Is Jeepers Creepers Based on a True Story?

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Scary Movies and Series

Is Jeepers Creepers all fiction, or could it be that there was some true story inspiration for such a terrifying opening, not to mention the bloody events that follow?

Victor Salva’s millennial cult classic Jeepers Creepers (2001) was an important film in the lives of many budding horror fans. Its story of a brother and sister’s road trip crossing paths with the twisted and deadly Creeper captivated audiences in its day. Though packed with genre clichés and predictable cheese, the film features one of the more imaginative and effectively chilling openings of the 2000s; a long and sparse shot of a rural stretch of road where an increasingly menacing-looking van approaches our protagonists’ car. While the rest of the flick doesn’t quite retain the nail-biting tension offered here, Jeepers Creepers still remains a fun and gory horror outing for nostalgic or less-demanding viewers.

The Horrific Story of Dennis DePue

Dennis and Marilynn DePue


Here we introduce Dennis DePue, a disturbed murderer and a direct influence on the character of the Creeper himself. Dennis’ story, and that of his wife Marilynn and their three children, follows unsettlingly similar beats to that of Salva’s 2001 pseudo-slasher, though the reality is far more horrifying than any fictional, bat-winged killer scarecrow could hope to be.

Marilynn had many, many opportunities to treat me fairly during this divorce, but she chose to string it out, trick me, lie to me. And when you lose your wife, children, and home, there’s not much left. I was too old to start over.

Dennis DuPue

Following building tensions on an already tense marriage, forty-six-year-old Dennis DePue had murdered his forty-eight-year-old wife Marilynn earlier that day, beating and pushing her down a flight of stairs, as reports go. He carried her body to the car, telling their children that he was taking her to the hospital. They never saw her again. her body found by an eerie old school bus also ties back to Jeepers Creepers as it is similar how the creeper stores his bodies.

DePue was found only when his story aired on Unsolved Mysteries. Having changed his name and attracting a new girlfriend, Mary, DePue was living happily as Hank when his story was made public. After he disappeared and Mary discovered who he really was, she contacted the police immediately and DePue was located within just four hours. After firing a couple of warning shots at approaching officers, DePue then turned the gun on himself, thus ending the grim saga.

Comparing the intro to DePue’s Story

AndersYdna on youtube got creative and spliced together the intro from Jeepers Creepers and the Unsolved Mysteries story about Dennis DePue to show the similarities. It’s a quick 10 min watch.

The Thornton’s True Story Inspiration

April 15th, 1990. A couple, Ray and Marie Thornton, set off on their weekly routine of a peaceful country drive outside of Coldwater, Michigan. Little did they know that their usual Sunday tradition would this week land them in the centre of a horrific and bloody mystery. As they drove south on Snow Prairie Road a strange van revved loudly from behind as it sped past them. Marie noticed that the van’s license plate began with “GZ”, exclaiming, “jeez, he’s really in a hurry”.

Some miles down the road, the Thorntons passed an old schoolhouse where they saw the mystery van a second time. The van was parked between the school and a huge tank, and its driver was carrying a blood-soaked blanket across the grounds. Not long after this, the now-clearly-dangerous stranger was behind them once more, this time tailgating them within inches for at least two miles. As Ray pulled off the highway, the van parked itself at the side of the road and the bold Thorntons decided to swing back in an attempt to see the rest of its license plate. When the mystery driver was seen changing his license plate, the Thorntons decided to head back to the schoolhouse where they found the bloodied blanket partly stuffed into a rabbit hole. They immediately went to the police.

Jeepers Creepers Film poster featuring a scary eye peeking through a sack

Is Jeepers Creepers Based on a True Story?

While many Jeepers Creeper fans will see a lot of similarities between what the brave Thorntons did (and saw) that day and the establishing minutes of Jeepers Creepers, the reality is no less harrowing than Salva’s reimagining. Although DuPue seems to have a direct influence on the Creeper it does not appear to be based purely on him.

https://unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com/wiki/Dennis_DePue
https://www.truecrimeedition.com/post/dennis-depue
https://reallifevillains.miraheze.org/wiki/Dennis_DePue

Is The People Under the Stairs Based on a Real Story?

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Scary Movies and Series

Is The People Under the Stairs Based Upon a True Story?

The People Under the Stairs (1991) was one of Wes Craven’s greatest horror movies of all time. It gets a little less publicity than most of his other films, but it is a diamond among the rough! The movie is a little edgier than most horror films, but it pays off in huge scares and real terror. A wicked family keeps their sheltered daughter hidden from the world while collecting a number of other people ‘under the stairs’. Although the movie received mixed reviews from critics, it is without a doubt a cult classic and one of Wes Craven’s finest films.

The True Inspiration Behind The People Under the Stairs

The horror that transpired within the house that harbors the ‘people under the stairs’ is grim and the atrocities of this family are sincerely twisted.  Here is a little about what inspired The People Under the Stairs.

Wes Craven’s Inspiration Behind The People Under The Stairs

The real inspiration behind the movie came from a newspaper excerpt that Wes Craven was reading, about a family that got into trouble after police were called to a burglary scene.  Apparently, burglars tried to break into a house, but instead of finding the perpetrators…the police found locks everywhere and children who had never been allowed to go outside, raised in total abuse, totally indoors.

Although he would take the movie to an extreme, with the idea that the family was on the search for a perfect brother to match their ‘perfect daughter.’  Each boy that did not meet the standards, had their tongue cut out and now resides in the basement, in cages under the stairs.  They are malnourished and scary looking. One of Wes’ most interesting twists in the People Under the Stairs, is turning the home burglars into protagonists and the property owners into antagonists (normally the home owners would be victims of a home invasion or robbery, not the antagonists).

The movie was also meant to be a sort of adventure type of film. There are contraptions and traps everywhere, both to help and harm the protagonists. There are hidden rooms and a whole network of tunnels made throughout the walls of the house.  There is even a tale of gold to be had at the end!  The action is pretty solid as well, but still in a horror-thriller, suspenseful kind of way.

Modern Day Example: Real Life People Under The Stairs

People under the stairs horror movie actor illustration

Recently there was a case that came to light from the woodwork. A strongly religious family, much like the belief system of Alice’s parents in the movie, were found to be keeping their 13 children captive in their home basically their entire lives.  Although they appeared younger than they actually were, the children were all different ages, some even in their 20s. The David-Louis Turpin family is a perfect example of a real life People Under the Stairs situation.  Despite the fact the children were not abducted, the girl in the movie (Alice), was not abducted either, but apparently the family’s natural born daughter.

Another case a few years back also shines light on the possibilities.  Ariel Castro abducted Michelle Knight (one of three women abducted, actually), and kept her captive for more than a decade. There are several other cases of the similar sort, where victims are mutilated. Whether through abduction or natural child birth, unfortunately these are all very real fears that exist in the world, making such a movie about children kept captive for years in a basement so much more scary.

A Realistic Fear the Audience Can Feel

The story line behind The People Under the Stairs is absolutely heartbreaking and truly realistic in presentation.  There are real life thugs like Leroy, and there are hurting families out there willing to do nearly anything to help their situation.  Unfortunately, there are sadistic families that truly do keep their kids captive from the world, and it really is possible to have them mutilated as well. 

Be safe out there, as there is real evil in the world very similar to the evil seen in this movie, and you never know when there may be some people living under the stairs!

Fun Fact: Wes Craven once said he would remake The People Under the Stairs, alongside Shocker and The Last House on the Left, however, sadly he only had a chance to remake the last of the three.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre True Story

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

Was There a Real Life Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

The obnoxious sound of Leatherface’s chainsaw slicing through the wall in a decrepit, bone-filled house off the beaten path will strike pure terror in anyone’s heart. In fact, it is possible that many people would drop dead of a heart attack right away if they actually saw Leatherface in real life. Chainsaws are most certainly real.  Masks of flesh are most certainly possible. And deranged cannibalistic psychopaths are absolutely possible.  So, did the Texas chainsaw massacre happen in real life, is there a true story behind it?

Was Ed Gein the Inspiration for Leatherface?

1974 horror movie poster for Texas Chainsaw massacre claiming it is based on a true story featuring a masked man with a chainsaw and a tied up woman
Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster hinting that the movie was based on a true story.

Movie Marketing at it’s Finest

As seen above in the poster, the marketing for Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s original 1974 release certainly made claims that it was based on a true story. “What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real” is the sub text of the movie title.

The Real Inspiration for Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Despite beliefs that Texas Chainsaw Massacre was inspired by a true story, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2003 remake were actually based only loosely on Ed Gein, who is suspected to have taken victims between 1954 and 1957. The most notable similarity is the house in the movies, whose grisly contents were similar to those in Gein’s home seen below.

Edward Theodore Gein Born August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984, also known as the Butcher of Plainfield or the Plainfield Ghoul, was an American murderer and body snatcher. Gein’s crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety in 1957 after authorities discovered he had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Gein also confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954 and hardware store owner Bernice Worden in 1957. – Wikipedia

Gein was initially found unfit to stand trial and confined to a mental health facility. By 1968, he was judged competent to stand trial; he was found guilty of the murder of Worden, but he was found legally insane and was remanded to a psychiatric institution. He died at Mendota Mental Health Institute of respiratory failure, on July 26, 1984, aged 77. He is buried next to his family in the Plainfield Cemetery, in a now-unmarked grave. – Wikipedia

The Texas Chainsaw movies undoubtedly inspired by Ed Gein. Furniture that has been made out of bone and flesh, Leatherface’s masks made from the flesh of human faces, and a truly unkempt home are all parts of the movies that were inspired by Ed Gein. Still, there are real life examples of home decor, furnishings and masks found made by Ed Gein that show this type of corpse and body mutilation is more than possible, psychologically.  There are many documented cases of human cannibalism, some close to home in the past and some abroad in third world territories still occurring today. Obviously there are murders all the time. 

And thus, yes it is more than possible for a corpse mutilating, murdering cannibal to exist. Yes, it is possible for a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre to happen. YES, it is possible for a real life Leatherface to exist.

What Would a Real Life Texas Chainsaw Massacre Be Like?

There are many components of a true Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.  Here are some of the most commonly found attributes which make a Leatherface movie, a real Leatherface movie.

Unsuspecting Victims

Unfortunately for the victims, most do not realize what is happening until it is already too late. Leatherface may be really scary, but he usually does not show up right away. Instead, his family first begins interacting with the victims, almost as though they are normal, contributing members of society.  The victims usually have an ultra low guard by the time they are any where near Leatherface himself.

Tow Trucks and/or Immobile Vehicle Graveyard

A lot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre films feature tow trucks that respond to victim car crashes, and/or a full-on vehicle graveyard.  The vehicles in this graveyard are always immobile and appear as though they may have been there for a long while.

Gas Station and/or Rest Stop

The Leatherface movies almost always start out on the road somehow, and the victims almost always end up stopping at a gas station or a rest stop of some kind for one reason or another.  Usually, it is for gas. Sometimes, they get directions.  It is always unwise to follow those directions…but they usually do!

Blood

There would be lots and lots of blood in a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Sawyers (or Hewitts, depending upon which part of the franchise you are watching) are cannibals and furniture artists…and they prefer human-only parts!  This means being fully comfortable with cutting, slicing and dicing up human flesh and body parts. Not to mention the actual murders themselves.

Human Flesh and Bone Furnishings

Leatherface and his family love crafting the flesh and bone of their victims into furniture.  Their house is absolutely decorated with human body parts. There are human face lamps. There are chairs made of bone.  And a variety of other furnishings and horror decor.

Fun Fact: Did you know you can actually BUY Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface Inspired Horror Decor?

Yummy Dinner

Leatherface drags victims through his house and into his room for butchering, collecting parts for use in his family’s famous cannibal soup.

From Ed Gein to…???

leatherface ed with cleaver illustration

The funny thing about people like Ed Gein (only a grave robber and corpse mutilator) and serial killers is that normally they are discovered after the fact.  This means, unfortunately, if there could be a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that it could be happening already.  So be careful out there on those Texas highways…and never take any unfamiliar detours not on your GPS!!  As one simply never knows when a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre could be taking place off the beaten path, on some dirt road somewhere!

Check out Surprising Facts About Leatherface and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movies to learn more!

Sources

Wikipedia

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