After Freddy, Leatherface, and Jason reigned in the 1980s, there was a serious scarcity of legendary horror villains. As a result, horror fans were ecstatic to see Jeepers Creepers since it introduced them to a new foe to fear. This terrible creature was a horrific flesh-eating beast that went on a hunt every twenty-three years for twenty-three days. The hunt’s goal was to steal human organs from the slain victims, and it was a crazy enough premise to get excited about!
With this creative horror film, director Victor Salva wowed everyone, and the cast, which included Justin Long and Jonathan Breck, did not disappoint. One of the best aspects of the film is how it maintains the tension created throughout the story, and the random selection of victims leaves the audience in the dark about the monster’s true purpose. However, arguments about the film can wait for another day since today we will take you down a different path by bringing you the lesser-known facts about the film that make it much more entertaining to watch!
It was inspired by a real-life killer:
There are multiple views regarding what actually inspired Victor Salva to conceive this unique horror flick. There are even some rumors suggesting that the movie is based on a true story or very popular folklore that locals believe to be true. However, the director has actually clarified that it is entirely a work of fiction. Even then, in the first twenty minutes of the film, you will find a striking resemblance to an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
This episode was built around the mysterious murder of a woman, who was allegedly killed by her husband. After the murder, the man dumped her body behind an abandoned school, and the opening sequence shares some uncanny details from this episode. Even some of the individual shots of the movie will seem similar to the TV episode, and there are no two ways about it!
The casting of Justin Long and Jonathan Breck fell in place perfectly:
Jeepers Creepers has often been praised for the acting performances, and Justin Long certainly steals the show. His casting in the movie, however, is quite an interesting story. Several people had auditioned before him for the role, but none really managed to make an impact. Most of these young men were more concerned about the false bravado and machismo that the director did not approve of. When Justin Long auditioned, there was something very natural about his performance.
He seemed to be an effortless actor who could ease into some of the funny moments in the movie just as easily as he could be terrified in certain scenes. Besides, Victor Salva was already very impressed with his work in Galaxy Quest, and he was immediately selected after his wonderful audition. The movie certainly worked wonders for his career because it made him a star overnight, and there was no looking back following this massive hit.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Breck came for the auditions relatively unprepared, but it did not affect his performance one bit. He was asked to mimic the moments when the Creeper hunted down its victims and sniffed them to check if they had the right body parts that he needed.
Jonathan Breck was spot on in terms of his acting, and the makers were reportedly scared by how realistic he made things to be! Salva initially wanted Lance Henriksen for the role, but the audition impressed him so much that he selected Jonathan Breck on the spot. His successful audition stint is actually on the record, and you can go ahead and check it out to see how terrific a job he did out there!
The shooting conditions were extreme – to say the least!
You can imagine the hardships that come with shooting under extreme weather conditions, especially if it is unbearably hot! The movie was filmed in Florida, and the heat really got to the cast and crew. Victor Salva weighed around 400 pounds back then, and he had a tough time dealing with the heat.
Jonathan Breck, in particular, found things impossible to handle with all the mounds of latex that were used as a part of the practical effects for the monster. If the heat was not enough, there were numerous insects on the site to add to their woes. The team had to take some drastic measures to get a hang of the situation, and they even resorted to firing a pistol before every scene to silence the noisy insects for some time.
This enabled the sounds and dialogues to be captured properly, and made things audible! All we can say is that the efforts certainly bore some terrific results because Jeepers Creepers became a brand for creature horror!
Creeper was based on a mythological monster:
The infamous flesh-eating creature, the Creeper, is believed to be inspired by Spring-heeled Jack, a Victorian-era creature that is a major part of English folklore. According to the stories, this was a skinny figure, dressed in black, who had claws for hands and red eyes. Spring-heeled Jack got his name because of his ability to leap through large distances, which is something the Creeper does as well!
In the movie, we largely see the Creeper silent. This undoubtedly added to his menacing and mysterious quality, but there have been a few indications to suggest that the creature was originally meant to talk. In one of the deleted scenes from the movie, the monster holds the corpse of the Cat Lady, and says, “She doesn’t smell too good” in a typical Old Western accent.
The makers felt that if Creeper could talk then it would make him less intimidating, and eventually, the scene was deleted. However, a certain human side to the monster would have made a lot of sense as to how the Creeper knew how to wear clothes or drive a car!
The abandoned Church where they filmed has a mysterious story:
In the movie, you might have noticed the small chapel above the Creeper’s lair. It was shot in an actual abandoned church, and it is no surprise that things looked so realistic! It had been empty for several years, and Salva thought that it would be a perfect setting for the Creeper’s hideout. The film was a huge hit and its wide popularity meant that the abandoned church suddenly became a hotspot for tourist attraction.
But, after some time, the church burned down to the ground under mysterious circumstances. It was never really revealed what caused the fire, but it could be some of the locals who were irritated with the increasing tourist footfall. It could also be the work of miscreants who didn’t want too many people visiting this secluded spot. Whatever be the case, the story of the abandoned church certainly adds more color to the eerie ambiance of the movie.
Victor Salva was forced to edit some parts of the script:
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Jeepers Creepers was a terribly low-budget affair, but it was still not enough for what the director had in mind. Victor Salva arrived in Florida and realized that the budget wouldn’t be enough for his entire script. Thus, he had to edit out almost twenty pages of the script, and we lost out on a fiery climax that would have cost around $1 million to shoot.
It was a sequence, where the Creeper’s truck would be driven into an oncoming train in a suicidal attempt to kill the creature, but eventually, the makers had to work around the idea. However, the budgetary issues were rewarded profusely at the box office, where the movie set new records back then, grossing around $38 million in North America alone for the first weekend.
Jeepers Creepers Comic Books reveal further details about the creature!
The comic series was released a lot later, but it did clarify some confusing bits about the Creeper. The comic series was written by Marc Andreyko, and the narrative followed a grad student named Devon, who was researching certain myths in American folklore. This is how he stumbled upon the Creeper and his mysterious origins.
He traveled to Mexico City, and during his trip to the Aztec Pyramids, he came across the Dragon God or Serpent God that demanded human sacrifices from the Aztecs in order to be appeased. The later issues throw some more light on the Creeper, and the creature is believed to have ties with the Native Americans. The comic series also explored the true extent of his powers, and indicated that he was responsible for the disappearance of certain civilizations in the past!
Makeup Effects Steal the show:
Renowned FX artist Brian Penikas was responsible for the makeup effects and monster designs, and this veteran artist has been a part of the industry for over thirty years. From smashing hits like Pirates of the Caribbean and Guardians of the Galaxy, his work has been acknowledged by the toughest of critics.
Brian Penikas was even nominated for the Best Makeup and Creature FX award for his work in Jeepers Creepers, and a few years later his brilliant work with prosthetics in Mad Man got him an Emmy nomination. It required a special effort to transform Jonathan Breck into the Creeper and it took around seven hours for all the prosthetics to be done right. Even the actor was shocked to see the end results for the first time, and it is safe to say that Brian Penikas deserves a lot of credit for the maddening success of the movie.
The Creeper’s Truck was as crappy as you see it:
One of the lasting sights of the movie was watching the Creeper’s creepy truck move around. But, if you thought that it only appeared jalopy on screen, think again! The truck was actually a rather disturbing machine in real life, and it had a particularly tricky exhaust system that did not work most of the time. This meant that during the filming of the scenes inside the truck, a lot of smoke would accumulate inside and the doors had to be opened from time to time to let all the smoke out!
A little something about the roads and the roadside diner:
As we have mentioned before, the movie was largely filmed in Northern Florida, and the script demanded an empty stretch of highway. Now, the problem was that the shooting location had a rather busy highway, which was never really deserted like it was intended to be. The makers had to resort to certain tricks to get the scenes right, and the director even got some of the locals to uproot their mailboxes temporarily to give the place a deserted look.
The roadside diner that you see in the movie was actually a set built specifically for the scene. However, it looked a bit too real, and sometimes random travelers would walk in to get food and gas! It is commendable how the movie managed to make everything seem so genuine even though it did not have the luxury of a massive budget.
The Victor Salva controversy!
This has to be one of the most disturbing things about the Jeepers Creepers franchise. The series has three movies to date, with a fourth on the way and Jeepers Creepers 3 running into some trouble regarding one of the dialogues. Before we get into that, let us give you a little history about Victor Salva that might be a bit troubling.
He was convicted back in 1988 for the molestation of a 12-year-old actor, for possessing objectionable videotapes. He served 15 months in prison, and later, he went on to have a successful career in Hollywood. Jeepers Creepers was a huge hit, and Victor Salva went on to direct the sequel Jeepers Creepers 3. There is a dialogue that, in a way, justifies such condemnable acts, and he got a lot of flak for the inclusion of that scene.
The obscene advancements of a stepfather were justified with the statement, “Can you blame him though? I mean look at her”, and it rightly did not go down well with the fans. However, all controversies aside, there is no denying the special space that Jeepers Creepers holds among the horror fans!
The fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, which is supposed to release later this year. There still is no formal release date, but people are anticipating a spring release. Victor Salva will no longer be in charge, and Timo Vuorensola has been brought in to shoulder responsibilities. It is supposed to be a reboot of the franchise, and the cast reportedly includes the likes of Sydney Craven, Imran Adams, and Dee Wallace. Do let us know in the comments below about the facts that appealed to you the most, and suggest to us the next thing you want a complete autopsy on!