On August 29 2020, the Facebook page “90’s Kids Only” shared the following post concerning the film Jeepers Creepers — and purported film lore that holds its monster “rose every 23 years,” most recently in 1997:
Black text against a white background read:
Jeepers Creepers last woke up in 1997… & he rises every 23 years…. 2020…… at this point I won’t be surprised seeing him.
Two days prior, identical text was shared in a very popular tweet:
Jeepers Creepers’ Plot
According to a Fandom.com page for the original Jeepers Creepers, the film debuted in 2001 (not 1997):
Jeepers Creepers is a 2001 horror film written and directed by Victor Salva. The movie takes its name from the song “Jeepers Creepers” which is featured in the movie. Incidentally, the song was first featured in the Warner Bros. film Going Places, which at one time was owned by this film’s distributor United Artists (along with the rest of the pre-1950 Warner library).
A “Plot” section of the same page explains the beginning of the film, and establishes the “every 23 years” element of the claim:
Darry Jenner and his sister Trish Jenner were coming home from college to visit their family for spring break. As they drove through the North Florida countryside in Trish’s 1960 Chevrolet Impala, they played a game of guessing the meaning of vanity license plates (such as 6A4EVR being “Sexy Forever”). After passing an RV, a mysterious driver in a rusty old delivery truck–with the license plate BEATNGU–tried to run them off the road. After a stressful moment with Darry trying to convince the driver to go around, the truck finally passed them by. Afterward, Darry tried to guess the meaning of the vanity plate, assuming it read “Beating You.” The two then began talking about two students, named Kenny and Darla, who disappeared while driving on the same road 23 years prior.
The brother and sister in the film then stop to use a restroom near an abandoned church, stumbling upon a grisly scene and multiple bodies. Darry, the brother, “found a dying boy, with a huge stitch across his torso”; the “boy tried to tell him something but was unable to before he died.”
They then decide to go to a diner to contact police:
Finding a diner, Darry called the police. While waiting for the cops to arrive, they received a phone call at the pay phone in the diner. The lady identified Darry’s rose tattoo and knew his name. She plays the song “Jeepers Creepers” on the phone, and told them that when they hear that song, they need to run. Badly frightened, Darry cursed at the woman and hung up.
In order to verify the story, the police escorted Darry and Trish back to the church. Unknown to them, the police received a report that the church was being burned down. While they were driving along, the man from the truck attacked and killed the police. Leaving their car to investigate, Darry and Trish saw the man pick up an officer’s head and try to eat his tongue. Terrified, they got back into their car and fled.
Jeepers Creepers was followed by two additional movies in the same universe — Jeepers Creepers 2 and Jeepers Creepers 3.
A Fandom.com page for the “Creeper” character noted he was active “every 23 years for 23 days,” but we were unable to find anything indicating that the film was set specifically in 1997. The film was the subject of much examination among horror buffs in the 19 years between 2001 and 2020, including a January 2020 ScreenRant.com piece about the titular character’s mysterious origin:
The Creeper is an ancient monster, and from far away it can sometimes be mistaken for a person, thanks to the coat, hat, pants – and sometimes – boots ensemble it wears to blend in when hunting. Once up close though, it’s clear The Creeper is far from human, although it does have some humanoid qualities, and would appear to be the male of its species, assuming there are any more like it. Exactly when The Creeper was born, or exactly what it is – many believe it to be a demon of some kind – remain unclear, but a deleted scene from Jeepers Creepers 2 confirms that the monster has at least been around and claiming victims since medieval times.
No results of a time-restricted search appeared to suggest the last 23-year cycle occurred in 1997, per the film’s lore.
A scathing Arizona Daily Star review of Jeepers Creepers 2 published on August 29 2003 included a reference to the year in which the original Jeepers Creepers was purportedly set — 2001:
It’s tough enough to figure why the nonsensical, unimaginative 2001 horror film “Jeepers Creepers” had to be made, let alone its unasked-for sequel.
The rail-thin story of “Jeepers Creepers 2”: a winged, sharp-toothed, invulnerable monster who gets to feed on human flesh for 23 days every 23 years terrorizes a farm, then moves on to stalk a bus carrying a high-school basketball team.
Among questions that pop up throughout: If the Creeper can only come out every 23 years, and he was last out in 2001, shouldn’t this movie be set in 2024? Why don’t any of these kids call for help on cell phones? If the Creeper is strong enough to punch one hole in the bus, why doesn’t he punch another? But the biggest enigma is: Why is this movie in theaters?
Like the reviewer, we found no explicit reference to support the claim original Jeepers Creepers was set in 1997, rather than the year in which it came out, 2001.
A viral meme maintained that “Jeepers Creepers last woke up in 1997″ and “he rises every 23 years,” the latter part of the claim being true. The meme was one of innumerable posts about 2020 being a “bad year,” with the joke hinging on 2020 also being 23 years since 1997, the year Jeepers Creepers‘ monster last “woke up.” However, Jeepers Creepers was released and presumably set in 2001, making his next likely appearance — as the 2003 review excerpted above noted — in 2024, not 2020.