News first broke about a Jeepers Creepers threequel in late-2011 when Dread Central delivered a poster image and short summary. At the time, the proposed title was Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral. The subtitle made it sound pretty badass and hinted at a possible return to the Creeper (Jonathan Breck)’s “house of pain.”
Alas, financing fell through on the project and it would be another seven years before we’d get our peepers on our old friend the Creeper.
Now that the third chapter in the adventures of the winged one is finally here on DVD, it’s safe to say that spoilers are no longer a problem. On the contrary, there’s nothing to spoil since the movie itself already spoiled. In other words, this one was dead on arrival.
Here’s a closer look at just why Jeepers Creepers 3 doesn’t work…and really doesn’t even try to.
1. The Creeper is Not Explained
When Salva first started speaking publicly about what he called “Jeepers Threepers” in 2008, he made fans some promises he wouldn’t end up making good on, including the involvement of Ray Wise’s ‘Jeepers’ 2 character Jack Taggart, Sr. But the biggest one of all was his assertion that the third movie would delve into the Creeper’s origins, an element that is woefully absent from the actual finished film.
Sure, who he is or what he is vaguely alluded to by the townspeople, most notably by Sheriff Dan (Stan Shaw) and Gaylen (Meg Foster), but that’s all she wrote. In the flick, both characters are able to see into the Creeper’s past by clutching his discarded hand, but we do not get to share these visions, rather we get to watch them writhe around in Z-movie fashion before rushing off to get to the next unconnected sequence of events.
2. The Garb Doesn’t Match the Gore
We all remember the signature look of the Creeper. The original film and its 2003 sequel wisely kept him shrouded in darkness, but his raggedy old clothing couldn’t be completely concealed by the shadows that surrounded him.
One of the things that made the sequel work was the way that writer/director Victor Salva and DP Don E. FauntLeRoy framed him and lit him. The blackness of his lips and the hideous texture of his flesh were complimented by the dark and dusty rags that he wore.
They say that the clothes make the man, but it turns out they also make the monster as we can see with Jeepers Creepers 3. Pic swaps out the Creeper’s old threads for a bright red shirt and fresh duster that do nothing to make him look even remotely as ominous as he did in the first two entries.
Seeing him in the light of day doesn’t help either which is unfortunate given that the vast majority of the film takes place during daylight hours. All of this conspires to make the movie less scary and more amateur-looking than anything else.
3. There’s Not Enough Trish in This Dish
Gina Philips’ Trish Jenner was one of the highlights of the original and fans were excited to hear she was coming back. Unfortunately, Salva doesn’t use this character as anything more than a third act plot device that assures us there’ll be another sequel down the road.
For fans who had anticipated her return, Trish’s involvement (or lack thereof) felt more like a sick joke than a warm welcome after sitting through the prior 95 minutes of hammy acting and heinous dollar store special effects.
4. Salva & Co. Don’t Exactly Kill It When It Comes to the Kills
Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we all love the slasher genre is because of the slashings. If anyone knows this, it’s the guy who gave us one of the weirdest and wildest decapitation sequences in cinematic history.
In his attempt at quenching that particular horrorhound thirst, Salva forgot one thing: Special FX cost money. It’s obvious when watching “Jeepers Threepers” that the budget was obviously eaten up like so many body parts by something other than practical effects since the kills are not only far from inventive but cheesier than a bowl of queso dip.
Are we really expected to believe that the same cat who stitched piles of bodies together into a house of horrors in a church basement is satisfied with simply impaling teens and axing someone in the face? The short answer is, yes.
5. Long Time, Still No Long
Okay, sure, so Darry’s head was hollowed out, as were his eye sockets, in the first movie. But if they could find a clever way to include him in chapter two then why break with tradition?
In 2014, Long mentioned that he’d be returning for a flashback, but obviously much changed in the interim since he also said that Trish would be the leading lady in the long-gestating project.
A lot of things could be blamed for his absence, anything from budgetary constraints to unavailability on the actor’s behalf. But c’mon! Homeboy had time to do Yoga Hosers. Surely, he could’ve been scooped up for a two-day cameo.
6. Lame Meta-AF In-joke Alert!
When teen biker Jody and his biker buddies discover the “Beatngu” mobile and he exclaims, “Jeepers creepers,” we can forgive his friends for looking at him like he’s a knob, but when he responds to their expressions by saying, “What? Isn’t that the song he sang or
something?” you could practically hear the collective eye roll of the entire audience, an audience that were mercifully spared a full theatrical run.
7. “You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it.”—Trish Jenner
That quote from Jeepers Creepers (2001) goes a long way toward explaining what is inherently wrong with the threequel. The acting here is more atrocious than any of the Creeper’s evil deeds.
I hesitate to place the blame on the actors, many of whom are genre veterans who have famously acquitted themselves well in some of America’s best horror titles. It would be hard for anyone to take themselves seriously in a story so convoluted and scattered.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to cringe while watching them here. Part of this is due to the fact that we’re given absolutely no reason to like or care about any of them. Opponents of horror fans often cite examples of the genre in which character development is sacrificed in favor of a high body count. The sad thing here is that we don’t get either.
8. Jeepers Creepers, Where Did You Get Those Lines?
The bad performances and overacting can easily be leveled at one man and one man alone: Victor Salva.
The dialogue is tired and infantile, sounding more like fan fiction from an unimaginative AV nerd rather than a script written by a seasoned pro who had 14 years to germinate on it.
But don’t take it from this humble film fiend. Let’s turn to IMDB. Normally, the quotes page of any movie in their database is chock-a-block with colorful comments from a given flick’s characters. So what have they archived for Jeepers Creepers 3?
Various characters: Alright, you son of a bitch!
That’s all it says and, indeed, it’s almost the only dialogue I can remember from the movie since it was not only repeated ad nauseam but actually closed out this little nugget of wonderful. As one user on IMDB pondered, “What were they doing in those 14 years between 2 and 3, staring at their shoelaces?”
9. The Make-Up Department Has Some Making Up to Do
I know we’ve already talked about the special effects, but the Creeper’s mask can’t be lamented enough. The first two films lived and died by the look of its monster, but here they missed the boat almost entirely.
One of the highlights of the earlier entries was when the talons on the Creeper’s head fan out. This time around, they look like they were constructed out of Silly Putty and Magic markers.
10. Pulling a Switcheroo
This is, perhaps, the film’s biggest offense of all. The timeline to this one would make John Connor and the Resistance proud as it rivals even the last Terminator reboot where coherence is concerned.
As fans already know, every 23rd Spring, for 23 days, it gets to eat. It’s been 14 years since the events of Jeepers Creepers 2 and for those who remember Part 2, the Creeper had been nailed to a wall in a barn for 23 years.
So how, then, is he alive and killin’ if only fourteen years have passed since that moment when Jack Taggart was waiting for him to wake up? Also, Trish had 23 years to locate the Creeper and lay waste to him. As viewers will remember, the Creeper had become a roadside attraction at the end of Part 2, so why wouldn’t her character have been able to track the monster down if the end of Part 3 suggests that she’s hell-bent on revenge and prone to online investigation?
Turns out there’s a rationale behind all of this and it will likely infuriate some of you as much as this movie infuriated me. Turns out, it hasn’t been 23 years since the Creeper was chillin’ on Taggart’s wall after all.
Throughout this list, you’ve probably noticed me calling this installment a threequel. Makes sense since the film is called Jeepers Creepers 3, right? Wrong.
As it turns out, all of this confusion with the timeline has something to do with the fact that JCIII is intended to serve as a prequel…to Jeepers Creepers 2.
You’re excused if you’re scratching your head right now. I’m not bilingual, but I’ve made more sense of telenovellas.
The word is that the Creeper will return for a fourth go around. If this pseudo-threequel is any indication of what’s to come, I think I’ll make like Justin Long and keep my eyes out of it.
Bob Freville is the author of the crime novella “Battering the Stem” (Bizarro Pulp Press) and the writer/director of the Troma vampire opus “Hemo”. His work has been published by Akashic Books, Bizarro Central, Creem Magazine and more. Freville’s latest literary assault, “Celebrity Terrorist Sex Bomb,” will be released later this year by Journalstone.