in my profile. And thanks to everyone who is so patient, as my responses some times take a while, depending on what's going on with the rest of my life.


I know I said that early in January I will be starting preproduction on my latest film. But what film will I be starting early in the new year, if sadly, it cannot be JC3?

I'm happy to say that most of the Jeepers family mentioned above will be joining me right out of the gate this year for a thriller-chiller I will be writing and directing starring Gina Philips, Lesley-Anne Down and Ray Wise, called ROSEWOOD LANE.

Easily my favorite of all the suburban thrillers (I really like to call them "shockers") I have scripted, I have wanted to make Rosewood Lane since I wrote the very first draft, long before JEEPERS CREEPERS.

The story concerns radio talk show therapist Sonny Blake, (Philips) who moves back to her childhood home when her alcoholic father dies. But upon arrival, she discovers the neighborhood is terrified of the local paperboy.

Sonny thinks this is ridiculous, until she encounters the boy himself, and learns the hard way, that he is a cunning and dangerous sociopath, who may have killed her father and even others. When he starts to exhibit abnormal abilities, Sonny starts to doubt her own sanity and the boy begins waging a war of terror on her.

Ray Wise plays a Detective who goes toe to toe with Gina Philips - doubting her story about the boy -- until he realizes, and possibly too late, that she might be right, and there may be a cunning and diabolically clever serial killer stalking her -- a serial killer who has yet to get his driver's license.

ROSEWOOD LANE is a jump-out-of-your-seat thriller in the tradition of my favorite terror in suburbia film: John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. And as I said, the entire Jeepers Creepers family is coming on board for this: Director of Photography Don Fauntleroy, editor Ed Marx, production designer Steven Legler, make-up effects wizard Brian Penikas and composer Bennett Salvay. The film will be produced by me and Don Fauntleroy.

I have to say it is the most excited I've been about telling a story in years. And if the industry's tailspin has had some negative repercussions, it's had some positive ones as well, because making smaller budget films is suddenly all the rage again.

And scripts that studios loved but said were too small for them to make, are suddenly the only thing they feel secure in making. This in many ways has given new life to projects I thought I had outgrown, or that my agency said were too small for me to make, now that I was the Jeepers guy.

(Always excited to have RAY WISE joins the cast of any film I make. I am certain it is no secret by now, that Ray is probably one of my favorite actors of all time. I look constantly for places to put Ray in any script I write. He's one of those rare film actors, that any time he is on screen, you can't take your eyes off him.)

This movie is a milestone for many reasons, but maybe the most exciting is that it is the first movie I am producing as well as writing and directing. And I am producing it with my good friend, director and great cinematographer, Don Fauntleroy.

This means more creative control and ownership of the finished film. Something I have never gotten on any of my seven previous feature films, including the JEEPERS films, POWDER and others. So it is a new chapter in my career, as well as returning to my favorite movie turf: the suspense thriller with supernatural overtones.

With the coming of 2010, there also comes new life for several of my scripts, including ALCATRAZ: The Wind at the Door.

(One of the best scripts I've written in years. Commissioned by my Jeepers Creepers guys from the old MGM/United Artists, who now run Overture Pictures -- it would be the return of the super-scary, big screen ghost story -- and we haven't had a great, scream-right-out-loud, big screen ghost story in too long.)

2010 also takes the big screen version of DARK DELICACIES The Movie, a step closer to production. More on why that is true in another blog when I have more concrete details.

But this is the brainchild -- call it love child even --of me and my partner Del Howison, who have every intention of not only getting this horror anthology to the big screen but ultimately creating a TV series also based on the award-winning horror anthologies and Del's world-renown horror store in Burbank California of the same name.

(Del Howison and I are ready to take DARK DELICACIES to the big and small screen this year, and indications that this might be happening are more promising than ever)

And speaking of horror and screenplay writing, I just did a rewrite on quite an interesting horror script that my longtime DP and now director, Don Fauntleroy will direct. The script currently titled : HAUNTED is one of the creepiest horror stories I've had a hand in shaping in a long, long time. Again, as I worked on the script, I couldn't help fiddle around with some images to create a script cover for my efforts:

(HAUNTED is an original screenplay by Charles Agron and Stephen David Brooks, with current revisions by yours truly)

I have spent most of 2009 writing and rewriting scripts - basically what a writer/director does between filmmaking gigs. And the time between my gigs got perilously long when the bottom fell out of the financial structure of the world and the movie biz.

I have been a busy beaver these last couple of years, and the script covers I've fiddled with on Photoshop for each one, moves me closer and closer to another element of filmmaking that I love: the marketing and poster art for the stories I create.

I know I've shared a few script covers with you in the past, but I am getting quite an art gallery of them, since Final Draft included the wonderful function of being able to send finished screenplays in PDF format. Here are a few more, that have kept my keyboard working, during my dry spell of actually directing:

(JOSH GOSHH 2520 AD got a real writer's work over this last year. Not only did I do another pass on the feature length screenplay of this coming-of-age action adventure story set on Earth in the future, but I also re-worked the script into a two-hour pilot for a proposed series. This script idea I have always thought lends itself to a episodic television)

One of my earliest attempts at a presentation piece to pitch this film is on YouTube:

(BIO-SEED which I think I mentioned in an earlier blog, is my techno-thriller based on the terrifying truths about the genetically altered foods that have been forced on us as a nation and a world. Like most first drafts the script is currently way too long (132 pages at last count) and needs to be boiled down to the best bits)

(ENTITY (not to be confused with the film The Entity which starred Barbara Hershey or it's upcoming remake) is the script I wrote right after POWDER. It has had many brushes with "almost being produced", and when I did a new pass on it, this year, it also got a face lift with this new script cover. There is a presentation piece I did for this particular script, posted on YouTube if you have a couple of minutes)

(THE WHITE, my polar bear, Jaws-in-the-snow thriller, now has producer Lizzie Friedman attached to it, and we are about to begin the process of getting the picture funded. It will be a wild amalgam of digital and make-up effects polar bears, and some of the scariest set pieces I've ever had the pleasure of dreaming up!)

(MENAGERIE, orginaly written in 1996 as a follow up to ENTITY and POWDER, is my sci-fi epic that concerns a group of archeologists who send a sonar dart into the earth looking for fossils -- and instead find an alien city three miles wide and three miles deep. The rock around the find is from the Jurassic period, suggesting an origin for mankind that turns the world upside down)

Again there is a visual presentation pitch for this story posted on YouTube:

The rest of my screenplay and Photoshop work done this past year, concern the new script ideas that have just started to create a page count, in their very, very early stages. Some times a script gestates for years (like POWDER which took me five years and many drafts to decide how to tell the story) and others come very quickly - in a few months time:

(BLUE PEOPLE is my UFO Thriller that has been half a screenplay for almost five years now. )

I always wanted to do a thriller with aliens (especially after my own strange experience on Interstate 5, between Northern and Southern California --see one of my previous blogs about that).

BLUE PEOPLE is about a group of kids on the long drive home from a rock concert, who pull over for a friend's upchucking -- and end up seeing something that gives them a nightmare night they will never forget. BLUE PEOPLE has elements of my favorite UFO thrillers: FIRE IN THE SKY (maybe the best of its genre) and of course INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (all versions) and even a little bit of INVADERS from MARS, along with my favorite TV series on the subject THE INVADERS.

(THE HAND IN THE SKY is my latest endeavor, and while still in the infancy stage in my mind's eye, I am excited about this one because it has the feel and the mystery of POWDER, while still being able to hold it's own as a strong, character driven thriller. More on this one as it develops)

Well, just looking at all these posters - and remembering there is a script behind each one, makes me think you really can't accuse me of not working this last year. 2009 has probably been my most prolific years as a screenwriter. Now I am hoping the coming year is my most prolific year as a filmmaker.

Getting to take as many of these stories in front of the camera, as I can.

Well, I think that's all I have time for right now. Maybe I'll surprise everyone and make this blog a short one.

If I can do blogs about the progress and process of ROSEWOOD LANE, I will, but again, things get pretty 24/7 once the train leaves the station and a film starts to get made, but who knows?

What's ahead? Who knows that either? Will the Creeper fly again - and in 3D (thank you James Cameron -- I think) Will ALCATRAZ get a shot at the big screen? Will Polar Bears go on the rampage and will DARK DELICACIES finally get the big screen treatment it deserves?

Will ROSEWOOD LANE turn out to be what I am hoping it will be? Namely a jump out of your seat thriller in the tradition of Carpenter's Halloween? Because we haven't had a truly great, popcorn-bucket-goes-flying-out-of-your-hands, "oh my God, I can't watch"… what's-in-the-shadows? style shocker in way, way too long.

Only the future will tell ...

I hope the coming year is good for both you and me, and hell, everybody everywhere, cuz we could all use some love and some luck about now.

Onward and upward, and if I don't get the chance to say it to you, or blog it to you, before the day arrives,

Happy New Year ...


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Creepers, Polar Bears and Other Hunger Related Things

It was great to see all of you at DARK DELICACIES this last Tuesday Night for the DVD release of the short-lived FEAR ITSELF series that ran on NBC last year. I am the not so proud writer of a much f***ed with episode in that series called, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, from an original teleplay I wrote called A NIGHTMARE IN LACE.

If you are interested in how things are reshaped once they leave the writer's typewriter, I have included a link here to the original teleplay that NBC bought from me to make this episode of FEAR ITSELF.

John Landis was brought in to direct -- and between he, the producers of the series, not to mention Mick Garris and the network, what ended up on TV, I didn't recognize as my chilling little story, about a woman who on her wedding day, realizes she is about to marry a serial killer.

What ended up on the boob tube seemed to be one big misunderstanding about what the engine of the story is about, where the scares are, and what a good twist is. But I'll let you decide, if you end up buying the DVD and watching the series, you can compare my teleplay, and then "everyone's improvements".

If nothing else, I think I can boast having written the most boring and pedestrian of all the episodes in the series. Though in all honesty, I haven't seen them all. The box set includes behind-the-scenes goodies for some of the episodes, (including John Landis directing my episode) and four unaired episodes, that seems to suggest that NBC couldn't wait to get that show off the air.

The Amazing Doug Jones

Hey, another great thing happened Tuesday night at the DVD signing, I finally got to meet actor Doug Jones, who I had been wanting to meet for quite some time. Doug is an actor that any horror and fantasy fan has seen a lot, but may not be aware they have. For instance Doug plays The Silver Surfer in the big screen Fantastic Four sequel, and he also plays Hellboy's amphibian co-worker Abe Sapien.

And in Guillermo De Toro's absolute masterpiece PAN'S LABYRINTH, Doug played Fauno, that unforgettable creature whose eyes were in the palms of his hands.That doesn't even begin to cover the body of work for this very talented actor, who I finally got to press the flesh with this week. Doug stars in one of the FEAR ITSELF episodes, called SKIN and BONES, so he, and a variety of writers, actors and directors who contributed to the series, showed up to sign the box set of this horror anthology.

Doug may be off to New Zealand soon to participate in THE HOBBIT, though he had to be a tad mysterious about the details. I know whatever he does will be incredibly memorable. You can learn more about him and see more of his work at his website: The Doug Jones Experience (

If you have never traveled to Burbank California, for one of these signings (they are announced on the Dark Delicacies website it is a great opportunity to meet some of your favorite names in horror and fantasy. I know I have met many of the legends I hold in high esteem, and it's great to see them up close and personal, and lather them with the appropriate fanboy gushings it is often hard to control.

All thanks to the great folks at this unique and one-of-a-kind horror store. And if you're not California adjacent, they have a great mail order service that can get you autographed DVDs, soundtracks, books and the like, all from these signings if you are not able to attend personally.

(Writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), actor Doug Jones, and myself, pose for some pics at the DVD signing of FEAR ITSELF, last Tuesday Night)

It was also great to see so many of you the week before at DARK DELICACIES for the signing of the new DD Anthology Release where my first (and possibly last) attempt at prose was published. It's always great to see the Jeepers fans and to hear those questions about Jeepers III, and to know that when it finally goes, a lot of folks are anxiously awaiting the third chapter in the Creeper saga.

More Jeepers news later in the blog.

Hey There, It's a Big White Bear!

Lots of big bites (no pun intended) for my polar bear script THE WHITE. Which is exciting as my "JAWS in the snow" movie promises to be maybe the scariest and the most technically and physically challenging of my career. A challenge I would welcome.

As we decide (myself and my manager Dave Brown) decide the best way to field the interest and then move ahead, there is a possibility my old friend and mega-talent Brad Parker of Jeepers Creepers fame, might join forces with me for a month or so, to start storyboarding, in THE WHITE, where various animatronic and full motion digital polar bears will be needed for some of the setpieces.

Setpiece is a term I use to describe sequences in a film that are the big scenes of the film, in action films or thrillers, they are often the standouts in the script, as they showcase the action, scares and thrills. But also because of their overall importance and impact they have on the story.

Polar bears cannot be trained or even "wrangled" which is the term animal handlers for the movies use when talking about procuring wildlife for a film. I've had to work with crow wranglers (and trainers) for both Jeepers films, and dog and rat wranglers too in my short career.

(The big rat in Jeepers One, that sort of leads the pack of the rats Justin Long startles in the pipe to the church? That rat was named Bear. And he was adorable and affectionate and hung out on my shoulder for most of that day's shooting)

But no such wrangling is possible for polar bears: the world's largest land predator and the planets largest terrestrial carnivore. So the bears in THE WHITE will need to be created.

Brad is still in Hawaii where he's lived for a few years now, doing his Tiki Art. In fact, Brad has a showing of his paintings at a pretty big gallery on the big island of Maui and is making a personal appearance there this week.

So I was thrilled to hear that Brad might be willing to come out of "storyboard retirement" for a few weeks to work with me on some of the most thrilling and chilling setpieces I have ever written: the polar bear attacks in THE WHITE.

Doing storyboards this early in the process, have two purposes. One, a realistic budget for a film like this, can't be made unless we know the shots and the sequences we are talking about that will need digital polar bears and make-up FX polar bears from my FX House geniuses at Brian Penikas' Make-up and Monsters.

The second use of storyboards this early, is that they can be used as presentation art, when we go to financiers. This helps them visualize what we are talking about and helps the bear sequences jump right off the page in a way that a screenplay can't.

(A great piece of presentation art by Brad Parker for the original Jeepers Creepers, this was supposed to be my cameo in the Creeper's House of Pain. In a longer sequence that was later shortened before we built the Creeper's underground lair, Darry (Justin Long) finds a portly gentlemen that has been turned into a human door to a secret chamber beneath the old church)

It is looking like New Zealand or Canada (where the story is actually set) are the most likely candidates for shooting THE WHITE, but research on how to create this unique motion picture has just entered the discussion phase. I will keep you updated as I am incredibly excited about the project (in case you couldn't tell)

What am I doing now?

Well, I am back writing yet another spec script. "Spec" is short for "Speculation" which means you are writing a script without being commissioned to do so, on the speculation that someone will want to buy it. Some of our greatest films have come from spec scripts, because they are usually passion projects from writers who feel strongly enough about their idea that they are going to write it whether someone pays them to or not.

Working on another script right now, is not part of my normal pattern. After many months, like the ones I spent on THE WHITE, I usually have to take on some project that has nothing to do with typing out setpieces and lines of dialog on this computer.

But another idea that has been gestating suddenly wants to come out, and I know better than to try and stop it. This seed of this suspense thriller started when I was made aware of something absolutely diabolical going on in this country and around the world, concerning the world's food supply.

And so, I have again found myself sitting here at my computer, this time shaping a techno-thriller (one Michael Crichton would have been proud of) about a struggling young couple who are expecting a child, when the young husband gets a rare job at one of the biggest multi-national conglomerates in the world.

But his dream job turns to nightmares (as you might guess) when he learns the truth about the future of bio-technology and the dark legacy ahead of us if we don't wake up about what we eat and how it is genetically altered.

Michael Crichton would be especially proud of this one I think, because it is all all based on current scientific fact. The horrors are real and I wonder if people are actually aware of them. More on that as it develops.

When the muse calls, I answer. And it's calling again, so here I go again. Maybe by the time it's finished, I'll have some concrete news about the Creeper being ready to fly again, or maybe the polar bears will be given the greenlight.

And Somewhere in Poho County...

One of the more pleasant surprises last week was in Variety where they posted the top five Labor Day Weekend Openings in movie history. And while Rob Zombie's Halloween is the current reigning champ for that weekend, almost a decade after their Labor Day Premieres, Jeepers One and Two still hold two of the top five slots for Labor Day champs.

And let's remember, nine years ago, movies tickets were a lot cheaper than they are today, so with no adjusted gross here for ticket sales, it is pretty incredible indeed that both Jeepers flicks remain in the top five.

I forgot until I saw this in Variety, that Jeepers II had actually opened bigger than Jeepers I. There is no doubt in the Jeepers Creepers camp that when III hits theaters it should be on our magical weekend, that the Creeper traditionally owns whenever he shows up: Labor Day.

The growing fanbase of the Jeepers films is worldwide, and recently someone put together from all over the globe, the different inroads the Creeper and the world of Poho County continues to make.

It is an hour long program of Jeepers Fan Art, tattoos, motorcycles, and all the many and varied incarnations you can find the Creeper in, in the current pop culture.

It's all put to music, some of it Bennett Salvay's score and some great renditions of the original Jeepers Creepers theme song as well,. It made me laugh many times and has some hilarious (and rather blunt) comments about the likes and dislikes of various Creeper fans and their feelings about Jeepers One versus Jeepers Two.

I have posted it in two parts on Rapidshare. You would need to join these parts with a FileSplitter program to enjoy the complete show on your computer, but it is worth the work for this must-see piece made for and by Creepers fans.

Your own fan art, if you ever posted it anywhere on the web in the last decade, may appear in it. Here are the two parts:

I think we should announce right now that next Labor Day Weekend, JEEPERS CREEPERS III: Cathedral will hit theaters. But with all the tedium around financing the film (due mainly to so many interests in the franchise having to be satisfied before we can solidify our sixteen million dollar budget) no one wants to make that statement yet.

I think they should make it, and give us all something to shoot for. And give the money guys the idea that, all this haggling and procrastination can't go on forever.

Be good to yourself,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back from the world of Dreams

Well, this place needs a few cobwebs brushed out of it. I feel like I haven't been in here in so long, I need to do some sweeping and vacuuming. First, I'll hang a few pictures that were shared with me these past few months. Some that were just so fantastic I need to share them with like minded horror fans.

Like the one above, that was in a desktop wallpaper collection someone sent me. A skull full of sinister looking black spheres is an especially potent image to me. If you don't know why, take a peek at my true-life experience with a sinister black sphere, just a few years ago on Interstate 5, driving back to Los Angeles from the bay area:

I did dramatize my experience with music for YouTube, (that is after all what I do for a living, dramatize things) but I did not however exaggerate what happened one little bit.

And while some of my friends doubt what I saw or the details of my story, those who know me best, know I am a skeptic when it comes to such things, but that night, as skeptics often do, I received an education that broadened my perspective to put it mildly.

Other pictures I feel I just have to share because they are so terrific:

(I don't know who the artist is here, but his terrific sense of the terrifying, the garish and the dazzling are quite apparent)

Jeepers news? I wish I could say we have the money to enter our official preproduction, but I can't.

If we had gone ahead with our initial plan to make Jeepers III for a budget of five million dollars (probably a made for DVD scale story) we would have already shot the film by now. But I still feel that the third and final Jeepers story should be bigger and more conclusive than the previous two films.

I am holding out for keeping the film theatrical and on the scale the script presently is at. But we are definitely paying the penalty for not taking the easy money or the short cut of making much less of a movie, for a budget that wouldn't have been even half the budget of the first film.

With each of the Jeepers films bringing in over a hundred million dollars a piece for DVD sales, and having done handsomely in their theatrical releases where they each broke a world record for Labor Day weekend, it would seem the making of a third Jeepers film would be a financial no-brainer.

There are those who understand that JC3 is exactly that. But the financial collapse of the country, thanks to deregulation and unfettered greed by Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and politicians on both sides of the aisle, has damaged not just our personal lives, mortgages and jobs, but in the movie world it has made it next to impossible to get anything financed at the moment.

The newest edition to my team, is my manager Dave Brown, who we may all be thanking soon, for Jeepers finally getting in front of the cameras. More on Dave and all that good stuff as it develops.

One of the things I have learned in this business is that if you don't accept a rather Buddhist philosophy, that whatever is going to happen will, and in its own time, you will have a very unhappy time in the world of movie making.

Let's keep to the positive:

Like earlier this week, IFC, the Independent Film Channel, played both Jeepers One and Two, back to back, letterboxed and completely unedited. They repeated this double bill twice in the same day.

(A desktop JC2 poster, done in the fashion of those great old, Irwin Allen disaster movies)

I have, as I often do when I am writing, fallen off the face of the earth for a time. I have spent the last few months, researching and writing a spec script that has been fermenting in my mind, all through the process of getting Jeepers III funded.

The process may be different for other writers) but there is a time in the script writing process for me, when the story suddenly bursts out of you.

The set pieces all come up, you have found the right music, discovered what the human dilemma of the story is, and then look out, here comes the lion's share of the story -- ready or not.

During this, what I call "the home stretch" of the writing of any first draft, I can find myself working for months, almost continuously. I mean seven days a week with breaks for food and some small distractions to refresh the palette before diving back into the world of the script.

I kept getting signs from the universe everywhere to write this script and that includes a major sign right in the middle of scouting locations in New Mexico for the newest Jeepers flick.

(We walked into a saloon on one of the many standing "western town" sets that populate the state, and there behind the bar, as a centerpiece above the mirror, was this polar bear head)

For those of you who know a little bit about me, or have read previous blogs, you know that JAWS, the film from 1975, based on Peter Benchley's best-selling book that a young Steven Spielberg took and with the help of producers David Zanuck and Richard Brown, created one of the biggest influences in my entire life.

Not to mention one of the biggest blockbusters in movie history. In fact it might have been the first film called a blockbuster. The term, as I understand it, coming from the fact that people often lined up around the block to see these films.

I have often waxed romantic on how this singular film, which I saw obsessively at the age of sixteen, the summer it hit theaters, was what I consider the true birth of my life goal, to make feature films.

(The three posters that adorned the wall next to my bed for most of my teen years)

It was the year when I realized what film editing (Verna Fields) and film scoring (a young JOHN WILLIAMS) and a well framed shot (Bill Butler the director of photography) a good storyteller (a young and ambitious Steven) and good screenwriters (Carl Gottlieb, Peter Benchley and Howard Sackler to name a few who created the script) -- what all these talents combined, could do to a dark room filled with movie goers.

See I didn't just go and see JAWS fifty-five times that summer to watch the movie. I watched the audience. And I watched them because they were absolutely electrified by what they saw. This may make no sense to you, if your experience of JAWS has only been on TV or DVD.

These were sold out crowds of movie loving, movie goers who had heard this movie was a wild ride -- and that's what they got. The movie got them so worked up in places, it was like sitting in the stands of a football game. At some moments, people roared, screamed and stomped their feet they were so affected by what they saw.

The only other time I have seen an audience so active and worked up, was in the finale of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, when Laurie is being stalked by the Boogey Man in the last terrific moments of cinema's most effective "killer in the shadows" movie.

Again the storyteller had found a way to set a mood, and create an atmosphere of suspense, that mixed with enough jolts and laughs, that when the time came for the climax of the story, the audience couldn't contain their emotions.

Again, if you never saw HALLOWEEN in a packed theater you may not understand exactly what I am talking about. Sitting in the theater watching that film, was like being in the bleachers when your home team was making a sprint for a last minute touch down. The roar of the audience in places in the finale were louder than the film.

One of the most brilliant moments in HALLOWEEN's finale is Jamie Lee Curtis banging on a neighbor's door, as she is being pursued by the terrifying shape of Michael Meyers -- and the neighbor simply turns off the porchlight on her. I always thought this was a brilliant and realistic comment on our own fears and apathy, and sent the audience into bigger fits of fear and dismay.

But I digress: JAWS, if you will, though I could never have know this back then, became for me, a kind of master class in creating the ultimate thriller/adventure film.

At the tender age of sixteen, and risking death, as I was grounded that week that JAWS hit theaters, I snuck off with my buddies to the local drive-in and was so dazzled -- I copped to going to the movies right in front of my parents, the next morning. All I could say was they had to go see this movie!

I don't remember why I was spared their wrath, maybe my enthusiasm saved me, but when I went a second time -- this was when movie tickets were still three dollars -- or 2.50 if you went to the drive-in -- I liked it even more. And when I went a third time, this time to a walk-in and not a drive-in, the experience I had with that audience, compelled me to come back time and time again.

Until the entire summer was spent, revelling in the JAWS experience. Perhaps only those of you who speak and understand true movie geekdom, can understand what happened to me that summer of '75.

(Even today, the film lives on. Here is an inspired screening of the film in Great Britain, where you can watch the movie, while in the water!)

I already loved movies, but someone had put one together in such a way, that I was filled with a sense of awe and even a sense of purpose. As I went over and over again that summer to the same movie, I was going to my film school, because I watched more than the movie.

I watched the audience and what the music did to them. I watched what a small piece of comedy did to them in the middle of all that suspense, and I watched Steven launch four hundred people right off their seats -- as if those seats were wired with electricity -- all by simply cutting two shots together, with the right piece of music.

(The boys, Robert, Roy, Steven and Dreyfuss aboard the Orca)

I think that film showed me how important casting was. And how splendidly balanced a film cast needed to be. In the case of JAWS, Roy Scheider, who up to then had played tough guys, killers and ruthless pimps, got to a play a decent man, a father, and a cop who moved his family away from big city crime -- to Amity Island.

A man who hates the water and who can't swim, getting the job of sheriff, and about to run into moral dilemmas about politics and commerce vs. public safety.

Roy got a chance to play the classic Hitchcock role of an ordinary man swept up in extraordinary circumstances when a great white shark, the most voracious of underwater predators, stakes a claim off the island he polices.

Add to that cast a young, smart ass rich boy ichthyologist, Richard Dreyfus as Matt Hooper, the town's slippery mayor (the brilliant Murray Hamilton) and the Ahab like shark hunter Quint (playwright and actor Robert Shaw) and you've got a wonderful cast against the backdrop of a really scary and very thrilling story.

The cultural phenomenon of JAWS that summer, changed the face of movies forever. Because it was so big and successful. Successful in box office terms means lots of repeat business. People had such a journey in the theater, they came back to repeat it.

TITANIC's box office prowess sort of mystified me, as there were other Cameron films that to me were far superior rides. Then I met some girls, young girls, who had each seen Titanic fifteen times -- a three hour movie, fifteen times. And they always went with friends, groups of four or more. Can you hear the cash register singing? And these were kids with the short attention spans cultured into them by MTV.

I started to understand the film's box office champ status. And the same reason JAWS was the box office champ at one time, and STAR WARS, THE GODFATHER, THE EXORCIST, and the list goes on and on.

Though in all fairness, only my mentor Francis Coppola seemed to be able to create "the biggest box office champ of all time", with just great acting and storytelling (the Godfather ) With no help from epic special effects, possessed children or the visual hyperbole that comes with science fiction films or the millions of dollars that went into digitally sinking the Titanic.

Put simply: I learned that blockbusters are movies that are seen more than once. More than twice, and often times more than that, by the average movie goer.

And here is where JAWS taught me that a scary movie should be a ride and not just an assault. JAWS you see, had adventure. It had nature, big and powerful, it had human drama and an ethical dilemma -- and terrifying scenes of the monster feeding off us humans as if we were just items on the menu.
(Roy Scheider has his big moment of truth in the thrilling final moments of JAWS, immortalizing the phrase "Smile you son-of-a-bitch!")

JAWS is something we rarely see today in our horror films: terror mixed with humanity, human dilemma and the comedy of life that comes into every stressful situation. I think I have been chasing this idea of the big, scary, adventure film, most of my commercial filmmaking life.

And I make no denials that parts of Jeepers II, is me taking a passing interest in my two favorite templates: JAWS and MOBY DICK.

But a recent spat of Discovery Channel programs (broadcast in HD and on a large plasma screen TV -- there is nothing quite like Hi-Def TV) I started to discover the strange and sad case of the arctic polar bears.

Learning that polar bears are the largest terrestrial carnivores on the planet, ones who have no fear of humans and target them routinely for food, a film started to shape in my own mind.

One particular show made some years ago, showcased that these big, fluffy white giants migrate through several small towns toward the arctic circle in Canada, and are such a threat to the town's inhabitants, that they needed a sort of "polar bear police force" to keep the bears and the humans from running into each other.

The special itself was so scary, the lives of these men who cared enough about these bears to protect them -- and the people of the town the bears routinely scanned for food -- made me realize that a fictionalized movie version of this situation, could literally be JAWS in the Snow.

And so I started reading and watching and doing more research than I have probably ever done in preparing to write a screenplay. The great tragedy I discovered, thanks to the greenhouse effect that is melting miles of arctic ice each year -- creates an even bigger threat to both the bears and the people who live in that part of Canada.

Unable to walk on the now thinning arctic ice -- the same ice which allows the polar bear to hunt and eat (seals, walruses, and even whales) or migrate across the ice of the Hudson Bay, the bears are suddenly trapped and starving, with few options to feed themselves.

(This startling photo illustrates exactly what makes a thriller about polar bears such a scary idea for a film. Here is of one of the great white bears taking a lunge at some curious tourists)

Polar bears are great swimmers, can stay underwater for two minutes at a time, and can outrun humans quite easily. These big guys can get up to forty-miles an hour on land, and the males can weigh up to 1300 pounds. They have an incredible sense of smell -- that could easily out perform even the Creeper -- as the bears have a nose that can smell a seal, ten football fields away under three feet of ice.

The scenario that was presenting itself, was both terrifying and heartbreaking. Polar Bear populations have been declining one percent a year for the last twenty years, thanks to continued and legal hunting of them, and the sea ice, their world basically, melting more and more each year.

Associations for hunters and the lobbyists who represent them in government, misrepresent this situation to keep the bears off the endangered species list, and the continued hunting of the bears makes the situation even more complicated and tragic.

It also makes for a scary-fying thriller, because what happens when the world's largest land predator starts starving? They become even more desperate and bold in their search for food. Hence my latest script, what I call THE WHITE.

(Since my scripts are now distributed in the form of PDF Files rather than printed on paper, I get to design covers for my screenplays, that often resemble my fantasy of what a movie poster of the film might look like)

It's a good sign when I work seven days a week, for months and months on something. Which is what has kept me from making any blog entries of late.

When I work really hard on something, it means that it has gotten so exciting for me that I am at a point, where I can't do anything BUT work on it, and that always makes me think I might be creating a movie idea where people will feel the same way watching it: like they are on such a ride that they can't do anything BUT watch it.

I just registered the script with my union, the WGA, (Writer's Guild of America) a precaution I take after finishing each of my scripts, so I can feel like my idea is protected and I can talk it up when and where I want to.

(A page of introduction and explanation that I include in my first draft)

I think, most notably, THE WHITE, afforded me the opportunity to write my own JAWS. And if I can find the financing, perhaps make it into a film that would be a nod to one of my all time favorite films. More than any other nod I have yet made in my other suspense films.

But mostly THE WHITE feels like my favorite kind of movie adventure: full of suspense and terror, but also full of wonder and adventure. And of course, at its center, lots of human dilemma, ethical questions, and some great characters too, all essential for a good and memorable ride.

Other Things to Talk About

Sunday, August 30th at 2:00 pm, at my favorite store in all the world, Dark Delicacies, I will be signing "Dark Delicacies III: Hauntings". The latest anthology of horror stories, compiled by my friend and co-owner of the store of the same name.

I will be there with many other writers, much more notable and accomplished than myself, who have also contributed stories to this, the third installment of this award- winning series of books.

What makes it auspicious for me, is that my contribution, "The Wandering Unholy", marks my first ever published short story. Prose has never been my strong suit, but I was happy and anxious to try my hand at it.

If you think writing screenplays (of which I have written about forty since my high school days) is the same as the art of telling a story in prose -- trust me when I say, they are two different worlds, and one, much more difficult for me than the other.

So it was a challenge and a delight to do this, and to have it accepted into the third installment, included with the likes of my friends Del Howison and Clive Barker just to name a few.
Del and I have spent the last couple of years trying to get Dark Delicacies onto TV screens in the tradition of TWILIGHT ZONE, THRILLER and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS.

(Del Howison at the signing of the first Dark Delicacies anthology, at his wonderful store of the same name, run by Del and wife Sue)

The story I contributed for this installment of the book series, was based on a teleplay I wrote for said DARK DELICACIES The Series.

If you are Southern California adjacent, drop in, buy a copy and say hello.

(The signing will be Sunday, August 30th, at the wonderful Dark Delicacies, 4213 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505 )

If you can't make it, and want to read the book, or even get one autographed by many of the authors in the anthology, just click onto the Dark Delicacies website. You can order one that is personalized just for you.

Onward and upward, more Jeepers news soon hopefully,


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Return to Poho County

(Shooting the opening shot of Jeepers Creepers, in central Florida. That's me in the sun hat looking like an old and over-baked mafia don, sweltering in the cruel heat and humidity)

Call this Jeepers Blog Part Two.

Encouraged by popular demand. And proof that some times, someone actually reads this stuff and I'm not just talking to myself.

Who am I kidding? It also helps pass the time as I wait for news on the achingly slow JC3 financing. Like most Hollywood financing deals in this terrible financial climate -- it is moving along at a snail's pace.

I figure I'd share more stuff that I left off the first JC blog, (one blog previous to be exact) because I was worried it was already too long .

And remember, by clicking on any image you can access larger versions of all the material here. It feels good to share, especially Brad Parker's stunning concept art, that up till now has only been glimpsed in the special features of both Jeepers DVDs.

And if the YouTube clips on this page don't respond to your mouse? Trying clicking on them once and then hitting the space bar to get them to play.


In the opening shot of JC1, I wanted to give the audience a sense of wide open spaces and utter silence. The most unlikely setting for a horror story. Not a shadow in sight. Just sun and heat.

Then comes the long, long approach of Trisha and Darry's car. Their voices come to us gradually as well, faint at first -- and then suddenly they are full on, the car and their voices rush past us -- destroying the peace and quiet.

The slow advance of the car toward us, is very similar to the advance of the Creeper truck sneaking up on the kids in the next scene.
We called that "the Hitchcock reveal" of the Creeper truck. Because one of the greatest reveals of movie danger or terror, is the moment in NORTH BY NORTHWEST where Cary Grant finds himself on a lonely country highway, surrounded by fields and vast empty space -- with no threat anywhere in sight.
... until a tiny spec of a distant crop duster appears in a tiny corner of the frame, high in the sky.

It is one of the greatest and most subtle "horror reveals" in movie history. Because it starts out so innocent. And we were going for the same thing with the Creeper truck's slow advance from the distance, in JC1.

Reveals are important. I design them very carefully for maximum impact. I do it for characters and even objects that are plot points. It's important in the movies because movies are pure visual storytelling. So every visual is important.

And every once in a while, we see a magnificent one. They are always simple and always powerful.

Carpenter tried a "gradual reveal" that turned into a dazzling moment in Halloween, where after scaring us throughout the picture with various sudden and abrupt jump or "boo" scares, ... while Jamie Lee Curtis cries at the sight of her murdered friends in a shadowy bedroom -- Michael Meyers emerges slowly out of the darkness behind her.

He doesn't leap. He doesn't jump and there is no "sting of music" to make you jump. He emerges slowly from the darkness (actually it is a lighting effect I believe, a dimmer brings up a soft light on the Boogie Man and he seems to emerge from nowhere) and it becomes as terrifying, if not more so, than if Mr. Carpenter had had him launch out of the dark with a big bang sound.


When it finally sunk in -- into the monster boy minds of both myself and Brad Parker -- that WE WERE CREATING A MOVIE MONSTER THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO BE A MONSTER IN A MOVIE -- our deep and lifelong love of creatures and their features started fueling our ideas for what we wanted the Creeper to look like.

Brad's initial sketches were a combination of his own terrific imagination, the conversations we had about a creature you didn't really know was a creature, and these rather non-descript words in the first draft of the Jeepers screenplay that describe Trish and Darry's initial look at the Creeper:

From page 58:

A tall, powerful silhouette rises out of the patrol car. Turning instantly away from them.

Whoa, did you see that?

As it turns -its face glints for a moment in the moonlight. The eyes. So white because they are just that and nothing else. No pupils or irises. A trick of the moonlight?

Trish staring. The car hasn't moved. Her hand still on the stickshift.

The figure walks away from them with a chillingly casual gait. His black coat flapping cape-like. And in the glare of the flashing red and blue, walks back toward Trooper Gideon's head.


Whistling a tune the kids have heard in the diner: Jeepers, Creepers, where'd you get those Peepers?


If you like to read screenplays, I have attached the original Jeepers Creepers screenplay here in this blog, for you to read.

I warn you though: it is not just a transcript of the Jeepers Creepers film that you know -- as many published screenplays are. This is a revised first draft of the original Jeepers Creepers, and that means it has many differences from the story that finally made it to the screen more than a year later.

You can download the file here:

(A Parker sketch of another beat in the story that was cut for time but appears in all the drafts of the screenplay: Darry finding the words "Where there's a Hell there's a way" spelled out in human bones across the archway in the Creeper's Lair)

When Brad read the script and came back with his wonderful sketch ideas, our imaginations really started to ignite. Influences came from all over.

Sometimes they were obvious. They came from creatures that we had loved as kids, and sometimes I think the influences were incredibly subliminal, and it wasn't until we were shooting that we realized who the Creeper looked like from this angle or that.

For instance was when we were shooting this scene with Breck in JC2:

A scene where the Creeper was minus a wing, an arm, and a leg, Brad realized that from above -- we were shooting down at Breck -- that the Creeper could easily be mistaken for the Creature from the Black Lagoon from that high angle.
My heart stopped. Not in the good way.
I didn't want to be copying anyone else's monster, not even my personal favorite, but there it was.

Another indication that what we love and what stays in our minds, will always be an influencing factor
in what we do in our own lives down the road.
Another heart-stopping "Creeper looks like something we've seen before" moment was after we had arrived in Florida and were still doing local casting and location scouting.

A month or two away from shooting, Brad and I were cruising the aisles of the local Wal-Mart -- one of the few places for about seventy-miles that was big, bright and air conditioned -- and because of this, was strangely like the social center of the community.
We saw many cast and crew members strolling the aisles there over our four month stay - including Justin and Gina, grips, make-up, hair, best boys and even Jonathan Breck -- who for dramatic purposes while filming, was under strict orders not to meet or even say "hi" to Justin or Gina.
In the budget DVD section, Brad and I were pulling out movies both good and bad -- when suddenly Parker found the old CBS TV Movie GARGOYLES.

All I remembered about the movie -- was that I had loved it as a young kid because it had monsters!

TV Movies back in the 60s and 70s, call them "the Sci-Fi Channel Original movies" of the time, rarely dipped into the realm of the supernatural -- and almost never into monsterdom.
So when they did, it was a big deal to monster fans young and old. Out of ten years of TV movies on all three networks, I can only think of a handful that went to the great, scary creature place.
When they did, we got Darren McGavin fighting a vampire in Las Vegas (THE NIGHTSTALKER) and then an ancient alchemist and reanimated corpse beneath old Seattle (THE NIGHTSTRANGLER), we had David Jannsen as a bayou sheriff hunting a werewolf (MOON OF THE WOLF), a private eye battling the undead (THE NORLISS TAPES) and even a bulldozer taken over by an alien force that turns it into a KILLDOZER!

Or Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis as parents who move their family to upstate New York and find themselves living in a farmhouse that is a stomping ground for Satan himself, in Steven Spielberg's SOMETHING EVIL. And of course a year or two later, Steven's masterpiece about a killer big rig, writer Richard Matheson's great story, DUEL.

GARGOYLES, a rare CBS TV Movie in the horror category, was about flying, reptilian critters of Biblical origin roaming the California desert. Brad and I both had vague, monster movie memories of it as kids, but that night when we ripped the 5.99 price tag off it and put it in the DVD player -- we were in for a shock.
The head Gargoyle's very low budget costume, included actual wings. They were spread and kind of hung off him as he walked. Even though the wings reflected the TV film's limited budget, it was still shocking to see this winged creature looking like a low-budget version of our soon to be filmed Creeper.
The movie Gargoyles helped us too. The wings on the actor in Gargoyles looked somewhat comical and convinced Brad and Penikas and I, that this was a look we wanted to avoid.

The head Gargoyle in the TV movie had one other alarming similarity to our Creeper -- in the first scene he appears in, he bends over a woman who has passed out -- and proceeds to SNIFF HER!!!!

When I saw that it almost knocked me off the sofa I can tell you!

Now this was the only time in the film any Gargoyle sniffed anyone, but with those wings out and that reptilian look, and the creature taking a whiff of someone ... that was a major heart attack I didn't need.

Was I just remaking monster movies from my childhood without realizing it? Scorcese says that each filmmaker makes the same movie over and over again.

Was this what I was doing -- remaking and not making a movie of my own?! These are the terrible doubts and fears that rage through a director's mind as he tries to make his movie.


One of the great struggles after actually getting a movie up and going, is getting it made before someone steals the idea or simply gets a similar idea made, before you do.

I really do think ideas float around in the collective consciousness of the world, and that this is why sometimes we get two or three movies with the same idea in them and at the same time.

The rest of the time it's just out and out thievery that takes place in this biz all the time.

Hey, my first theatrical feature, CLOWNHOUSE, was from a screenplay I wrote that had a trilogy of horror stories. All three took place over a century in the same house. The script was called THREE STORY HOUSE -- and CLOWNHOUSE was the last story of the three. The story that was set in modern times.

I liked this third story enough, that after seeing HALLOWEEN (and being thrilled and inspired by it) decided to take my clown story and expand it from twenty-five pages, to ninety pages.

And create my own feature length "killer in the shadows" type thriller.

See, I don't call HALLOWEEN a slasher film, because there is practically no slashing in it at all. It is definitely in the category I would call "killer in the shadows" and one of the most chilling and brilliant, along with Bob Clark's BLACK CHRISTMAS.

When Francis Coppola read my feature length script about killer clowns, and after seeing my backyard video, SOMETHING IN THE BASEMENT in a home video competition -- he decided to bankroll CLOWNHOUSE.

He was starting his own "Roger Corman" style film company called COMMERCIAL PICTURES, and I was in the right place at the right time.

The same way I am certain his advisors and lawyers told him he was crazy to give this kid nobody knew, this untested horror movie nerd, actual money and cameras to make a feature.

I am also certain that Francis persisted with this idea because as a young man himself, Francis Coppola was given the same chance by Roger Corman, when Coppola was a fledgling film editor in the 60s, at Corman's low budget film factory: AIP.

Based on my tiny 30 minute home video SOMETHING IN THE BASEMENT -- I was about to make CLOWNHOUSE, at a budget of around 200,000 dollars. Low budget filmmaking to be sure.

But to a kid like me , whose last film was a backyard video? That took three days to shoot with a home camcorder and cost two hundred dollars?

200,000 was a fortune. And my home camcorder was about to be traded in for the cameras that shot George Lucas' AMERICAN GRAFFITI and Carol Ballard's THE BLACK STALLION.

Needless to say, I was over the moon.

I knew I had a strong idea for a horror movie because Francis liked the script and told me what he liked best about it was that every time he thought he knew what was going to happen in the story: something else happened instead.

I also knew it was a long overdue horror film idea, because everyone I had ever met or talked to, either hated clowns or was at least creeped out or unnerved by them. As I was ever since I was a kid.

I knew I had a good script because at the time, I considered my young self a horror movie expert -- and in my "vast knowledge" of horror films, knew this would be the first horror film ever about killer clowns.

(Me impossibly young at 26 or 27, surrounded by my psycho clowns, from left to right: Bippo, Cheezo and Dippo)

I had a great cast of three incredibly talented boys to play the brothers -- including the first ever, call it "debut" movie role for the amazingly gifted Sam Rockwell, who played Randy, the oldest -- and meanest -- of the three brothers.

All who would be terrorized by escaped mental patients dressed as clowns, in what my French and Italian fans would call, my first "horror fable". It was my first campfire story.

(A very young me, and an eighteen year old Sam Rockwell looking at the script for CLOWNHOUSE. In the scene, Sam, as nasty brother Randy, dresses up like a clown to scare his younger brothers, unaware that real, homicidal psycho clowns have already surrounded the house)

What could go wrong with my great killer clown idea? Let me tell you: at the exact same time I was shooting my film in Northern California -- not more than a couple of hours away in Santa Cruz, California, a movie was about to start rolling called KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE!!!!!
I couldn't believe it. I was certain my idea or my script or something had been stolen
How could two killer clown movies suddenly spring up at the same time, shoot at the same time -- and after years and years of no killer clown movies at all?

Well it just did. I never found any indication that the talented Chiodo Brothers had pirated my idea and I know I didn't pirate theirs because I only heard about their film as we were getting ready for our own.

KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE by the way, ended up eclipsing CLOWNHOUSE and becoming one of the most unusual, inventive and downright creepy horror spoofs of it's time.

In fact the design of those clowns and their presentation, I think borders on genius. But it is devastating to suddenly see your original idea, look not so original. Usually people think the worst: that you stole someone else's idea.

(Above: A shot from CLOWNHOUSE and a nod to one of the greatest moments in horror movie history. Here, CHEEZO, the head psycho clown, wonderfully portrayed by actor/comedian TREE (Michael West) takes a peek through a doorway as he takes bead on his unsuspecting prey.)

You'll find this "eye shot" in many horror films, not just mine, though the best I have ever seen it used in, is in Bob Clark's BLACK CHRISTMAS.

Where Olivia Hussey discovers for the first time in horror movie history that "the calls actually ARE coming from inside the house." (Now a horror cliche that is endlessly imitated)

She finds the killer hiding in a closet, staring out at her with one wide-eye, in one of the creepiest and most memorable moments in horror movie history.

Cheezo's eye in CLOWNHOUSE thrilled me back when we created the same shot! You know what Bernard Herrmann said, one of the greatest film composers of all time: If you're going to steal, steal from the best.

Brad and I wanted to makes sure that with our Creeper we would be breaking new ground. Yet, no matter how hard we tried, it felt like everywhere we looked, versions of our monster already existed in various other forms.

We had already switched out these very cool wings that were folded up like wrinkles on the Creeper's face. Brad storyboarded this idea from my script -- and we loved the way these bat wings looked coming off his face.

But Penikas thought as a make-up effect it would be almost impossible and that would push us into the digital realm for which JC1 had not the budget for.

But then Brad and Brian both said, that with those wings stretching out and flanking his mouth, he was seriously starting to resemble a first cousin of Stan Winston's brilliant Predator design.

(One of my favorite panels from the unused storyboard of the Creeper in the interrogation room where he traps Trisha and Darry)

It took both Brad and Brian to make me see it. The Creeper was indeed looking derivative in aspects we could control.

So we scratched the face wings (our final monster make-up was in an early stage of R and D where changes could still be made) and we came up with the idea, that since he is lizard or repitilian-like, maybe when threatened, he has membranes and things that puff him up -- like those lizards do when they want to look bigger and more fierce when faced with a potential threat.

We decided to give the Creeper face talons, as we call them today. Something that would unfold and transform the face of what looks like a dark and leather-skinned old man -- into a creature that isn't remotely human.

(Taking our cue from the puffed up lizard idea, the membrane between the face talons would have webbing -- the kind that we see on the wings of a bat or between reptile toes or fingers)


That when someone comes up and says, "Is it just me, or does the Creeper look like Freddy? Was that a nod to the Elm Street films?" The answer first is no, we weren't nodding to Freddie -- or the Predator, or the Gargoyles, or Harryhausen's Ymir or the cool little Homunculus, or even my beloved Gillman from the Black Lagoon.

(Apologies but I couldn't resist captioning this rather cheesy publicity still from the second in the Lagoon series: The Creature Walks Among Us)

But their might be little hints and unconscious homages to of all of them in our Creeper.

Brad and I had to make peace with our Creeper. Our design was our design and we liked it. Were proud of it. We worked hard on it and then Brian Penikas and his FX house, Make-Up and Monsters, worked and developed it even more.

And yes, he did have a little bit of the things we loved about monsters as kids, of course those influences are at work, for good or bad, whether we were aware of them or not.

We worked hard to make him an original. And I think that's what an artist does, he starts with what interests him, then he interprets, imitates, explores, and hopefully grows into his own vision and his own voice...


I showed Brad a couple of pictures of winged creatures that I liked, but I knew that in the back of my mind, I wanted the Creeper, once we saw him out of the clothes he wore to pass for human, to resemble something "Ray Harryhausen-like"

Back when Brad and I were young, (during our formative or DE-formative years if you like) if there was a name synonymous with cool creatures and amazing fantasy and horror scenes; that name was Ray Harryhausen.

(A young Ray Harryhausen gets his dream job: working with stop motion wizard Willis S. O'Brien, the man who brought King Kong to life in 1933. Ray assisted O'Brien on possibly the most magnificent accomplishment ever in classic stop-motion, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. That's Joe in young Ray's hand. The film won the Oscar that year for best special effects)

You of the spoiled, computer graphics generations have no idea that creature animation was once possible without computers or pixels.

Ray Harryhausen created fantastic creatures and magical and frightening scenes -- with nothing more than clay, plastic, rubber and a movie camera that could expose a single frame of film at a time.

Ray -- like any truly gifted animator, was also a gifted actor. He had to be to imbue his creations with not just the illusion of life, but with a believable inner life for each of his monsters and creatures.

He also supplied every kid of my generation and the generations before, with some of the most impossible possibilities of big screen monsters and magic.

(Ray with some of his creature cast from the classic THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD)

Case in point, my favorite Harryhausen film 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH. In this early and very low-budget Harryhausen, a creature from the planet Venus (called an Ymir) has gotten loose in a small fishing village in Italy. (One of the earliest reasons why my favorite kind of sci-fi is what I call earthbound sci-fi.)

It's metabolism in our atmosphere causes it to grow dramatically each day. By the time the United States government tracks it down, it is as big as a man and in my favorite scene, gets cornered in a barn in the Italian countryside.

This was one of my favorite scenes in all of sci-fi horror films when I was a kid. Sadly, the frame compression on this clip when it goes online makes the stop-motion much choppier than it actually is.

I don't know what Ray Harryhausen calls it, but I call it, the barn scene from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH.

Maybe you can see why Harryhausen was an inspiration for generations of fantasy and horror filmmakers. Stop- motion animation might seem artificial looking by today's hi-tech standards. But when I saw them, these were incredible feats of cinema magic -that were unparalelled.

Ray was creating living and breathing creatures on the big screen - that were clearly not men in rubber suits.

Ironically, Ray was just a kid himself when he was doing his black and white classics: BEAST FROM 20 THOUSAND FATHOMS, EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and TWENTY MILLION MILES TO EARTH.

If you remember those first amazing moments, as I do, in Jurassic Park, where you sat in a darkened theater and saw those first magnificent shots of those computer generated dinosaurs -- how incredibly real they moved and how flawlessly they were married to the rest of the scene, if you remember that rather milestone moment in special effects technology --

Then you have some idea what audiences witnessed decades earlier when they saw KING KONG or MIGHTY JOE YOUNG in a movie theater -- and marveled at how these creatures were alive up there on the screen! Moving and alive! How the impossible was suddenly happening right before their eyes!


I love what digital effects have done for the industry. And there are times when films are so digitally "enhanced" today -- that they lose all credibility. They look so painted that you stop believing anything you're seeing. You feel like you might as well be home watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.

But just the right mix of something real in front of the camera, and digital magic, and you have a moviemaking palette where the colors are suddenly endless and nothing is impossible.

But I was born part of a generation that got to witness the brilliance of men telling stories with creatures BEFORE digital magic.

So I can not only appreciate where technology has delivered us, but still have an enormous affinity and appreciation from where all that came from: the meticulous and time consuming patience it took to create full motion creatures on the big screen. Geniuses by necessity: Ray Harryhausen, Jim Danforth and Willis S. O'Brien to name a few.

(Anyone doubting Ray Harryhausen's brilliance and genius, need only take a peek at the dazzling sword fight in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS where an army of the dead rises up to do battle with Jason and his men)

The most Creeper-like Harryhausen creation -- and strongest Harryhausen influence when it came to the Creeper's naked self, has its roots back in one of my all time favorite Ray creatures and scenes. A small flying creature called "The Homunculus" is given life in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974)

Here is the creature brought to life by the blood of an evil sorcerer (Dr. Who's Tom Baker) I show you this clip not just to show you the similarities of the Creeper design, but to show what an incredible actor Ray Harryhausen was - to be able to animate this performance, frame by frame. This small, dark creature's first waking moments.

The music is by movie music legend Miklos Roza (Jerry Goldsmith's favorite and mentor) and the cue is appropriately called "The Birth of the Homunculus".



When the Creeper first whistles the Jeepers Creepers tune as he strides across the asphalt toward the Trooper's newly severed head, we needed a great whistler. As is often the case when we are editing the movie, temporary sounds and music are added so my editor Ed Marx and I, can see how the moment is playing.

Since the first film Ed and I cut, my coming of age thriller RITES OF PASSAGE, we have gotten our collaborating down to a shorthand that allows us to work much faster than the average director/editor working on a cut of the film.

And because we are time efficient, we have time to do more with the sound of the picture than most would ever do at that early stage of the game. So we go all the way when it comes to sound FX, music and even ambiences like crickets, rain, a distant dog bark, you name it, we put it in and try it out -- even in the earliest incarnation of the film: the director's first assembly.

(Ed Marx, AKA "Mr. E", has been my editor emeritus since RITES OF PASSAGE back in '99. Ever since, I have a standing policy when it comes to Ed, and I use it on every picture I get: "Don't leave home without him.")

When we came to the moment where we needed the Creeper to whistle his famous tune, my editor Ed Marx did the temporary whistling honors.

Ed has a microphone set up as part of his Avid system and we often add lines of dialogue (you should hear me as Trisha Jenner in early stages of the edit of JC1) when putting together our versions before it goes to the sound designer.

After much time passed, we got used to Ed's whistle of the signature tune. It became part of the movie's soundtrack.

We just didn't know how much until we got others to try and whistle "where'd you get those peepers" into a microphone (looking for just the right rendition) at the final mix of the picture.

The final mix is where where dialog, FX and music are combined for the finished film. It was there that we ultimately realized that Ed's initial temp whistling, worked the best.

So in the finished film, that's Ed Marx my genius editor, whistling as the Creeper.

A director needs a great relationship with his editor the same way he needs a great one with his Director of Photography. Ed is a terrific film editor and though he would deny it, one of the major reasons why my films successfully snap, crackle and pop.

Pacing is everything and Ed and I have a real shorthand when it comes to picking the best part of a take and how to cut it into the rest of the scene.

I won't gush too much, but I rarely get to brag or thank Ed for his decades of experience, his support of my ideas and for his mastery (and my ongoing education) of the magical, essential and utterly invisible art of film editing.
It may be a cliche, but that makes it no less true: after the battlefield of actual principal photography, the movie gets made in the editing room. "The story is in the telling", is how I think Shakespeare said it.

My love of all things Hitchcock included my love of his "cameos". Hitch appears in all of his films in tiny little cameo roles that were quick and silent and that you missed unless you were looking for them.

For instance, in my favorite Hitchcock THE BIRDS, the famous director comes out of a pet shop walking two dogs on leashes - his own beloved real-life pets.

I knew I wanted to do "a Hitchcock" I would call it, in my very first feature film CLOWNHOUSE, and after that, I wanted to do one in each of my films.

If you haven't spotted me, there's good reason. I keep a low profile in my cameos, as the point is not to wave at the camera and say "Hi mom!", it's to sneak in and out without taking anyone out of the movie who is watching it.

Here are my attempts:

CLOWNHOUSE: I am behind young Casey when he wins his prize at the Circus: a cackling clown doll, whose laughter will later betray the boy and put him face to face with his ultimate nightmare.

(Whenever I see this cameo, it shocks me: Was I really that young and thin at one time?)

NATURE OF THE BEAST: I am the portly trucker at the diner that Jack (Lance Henriksen) has to squeeze by on his way to the men's room. I had put on a lot of weight between Clownhouse and Nature of the Beast, and at the final hour, totally chickened out about appearing with Lance in front of the camera - both Lance and Eric Roberts talked me back into it.

POWDER: When Powder is driven through town for the first time by his new executor Mary Steenburgen, the car drives past a theater. It is playing NATURE OF THE BEAST (which we had just finished shooting earlier that year) and the portly man walking past the theater, under the marquee is yours truly.

RITES OF PASSAGE: I am the lounge piano player at the scene at the hotel where D.J. Farraday discovers his father is having an affair.

JEEPERS CREEPERS: Originally one of the bodies on the wall in the Creeper's house of pain. My head was used more than once as one of the grisly wall coverings in the church basement, so while my original cameo ended up on the cutting room floor (but viewable in the deleted scenes on the DVD) you can also catch a glimpse of me as a corpse Darry moves past, just as he discovers the petrified remains of prom king and queen Kenny and Darla.

PEACEFUL WARRIOR: You will find me in the crowd of onlookers in the opening sequence, where young gymnast Dan Millman comes off the rings and shatters his leg into a million porcelain pieces.

JEEPERS CREEPERS II: When agreeing to do the sequel to the first Jeepers, I wanted to take on the challenge of what I thought was one of Hitchcock's greatest accomplishments -- and the proof of his strength as a master storyteller.

In a Hitchcock favorite of mine, LIFEBOAT, the master of suspense creates an entire thriller -- within the confines of a small lifeboat floating out in the middle of the sea after an ocean liner has been torpedoed by an enemy sub in war time.

The ENTIRE film takes place on the ocean, in this lifeboat with these people who have just escaped death -- and it is a damned good piece of filmmaking. An incredibly unique and bold idea and experiment.

LIFEBOAT turns out to be very suspenseful and a great little drama -- thanks to an amazing boatful of actors -- all in one single, claustrophobic little bobbing dingy.

My point is, Hitch pulled it off.

Does that take balls and talent, or what? An entire feature film in a small lifeboat! That's guts, talent and vision. Audacity and courage. The stuff vision is made of.

And even Hitch's cameo is a genius stroke in LIFEBOAT. Since he couldn't appear in the flesh since the cast was small and in the middle of the sea, Hitch turns up in a newspaper ad in a paper one of the boat's occupants managed to salvage.

(Hitch appears to be either one or both of the Before and After men in a weight loss ad on the back page of the above newspaper)

And in my own small way, since I was trying my own version of LIFEBOAT, trapping the kids in the confines of a school bus, I knew my cameo would have to be in a magazine or newspaper on the bus.

Using a publicity still taken in Houston Texas, where I am directing POWDER, we imagined me as a famous football coach and put me on the cover of a Sports Illustrated like magazine that was on the bus.

Unfortunately, every time we tried to sneak the magazine into a shot (Hitchcock cameos are supposed to be quick and subtle -- and not take people out of the movie) like having someone reading it -- with me smiling on the cover, it became way to obvious that we were cramming my cameo into the audience's face.

I had to forgo the idea of maybe appearing in JC2, then when setting up for a shot where cheerleader Rhonda (Marieh Delfino) grabs a javelin off the bus floor to take a stab at freeing Bucky Barnes (Billy Aaron Brown) from the clutches of the Creeper, we saw that the magazine was laying on the seat next to the javelin.

We put the magazine's cover facing up and it became the hardest to spot (impossible really) cameo of all my feature films.

This is a moment in the film where you aren't looking around at the scenery -- the Creeper has just punched through the bus roof -- and I knew no one would recognize the cameo moment, but it was better than not having a cameo at all, which was what I had resigned myself to.


Actor Eric Nenninger, who did such a great job as the bigoted Scott Braddock, had appeared for over two years with another young actor on the bus: Kasan Butcher (Big 'K' in the film, Double D's right hand man).

Both these actors were cadets at the military academy Francis, the oldest Malcolm brother, attended. Eric was actually Francis' best friend for a few seasons. So these two actors were old buddies by the time they ended up in JC2 as Bannon County Bantams.

(Al Santos and Eric Nenninger pose for some beefcake shots on the roof of the school bus where they will spend the majority of JC2. Eric missed the wrap party for JC2 because moments after he finished his last day of shooting, he took off for his honeymoon)

The other major Malcolm connection is that my great Director of Photography on NATURE OF THE BEAST, Levie Issacs, was the DP on Malcolm in the Middle for many years. Levi, as talented as he is great to work with, went on to direct several episodes of Malcolm as well.


The Creeper truck was not a fun or a healthy thing to drive. The one that had a newer transmission put in it for speed, had a very bad exhaust system.
So after every take of the truck chasing Trish and Darry's car, I'd yell cut and the Creeper truck would lurch to a halt and the driverside door would swing open and smoke would pour out of it like we were shooting a Cheech and Chong movie.
The poor stunt driver would stick his head out, and suck in fresh air. I felt bad for him, truly.


When Shaun Flemming came in to audition for Billy Taggart in JC2, (the boy who is chased and then dragged through the cornfield and into the sky by the Creeper ) -- Shaun's foot was in a cast and he was on crutches.

We had seen a lot of boys for this part and none of them sounded like a real kid. Sean was the very last one we saw after weeks of seeing others. Do I have to tell you how good an actor this kid was, to get the part that he clearly could not perform in his present state.?

I said, "Shaun, you are going to be running like crazy in that scene and it shoots in four weeks. How do I know, if I give you this part, you'll be able to perform? Running is crucial to this scene. It is essential!"

Shaun's dad told me had spoken with the doctor who had promised him that Shaun would be fully healed by the time cameras needed to roll.

The day came and that kid ran like the wind! All day long! And while running turned in a great performance as well.


In JC2, we wanted to suggest that the Creeper falls from such a height, that when he hits the roof of our school bus, it blows out all the windows on both sides (leaving the rear and front windshield glass intact, for dramatic purposes)

To accomplish this, the empty bus was fitted with dueling air cannons, large special effects guns that shoot an enormous blast of pressurized air on cue. Air cannons are used to blow glass out of window panes or send debris like dust into the air --to simulate an explosion without using explosives.

They are still very dangerous and that air they shoot is too. You don't want to stand in front of one, believe me. They call them cannons for a reason.
In our exploding bus stunt for JC2, we had two cannons in the center aisle of the bus, one aimed at each side of windows.
An air cannon was used in JC1 as well. This is what blows out the window in the 2nd floor of the Poho Country police station. The air cannon blast simulates the Creeper flying Darry through the Police Station Window.

A Creeper with Darry in its clutches was shot against a green screen and then added to the air cannon explosion digitally.

Our Physical Effects Chief in Florida was Mike Arbogast. Mike was a particular thrill for me, being the rabid JAWS fan that I was.

Mike is the son of Effects man Roy Arbogast, who brought to life the full-scale Bruce the shark, in one of my favorite movie rollercoaster rides of all time. JAWS had its share of technical and physical effects problems for Roy Arbogast, and JC1, had its share of physical effects challenges for son Michael.

Mike said he would call his dad now and again from our set to get advice.

The biggest physical effect of JC1, was of course scrapped before it could ever be attempted: The Creeper truck colliding with a freight train at a railroad crossing.

How far had we gotten in the creation of this third act finale stunt?

We had found the train, the crossing and built a dummy Creeper truck that would blast into the side of it.
In fact, a lot of people want to know what the original Jeepers Creepers would have looked like with Trisha and Darry making a getaway in the Creeper truck , being attacked by the creature while trying to drive it -- and colliding with a speeding freight train.
Only Brad Parker's storyboards survive to suggest what the real end of JC1 might have looked like. Here are a few of the thirty-some panels:


Two people disappeared from the kids on the bus in Jeepers Creepers II, that had nothing to do with the Creeper. One young actor, got a recurring (and speaking) role on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, shortly after we started shooting JC2.

His roll in Jeepers, a character named Beto, had already been so diminished due to budget cuts and the revamping of a script that had a larger cast than any film I had made prior) -- that when he came to me and said he'd gotten this thing on Buffy, and could he leave the show? I was in a tight spot.

You can't just have some character in your film just disappear right in the middle of it with no explanation. Not in such an enclosed space as a school bus!

Can you?

But was I going to keep some young actor from taking advantage of what could be an important break for him because we had already established him on the bus? Breaks come along so rarely for actors -- and for directors too now that I think about it.
I decided to let him go do his Buffy thing. The bus was crowded with a lot of kids and no one was going to notice if one of the boys, who hadn't even spoken yet (that shooting day was still to come) suddenly wasn't there anymore.
My script supervisor, my brilliant right hand woman, Patti Fullerton, must have thought I was crazy.

She was in charge of making sure everything matches. That there is continuity between shots -- and that includes continuity of people as well as props.

(Garikayi Mutambirwa as the young hero of the ensemble on the crowded bus. If he had asked to leave -- it would have been a different story)

Still, after shooting a week on the bus, with the whole team and the cheerleaders, and Izzy the sports reporter, filling all those seats, I felt certain if one boy disappeared who hadn't spoken yet -- no one would notice.

And did you? Off he went to Buffy. And I would hope your answer would be no. I didn't notice he vanished. Bet you didn't notice that there was fourth cheerleader on the bus who also disappeared early, either.

Well, did you?

Didn't think so. She was a non-speaking extra, who one day just decided that extra work on a movie was "a little more work than she expected". So next day, she just didn't show up for work.
Being an actor in a movie, speaking or not, isn't the kind of job where you can just decide 'not to come in today'. It isn't like working at the corner drug store and calling in sick.
If you are in a movie, you are part of that movie and part of the movie's continuity. And when an actor is too sick to come in and often times shooting days must be quickly reworked and rescheduled or are canceled. That's between 70 and 100 thousand dollars for a day's shooting -- suddenly scrapped.

(Me with the principal cast from the bus at the Commentary Track Session for the JC2 DVD. The smiles in this picture are not created for publicity purposes. We loved each other's comapny and had some great laughs. Both when we were making that movie and doing the DVD track too. If you haven't heard the Actor Commentary on JC2 and you really like hearing behind the scene stories of moviemaking, check it out.)

As flabbergasted as we all were, that this actress just never showed up again -- we never replaced her or even tried. Sure she had been on the bus for the first half of the film and would suddenly just be gone. But she was a non-speaking extra, so my argument again, became, that with all those people on that bus -- audiences wouldn't miss her.

And if you didn't miss her, then I guess I was probably right.

(If you can point out the two characters that are on the bus in the opening of the picture and then strangely disappear without notice, then you've seen this movie more times than I have)


I seem to end up writing at least one song per Jeepers movie. I think I might be a frustrated singer/songwriter on some deep level I haven't delved into. And it does bring me a nice royalty check every now and again when on TV you hear Justin Long sing Poly-Sci Track Team Guy or in JC2 the boys singing their "fighting cock" song that is their team them song.

In Jeepers I, I got to write a spoof of a country western song, that Darry sings to his sister about her troubled relationship with her college boyfriend:

Unfortunately, our favorite take of the Creeper truck coming up from the distance and attacking, the take that is in the movie, was one where the Creeper truck got there a tiny fraction sooner than I wanted him.

Because Justin never got to finish my favorite stanza of the song. The truck and its horn cuts him off before he can sing:

Turns out you're a twit,
and a real piece of shit!
Mr. Poly-sci track team guy...

Oh well, Sinatra wouldn't have done a cover of it anyway. But here are the full lyrics. Since I can't write music, I would sing the song into a tape recorder and Justin would learn the tune and words this way.

My other songwriting chore in the Jeepers universe was what the boys on the bus in JC2 are singing: the Bannon County Fight Song. And since the team is the Bannon County Bantams, their team mascot is of course a red rooster.

And this mascot was picked for two reasons: one, you can easily guess, but the other is because I wanted the words to the fight song to have a double meaning. The song could in some verses, really be about the Creeper and the fate the team had awaiting them:

This was another way, like the billboard in JC1, (and the Creeper's personalized license plate) to put some humor and irony into the proceedings, as every good campfire story needs. It doesn't hinder the reality of the story, but keeps it fun and the audience smiling while they're screaming.


Actor Thom Gossom Jr., who played the head coach in Jeepers 2, has just written a book about his short but incredibly memorable football career, and his even more incredible life as a young, black man, at barely integrated Auburn University.

I just finished the book myself and though I am not a football fan, Thom's memoir had me on the edge of my seat. It is a tale of a poor 18 year old Black man, who had a dream to play football at Auburn University. But unlike "Rudy" from the movie of the same name, Thom Gossom found himself a pioneer and a part of history when the country was being forced to wrestle with its bigotry and racism.
I like actors anyway. They are brave soldiers out on the battlefield with you. In fact, they are on the front line -- because it is their face and voice up there, out front. They are the first thing movie goers see, judge and react to while having the movie watching experience.
The writers, directors and producers are like generals back at headquarters. Their ass isn't out there hanging out there for everyone to see. (Though it certainly feels like it)

When you get a look at the journey that brought someone to acting, you often respect them even more. Thom's book is a story about strength and courage, and changing history -- and it makes me even more proud to know him.

But did you know that Thom Gossum Jr.'s most terrifying scene in JC2 never made it past the stage of reading it in the script and seeing it in Brad's terrific artwork and storyboards?

There were many scenes dropped from JC2 for time and money, but this one even Francis Coppola said he wasn't sure I should cut.

This scene is where Coach Hannah, who had vanished off the road earlier in the picture while lighting flares, is suddenly heard from across the distant field where the bus was stranded. Calling out to the kids on the bus. Calling out asking for help. Claiming that his leg was broken when he was dropped by the Creeper and fell back to earth.

The coach keeps pleading for the boys to come out and carry him back to the bus.

A brave group of boys loyal to the Coach, after much drama and debate, journey out across the dark field only to find that the Creeper is an expert mimic and puppeteer:

(If we don't look like happy campers in this shot, we're not. Endless nights on the insert car (towing Trish and Darry's car) from seven pm till the sun came up, forcing us to call it a day, really took its toll on all the brave, hardworking and sleep-deprived cast and crew of Jeepers One.)

There was one great thing about all that night shooting though: at night, the sun went down and the Florida nights became cool, breezy and the only time during the day where I wasn't sopping wet.
We spent so much time on the insert car at night that we dubbed it, "The Pirate Ship" because it was like a ship -- and it had flags (what lighting people refer to as flags are actually stretched pieces of cloth to shape the lights in a shot) and it also had a nefarious crew, ready to mutiny.
I overhead one crew member say, in the middle of our grueling month of night shoots, "Doesn't this f**ing Creeper ever come out during the day?"


Here is a perfect example of how we shaped our horror into what we hoped was a fun, horrific rollercoaster of a campfire story. This billboard my not look familiar in the glaring light of day, but it is the backdrop of one of the most graphic moment in JC1.

When the Creeper lifts the trooper's severed head and sniffs it and then pulls the tongue out of the head with only his Creeper teeth -- I wanted the audience to laugh and squirm at the same time.

What was happening on screen was horrible -- but I wanted to make sure and present it in my favorite style, a Hitchcock kind of style. We silhouetted the grizzly moment for starters -- the hint of something hideous is always more hideous than just blatant "booger eating" as I like to call it.

And the billboard itself, is not really " a wink" at the audience, because the billboard is based on many actual billboards found along country roads of a bygone age. I chose meat, and I chose the words "TASTES SO DARNED GOOD" because I found the irony hilarious in a way that didn't diminish the horror, but at the same time gave it that "campfire story" garish, goofiness that I was trying to balance with a bit of stomach-turning horror.

Whether I achieved this balance is for each of the viewers, and not the filmmaker to decide.

The meat company advertised on the billboard I insisted should be Legler Meats, to show my deep appreciation for my production designer on JC1, and who is joining us again for 3, Steven Legler.

(The diner/gas station Trish and Darry pull into is called Opper's Diner, named after my producer on JC1, Barry Opper)

Opper's Diner is in central Florida -- but it isn't a real diner. It was a one story, storage facility in a town I think that was Ocala, Florida. The storage facility was empty and off a lonely road, just the kind that the script called for.

So Steven transformed that empty concrete building into that diner. He brought in the wallpaper, counters, chairs, pay phones, tables, created and printed menus, designed and built the sign outside and even the gas pumps.

That's just some of the incredible and detailed work a production designer like Steven -- and on Jeepers his talented art director Kevin Englund, does for every set, to take a scene from a script and give it somewhere to happen that will photograph well and be what the director is looking for!

(This is the road to the storage facility (that became the diner) the road was perfect (though we had to ask houses all along this stretch of highway if we could pay them to temporarily pull up their mailboxes, so it would seem remote. Some we camouflaged)

(The diner looked so real that people would pull up to the pumps during breaks in filmming, wanting to get gas -- and we'd have to tell them the pumps were fake and we were shooting a movie. Now that is the ultimate compliment to a production designer!)


(A rare Brad Parker storyboard from JC2, back when we thought that the Creeper should die open-faced, so we could find him up on that cross in the barn looking pretty horrific even 23 years later. I decided later that the Creeper's head folding up on itself at the end of its feeding period was visually a stronger ending to the Ray Wise stabbing of the creature.)

I also decided it would be scarier if the crucified Creeper had a closed up cowl-like head, with the talons sealing it, for our final shot that climbs the barn wall and moves in on that strange looking head.

As I know Hitchcock would have loved, coming up on the Creeper's closed head was built in suspense for the final shot of JC2 -- because we were all waiting for the head to suddenly spring open.

The studio suggested that the face suddenly fly open at the end -- every film since Brian DePalma's CARRIE decades ago has decided to go for one last jump at the films last few frames.

They want to do this because it worked so well in CARRIE and people talked about the ending and suddenly -- everyone was doing it. A surprise though is only a surprise, once.

CARRIE is where it worked and you would have to look hard for a film even years later where it truly worked again.

(More amazing designs for Creeper knives and throwing stars from the prolific and terrific pencils of Brad Parker)

(Brad's idea of the rotting and decaying Creeper church where the Creeper has its House of Pain in the basement below. Parker drew this church before we found the existing one in Ocala, Florida -- a church which was an almost perfect match to the one Brad sketched)

(Brad's concept drawing for the stitches and incisions on the dying boy Darry finds down in the Creeper's Lair)


Or are you just glad to see me? The first time I saw this photo, which showed the early stages of farmer Taggart's Creeper cannon, the Post Puncher 2000 -- I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

Nobody else understood. I thought they had to be joking. How could anyone not see it? Especially in this photo!?

But they didn't. Now, I had approved the design, and maybe I had just seen sketches of the post puncher from the side -- but this front-on view of the soon to be finished prop, was so hilariously phallic (balls and all) that after my laughing fit, we made some alterations.

So I could photograph the thing from head-on and not feel like I had to go to confession afterward.


I ask myself this almost daily now. And I know there is a lot of curiosity about Jeepers Threepers and what the story will be like and who will be in it, etc. My very first blog had some pages of storyboard from the upcoming shoot, done by the talented Jarett Fajardo.

Here is another piece of early art from this talented kid (Brad Parker was unavailable in Hawaii when JC3 started boarding) which is a massive "Aztec- like" calendar that is found carved out of stone in JC3: Cathedral".

I won't say anything else about it. Except that it might be as close to a backstory about the Creeper that we might ever get:

I know I mentioned that JC3 will also have a prologue that will take place in the old west. Scouting locations for this little slice of Creeper history turned up a couple of funny coincidences, like this storefront we found on one of the locations:


I thought I'd leave you with another tale of my rather hilarious quest for the fame filmmakers hope for, but rarely experience -- at least not in the way they'd like to.

I attended my first Fangoria Horror convention about seven years ago when it came to Burbank California (a suburb of Los Angeles that houses NBC, Warner Bros. and Universal ) Lucky because Burbank is a ten minute drive from home.
I went with a friend to Fango because I didn't know what to expect. I guess I wanted a kind of bodyguard or something. Or at least moral support. It's always scary for filmmakers to go out in public I think.
Because you're a walking target for anyone who knows who you are but isn't a fan. And I was pretty green back then about the whole meeting the public and talking to fans thing.

And who am I kidding -- a horror director doesn't go to a Fango convention without the idea in the back of his head that he wants to be recognized, noticed and validated.

Always a dangerous proposition -- because like looking online for validation about one's work, films or existence -- the search often yields results you'd rather not have gotten.
At this Fango convention, I wasn't scheduled to speak but Jonathan Breck and Ray Wise were there to appear onstage, do a Q and A, and plug Jeepers II which would be in theaters soon.
I was browsing all the great booths and vendors that come to Fango (it's like Disneyland and a shopping mall just for horror fans) and even enjoying the occassional offhand comment from passersby, like "Jeepers rules", or the lady who came up to me with her ten year old boy and her seven year old daughter and told me that Jeepers Creepers was her son's favorite movie!

While secretly horrified that a ten year old was even watching my R Rated monster movie (you know films are rated for a reason, and that reason, is FOR THE CHILDREN) but she bragged to me that this kid had seen Jeepers in the theater and many times on video and could do a perfect impersonation of the Creeper's wail -- the one that he does at the end of JC1, when its face talons open when the SWAT Team threatens him.
Now this sound was created for the movie by mixing several horrible sounds together: a pig squeal and a cougar sound and I forget everything they used to create this awful, sustained scream the creature gives.
And this mother was insistent that her son perform it for me, right there in this very crowded hallway where Fango shoppers were moving in both directions.

The boy looked less than excited about performing for me -- and who could blame him. Then I got this image of this ten year old, screaming like a banshee at me in this crowded hallway, and everyone turning and looking at the director of Jeepers Creepers being wailed at by a lady and her kids and --

Well, you get the picture. And I did too. I let the kid off the hook and told mom, maybe some other time, in a quieter place where people wouldn't necessarily have a heart attack at the sudden explosion of sound.
I may have been imagining it, but I saw the relief in the poor kid's eyes when I took away his need to perform for his mom. Boy, could I relate to that one: "Do your Paul Lynde for your aunt and uncle," my mom would say, and I would want to just die or disappear.
But even that moment, made me feel appreciated in the horror universe, and that was important to me. The appreciation people seem to have for Jeepers Creepers, that was important and validating for me.

In fact, I felt like a f***ing rock star at this place.

I was browsing more horror merchandise when the guy at one booth took one look at me and said, "Oh my God! I don't believe it!" he extended his hand and I shook it, smiling and blushing at being recognized yet again. "I am such a fan," the guy said, "I've seen everything you've ever done! You are one of the best, man! You're great."

I'm blushing and he's asking me to sign something for him and I throw a look over my shoulder to my buddy that said again, "I'm a f**king rockstar here."

The guy at the booth then said, "Yeah, BLADE 2 was amazing ."

Now it was my turn to say "Oh God" and I did -- inside my head -- as I realized this guy thought I was the remarkably talented, Guillermo del Toro. Who had made some great films in and out of the genre.

I kind of stared at the guy at the booth and wondered what was I supposed to do now?
Friends of mine who are celebs and who deal with this stuff all the time say I should just pretend to be that person, sign an autograph and move on. I knew I couldn't do that.
I stammered a bit and said, with sudden and crushing humility, that I wasn't Guillermo Del Toro. "Oh," the guy said, looking deflated and embarrased.

"I'm Victor Salva. I made the Jeepers Creepers movies." I offered.

"Oh," he said again. "I'm sorry."

We exchanged polite smiles and I walked away. And for the rest of the day I wondered just what the hell that "I'm sorry" was supposed to mean?

Sorry he'd made a mistake -- or sorry that I had made the Jeepers movies?!

I was having dinner with my agent about a year later, one of the rare times I went to supper in Beverly Hills at a classy restaurant, and who should walk in and take a table - but Guillermo himself.

My agent egged me on to go over and say 'hello'. Something I would never do. I don't go up to actors or directors who I have never met, even if I think they are terrific. Finally, he convinced me to go.

And I got up and I walked to Guillermo's table and introduced myself and his eyes popped open and he said, "Victor!" and stood up and threw his arms around me like we were long lost brothers.

There is something incredibly warm and genuine about this man and I told him about the Fango incident, where this guy thought I was him. He smiled and said, "Yeah, people mistake me all the time for Peter Jackson!"

Though we may have all changed shape since we were three chubby directors with tiny mustaches and goatees, we all have one thing in common. To borrow a great line from the George C. Scott film, PATTON:

"All glory is fleeting."

Be well,