Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Victor Salva

Justin Long - Derry Jenner
Gina Philips - Trish Jenner
Jonathan Breck - The Creeper
Patricia Belcher - Jezelle Gay Hartman
Eileen Brennan - The Cat Lady

Genre - Horror/Monsters

Running Time - 90 Minutes

Siblings Trish (Gina Phillips) and Darry (Justin Long) are driving home from college during Spring Break. As they playfully bicker like brothers and sisters do, a beat up pickup truck [with the license plate "BEATNGU"] begins to ram into their car and try to run them off of the road out of nowhere. After a few scary moments, the truck passes them and leaves them wondering what that was all about. As they continue driving down the highway, they find the pickup truck parked by an abandoned church. They see a figure in a trenchcoat dumping bodies into a drain pipe. The figure sees the siblings, gets in his truck, and repeats the actions he made before. The siblings manage to escape, scared out of their minds.

Darry, curious what the figure was dumping into the pipe, wants to investigate. Trish refuses, but helps Darry after his insistence. Darry enters the pipe, as Trish holds his feet so he can get a better look. Trish loses her grip and Darry falls into the pipe. After recovering from the fall, he sees a bunch of bodies wrapped in sheets. Older ones have been placed on the ceiling and walls, almost like art. After Darry rushes out of the pipe with a bit of his sanity intact, he convinces Trish that they need to find the authorities.

The siblings stop at a gas station by a diner, urging for help and to call the police. While they wait, Darry receives a mysterious phone call from a strange woman (
Patricia Belcher), who claims to have dreamt of the pickup truck, the figure driving the truck, and the song "Jeepers Creepers" that seems to signal trouble. She claims that once the Creeper locks on to a person's scent, it won't stop until it gets what it wants. Thinking its a prank, they ignore it and explain to the cops what they experienced. Before they leave, they realize that someone has broken into their car and was smelling their clothes - especially Darry's clothes. Realizing that the Creeper is now after Darry, the siblings must find a way to get away from this creature before the creature gets them.


- The acting. This was my first viewing of JEEPERS CREEPERS after so many requested that I watch it and review it. I'm glad I did because the film has a lot going for it. One of those departments is the acting. The two leads, Gina Philips and Justin Long, are really great in this film and anchor the film well. Philips really conveys the confusion and fear of the situation believably and the camera seems to love her. I thought her quieter moments were pretty powerful, and you really felt for her. Long was a bit more over-the-top, but I bought his act too. He was completely invested in the role and made you feel for his character as well. I bought his fear and confusion as well. I also thought the two actors had great chemistry with each other, really creating a real sense of sibling interaction that a lot of actors seem to have trouble conveying. From the moment they started to bicker, I was invested in their characters and see how their respective arcs would change during the course of the film. I really enjoyed them here.

The other actors don't get to do much but play their parts well. Eileen Brennan as The Cat Lady was a bit eccentric, but she made me laugh a few times. Patricia Belcher was okay as the psychic. She was a bit over-the-top, but I didn't think her performance was terrible or anything. And Jonathan Breck was very cool as The Creeper. Dude looked pretty intimidating. A cool cast here.

- The direction. Victor Salva is a controversial director due to his private life and how he went to prison for taping oral sex with a 12-year-old boy years back. But the man does have a great eye for filmmaking, especially in horror. JEEPERS CREEPERS is full of suspense and tension. I really liked how slow the film builds into revealing The Creeper, leaving the character mainly in shadow [or framed in long shots] until the final act of the film. The tone of the film is pretty bleak, as it never feels upbeat at all. You just feel dread from beginning to end. I thought the editing and cinematography was strong as well. Even the jump scares were cool. JEEPERS CREEPERS has some nice atmosphere and mood going for it. I thought the direction was very strong here.

- Most of the narrative. I thought Victor Salva's screenplay for JEEPERS CREEPERS was cool because it's a monster movie that sort of separated itself from the horror that infiltrated the genre back in 2000-2001 at the time. While I do feel the story falls apart in the final act, the first two acts are really good and keep you invested in what you're watching. The characters of Trish and Derry are very strong, very active, and very believable. We don't know much about them besides what we see and how they interact with each other during normal and abnormal situations. We relate to them right away because they come across naturally as bickering siblings who care about each other. Sure, they do stupid things, like check the Creeper's pipe when they should just drive away. But they're very likeable and you want them to survive this mess they stumbled into.

The mystery of the Creeper also keeps the narrative interesting. We see him here and there to begin with, mainly in his pick up truck whose license plate reads "BEATNGU". Like a scene from 1971's DUEL, this truck tries to ram and run the Jenners off of the road. The Creeper comes across as this unknown force that wants to hurt these siblings just because they were driving down the highway. Slowly, we see more of the Creeper and learn more about him. He loves to smell things to pick up a scent. He seems to travel really fast - faster than a pickup truck at least. He also likes to cut people open, eat their body parts, sew them back up, and keep them as trophies. We soon realize that the Creeper isn't just a normal serial killer who has targeted these kids. He's something else entirely. We do get some expository dialogue that sort of explains his motives, but we still don't know his origins, how long he's been doing this, and how come more people haven't seen or heard of him. Sure, by the time he's a focus within the narrative, the film loses a bit of steam. But there are still some answers left unsolved about this thing that obviously leaves it for a sequel [which does exist and will review soon].

The two main characters and the mystery of the Creeper are what keep the story of JEEPERS CREEPERS afloat for much of the film. The film starts to crumble once more characters enter the picture and we see more of the Creeper. But the first two acts of the film are tension-filled and strong in terms of suspense and characterization. So the film has that going for it and plays the monster element quite well.

- The look and actions of The Creeper. Even though seeing the Creeper makes JEEPERS CREEPERS lose its mystique, it's inevitable that the villain was going to be revealed before the film ends. Even so, I dig the look of the character and the potential it creates for a franchise. The Creeper has human features, but a bit more alien and demonic. He has claws. He has wings. He's like an animal who's primary motivation is to hunt. He's not the most original looking horror villain or monster ever thought of. But I thought it worked for the film and I was interested in seeing what else the Creeper was capable of.

- The Cat Lady and The Psychic Lady. Here's where JEEPERS CREEPERS lost me. Let's first talk about the Cat Lady scene prior to the final act of the film. I'm not really sure what this scene had to do with anything. I guess it was to show that the Creeper meant business and how animals [in this case, cats] reacted to his presence. But it didn't add anything to the story and was just there to give the Creeper an extra victim to kill. I also didn't understand why they bothered to stop at the Cat Lady's house for help. After all, the Creeper single-handedly killed two police officers and ate part of a head. What help were they gonna get to stop this thing that seems to overwhelm and overpower everyone in comes in contact with? It made less sense when the lady told them she had no phone to call for help, and they stayed with her for a while. JUST LEAVE AND DRIVE AWAY! It bugged me and stopped the awesome flow the film previous had.

The Psychic Lady was also pointless. Her character wasn't necessary and only thing to offer expository dialogue that explained the actions of the Creeper somewhat. It just seemed so out of place. She had dreams about what was going to happen, hoping to change it. Yet what does she do? Let what she saw happen regardless! Some help she is! And then she mentions that the "Jeepers Creepers" song would play when The Creeper was after them. Yet it only played once and wasn't even used to its fullest potential. Anytime it was played, it was either the Creeper whistling it or the very end of the film. Why bother adding this element if nothing important is going to be done with it? I thought it was an interesting inclusion, but the potential for it wasn't used at all.

I also thought the police station sequence could have been stronger as well. I really wanted to see this police force shoot the shit out of this creature to see how strong it really was. Or have the Creeper destroy each member of the squad one-by-one for the same reason. Yet, nothing really happens there either. The Creeper kills a prisoner and a couple of cops. That's it. This could have been a cool moment of carnage in a horror film, yet we're denied. Not sure if it was because of budget reasons or Salva didn't even think about doing this, but I felt it was a lost opportunity to really give both sides a bit of character and create a memorable scene.

JEEPERS CREEPERS isn't perfect, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It had a fairly original premise that was executed well for the most part. The first two acts were strong. The acting, especially by Gina Philips and Justin Long, was great. The direction by Victor Salva was solid. And I liked the gore and make up of the Creeper. It was a fun, tense, and suspenseful ride that most horror films seem to lack these days. Some things, especially the final act, could have been improved upon. But I dug it and I'm glad I finally decided to take the time to check it out. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash my laundry because I don't want that Creeper sniffing my clothes and chasing after me. I have enough stalkers as it is, thank you very much.

3.5 Howls Outta 4


  1. I'm very surprised that you liked this movie. I really didn't like it at all, in fact it made me angry. I thought the Creeper was cool but I didn't care for anyone else or feel bad for anyone.

    1. I don't know. I really dug it. I had never seen it before and I enjoyed myself for the most part. And I liked the siblings. Sure they were kind of stupid, but I believed them. The only issue I had was that final act, which should have been stronger. I guess we'll just agree to disagree on this one. I'll have my thoughts on the sequel very soon.

  2. Love this movie, old school monster film, classic creature and classic victims. Pure fun and a wild retro trip. I saw this with my mom in the theater and it was a blast. Most dont like part two but I love it also, i love classic style creature monster films, there are so few of them and this series just bleeds that retro style, great review.

    1. Thanks. A lot of people seem on opposite sides of the fence with this one and its sequel.

  3. I can't get past the director wrapping his art into his sickness - videotaping his molestation of the 12 year old star of his first feature - although I saw this movie before I knew about that - but as it turned out I hated what seemed to be a backwoods slasher movie turning into a monster movie halfway through anyway. Past that, I will not see another frame directed by Salva.

    1. I wasn't going to let what the director did in his past sway me from enjoying this film. This was separate to that. But I get what you're feeling and it's your prerogative to feel that way. Plus, you didn't like the film anyway. So I guess you're good. Thanks for the comment.


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