Assessing the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers
The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers may not be the first character that springs to mind when I ask you to name a horror villain. But I want to today make the case as to why the Creeper should be considered amongst the best icons of the genre. Just a quick note, i’m not going to wade into the behind the scenes criminality of the director, and how you can read the character based on what he did. Instead, i’m going to look just at how the character is presented in the films.
What is it about the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers that makes him interesting though, despite being in, what I consider to be, fairly poor films? Like the pop music charts, it’s mostly all in the image. Let me break it down to show you why I think that the Creeper deserves a place amongst the top horror villains of all time.
The Creeper needs organs. Not for selling on the black market. He needs to replace his own to keep him in the peak physical condition necessary to take out a whole football team. It is his reptilian drive to survive that gives the character a motive to hunt down his victims. It’s in this survival that we can, even on a base level, understand the main driving force of the character. All his actions are directed to one end, regardless of the human cost.
A dedicated follower of fashion
But don’t think that the Creeper is just going to hunt down like an animal. Pshaw, he has too much flair for that. He’s got a wardrobe designed to not only make him look more human from a distance, but also one that is fairly badass. He wears a long, dark trench coat, a hat, and a red sweater - as of JC3.
But that isn’t the end of it. The dude’s ride is pimped. His personalised number is probably one of the most famous icons of the series, barre the creature himself. But he’s also got it tricked out with gadgets that would make 007 blush. Oh cool, you’ve got an ejector seat? The Creeper has a harpoon gun and a teeth-like trap that closes should someone try to escape.
There’s also an air of pantomime to the performance of the Creeper. He’s not just in it for the kill, but a bit of mischief too. I mean, if you were asleep for 23 springs, wouldn’t you want to have a little fun alongside your work? This is probably best seen in JC2 when he selects his victims from a literal lineup, indicating which ones should step aside and who he is interested in.
According to this page on Rotten Tomatoes , the Creeper has an estimated body count fo 20 to his name, but given his age of over 2000, it’s likely that, within the context of the films, the true count is much higher. If the high volume of kills were true, than we can assume that he is amongst the most prolific murderers in horror film history. This is especially so because he isn’t in it to kill everyone like a lot of slashers are. He’s rather more generous, letting some people live during his 23 days of terror before his long sleep begins again.
Finally, the Creeper places in this happy halfway house between slashers and monsters. He’s human-like but visibly not human. This allows for an awful lot of maneuverability in the script. He doesn’t need a human origin story in the same way the Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees did. As such, we can naturally expect something different from him, and his motive for killing aligns him much more with animals than humans. Being in this comfortable halfway house, he also enjoys the luxury of not having a define set of physical rules in the same way that slashers or known-animal killers like Bruce from Jaws have.
What do you think about the Creeper? Do you think he deserves more or less recognition in the genre? Let me know!