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Jeepers Creepers: The True Crime That Inspired The Horror Movie Explained

Is Jeepers Creepers Real?

In 1990, Michigan resident Dennis DePue was the target of a police manhunt after he murdered his wife and disposed of her body behind an abandoned school house. Different elements of the case were added to the fictionalized narrative of Salva’s story, and while the movie is still too strange to be considered close to a real account, the DePue case certainly leaves an impression on the Jeepers Creepers franchise.

Ray and Marie Thornton, a brother and sister, (like Darry and Trish) were eyewitnesses who saw DePue dumping his wife’s carcass, with their sworn testimony the primary source material for Jeepers Creepers’ true crime-based story. As in Jeepers Creepers, the real Thorntons stated they saw DePue disposing of a body, before he turned and noticed them in their car. They testify DePue then proceeded to tail them in his van for several miles, mirroring the taut chase scene in Jeepers Creepers. A 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries covers the DePue case in great detail, with the piece by piece re-enactment of the Thorntons’ story presenting eerily similarly to the corresponding Jeepers Creepers scenes.

Dennis DePue’s real crimes do not deserve to be memorialized, with the heinous murder of his wife spawning a manhunt that would ultimately end in DePue’s death. Perhaps then, this is why Salva added several fictional elements to the Jeepers Creepers movie, reimagining DePue’s nefarious aura as The Creeper: a terrifying winged creature described by movie residents as a “bat out of hell“. While the truth behind the film remains a dark tale of infidelity and evil rationale, Jeepers Creepers blends these wholly human elements into a supernatural story which retains the creeping chill of the true crime on which it was built.

Other Classic Horrors Based On True Crime

It’s no secret that there are plenty of classic horror movies inspired by disturbing, real-life crimes. One notable example of this is the infamous story of murderer Ed Gein, a Wisconsin native who was finally arrested in 1957. When police searched his farm, evidence of grisly, heinous crimes was discovered – including human skin pulled over lampshades and furniture, collections of body parts, and the body of a woman who was field-dressed like a deer. Given this, it makes sense that there are horror movies inspired by serial killer Ed Gein, but the carnage and deviance don’t stop there. In addition to multiple confirmed and suspected kills, Gein also confessed to having illegally exhumed bodies from cemeteries for his nefarious purposes and is even reported to have created a suit of women’s skin after his mother’s death so he could dress up like her. These shocking crimes inspired multiple now-classic horror flicks, such as 1991’s Silence Of The Lambs, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, as well as Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking 1960 thriller Psycho and its lesser-known sequels. All of the films’ protagonists are clearly based, in part, on different aspects of Gein’s crimes.

Another famous horror movie featuring material based on a true story is 1973’s The Exorcist, which led to sequels of its own. The film’s demonic possession and subsequent exorcism attempts mirror the story of Ronald Hunkeler (who was formerly referred to as “Roland Doe” by the press until his name was revealed decades later). At the time of his exorcisms in 1949, Hunkeler was 14-years-old and allegedly experienced a possession somewhat similar to the film’s fictional character of young Regan MacNeil. As all of the aforementioned films (and many, many more) prove, Jeepers Creepers certainly isn’t the only horror flick to be loosely based on harrowing, yet true, stories of crime and/or utter spookiness.


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Jeepers Creepers: The True Crime That Inspired The Horror Movie Explained

Is Jeepers Creepers Real?
In 1990, Michigan resident Dennis DePue was the target of a police manhunt after he murdered his wife and disposed of her body behind an abandoned school house. Different elements of the case were added to the fictionalized narrative of Salva’s story, and while the movie is still too strange to be considered close to a real account, the DePue case certainly leaves an impression on the Jeepers Creepers franchise.

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Ray and Marie Thornton, a brother and sister, (like Darry and Trish) were eyewitnesses who saw DePue dumping his wife’s carcass, with their sworn testimony the primary source material for Jeepers Creepers’ true crime-based story. As in Jeepers Creepers, the real Thorntons stated they saw DePue disposing of a body, before he turned and noticed them in their car. They testify DePue then proceeded to tail them in his van for several miles, mirroring the taut chase scene in Jeepers Creepers. A 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries covers the DePue case in great detail, with the piece by piece re-enactment of the Thorntons’ story presenting eerily similarly to the corresponding Jeepers Creepers scenes.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1535570269372-ccr3’); });

Dennis DePue’s real crimes do not deserve to be memorialized, with the heinous murder of his wife spawning a manhunt that would ultimately end in DePue’s death. Perhaps then, this is why Salva added several fictional elements to the Jeepers Creepers movie, reimagining DePue’s nefarious aura as The Creeper: a terrifying winged creature described by movie residents as a “bat out of hell“. While the truth behind the film remains a dark tale of infidelity and evil rationale, Jeepers Creepers blends these wholly human elements into a supernatural story which retains the creeping chill of the true crime on which it was built.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1535570269372-ccr4’); });

Other Classic Horrors Based On True Crime

It’s no secret that there are plenty of classic horror movies inspired by disturbing, real-life crimes. One notable example of this is the infamous story of murderer Ed Gein, a Wisconsin native who was finally arrested in 1957. When police searched his farm, evidence of grisly, heinous crimes was discovered – including human skin pulled over lampshades and furniture, collections of body parts, and the body of a woman who was field-dressed like a deer. Given this, it makes sense that there are horror movies inspired by serial killer Ed Gein, but the carnage and deviance don’t stop there. In addition to multiple confirmed and suspected kills, Gein also confessed to having illegally exhumed bodies from cemeteries for his nefarious purposes and is even reported to have created a suit of women’s skin after his mother’s death so he could dress up like her. These shocking crimes inspired multiple now-classic horror flicks, such as 1991’s Silence Of The Lambs, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, as well as Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking 1960 thriller Psycho and its lesser-known sequels. All of the films’ protagonists are clearly based, in part, on different aspects of Gein’s crimes.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1535570269372-ccr5’); });

Another famous horror movie featuring material based on a true story is 1973’s The Exorcist, which led to sequels of its own. The film’s demonic possession and subsequent exorcism attempts mirror the story of Ronald Hunkeler (who was formerly referred to as “Roland Doe” by the press until his name was revealed decades later). At the time of his exorcisms in 1949, Hunkeler was 14-years-old and allegedly experienced a possession somewhat similar to the film’s fictional character of young Regan MacNeil. As all of the aforementioned films (and many, many more) prove, Jeepers Creepers certainly isn’t the only horror flick to be loosely based on harrowing, yet true, stories of crime and/or utter spookiness.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1550597677810-0’); });

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