In 1988, director Victor Salva was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child, using a child under 14 in pornography, and oral copulation. He served 15 months of a three-year sentence, according to the AP. The victim in these convictions was Nathan Forrest Winters, whom Salva directed in 1989's Clownhouse. Winters recently said that Salva molested him for six years, starting when he was six years old. (Note: In a 1995 San Francisco Chronicle article, Winters’s mom, Rebecca Winters reportedly described “the four years of sexual abuse her son suffered.”) Nathan Forrest Winters also alleged that he wasn’t Salva’s only victim.
Salva went on to direct the 1995 movie Powder, distributed by Disney’s Buena Vista. Salva’s convictions prompted outcry upon that movie’s release, with calls for a boycott; Winters’s mother told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We’ve been through hell.” Roger Birnbaum of Caravan Pictures, which produced Powder, said at the time, “He paid for his crime, he paid his debt to society.” Salva said in a statement, “How deeply I regret my actions... I paid for my mistakes dearly. Now, nearly 10 years later, I am excited about my work as a film maker and look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to our society.” When contacted by the AP regarding Salva’s past, Disney spokesman John Dreyer retorted: “What’s the point, other than you want to make headlines?”
The knowledge made some crew members wary of Salva’s behavior on the set, and one tried to warn minors to stay away from Salva. Two crew members said Salva hung around minors, employed as extras. The children were invited to sit in the director’s chair, and Salva frequently lunched with them, the crew members said.
Powder went on to gross $30.8 million at the domestic box office, an equivalent of $60 million today when adjusted for inflation.
Salva kept working, albeit slowly. He made two Jeepers Creepers movies in the early 2000s (the latter of which centered on a high school basketball team and its cheerleaders being terrorized by the winged villain referred to as the Creeper). This week, he released the third, which had a bit of a bumpy start. Last year, a casting notice for this entry in the franchise was removed from casting site Breakdown Services when its operators became aware of Salva’s criminal past. Further, according to Deadline:
The casting notice sought an 18-year-old actress for the role of Addison, who at the age of 13 had been sent to live with her grandmother after her stepfather “started making overtures” to her.
Indiewire reports that in an early cut of the movie, a conversation between two characters regarding Addison (played by Gabrielle Haugh) ensued in the following manner:
One of the two characters is romantically interested in Addison and seems to understand why her stepfather would make “overtures” on her. “Can you blame him though? I mean look at her,” the character says. “The heart wants what it wants, am I right?”
That reads to me like empathy for a predator delivered as a joke. The line, though, has apparently since been removed from Jeepers Creepers 3, as Indiewire says:
IGN’s Adam Dileo originally singled out the quote for scrutiny in his review. He has since updated the article noting that the line was removed for the theatrical cut but was included on the screening link sent to critics who reviewed the film.
In fact, the IGN review no longer contains any reference to the exchange and apologizes for referencing it in the first place:
We have eliminated a section of this review that spoke to a scene that differed in the theatrical cut from the screening link we saw. We regret the error.
The original line in the review, per horror journalist John Squires read:
In August, Jeepers Creepers 3's TCL Chinese Theater premiere, initially scheduled for September 13, was reportedly canceled. The movie played in theaters just one night this week—Tuesday, September 26—and grossed $1.7 million. It’s scheduled to screen to the public again on October 4 via Nationwide Fathom Events.
I have reached out to Screen Media Films, distributor of Jeepers Creepers 3, for comment and will update this post if/when I hear back.