When Jeepers Creepers 2 was released this Summer, one film critic at the New York Daily News did something risky. In her review, Jami Bernard pointed out that the film's writer and director, Victor Salva, was convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy (1). This was relevant to the film-review because, as Ms. Bernard says, the film is a metaphor for child-abuse. The film involves young males sitting in a stranded school bus. "The boys sun themselves shirtless on the roof of the bus, like in a Calvin Klein underwear ad, while waiting" for the monster to get them.
Salva's monster does not just kill his victims. He caresses and licks them. In one scene, the monster peers through the school bus window at the frightened boys, trying to decide which he wants to devour. When he sees the one he prefers, the monster's eyes roll back and he gives a shudder that is clearly meant to suggest orgasm. Then he licks the window.
Sadly, many horror films seem designed to titillate certain audience-members with metaphors of rape. Freddy and Jason and the like are frequently found attacking scantily-clad women. Yet Victor Salva has made films outside the horror genre, and all of them seem designed to titillate those who, like him, are aroused by the thought of raping boys and young men. His film Powder, for example, features a young male who is stripped and humiliated. The male is ostensibly a teenager, but Salva makes him totally hairless to give him a more prepubescent look. Likewise in Jeepers Creepers 2, many of the males go shirtless for no apparent reason, and though they are ostensibly high school age, there is not one hair on any chest.
After Ms. Bernard wrote her review, others defended the rapist and condemned Bernard for not keeping his crimes a secret. Film critic Glenn Lovell wrote an article reprinted far more widely than Bernard's review. In it, Lovell insists, "The director has, in his own words, 'done my time ... paid restitution' by serving 19 months of a three-year sentence. ... Hasn't he earned the right to practice his craft without being hounded by the media?" (2)
Lovell does not ask about the rights of Nathan Winters, the 12-year-old whom Salva raped. Doesn't Nathan have a right to a normal life? A life that doesn't involve being raped on camera, then watching his rapist be paid big money to make major Hollywood films relishing that very act? Doesn't Nathan have a right to turn on a television without seeing movie ads reminding him of the success his rapist is enjoying?
Salva served less than two years in prison. Nathan Winters has served over 10 years of living with the psychological scars. Winters now asks people to boycott Salva's films and asks Hollywood to find more worthy filmmakers (3).
Unfortunately, Hollywood is not listening. Bobby Rock, one the producers of Jeepers Creepers 2, apparently speaks for himself and co-producer Francis Ford Coppola in defending their decision to hire Salva, saying the original Jeepers Creepers (also written and directed by Salva) "did very well at the box-office — that's all that matters to us." (4)
Yes, that is all that matters to Hollywood's money-movers. Until their hurtful disregard affects their profits, they will continue to give riches and fame to even this rapist.