Victor Salva

Active - 1989 - 2017  |   Born - Mar 29, 1958   |   Genres - Horror, Drama, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Alternately praised for his masterful direction of such horror films as Jeepers Creepers and decried for his status as a convicted child molester, filmmaker Victor Salva has endured endless speculation and protest to emerge virtually unscathed by creating one of the most memorable movie monsters since Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees. Born in Martinez, CA, and raised in San Francisco on a steady diet of Creature Features, Salva's taste for the macabre served him well when he first picked up a video camera at the tender age of 12. Salva's short chiller Something in the Basement (1986) quickly caught the eye of Hollywood producers, and it wasn't long before he was offered the opportunity to direct a feature-length film. Though his debut effort, Clownhouse, did offer its share of screams as it detailed a young boy's battle against three escaped mental patients who have disguised themselves in stolen clown costumes, the film's success was ultimately overshadowed by some disturbing revelations by the film's then-12-year-old star. The boy's startling statement alleged that the director had molested him on videotape, and eventually resulted in not only a confession of guilt by Salva, but a guilty plea on five felony counts of child sex abuse in 1988 and a notable career roadblock that would find Salva abandoning his film career for nearly a decade.

By the mid-'90s, most everyone had forgotten about Salva's sordid past, and the director was offered the opportunity to direct the supernatural coming of age drama Powder (1995) by Buena Vista films, a subsidiary of none other than Walt Disney. When his former victim spotted a television advertisement bearing Salva's name as the director, he immediately went public with his story and the public revelation quickly put a stall on the registered sex offender's attempt at a comeback when the film was largely boycotted. The same year Powder was released, another, notably smaller-scale film by the director was also released by New Line Cinema. Standing in stark contrast to Powder, the bleak thriller Nature of the Beast offered the brutal tale of a man harboring a deep and deadly secret. Though those who saw it generally agreed that it was a well-crafted thriller with scares to spare, the majority of attention at the time was focused on Powder, and Nature of the Beast went largely unseen by the masses. His subsequent drama, Rites of Passage, once again dealt with the subject of men who harbor dark secrets, and by offering up such themes as homosexuality and redemption in the face of adversity, it appeared that the film was an attempt by the director to exorcise some personal demons.

By the time 2001 rolled around, it seemed that Salva's past indiscretions had been virtually erased from the collective conscience of the filmgoing public, and his gleefully unrelenting fright flick Jeepers Creepers opened to generally solid reviews and a healthy share of the box office. A film that mostly ignored the self-aware irony of many modern "horror" films, Jeepers Creepers was a refreshingly dark throwback to the more sinister horror films of the late '70s and early '80s. Of course, when a film performs as well as Jeepers Creepers did, it's not long before the inevitable subject of sequels is brought up and Jeepers Creepers 2 hit screens just two years later. In the wake of the success of the Jeepers Creepers films, Salva was quickly gaining a reputation of a horror auteur, and the director was soon at work on The Watch.

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