Jeepers Creepers is one of the few horror franchises where there are not enough films, despite clear demand from fans. Since the release of its first film 21 year ago, the series has spawned only three sequels.
The latest entry, titled Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, is available to view exclusively in theaters this week for three nights only.
As the title implies, the film is meant to not only signify the return of the titular maniacal and mechanical menace The Creeper. It’s meant to mark a brand new start for the series after original director and creator Victor Salva’s personal vices stained its legacy and eclipsed the last film’s release with controversy.
Replacing Salva completely and ushering the franchise into a brand new is director Timo Vuorensola. While most known for helming the popular Iron Sky franchise, Vuorensola makes his official Hollywood debut here.
The film follows a couple named Chase and Laine on their way to a horror-themed film festival. Shortly after Laine begins to have visions and premonitions about a creature only thought to be a local legend (The Creeper), however, the night transforms into a bloodbath. And she begins to suspect that she may be connected to it all.
In an exclusive interview with Cinefied’s Dempsey Pillot, Vuorensola spoke about the process of bringing The Creeper back, what to expect in the genre-bending new film, as well as what the future holds for the franchise.
You can check out the full transcribed interview below!
DEMPSEY PILLOT: Timo what is up man? It's a pleasure to be speaking with you.I am a fan of Iron Sky. I remember watching it in high school. It was so crazy. So far, my life has come full circle. Jeepers Creepers is one of my favorite horror franchises. I think part two is, like, one of my favorite horror films of all time. It's such a classic. The whole franchise is similar to the Final Destination in my opinion, in the way that rhere just aren't enough films made. There are alle these Freddy Krueger and Jason movies and Sawm but there needs to be more Jeepers Creepers, And I'm glad you're a part of the franchise. Now you're bringing it back with Jeepers Creepers: Reborn. First question. I know, this is like, essentially a totally different series. And I know there's been some controversy with the previous director, He's not involved in this one, right?
TIMO VUORENSOLA: Yeah, he's not involved in any way. And that was my number one question, obviously, also, first when I started. That's of course something that I wanted to make sure of. I wouldn't have worked on this any other way.
DP: And there was a lot of backlash from people when the last one came out because of his involvement. That being said, he's not involved. And I mean, it's not even called Jeepers Creepers 4. It's called Jeepers Creepers: Reborn. So in essence, it's like a brand new story, meant to be the kickoff to a brand new trilogy to my understanding. Talk to me a little bit about how you came onboard. Were you involved in the story process? Or did you hear about the story, and you were like, “I want to be a part of this”? Talk to me about how it all started for you.
TV: I was actually at the Berlin Film Festival meeting with the producer Jake Seal. And we were talking about Iron Sky, and sort of like, just thinking about something we could do together. After the meeting, he said that he actually has a script. He was looking for a director. Currently, it's a horror movie. He asked if I would be interested in reading. I said of course. But you know, I didn't know anything about it. He didn't tell me the name of the film. But eventually, when he sent me the script, and on the cover page it reads Jeepers Creepers. I was like, “Wow, are you serious? Is this really the thing?” And I was like, “Oh, my god, that's amazing.” Because obviously, I have known the franchise for a long, long time. I’ve been a fan of Creeper for a while. Then I read the script. And I really love what they wanted to do with the script and with the character with the story and sort of the future of the story. I said, “Absolutely. I want to be part of it.” And yes, of course, I was part of the development team. And we were working on the script. It was written by a different guy, John Michell Argo, together with Jake Seal. But yeah, I've been involved, I was involved, but the story of the Creeper actually goes much, much longer. It was already discussed way before I was involved in this film. There was already discussion of a reboot, or some sort of, you know, kind of a reboot of the franchise. And they had been searching for the right direction, the right moment, the right people to do that for quite a while before I was involved. So that was something that was fun to, you know, fun to jump into.
DP: And this is your American Language debut, right? I read somewhere this is your first fully American film, right?
TV: Well, I would say yeah, it's definitely my first American movie. I mean, I just got The Coming Race, which is the sequel to Iron Sky. It’s mostly an American Language movie, but it's a European movie, per se. This one is the first American picture that I'm doing.
DP: And so we're talking title: Reborn.This is a rebirth of the character, rebirth in the franchise. But what does the title really mean? Does it tell us anything about what's happening with The Creeper? Because essentially, every time he comes around, he's reborn, right? Technically? But does the title give us a clue as to what people should expect in the film?
TV: I would say that yes, it does. Actually, the whole development prose revolved around reborn, rebirth, and the concept of rebirth. And I think a lot of things that we brought into the story were definitely brought from that perspective, and it's sort of a dual meaning in that sense It's a rebirth of The Creeper itself, one way or another. I mean, it's a different kind of a Creeper than you've met before. And that was very important for me, when I started to work, that I didn't want to keep on repeating the same thing. I wanted to do something different. And this time, The Creeper is not an all powerful killing machine. This time Creeper is actually at the end of his cycle, if you will. And that was also the reason why we started to design The Creeper to also reflect that idea that this Creeper needs a rebirth. And it was also kind of a sort of meta level discussion about the fact that the franchise itself is in the state of rebirth and it requires a rebirth to move forward. So all of these things, they sort of, you know, they kind of come together in the concept or the conception of the whole thing. And then eventually it's kind of a film that is slightly aware itself. And that's something that I found a very, very fun topic to play with. Actually, the connection point is rather interestingly sort of slightly self aware in a fun, and I think rather modern way.
DP: That's kind of exciting. I feel like I need to rewatch the other three films. You said this is a very meta movie. Watching the trailer, it makes it very clear it's a bunch of different things too. It's an “escape room” movie. There's an escape room element anyway, in addition to being a slasher/monster movie, so what was it like to blend those genres?
TV: Well, you know, all of this is circled around it. The film itself acknowledges that there are elements in the world that have come from the horror franchises like escape rooms, like horror fan fiction meetings, and, you know, it acknowledges the existence of horror as a genre of movies, which a lot of movies don't always do. I always find it a bit funny when you watch a zombie movie and in the zombie movie, you know, people start to turn into zombies. And then everybody's like, “I wonder what's happening there. What are these people?” They call them “infected” or “walkers.” No, they're zombies. There's a thousand movies made out of them, you know what it is. And I kind of want it to sort of live in the world where horror franchises exist. Even The Creeper franchise exists. And that's something that I found extremely enjoyable. And again, I think it’s something that's taking the story in a little bit of a different tangent while still respecting and appreciating the original ones. But it also has some fun that you don't always see in the foreign movies.
DP: Now, as I mentioned earlier, this is the first in a planned trilogy. At least that's what I've read online. But is this the first part in an already thought about story? Or are they just going to keep on adding parts to it until the trilogy finishes? Is there anything you can tell me?
TV: The fact is, I don't know myself. I only know this movie. And I don't know what the writer and the producers have in mind for the future. Obviously, they only revealed it up to this point. They didn't tell me that this is the direction it's going to go, or anything like that. So they may very well have a very clear idea, and I would be surprised if they haven't thought about it. But at the current state my knowledge actually starts and ends with this movie.
DP: And have you been asked to return or oversee to the franchise in any capacity as it continues.
TV: I think it’s still slightly early now that we're just releasing the movie. I think the conversations about that will be in the future, and that we'll see which way it's going to turn and all that. But personally, I had so much fun working on this with The Creeper in this sort of this world that I would definitely love to continue this story.
DP: What do you hope people take away from the film?
TV: I want them to take away the same thing that I experienced in the 90s and early 2000s, when I went to movie theaters, or in the 80s. Well, I didn't go to theaters then, but I secretly watched those creature horror movies. I enjoyed them immensely. It was fun. It was creepy. It was action-packed. But you also had fun characters in it. I want to bring that back to the world of horror, which I feel nowadays is very, very serious. It takes itself so very seriously. I think we should revisit those old franchises. And I think they did it right. So I want to bring that idea back on the screen and hopefully inspire other filmmakers.
DP: What would your dream be for this franchise? The first film, you know, it's the brother and sister being ravaged, chased around on a road trip. The second one, it's the school bus stranded in the middle of nowhere. The third one, it's a whole town terrorized by The Creeper and this one is more of a contained story. Where would you like to see The Creeper go next? Or what kind of scenario would you like to see The Creeper instigate next?
TV: Well, I always think that The Creeper versus the dark side of the moon would be really nice... I don't know, I'm gonna leave that to the writers themselves, because they probably have already thought about it. But what I can say is that The Creeper character itself is a fun character because it's a different kind of character in a way that it clearly has mechanical abilities. He's got a car, you know, he knows how to use it. So it's not like a mindless, creature. He's actually quite a crafty guy, and has clearly a sense of humor, and even a little bit of a taste in music and taste. So those kinds of things are elements that you don't necessarily see always in a horror film and, and, or in a creature feature. So to see stories that are sort of playing with those kind of elements, I think they are the fun. So whichever direction it’s going to go, those things would be fun to explore.
DP: Good points! Now, final question: was there anything that I should have asked you, or anything else that you want to say about the film?
TV: Well, I mean there's a thousand things to say, obviously, about the movie itself, but I think it's an interesting movie in many ways because it's revisiting a franchise that's been very troubled. And now it's giving it a completely new overhaul and new direction. It's also an interesting movie because it was shot during a very, very interesting time in the world. So it was shot when COVID basically was ravaging in the worst possible way through the whole world. And it's a big movie with the hundreds and hundreds of extras and people that need to travel around the world. And none of that was possible. So we had to be very, very creative to make this movie happen. And it was definitely it threw an interesting spin to the whole thing. It was kind of scary to begin with. Actually, it was a horror movie in and of itself. But you know, at the same time, you learned and adjusted and adapted and just found ways to make it possible. So it was interesting.
DP: Wow. And lucky, you managed to make it through. Timo, it was a pleasure to be speaking with you about this film. The fact that it even got made, I think is a miracle. And I hope it's as great as you know, the franchise - or better really,. Because fans need a fresh clean start. Thanks for chatting!
As mentioned earlier, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is screening for three days only this week! You can find local theaters showcasing the film and PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.