One of the most popular and successful horror films of the early 2000’s was the 2001 film Jeepers Creepers. The iconic horror movie, directed by Victor Salva, introduced a modern horror icon commonly known as The Creeper. The character, teased to be some kind of winged demon that feeds for 23 days every 23 years, is one that’s made a massive impact on fans over the decades. What’s interesting, however, is that the Jeepers Creepers monster is actually inspired by a real life killer.
There is indeed a real life inspiration for the antagonist of the Jeepers Creepers film franchise, and it’s none other than real life killer Dennis DePue. For those unfamiliar with the story, DePue shot his wife in 1990 after she filed for divorce, and continued to dump her body behind an abandoned school house.
This should already bring to mind the events of Jeepers Creepers, especially for those who remember The Creeper similarly disposing his victims behind an abandoned church. But what’s even more interesting is that Jeepers Creepers took even further inspiration from these actual events. In fact, it seemed to closely follow the testimony given be two eyewitnesses that saw Dennis DePue dump his wife’s body.
Ray and Marie Thornton were the eyewitnesses that watched Dennis DePue dispose of his wife’s corpse. And, much like the events of the movie, they were soon followed by Dennis DePue who continued to get in his van and tailgate the couple for several miles before stopping. What’s more, their testimony became the basis for an episode of Unsolved Mysteries – and the similarities with the chase scene from Jeepers Creepers are undeniable.
You can see a video below that uses both the Unsolved Mysteries clip and the scene from Jeepers Creepers to emphasize the similarities.
The episode of Unsolved Mysteries later led to the discovery of Dennis DePue, who ultimately ended up committing suicide. Victor Salva has never admitted the influence of Unsolved Mysteries on Jeepers Creepers, instead citing Steven Spielberg’s Duel as one of his inspirations instead.