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John’s Horror Corner: Jeepers Creepers (2001), basically a “Florida Man” cautionary tale about a very mysterious road-raging cannibal Boogeyman.

February 16, 2023

MY CALL: This Boogeyman movie is somehow both mean and fun at the same time, and this movie plays like a “bad movie” script was made by a solid cast and crew. You’ll have a lot of unanswered questions—in a kind of funny way. Very entertaining and not the typical kind of horror movie. MORE MOVIES LIKE Jeepers Creepers: Move on to Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), which I find to be yet more fun with yet more exciting horror action.

Siblings Trish (Gina Philips; Jeepers Creepers 3, The Sickhouse) and Darry (Justin Long; Barbarian, Drag Me to Hell, After.Life, Tusk) are taking the rural countryside route heading home from college. They are typical siblings. They argue and nag each other to no end, but they are frenemy-besties when the going gets tough. They encounter a little road rage when a rusty vintage truck needlessly honks and bullies them into a stressed panic until it finally pulls past them. Filmed in Ocala, Florida, the opening scenes depict how many transplants react to erratic Florida drivers who—as my NJ girlfriend quotes—are apparently literally trying to cause multi-car pileups.

Farther down the road, when they witness the driver of the old jalopy dumping what appear to be dead bodies behind an old abandoned church at the side of the road, the trenchcoated driver spots them, pursues them, and violently runs them off the road. Again, my girlfriend would call this a “normal Florida driver.”

Now, rather than continuing to head home, these two decide to press their luck with this psychotic Florida Man and investigate his body dumping chute behind this creepy old church. Deep underground in a subterranean torture lair with the walls and ceiling lined with mannequinized dead bodies, Darry finds a dying victim with his abdomen crudely stitched up as if he had been autopsied. Yeah, Florida people. I know, right!

When these two get the local cops involved, we wander deep into bonkerstown with “The Creeper” wholesale murdering these sheriffs while on top of their speeding cruiser. This is where we learn this demon has something of a mullet (which is somehow never explained or explored or commented on even in the sequels), carries a very custom-job axe (again, no explanations about the Renaissance Fair armorer who likely commissioned that), and truly delights in his killing (still no good explanations). Oh, and it has even more surprises in store.

But I still have to wonder how no one ever questioned where this mulleted, trench-coated, road ragey, Florida-country cannibal-murderer got that custom axe. How about that batwing-facehugger thing attached to the back of its head!? I really dig this flick. But if you’re looking for answers, you won’t get any. Is this thing a demon? What was it doing to those people to make them like mannequin corpses? Why were those bodies plastering the walls and ceiling of his lair? Why was that kid’s stomach stitched up and how the heck was he still alive? Did the Creeper actually stroll into the local DMV to get his BEATNGU custom license plate? Does that mean he has a registered car, a driver’s license and auto insurance? Did the sheriff (Brandon Smith; Jeepers Creepers 3) never try to run the license plate through the system? No answers across the board except for a local psychic (Patricia Belcher; The Number 23) telling us he comes out every 23rd Spring for 23 days to “eat.”

This is more a cheeky yet mean monster movie and a cat-and-mouse chase than a movie that thrives on gore, blood and guts. There is some gore, but the effects are definitely biased towards our Creeper’s monster make-up and the horror action.

Written and directed by Victor Salva (Clownhouse, Powder, Jeepers Creepers 2-3), this was overall a very fun and energized horror movie. There are few scares as this plays out more like a hunt than a boogeyman flick. It just finds its thrills outside of jump scares. I enjoy the over-the-top antics of this Floridian demon who seems to enjoy his human-eating profession.

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