Is ‘Jeepers Creepers’ real?

The answer to the question asked about the Jeepers Creepers film series in this headline is of course, no. However, like other obscure and well-known franchises in horror and other genres, it may be somewhat rooted in our reality.

The movies began in 2001 and were initially directed and conceived by convicted sex offender Victor Salva. Over four films a rotating and sometimes recurring cast of characters has battled against a mysterious and demonic creature who goes on a feeding spree every 23 years. An official comic book notes the “Creeper” has been around since the heyday of the Aztecs and Salva said he was inspired by Steven Spielberg’s Duel, but in recent years a number of fans and writers have picked up on how the beginning of the first film appears to be a strong homage to the case of deceased murderer Dennis DePue.

As told in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries from 1991, a Michigan brother and sister (Ray and Marie Thornton) were taking a drive along a country road in 1990 when a van sped past them. They saw it later on by an old school and when the pair encountered the driver for a second time they noticed he was walking behind it with a bloody blanket. The mysterious figure (DePue) saw the siblings, caught up to them and followed them for miles and only left the pair alone when they got off the road and tried to turn around and get his license plate number. After returning to the school to search for the blanket they found it in an animal hole, called police and Marilynn DePue’s body was found.

For those unfamiliar, the first Jeepers Creepers opens with a pair of siblings on the road in Florida. A truck with mysterious style and origins threatens them, they then see the same one at an abandoned rural site dumping blood-stained sheets before he pursues them. They later return to the scene to find evidence of more disturbing crimes.

This combination of the television episode and the film’s opening certainly does showcase a spooky similarity.

While money and the unsavory background of the franchise’s creator put the fictional monster which first victimized Justin Long and Gina Philips to rest (at least until the upcoming Jeepers Creepers: Reborn directed by Timo Vuorensola), DePue had a more traditional end to his terror. Police began to search for him, it was not quickly resolved and on the night of the Unsolved Mysteries broadcast a woman in Texas realized her boyfriend “Hank Queen” was the killer in question. A friend of hers called, a license plate was given to officers and DePue led police on a chase which started in Louisiana and ended in Mississippi with his gun being turned on himself.

No concrete information exists confirming the link between the franchise and the death as of this story being filed, but it is curious to see how so much of what we consume can come from the unlikeliest of places. Portions of Star Wars come from films which enabled the Nazis, Child’s Play came from the Twilight Zone and Robert the Doll and, just maybe, there’s something lurking around the corner or in shadows of your home which could be the next great fright.

Do you think Jeepers Creepers truly came to be as a result of the murder committed by Dennis DePue? What film series do most people not know is inspired by or seems to be inspired by true events? Let us know in the comments.