Born in March of 1958, Victor Ronald Salva was a film prodigy who directed nearly twenty short films before he turned eighteen, culminating ...
Director's Dungeon: Victor Salva
Silva recycled the cast from Basement to create what he called a “camp fire story” In Clownhouse, three brothers hiding out in a deserted house are menaced by a trio of escaped mental patients who have disguised themselves as circus clowns. Clownhouse was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and International Fantasy Film Award at the Fantasporto film festival in Portugal.
But Salva’s early success was overshadowed by his conviction for sexual abuse involving the 12-year-old star of Clownhouse, Nathan Forrest Winters. The molestation was videotaped by Salva and he pled guilty to five felony counts of child molestation, including one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, one count of oral copulation with a minor, and three counts involving possession of child pornography. Salva served fifteen months of a three year term at Soledad prison and it would be seven years before he would direct another film.
Salva has admitted that the molestation occurred at “a dark time in my confused young life, but also a time when I took responsibility for…the ramifications of growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family” and most of his films post-prison, (especially his horror films) can be read as efforts to resolve issues surrounding the molestation and his own sexuality.
With the backing of Hollywood Pictures, Salva wrote and directed Powder in 1995. The plot centers on an albino boy with special powers that unsettle the residents of a small town and make him into an outcast. Though critics of the film hailed it as “one of the best and most moving sci-fi films ever made,” a move was made to boycott the film, led by Salva’s then 20-year old victim who was shocked that Disney (the distributor of the film) would work with Salva considering his history. Salva’s next film, Rites of Passage dealt with an overtly homophobic father who, unwilling to accept his son’s queer sexuality, pushes him away and into the arms of a killer.
Salva would break out into horror with his 2001 movie Jeepers Creepers, which set a world record for largest Labor Day box office sales. The monster of Salva’s film is a flesh-eating creature named the Creeper who rises every twenty-third spring for twenty-three days to feast on body parts that become part of his own body. He stalks his victims by the smell of their fear, which tells him which parts of them he’d most like to snack on.
Oddly enough, the Creeper seems to have a penchant for young male victims. In the first Jeepers Creepers he sets his sights on the pretty man-boy Darry, played by Justin Long, and completely ignores his sister Trish as a potential victim. Jeepers Creepers 2 continues the trend with an opening scene depicting the abduction of Billy the farm boy. The Creeper then goes on to have his pick of a number of hunky male football players trapped in a broken down school bus (Jeepers Creepers 2 Part 4--6:57-8:25).
Salva’s limited filmography as a director totals only eight films and can be attributed to the storm of controversy that inevitably follows the release of his features. Though Salva has publicly expressed his regret numerous times, explaining to the press "I paid for my mistakes dearly" his history as a convicted sex offender will continue to stunt his career and haunt his future projects.
About author: Monster Scholar
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