The movie takes its name from the song "Jeepers Creepers" which is featured in the movie. Incidentally, the song was first featured in the Warner Bros. film Going Places, which at one time was owned by this film's distributor United Artists (along with the rest of the pre-1950 Warner library).
The film chronicles a day in the life of a young pair of siblings, Trish (portrayed by Gina Philips) and her brother Darry, played by Justin Long. As they drive through the North Alabama countryside, a mysterious driver in a rusty 1948 Chevrolet COE van tries to run them off the road. After letting the vehicle pass them, they see the same driver tossing what look to be bodies, wrapped in blood-stained sheets, into a large pipeline sticking out of the ground adjacent to an abandoned church.
After the driver passes them a second time, Darry insists they go back and investigate. Darry orders Trish to hold his feet while he looks in the pipe. Rats appear in front of him and he freaks out, causing Trish to lose her grip on his legs, and he falls down the pipe. At the bottom, he finds hundreds of bodies sewn together, covering the walls of a massive cavern beneath the church. Darry climbs back out and is visibly traumatized by what he has seen. He and Trish flee the scene and stop at a gas station where they contact the police. While waiting for the cops to arrive, they are phoned by a local psychic, Jezelle Gay Hartman, who warns them about the danger they face. She plays them the song "Jeepers Creepers" down the phone, and tells them that when they hear that song, they will be in extreme danger. Badly frightened, they nevertheless take no notice of her. Word arrives that the old church had gone up in flames and all evidence of any bodies has been destroyed. The siblings leave, with the police providing a security escort.
As they travel, the police are attacked and killed by the driver of an armored truck. As Trish and Darry escape, he loads the bodies into his truck and resumes the chase. Darry and Trish try to get help from a local eccentric, but the killer catches up to them and kills her. They manage to hit the killer with their car, and run him over several times. After crushing the body they realize its inhuman nature when its wings, thus far unseen, begin flapping around. They drive to a police station to wait for their parents, but Jezelle shows up and warns them they are still not safe.
Jezelle tells them the true nature of the mysterious creature: it is an ancient demon known as "The Creeper", which rises every twenty-third spring for twenty-three days to feast on human body parts which, upon consumption, form part of its own body. She also tells them that it seeks out its victims through fear, and that by smelling the fear from Trish and Darry, it has found something it likes, but she does not know what.
The Creeper attacks the police station and gains entrance to the cells. After it feasts on prisoners it is swarmed by police, but kills a number of them. Jezelle guides Trish and Darry upstairs, telling them one of them will die, screaming in the dark while the song "Jeepers Creepers" plays in the background. The Creeper heads towards Jezelle and sniffs her, but lets her go, and heads off to find Trish and Darry.
The Creeper catches up and captures Darry. Trish tries to reason with it, and tries to give her life for her brother's. The police burst in and take aim, but the Creeper escapes out the window with Darry. The next day, Trish, contemplating Darry's fate, is picked up by her parents, and Jezelle returns home in regret.
The final scene shows the Creeper in its new hideout, an abandoned boiler factory, where the audience finally learns what the Creeper wanted: by ripping out the back of Darry's head, it has consumed his eyes, leaving him an eyeless, motionless corpse. The song "Jeepers Creepers" plays in the background.
- Justin Long as Darius "Darry" Jenner
- Gina Philips as Patricia "Trish" Jenner
- Jonathan Breck as The Creeper
- Patricia Belcher as Jezelle Gay Hartman
- Eileen Brennan as Cat Lady
- Brandon Smith as Sergeant David Tubbs
- Peggy Sheffield as Beverly
- Jon Beshara as Officer Robert Gideon
- Avis-Marie Barnes as Officer Natasha Weston
Jeepers Creepers opened in 2,944 theaters and took in a domestic gross of $37,904,175. It later made $21,313,614 internationally, making a total of $59,217,789 worldwide.
Won: Crystal Reel Awards — Best Feature Nominated: Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films — Saturn Award Best Horror Film Nominated: Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films — Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Justin Long Nominated: International Horror Guild — IHG Award Best Movie Nominated: Sitges — Catalonian International Film Festival — Best Film: Victor Salva
In 2003 a sequel was released, Jeepers Creepers 2. Events in the second film take place days after the first film. The Creeper and Darry are the only characters to appear in both films, although they are not the only actors to appear in both films. In the first film, actor Tom Tarantini appears as the minor character "Austin McCoy" AKA "Roach" who is a car thief and regular in the Poho County jail. In the second he portrays "Coach Dwayne Barnes".
MGM has announced a third installment, Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral. The film will continue the story of the original film with Trish (Gina Philips) as she fears her son will have the same fate as her long lost brother Darry (Justin Long), the boy's namesake. The film will also feature the infamous Creeper truck. Jonathan Breck will return as the Creeper. Victor Salva will return as both director and writer. It has recently been confirmed that MGM Studios is interested in bringing a fourth movie to the series and that they intend Salva to film it back-to-back with Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral (2011). With recent setbacks, Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral is now set for 2015.