Clay Today — Oct. 28, 2010

Jeepers, This Florida House is Really Creepy!

By Christina Leach Phillips


FLEMING ISLAND– When Bruce Reynolds was growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa., he said he loved to watch “Chiller Theatre,” a late-night horror and science fiction movie program on television every Saturday night.  His favorite horror movies included “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “Revenge of the Creature,” two films that were made in Florida. 

When Reynolds, a defense contractor, moved to Florida with the Navy, he continued to watch monster movies with his family and became a fan of “Jeepers Creepers,” a horror movie series that was filmed in Ocala. 

“The Black Lagoon Monsters — they were the first Floridamonster, and then the Creeper is the second one,” Reynolds said. 

For Halloween this year, Reynolds has brought his love of horror movies to life by building a replica of the “Creeper,” and placing the monster on the roof of his house. 

“We thought it was a real good monster movie. . . So, since he was a Florida monster, and we liked the movie, that’s why we chose him.” 

The front of Reynolds’ house at1723 Rustling Drive inFleming Island looks like a scene from the “Jeepers Creepers” movie.  Many black crows are perched on the roof, on the mailbox, and on a car parked on the driveway.  On the rooftop above the entryway, the Creeper stands menacingly at over 6 feet tall, and it has two large wings with a wingspan of l6 feet.  The monster, which holds an axe, has razor-sharp teeth and steely eyes, and wears a black hat, tattered clothes, and a trench coat. At the Creeper’s feet is a human-size body wrapped in a bloodied sheet.   

Looking up at the Creeper on the roof, Reynolds’s wife, Nancy, said, “It’s the eyes that scare you.” 

Bruce Reynolds said he has built models his entire life, and his family, including his children, Sean, Chris, and Marybeth, helped him build the Creeper. 

Reynolds found an old mannequin in a thrift store and used it for the Creeper’s body; and he said he got the mask and hat from the Brian Penikas, owner of Make-up & Monsters Studios in California, who did all the original makeup for the “Jeepers Creepers” 1 and 2 movies.  

“Brian sent me all kinds of photographs of the creature’s costume and the different appliances they used, and we made everything with about 20 trips to Home Depot,” Reynolds said. 

He said he emailed pictures of the Creeper to Penikas, and he was so impressed that he sent them to the movie’s director, Victor Salva, who is making a third Creeper movie. 

“Just about everybody who drives by here stops and asks about it, and about half have seen the movie and the other half haven’t,” Reynolds said. 

“The first night we put him up, we had him up on the platform about 5 o’clock as people were coming home from work, and everybody was stopping out on the street.  We’d see parents driving home from work, and they would run back to their house, grab the kids, put them in the car or truck, and bring them back so the kids could see it.” 

Reynolds said he loves to scare people on Halloween. 

“When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, everybody in the neighborhood decorated their houses to scare . . . People showed a lot of imagination back then, and they really made Halloween a scary experience, which is kind of the point, and we have been trying to get back to that a little bit down here,” he said. 

For the past five years, Reynolds said his son, Sean, has dressed as Michael Myers from the horror film, “Halloween” and has scared people who came up to the house. 

“It looks just like he stepped off the movie screen.  He’s got the mannerisms down; he never talks,” Reynolds said. “It was a riot out here last year, watching the response just to him. The kids really enjoyed it – it’s kind of tradition for a lot of them now.” 

This year, Reynolds said he added some extra decorations and the Creeper. 

“We don’t want to terrify the little kids, but they have no concept of fear – they just want their candy . . . but the older kids and the parents — they are the ones who are really scared, so we’ll do all we can do to scare them,” he said.
Reynolds said he likes to stand back and observe people’s reactions. “I’m like the Wizard of Oz — I hide behind the curtain.” 

He said he is already planning for next Halloween and wants to include something from another horror film called “Dog Soldiers.” 

“They have a very unique-looking werewolf character, and that is what we are going to try to make — a werewolf for next year,” he said. 

Reynolds said they will still have the Creeper. 

“We will keep adding another monster every year,” he said.