Victor Salva has always said the Creeper legend is complete fiction but the scene where Trish and Darry witness the Creeper dumping a body down a well by an abandoned church was inspired by the case of Dennis DePue, a former Michigan Property Assessor who murdered his wife and was seen by witnesses near an old school house with a bloody sheet. Two witnesses also recall DePue speeding past them in a van and eventually tailing them and riding their bumper for several miles. The case was also profiled on a 1990 episode of Unsolved Mysteries (1987).
Director Victor Salva wanted the countryside settings for the film to have an eerie quality about them. However Salva said that the Florida filming locations were so beautiful that often times the footage for the film would have to be darkened down to give the locations a more menacing appearance.
Gina Philips (Trish) and Justin Long (Darry) were not allowed to meet Jonathan Breck before filming (in order to get a true reaction from them when they actually did see him with his full costume and makeup), nor did they see the BEATNGU truck before the opening scene was shot. When Philips first saw the truck, she said something to the effect of: "Is that the truck? Jeepers, that's creepy."
The oath "Jeepers Creepers!" originated in the early 20th century as a polite euphemism for Jesus Christ. Jiminy Crickets was a synonym before the latter phrase was co-opted by Walt Disney as the name of a cartoon insect.
(at around 1h 2 mins) When Darry is looking at the missing person posters in the police station there are several comedic comments such as Tim Sullivan's hair being "dusty beaver" and his occupation being "a butcher a baker and a candlestick maker" among others.
Justin Long had impressed writer and director Victor Salva with his performance in Galaxy Quest (1999) but what landed him the lead role of Darry was his audition, as Salva said that it contained none of the false bravado and machismo the director had seen in other male actors who were teens or young adults, Salva knew Long could appear funny or genuinely frightened, depending on what the scene needed.
Florida seemed like the jungle to Victor Salva who weighed 400Ibs at the time, found the heat and humidity unbearably oppressive though he noted that Jonathan Breck had it worst having to endure the weather from under mounds of latex, there were so many noisy insects that during outdoor shots with audible dialogue a crew member had to fire a pistol before the cameras rolled in order to silence the insects to capture a take.
When Victor Salva arrived in Florida he discovered that $1 million worth of his financing had fallen through, and he was forced to cut some 20 pages of script from the end of the film. There would have been a fiery climax where Darry manages to get behind the wheel of the Creeper's truck and drives it into an oncoming train in a suicidal attempt to destroy the creature.
After budget cuts, Victor Salva was left with $10 million to make his movie. When it premiered it grossed $15.8 million a record for a four-day Labor Day weekend. Ultimately Jeepers Creepers earned $37.9 million in North America and a total of $59.2 million worldwide.
The house where the cat lady lived was the home of an actual cat lady, although the films felines were provided by an animal trainer, Victor Salva had planned for a more extensive sequence inside the house but budget cuts forced him to trim the scene.
The Creepers growls were achieved by having Jonathan Breck do a very low and rough growl with his voice then adding in a very well deformed and edited inhaling sound, with a hyena for the squeaking noise.
It is not stated why Trish was not with her boyfriend when driving home with Darry. But we got a hint from Darry when he said "What has Mr. Poli-Sci-Track-Team-Guy been doing to you?" and then "Beating You?", which Trish did not deny, but was surprised that Darry guessed the "true" reason, but she relaxes when she found out he was referring to the license plate on The Creeper's truck.
When the Creeper is whistling the Johnny Mercer standard that gives the movie its title, the whistling actually belongs to the movies editor Ed Marx his rendition of the tune was just supposed to be a place filler until Victor Salva could find someone who's whistling he liked better but he never did.
Tom Tarantini portrays the car thief named Roach in the first installment and the assistant basketball coach in the second installment, Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003). He also stood in for Justin Long in some scenes of this movie.
The carving of what appears to be some kind of demon in the worktable. At first, it could be interpreted that it is the work of a serial killer who worships the devil. Later, it becomes clear that it's a self-portrait.
Before the demonic identity of the truck driver is revealed (The Creeper), during the scene where Trish and Darry check the clothes in their car, the Creeper flies over them with Trish noticing his shadow.
In Latin America the film received different titles: In Mexico it is known as Jeepers Creepers:Camino al Terror (Jeepers Creepers: Road to Terror) and El Demonio (The Devil),In Venezuela it is known as El Mensajero de Satanás (The Messenger of Satan), In Argentina it is known as Jeepers Creepers:El terror existe (Jeepers Creepers: Terror exists).
While looking at the hand print on the cardoor handle, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment has a shadow pass over Trish, followed by the sound of a wingbeat. This comes before they discover that their pursuer isn't human, and has wings.
(at around 56 mins) The Creeper originally had one line of dialog in the film. After he kills the old cat lady and holds her body upright, revealing his true face to Darry and Trish, he originally said "She don't smell too good, Darry..." before tossing her corpse aside. This line was cut and replaced with silence as the producers thought it would be more effective to have the Creeper say nothing. Still, you can see The Creeper's lips move in sync with the line if you look closely.
In the end of the film when Justin Long's character, Darry, is heard screaming, it is actually Tom Tarantini, who also had the minor role of car thief Austin McCoy as well as Coach Dwayne Barnes in Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003). Tarantini stood in for Long, as he was busy shooting Season 2 of Ed (2000), while this scene was filmed.
(at around 2 mins) In the beginning of the film, Darry tells Trish that she once actually did something decent for him and that's a part of history she can't change. This is a strong allusion to the ending of the film where Trish tries to give her life for Darry's, but ultimately fails.
After the Creeper consumes a prisoner's hand, we notice that the prisoner's severed arm has a tattoo that had part of it eaten where the hand had been. When the Creeper puts his hand on the one-way view mirror in the interrogation room to look at Trish, we observe that the remainder of the tattoo that belonged to the prisoner is now on his hand.
In the screenplay ending, Darry does not scream as the camera moves through the factory. The camera pans through the place until finally the camera is in the basement. Darry's eyes are sewn shut and he is added to a display of other dead bodies.
(at around 1h 14 mins) When Trisha and Darry first meet Jezelle, she reveals that she hears one of them screaming in the dark. Darry is frantically asking her who she hears. Jezelle turns to Trisha, and the audience is led to believe it's her. However, towards the end of the film, you can plainly tell it's a man screaming. Jezelle may have looked at Trisha because she could tell how scared Darry already was, and simply didn't know how to tell him that his screams were the ones she heard.
As it is known that Victor Salva is gay, and was a convicted pedophile, several moments in the film have been interpreted as homoerotic. When Trish and Darry see that their car was ransacked with their stuff strewn about, Darry finds his underwear lying around indicating that the creeper sniffed it (and also implying that the creeper eats his genitalia in the end). When Trish and Darry are also talking to Jezelle for the first time on the phone, the camera focuses very clearly and almost lovingly on Darry's navel and stomach area when Jezelle mentions his rose tattoo (Victor Salva has a navel fetish). The creeper also sniffs and strokes the officer's decapitated head before eating off his tongue, filmed in a way that it looks like he's kissing it. The creeper also seems to have a preference for male victims and their parts, and only ever kills women when they're in the way.