American flag
The Pro-Youth Pages
© 2003, Pro-Youth Pages

Victor Salva:

Child-Abusing Filmmaker

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.

Update: 4/04

Glenn Lovell responds to the above essay:


Finally happened upon your coverage of my piece on Victor Salva press coverage. Your comments suggest you aren't familiar with my stories on Salva. I did the most extensive intvw with the guy in 1999 ("Can Victor Salva Move On?") in which all principals, including victim Nathan Winters, were interviewed. Salva hated the piece and has refused to talk to me ever since. Given coverage, I hardly think you can call me an advocate or apologist for his side. GL


Pro-Youth Pages' Bill answers:


Having now read your earlier piece, I stand by every word I've written here. It may be true Salva was unhappy you did not give him the fawning he felt he deserved, but he is hardly objective in this.

You say you have a child-molester who thinks you were once tough on him. You have a child-advocate who thinks you have been supportive of Salva. You'll have to decide whose opinion you value more. If your decision is hard, that either says something bad about me or it says something bad about you.

If you don't want to be seen as an advocate or apologist for people like Salva, be more careful in your future writings.

To hear about novelist Andrew Vachss's "Victor Salva Clause," go to and click on "You know what? I never participate in those discussions ...".

See also:


Bernard, Jami. "Horrors, It's a Sequel!!" New York Daily News. August 31, 2003.
Lovell, Glenn. "Critics Dwell on Director's Criminal Past." San Jose Mercury News. September 18, 2003. E-1.
Welkos, Robert W. and Judy Brennan. "Dust hasn't Settled on 'Powder'." Los Angeles Times. October 31, 1995. F-1.