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Film / Jeepers Creepers

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"Jeepers Creepers, where'd ya get those peepers?..."
"Every twenty-third spring, for twenty-three days, it gets to eat."

Jeepers Creepers is a 2001 horror film written and directed by Victor Salva, and starring Justin Long, Gina Philips, and Jonathan Breck. It takes its name from the song "Jeepers Creepers", which features in the movie.

The film centers around Darry Jenner (Long) and his sister Patricia (Philips) as they take the scenic route home from college in Trish's banged-up old car. In the process, they have a strange and frightening encounter on the lonely highway with what seems to be the crazed, obnoxious driver of an ominous green truck, who attempts to run them off the road.

Later, from a distance, they witness the driver of the truck dumping what appears to be bodies wrapped in bloodstained bags down a pipe adjacent to an abandoned church. Seeing them, the driver engages the two in a terrifying road chase, but they manage to escape. Darry, against Trish's wishes, decides to go and investigate the old church in case there may be someone alive, only to make a horrific discovery. Much later, they discover that the driver of the truck is not initially as he seems...

Followed by:

Interestingly, the original script for the third movie apparently sets up a TV series, according to Word of God.

This film provides examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: Darry is warned to beware of the song, Jeepers Creepers. When he hears the song, Peek-a-Boo on the radio (which contains some of the lyrics from Jeepers Creepers), he initially thinks this is what the medium was talking about. It turns out she was talking about the real Jeepers Creepers song, which is played on a vintage record player as the Creeper kills him to get his eyes.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Darry ends up being taken by the Creeper at the end.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Darry notes that their parents were enamored with Trish's boyfriend. Presumably he never showed any of his abusive tendencies around them.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Trish tries her damnedest to convince the Creeper to take her instead of Darry. It doesn't work.
  • Black Comedy: A few scenes with the Creeper.
  • Blessed with Suck: Jezelle. She makes it clear that she hates having horrific dreams and visions and not knowing why she has the abilities she does.
  • Bowdlerise: For some reason, some versions of the film omit Darry's screams from the final scene. They can, however, be heard if the Director's Commentary is on.
  • Cannibal Larder: After the Creeper cannibalizes his victims for body parts, he takes them to a hidden lair where he props up the corpses into a depraved piece of artwork by preserving them and mounting them on the walls. Darry is borderline catatonic after witnessing this.
  • Car Fu: The Creeper uses his truck to repeatedly ram into Trish's car as he pursues them down the highway. Much later, Trish uses her car to injure and disable the Creeper for a short while.
  • Car Ride Games: Darry and his sister play a game of guessing the meaning of license plates, especially vanity license plates, such as 6A4EVR meaning "Sexy Forever." They try to come up with a phrase using the letters and numbers. Then it becomes a dark form of Foreshadowing when they get chased by an old meat truck with a license plate that reads BEATINGU.
  • Ceiling Corpse: Darry freaks out when he realizes that the ceiling (and walls) of the tunnel he's fallen into is covered in preserved human corpses. In fact, he's alerted to the presence of the corpses when some embalming fluid drips onto his shoe from the ceiling.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: The Cat Lady, of course!
  • Creator Cameo: Victor Salva briefly appears as one of the corpses in the church basement. Later, an old photo of his serves as the album cover for the "Jeepers Creepers" vinyl in Jezelle's house.
  • Creepy Crows: Lots of crows are drawn to the Creeper's lair in the church basement, and the other lair he sets up in an abandoned factory.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In many cases, the Creeper removes the desired organs/appendages while the unfortunate victim is still alive, then leaves them to die a slow, agonising death.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Subverted. Darry would have died even if he hadn't checked out the church basement.
  • Curse of The Ancients: Very much averted with the Cat Lady.
    I'll blow your fuckin' head off!
  • Cut Phone Lines: The Creeper does this at the police station.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Trish and Darry have their moments.
  • Dies Wide Open: The boy Darry finds in the church basement.
  • Domestic Abuse: Trish's (only mentioned; never seen) ex-boyfriend is implied to have been one towards her.
  • Evil-Detecting Cats: The Cat Lady's multiple felines start yowling in fear when the Creeper shows up.
  • Eye Scream: The Creeper removes and eats Darry's eyes, in order to gain use of them - while Darry is still alive. The last scene shows a close up of a deceased Darry with his eyes removed, with the Creeper looking through the gouged hole in the back of his head.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Well, you'll die eventually, but only after the Creeper is done removing your organs.
  • Final Girl: Trish.
  • Forced to Watch: The locked up prisoners get a good view of the creeper eating their neighbor while they have nowhere to go.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jezelle, while looking right at Darry:
      It eats lungs, so it can breathe. And eyes... so it can see...
    • The lyrics to the song "Jeepers Creepers" itself foreshadow Darry's fate heavily.
    • The carving of what appears to be some kind of demon in the worktable. At first, it could be interpreted that it is the work of a serial killer who worships the devil. Later, it becomes clear that it's a self-portrait.
    • The meat truck that chases after Darry and Trish has a license plate that reads BEATINGU. At first Trish and Darry think it reads "Beating You", but it actually reads "Be Eating You".
    • While looking at the hand print on the car, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment has a shadow pass over Trish, followed by the sound of a wingbeat. This comes before they discover that their pursuer a) isn't human, and b) has wings.
    • In the scene with the cops at the diner, the camera often focuses on Gideon's head. He gets decapitated very shortly after.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Mere seconds before the dying boy in the church basement starts thrashing about (at this point, Darry assumes he's already dead), something - presumably a hand - starts slowly moving under the sheet before the shot changes to Darry.
  • From Bad to Worse: Darry and Trish think that being run off the road by a maniac in a truck is bad initially. From that point on, things do indeed get much, much worse for them, and it never really stops.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Creeper is completely naked at the climax of both films. He doesn't have any visible genitalia, however. Maybe he hasn't eaten any recently.
  • Game Face: The Creeper does this at the end to intimidate the cops, just before he flies off with Darry.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • As Darry is climbing down the drain pipe looking for a dead body, Trish tells him, "You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it!"
    • Much later, after Trish manages to run down the Creeper with her car:
      Darry: Is it dead?
      Trish: They never are. (proceeds to repeatedly run the prone Creeper over)
  • Gorn: It's not excessive, but some scenes (such as the very last shot of the first film) definitely qualify.
  • Groin Attack: What the Cat Lady does to Darry. With the butt of her shotgun. Owww.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: The unlucky cop who gets his heart ripped out doesn't even keel over instantly, because the gaping hole through his chest is too far left to sever his spine.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Darry becomes borderline catatonic after discovering the Creeper's lair and the tapestry of human corpses within.
    • Trish undergoes one after Darry is taken.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Trish attempts one when she begs the Creeper to let Darry go and take her instead. It doesn't work.
  • Honor Before Reason: Why Darry might be considered Too Dumb to Live - he wants to check out the pipe personally because he doesn't want someone to die that could have been saved if they acted sooner.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: According to Jezelle, the Creeper calls its lair its "House of Pain". It's a very appropriate name, to say the least.
  • Implacable Man: Once the Creeper has your scent, it will not stop chasing you until it gets what it wants.
  • Jerkass to One: Trish comes across this way with regards to how she treats Jezelle. After Darry gets abducted, Trish seems to blame Jezelle for what happened to her brother. Though to be fair to her, it's mostly trying to go in denial out of fear and panic.
  • Insult of Endearment: A variant. Trish and Darry have some sort of bonding game involving Volleying Insults. If you use an insult too similar to one the other person used you lose.
  • Jump Scare:
    • The first blare of the truck's horn. Also, the scene following Darry's discovery in the church basement - Trish desperately attempts to start her car after she sees what she initially thinks is the Creeper truck returning to the church, only to slump back, relieved, when it turns out to be a different vehicle. Cue Darry suddenly slamming himself against the car window, completely scaring the crap out of Trish (and the audience).
    • The moment when Darry discovers what he assumes to be a corpse in the basement... then the "corpse" suddenly starts thrashing around.
    • The rats.
  • Leitmotif: "Trish and Darry's Theme", which is heard throughout the film and makes the Downer Ending all the more poignant.
  • A Love to Dismember: Subverted. What the Creeper does to Gideon's severed head initially looks like this, but it turns out he's dining on the poor guy's tongue.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • The scene near the beginning, with the truck coming closer and closer...
    • Later, when Darry and Trish argue about the song on the car radio, while the Creeper standing upright on the roof of the police car is visible behind them through the rear window.
      • Similarly, when Trish is keeping watch while Darry's in the church basement, the headlights of the Creeper are plainly visible approaching in the background - which is actually a fakeout scare, as the truck just looks similar.
    • When Darry is in the church basement and bends over to tie his shoe, you can clearly see several of the Creeper's victims' bodies pinned to the walls and ceiling before he notices them. A few seconds earlier, if one looks closely, some bodies can be seen in the darkness before this reveal.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: There are many times more male than female victims in these movies. According to Victor Salvo, this is because he was tired of the horror cliche of slasher victims being mostly teenage girls.
  • Men of Sherwood: The cops arm themselves against the Creepeer to try and kill, capture, or drive off the mysterious attacker. While they fail, largely due to being too shocked by the sight of the monster to shoot in time, a large number of them survive.
  • My Car Hates Me: See The Alleged Car above.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The aptly-named Cat Lady, to an extent - she may be old and frail, but she certainly isn't afraid of whipping out her shotgun to deal with anyone who trespasses on her property (and those who threaten her "babies"). Although she proves to be less than a match for the Creeper.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted - Darry and Trish stop to pee in a field on the way home, and several male characters from the second movie stop to take a leak when the bus stops due to a puncture for the first time. Interestingly, according to Word of God, Justin Long was actually peeing for real in the former scene.
  • Non-Answer: Trish asks Jezelle point blank if she is ever wrong, who instead calls herself crazy to avoid lying or telling her that Darry spent his last moments screaming in agony in the dark
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Trish and Darry are very, very bored at the start of the movie. Things soon heat up, however...
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Used many times, to great effect. A good example would be the first Meaningful Background Event of the Creeper truck coming up behind Trish's car - it looms up on her and Darry quickly and silently, and there is no music score.
  • Off with His Head!: The Creeper beheads a police officer with an axe while the man is driving a car.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Darry gets one when he sees the sheer number of cats owned by the Cat Lady, as he thinks back to Jezelle's strange phone call.
    • Darry and Trish, when they see the Creeper's face for the first time and realize that he isn't human.
  • Our Slashers Are Different: The Creeper is a being of unknown origin who returns every 23 years to eat humans and to use their body parts to replenish his body. Unlike most slashers, though, he hunts boys or men as a preference to women/girls, although there are female victims.
  • Police Are Useless: Surprisingly averted, for the most part. The cops, while not entirely believing of Darry's story, do send a team out to the old church to check it out, and the Poho police at the end try their hardest to try and take the Creeper down. They still don't put much of a fight though, and mostly just gawk at the Creeper, and they never shoot it in time.
  • Psychic Powers: Jezelle, whose powers are the subject of much scepticism by the other characters (at least initially).
  • Red Herring: Some lines were deliberately intended to imply that Trish is the doomed sibling to throw off the viewers. As it turns out, Darry is the one who dies.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: The Creeper emerges from hibernation every 23 years and feeds for 23 days.
  • Running Gag: Darry's jockey shorts, dyed pink in a college prank.
  • Say My Name: "DARRY!"
  • Say Your Prayers: Towards the end, Jezelle drops to her knees and starts reciting The Lord's Prayer as the Creeper is bearing down on her.
  • Scary Scarecrows: The Creeper poses himself as the scarecrow in the Cat Lady's yard.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Perhaps the reason why Jezelle mistakes Trish for the Creeper's prey when she has her premonition (remember, all she hears is "screaming in the dark) are the screams Darry makes when he dies.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: The Cat Lady.
  • Sinister Car: The very large and rusted 1941 Chevrolet, which is a trademark of the titular villain.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Subverted in the sense that the siblings' vanity-plate-decryption highway game actually becomes relevant to the plot when they try it on the Creeper truck.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The titular song, as well as Henry Hall's "Here Comes the Boogeyman" during the credits.
  • Sinister Whistling: The titular Creeper is shown to have a fondness for the song its named after, casually whistling it from time to time, including when its stalking its victims or making its "art" out of its victims remains.
  • The Stinger: After the credits of the first movie, there is a quick shot of the Creeper truck, horn blasting, driving across the road.
  • Suddenly Speaking: A deleted scene revealed the Creeper can talk.
  • Take Me Instead: Trish tearfully begs the Creeper to take her instead of Darry, but, after some consideration, he goes with his original choice.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: A working title for the film was "Here comes the Boogeyman."
  • Titled After the Song
  • Together in Death: A more twisted example than most: Kenny and Darla's preserved corpses, as a part of the Creeper's human tapestry, are tightly holding hands.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Darry. Oh Darry, why did you have to insist your sister turn that car around?
    Trish: "You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it!"
  • Torso with a View: One unfortunate cop has his heart torn out by the Creeper, leaving a large, gaping hole in his chest that the audience can see his horrified colleagues through.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The theatrical trailer completely gives away the fact that the Creeper is... not human. Additionally, the end of the trailer shows a shot of the Creeper about to take off with Darry. It's only shown for a split second, but still...
  • Unhappy Medium: Jezelle Gay Hartman.
  • Urban Legend: The tale of Wheaton Valley High students Kenny and Darla - which Darry later discovers to be true.
  • Useless Superpowers: Subverted: Even though Jezelle's powers can't do anything to actually help you or anybody for the matter, at least it'll let you know how how horrible your death will be by the hands of the Creeper.
  • Vanity License Plate: The Creeper's license plate reads BEATNGU. Darry (incorrectly) guesses the meaning as "Beating you" - it's actually "Be Eating You".
  • Villains Out Shopping: When the Creeper's not busy with anything in particular, he can often be seen idly whistling the tune of "Jeepers Creepers." The last scene of the movie even features him just lounging around his hideout listening to a record of the song...and examining what's left of Darry's corpse.
  • Volleying Insults: Trish and Darry occasionally engage in this, playfully.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: The Creeper's assorted lairs. He decorates them with the preserved corpses of his victims, stitching them together and attaching them to the walls and ceiling.
  • Wham Shot: The Creeper emerging from the Cat Lady's house... and his face is fully shown for the first time, revealing that he isn't human.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Creeper's 1941 Chevy COE is old, seriously beat-up and crappy-looking (not to mention creepy as hell), but it can effortlessly catch up to Trish's car. It is strongly implied to have a souped-up engine.note 
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: It seems likely that Darry may have a fear of rats, if his reaction to seeing a load of them in the pipe is anything to go by.