It was announced yesterday that the Jeepers Creepers series is receiving a fourth installment titled Jeepers Creeper: Reborn. Ordinarily, the continuation of a mediocre horror franchise would be met with deafening indifference, but this one is receiving far greater attention due to its creator Victor Salva, and the question of his involvement.
If you’re unaware, Salva is a convicted pedophile who in 1989 was found guilty of sexually abusing Nathan Forrest Winters, the 12-year-old star of his debut feature Clownhouse, as well as being in possession of child pornography (one of the assaults was filmed), crimes for which he served a mere 15 months in prison.
Many people were unaware of this when Jeepers Creepers and its sequel were released, as they came out a few years prior to the proliferation of social media allowing for swift dissemination of information. However, by the time of the third pic, which Salva also wrote and directed, it had become common knowledge among many in the horror community and beyond, who were understandably angered that the director was continuing to find work in the industry, a situation that really wasn’t helped by the film containing a subplot of a man abusing his teenage stepdaughter, as well as a joke trying to justify it.
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In the official release statement on Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, however, there’s no mention of Salva, nor is he listed as a producer, both of which suggest he wasn’t involved in any way in its production, and it’s most likely that the studio is attempting to distance themselves from the director and his revolting past.
However, there is still the matter of rights to address, as criminal conviction does not invalidate IP ownership. If Salva was negotiated with for the transfer of rights so Jeepers Creeper: Reborn could be made without him, then it needs to be clarified, otherwise it risks further undermining the already shaky trust that audiences have in the morality of studio filmmaking.