Did You Know? This Coldwater Murder Case Inspired Jeepers Creepers
When it comes to horror films, it's easier to think that they come from the imaginative, albeit dark, minds of people who just want to give people a fright.
Unfortunately, it turns out that a lot of these horror flicks are inspired by real-life events. The Exorcist, for example, was based on the apparent demonic possession of a boy in 1949. The Conjuring is based on the experiences of the paranormal investigating couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren and so on. This list from scoopwhoop.com lists an additional 24 horror movies and their real-life inspirations.
However, there's one that's missing from the list. One that was inspired by a horrific murder case that took place in Coldwater, Michigan. That movie...is Jeepers Creepers.
Jeepers Creepers, which is now a three-film series with the fourth set to release this year, is about a flesh-eating monster who appears every 23rd spring to eat for 23 days. Those who encounter him try to survive while, in typical horror movie fashion, the monster seems to be undefeatable. Watch the trailer for the first Jeepers Creepers, released in 2001 and starring Justin Long, below:
A listener of 103.3 KFR, Cody S. (who goes by emt_cody on Tiktok), recently enlightened us by pointing out that the case of Dennis DePue was the inspiration behind this horror franchise.
If you're unaware, the case is pretty graphic. With that in mind, and keeping any friends or family in mind as well, I'm going to give just the basic details, gathered from unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com, which still may be a bit convoluted:
Dennis DePue and his wife Marilynn DePue seemed to be a happily married couple in their 40s. But, as we all know, appearances don't always match reality. After having children, Dennis apparently became withdrawn and began expressing paranoid thoughts about Marilynn. Specifically, that she was "turning the children against him." Marilynn admitted that she was unhappy and sought out a divorce.
Their divorce was finalized in 1989 but, things took a violent turn on Easter Sunday in 1990 when Dennis arrived to pick up the kids. Dennis and Marilynn got into an argument that escalated when Dennis pushed Marilynn down the stairs. He beat her to a state of near unconsciousness and then took her to the car saying he was taking her to the hospital. They never arrived.
Assuming the worst, Michigan State Police began searching for Dennis and Marilynn. Simultaneously, a couple driving down Snow Prairie Road spotted a man in a van pulling into an abandoned schoolhouse and throwing out what looked to be a blood-soaked blanket. They turned around and discovered the blanket stuffed in a small hole. That's when they called the police. If you watch the Jeepers Creepers trailer again, you'll notice that this is almost the exact scene that brings Justin Long's character to his eventual meeting of the Jeepers Creepers monster.
Marilynn's body was, unfortunately, later found on the side of a deserted Michigan road.
Dennis, too, was eventually found by police but, he led them on a high-speed chase that resulted in his death. The case was featured on Unsolved Mysteries in 1991. Read more about the details of the case on the Unsolved Mysteries Wiki page here.
Aside from the singular scene in the movie showing the passing motorists spotting someone disposing of a bloody blanket...it's hard to relate this over-the-top monster movie to the real-life, tragic case of the murder of Marilynn DePue.
Did I mention that the monster also has wings?
Yeah...it's slightly difficult to see the similarities.
However, in 2020, an article from Screen Geek seemed to confirm it. They even offered side-by-side video comparisons from the Unsolved Mysteries episode to the opening of Jeepers Creepers. See more here.
While it may be "fun" for those of us who haven't been touched by violent crime to theorize about what cases may have inspired what movies, it's important to remember that these are real cases that involved real people. And, especially in smaller towns like Coldwater, Michigan, those involved may still be around. I would urge anyone, including myself, to theorize while holding respect for the families affected.