Is Jeepers Creepers Real? The True Story that Inspires the Film!
Jeepers Creepers is a cult horror film that has spooked audiences since it’s debut in 2001. The film about a demonic, immortal being, that feeds on human flesh every 23rd spring for twenty-three days, has had much success with two sequels and even a remake, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, scheduled to be released in 2022. Whilst flesh eating winged monsters are not real, there are some real life monsters roaming this world right now. It was on of these monsters that inspired, in part, some of the films events. Yes, as shocking as it might be, Jeepers Creepers owes a dept to a life taken in April 1990, and a TV show that dared to ask what happened to Marilynn DePue!
What is Jeepers Creepers?
Jeepers Creepers was first released in 2001, and while it didn’t have the commercial success it deserved it quickly became an instant horror classic. Written and directed by Victor Salva and executive produced by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, the film follows Justin Long and Gina Philips as a brother and sister that are hunted by a bizarre creature, the Creeper! Whilst the films horrific antagonist is entirely fictional, much of the films early plot, where Darry and Trish Jenner witness a strange man dumping a body, drawing frightening parallels to the crimes of Dennis DePue.
The True Story that Inspired the Film
On Easter Sunday, April 15th 1990, driving through a long lonely road outside of Coldwater, Michigan, brother and sister Ray and Marie Thornton were passed by a speeding van. The siblings had a game where they would create names out of number plates, and Mary spotted that the vans plates started with GZ. Mary suggested “jeez, he’s really in a hurry”.
They Spotted the Van pulled over by an old abandoned schoolhouse, further down the road, and the driver was now carry a bloodied blanket. The Thornton’s quickly realised that they had accidentally stumbled upon something quite sinister. To make matters worse, the suspicious driver had spotted them and proceeded to chase their car for several miles, before pulling over on the side of the road.
Both still in shock, the Thornton’s decided to turn back to verify what they had just seen. Any film fan could tell you that this is how horror films start, but the couple turned around never-less. Arriving back at the school house, they came across a grim discovery, a bloody blanket partially stuffed inside an animal hole. The Thornton’s called the police.
Earlier that day, Michigan resident Dennis DePue had got into a heated argument with his ex wife Marilynn. They couple had been married for eight years, but Marilynn had grown unhappy with they way that Dennis domineered her and their three children, and the divorce came through in 1989. Dennis had grown angry and depressed by the breakup of his family, and on April 15th 1990, this growing animosity exploded in a murderous rage.
Dennis turned up at Marilynn’s house and attempted to take the children out for a visit, but when the kids refused, a massive argument blew out of control and Dennis attacked Marilynn, punching her and pushing her down the stairs. Marilynn was clearly hurt, and the children ran out of the house to call the sheriff. Dennis dragged his daze ex-wife into his van and drove off, saying he was taking her to the hospital. However, Marilynn never made it that far. That very same afternoon, a call came in from the Thornton’s, describing the strange activities of the van driver and the gruesome discovery of the bloodied blanket. The next day, Marilynn’s body was discovered dumped off the side of the road, somewhere between the schoolhouse and her home. She had been shot in the back of the head.
Dennis DePue disappeared. For months after the murder, he sent friends and family rambling letters trying to justify Marilynn’s murder, but the police failed to track down the murderer. The case was unresolved for almost a year until the TV series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episodes featuring the crime. It just so happened that Dennis was watching the show, and living with his new girlfriend, he realised that the game was up. With his face now plastered over national television, it would only be a matter of time before people in his new life discovered the truth. Hours after the show aired, his life came to a violent end when Louisiana state troopers spotted Dennis’ van. He reused to stop and led police on a fifteen-mile high-speed chase, which ended when police shot out the vans rear tires. Shortly after, Dennis turned his .357-caliber Magnum on himself, ending the chase and the unsolved murder of Marilynn DePue.
Whilst we not saying that the entire plot of Jeepers creepers was based on the Marilynn DePue’s murder, it’s very clear that director Victor Salva took inspiration from the Unsolved Mysteries show and the films entire opening is based on this one episode. The details are all there, from the long lonely highway, the game of making number plates into names, spotting a figure dumbing a bloodied sheet and the resulting car chase. These are not works of fiction, these are the accounts of two siblings that encountered a dangerous killer and discovered a terrible crime.
Jeepers Creepers is a work of fiction and flesh eating winged monsters are not real. However, life sometimes offers up events and stories so crazy that they surely could have only been thought up by then imagination of film makers. What’s truly terrifying is that, sometimes, these stories are real.
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“Hey Horror Fans – Sometimes, the winged demons of our imaginations are less scary than the person knocking at our door. The shocking events of Unsolved Mysteries proves that life is often weirder and scarier the events conjured up by writers and directors. I guess this was on chilling tale that had to be told, even if they swapped out one monster for another. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.