Jeepers Creepers 3 is coming soon, so it's important to revisit the original movie and I can't think of a better way to do that then to tell you why it still haunts me. In 2001, Victor Salva wrote and directed a winner in my book. It stuns me on both a physical and emotional level. While Rotten Tomatoes doesn't give it much love, I have to disagree. The scares are more sophisticated than people realize. It's not just jump/scares, it's real deep down terror. Here's why.
1. The Cathedral of Bodies
Jeepers Creepers follows brother and sister, Trish and Darry, as they road trip across the country for spring break. At one point, Darry believes he sees a man putting a body into a large pipe coming out of the ground. Deciding to investigate, Darry goes into the pipe and finds an underground lair with bodies sewn into the walls and ceiling. It's deeply unnerving, especially since we, the viewer, know that The Creeper is on his way back home. Will Darry make it out?
2. The Jeepers Creepers Song
Jeepers Creepers was a popular song in 1938 and I'm guessing that you heard it even before seeing the Jeepers Creepers movie. While it started as a fun song, I hear it now and am only reminded of pain and horror. That's what an effective scary movie has the capability of doing. The song asks "where'd ya get them peepers"? And we know exactly where The Creeper got his, don't we? On the surface, it's an innocent song, but dig a little deeper, tie it to a terrifying movie and the song becomes an anthem of disgust.
3. The Fear Of Road Trips
Road trips have been a major part of several horror movies (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, etc.), but it's especially effective in this movie. Mainly because The Creeper will hunt you down once he has your scent. You can't avoid him. You can't decide not to stop off at the eerie gas station. If he smells you, however far away you are, that's it. He's coming for you.
4. The Cat Lady
The cat lady haunts me very much, but it isn't even her fault. Sure, she's brusque and a little unfriendly, but it's the "floating" that gets to me. When The Creeper finds his way into her house, he uses her body to get close to Trish and Darry. It's a creepy part. The kind of part that gives me nightmares just thinking about it. Something about "floating" bothers me. Even hangings bother me. Feet should be on the ground. When they're not, it's creeptastic. Think about it. Great movies have used floating effectively, such as The Exorcist and Salem's Lot. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer got in on the action during the "Hush" episode.
The Creeper drives around in a big, dirty truck. It's the license plate that's really scary though. As I stated before, The Creeper will hunt you down once he's smelled something he likes. What happens then? Well, his license plate sums that up. BEATNGU. Be eating you. Eww.
6. The Brother/Sister Relationship
It takes a lot for any movie, horror or otherwise, to make you feel deeply for the characters involved. Jeepers Creepers manages to do it in spades. I have a little brother and I fell in love with Trish and Darry, as well as their relationship with one another. They reminded me a little of myself and my brother. So, when the end of the movie rolls around, my heart breaks violently. It's one of the most effective horror movie endings I've ever seen. Trish is begging The Creeper for her brother's life. She even puts her life on the line to do so. Not only was I terrified, I was crying. Now, that's a killer movie.
Now, I can't wait for Jeepers Creepers 3. Trish is supposed to make an appearance, which is why I wonder if my heart will break all over again. Did your heart break? Did the movie scare you the way it scared me? If so, let me know your favorite scene in the comments.