Justin Long for “Jeepers Creepers”

Justin Long, who co-stars in the hit TV series Ed, is pleased that his new feature, the very scary Jeepers Creepers, goes much further than the more light-hearted Scream trilogy, which poked fun at the genre. “Jeepers is more like old-fashioned horror, which trusts itself and the genre, and doesn’t rely on satire or slasher effects.

I think it will be a breath of fresh air for people who haven’t seen a classic horror movie in theatres before, or who are too young to remember movies like Rosemary’s Baby or Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Jeepers Creepers, set in an eerily isolated corner of middle America, revolves around a pair of squabbling siblings terrorized on a road trip by a supernatural and strangely cannibalistic bogeyman of sorts.

The 23-year-old actor cheerfully confesses to being “a jaded fan of horror movies”, who “grew up on films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and all those. To be perfectly honest, I was freaked out by Jeepers. It truly is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen even after I knew what was going to happen.” When Long first read the script, it was also an eerie sensation, he recalls. “I was actually alone in my apartment when I first read it. I only got half way through it, I couldn’t finish it, because reading it, and the script was terrifying.” Long does concede that the film “could have gone either way, but It was testament to the talent of the director who was able to translate it effectively.”

Asked why a film such as Jeepers Creepers succeeds where so many horror films fail, Long believes that “we just tried to keep it authentic and very real, rather than fall back on any clichés.” Long admits that “it was a tense atmosphere shooting, in the sense that because we were trying to keep it real, we didn’t let up on the fear factor.” The fact that the film was shot “in the middle of nowhere, mostly nights and long hours”, helped maintain the sense of reality to which Long refers.

But Long can also look back on the experience and joke about it. “We were staying in these retirement villages, so basically we were the only visible young people around. It was something out of Village of the Damned. We spent our off-time just wandering around Wal-Mart buying all sorts of crap to ease the boredom.” A veteran of the stage, Long appeared in several New York Theatre productions including, “The Hot L Baltimore;” directed by Joe Montello and starring Sam Rockwell, “The Shadowbox”, “Final Exam”, and “Barefoot in Athens” for the Maxwell Anderson Playwriting Series.

While attending Vassar College, Long was a two-year member of the highly acclaimed sketch comedy group “Laughingstock” before achieving new found success in Ed. The young actor recently completed work on the first major Britney Spears movie, What Are Friends For”, delivering the young pop stars’ first on-screen kiss. Asked what was scarier, kissing Britney was or being chased by a weird monster in Jeepers, Long prefers to keep that information somewhat sacred, though he sheepishly confesses that “the Britney Spears movie was just fun and light, but let’s talk about that in a few months”, he hastily adds, following a cursory glance to his publicist. Justin is about to begin work on a second series of Ed, “which I’m excited about. It’s a great show to work on.” The usually funny young actor will first help to dramatically terrify an unsuspecting public with the release this week of Jeepers Creepers.