Part 1 - Exclusive Interview by Tommy McLoughlin director of Jason Lives:Friday the 13th Part IV
GM: I read that your first ambition was not to be a filmmaker but a mime, is that correct?
TM: Thats an interesting question because I started out wanting to be a filmmaker going back to the age of six or seven mainly due to my father and his passion for movies. Part of the reason he came to California was to go to film school. I grew up in Culver city part of L.A, so I was surrounded by the old MGM studios etc so I was really in the hub of it, combined with my dads passion and the equipment he still had I started making little films and literally had the back lot of MGM studios to go and make them on the weekends. So that was really were my passion began. Also I had taken an interest in magic. My dad had also been a stage magician (prior to going into film school) So I liked both those things magic/film making. Then I discovered the wonderful world of rock and roll when the Beatles hit and shifting gears from magic/film to rock and roll and shift yet again in the late sixties I decided I wanted to be a more visually interesting lead singer, I wanted to understand how to tell stories and project things without just dancing and that lead me into mime. Then I went to Paris and worked with Marcel Marceau when I was nineteen. Then became the "oh I wanna do stage preforming as a mime" but at the same time the film thing was coming back. So I tried to combined the two, studying Buster Keaton etc. Jumping ahead my first movie "One Dark Night" most of when I shot it was silent sequences.
GM: And it was at Paramount that you met your wife?
TM: Yes the mime training had opened up the door to getting hired in the movies to play character's that required some sort of physical training. The first job that lead me into becoming a member of the SAG was Woody Allen had hired me in the movie "Sleeper" and to be inside of the robot costume. From there it took off from there I was in Disneys "Black Hole" as Cpt. Star and Jabberwocky in Alice In Wonderland (1985) Then I was hired by John Frankenhemier to be in this giant mutant bear costume for "Prophecy" That went Nancy had visited the set at Paramount, I was coming out of the bear costume and basically it was love at first sight.
GM: How did you land the job for Jason Lives?
TM: Well after I did "One Dark Night" that became my calling card in Hollywood and I figured OK I made my first movie it`ll be simple to get the next one so I took my film to various studios looking for jobs and it actually took four more years or so before I got the next movie. I had written the movie script for "Date with An Angel" because I was at that time more interested in doing romantic fantasy then staying in the horror field and the first horror film I made I wanted the horror to come from the corpses and maggots and pus then the blood and guts part of the genre that was being done very effectively with all the slasher movies.
When I got an offer from Frank M Jr. to direct a Friday the 13th my first reaction was I don't want to do one of those slashers. But he said you can write it and make it your own,
GM: What stands out to many fans of the series is that Jason Lives has a much different tone, was that always what you had envisioned?
TM: My objective was to make it clear on what the rules were of Jason because it got kind of muddled over the years. Then have a self a reverent tone to it, for example when my wife Nancy s character first confronts Jason she says "Any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly" and the caretaker saying "Why do they have to dig up Jason, some people have a strange idea of entertainment." so there was a real sense of OK we`ve done six of these now lets have a little fun with this and at the same time have the kills to be super human. Mine has been considering a turning point, where now hes thought to be a zombie then just a guy walking around in a mask. But as far as i`m considered if you come up out of a lake (after drowning) its already supernatural but it was never really played that why. When I introduced the Frankenstein type lighting bolt to bring him back to life for me it was just now he has the ability to be unstoppable. That story wise gave me licences to say cut off three heads simultaneity or twist a head all the way around and yank it off, pretty much every kill in that movie is done in a way that couldn't be done by a normal human.
GM: So prior to Jason Lives you weren't a big fan of the "slasher" genre?
TM: To be honest no. I was a fan of the first Friday the 13th. I liked the idea that the mother was behind it, I was a huge fan of the original Halloween because we never seen anything before that. Serial killers and that whole thing was always interesting to me.
GM: Was there certain amount of pressure coming fresh into a already own established series, especially one that had (and still does) and ravenous fan base?
TM: Oh yeah! What happened with the series (as you know) is after the Final Chapter it was pretty much a done series but with video happening they decided to go one more and see what happens with the next film part five. And it wasnt even Jason! Though the movie did well box office wise the fans were ultimately disappointed so when I was approached to do it I said "Look we gotta bring back Jason and make it different then what it has been. So I set down watched all of them back to back to find what could I do that was different. I came with the neotion of making it with a sense of humor and making the characters likable and also add a Gothic horror aspect to it and I was given the creative freedom to do that.
GM: Your wife Nancy gets killed off in the beginning of the film. How does one ask his wife to die in his movie?
TM: (laugh) Well I wrote that part just for her. The bonus was hiring Tony Goldwyn. Its like I told her, its a complete set piece. It sets the tone for the whole movie. You meet them (the characters) and its slightly irreverent and shocking and it ends the kill on a funny and ironic beat with Nancy and the American Express card. At first she was like, You introduce me and kill me in one scene, but I explained to her this is the scene people will remember and she was game for the death. The interesting thing is when she gets stabbed and goes under water we didnt have any stunt people, so its actually her doing that herself. We had to give her a regulator and a breathing tube,her head was placed in a vice thing to keep it down there and hopefully she could breath with this regulator that was down there but it turned out that the regulator wasnt a proper fit for her mouth so she was sucking in Georgia mud and tried to breath but like a trooper stayed down there as long as she could to get the shot. One top of that it was freezing cold, you could actually see steam coming off the water.
GM: Do you recall the first time you saw fans react to it and how do you feel about its legacy with fans?
TM: When we first previewed it at Paramount we had no idea how the crowd would react to it but we knew they really wanted to see it. It was like a rock concert I mean we couldn't hear the dialog people were just going nuts through the entire movie. The powers at be said we need three more kills so we shot scene where Jason kills the caretaker (in my version he didn't die) and then when the movie opened it was the usual craziness where it was really well received but ultimately what I was told was that the fifth one was so disappointing that people didnt come see the sixth one. But in terms of how well it survived all these years,I mean i`m shocked. It seems like every day I get a new friend request on Facebook over having made this film. I feel like a new generation discovers Jason. It was like when I was a kid watching TV where i got to see all the Universal Monsters. It seems like Jason is apart of the monster icon. With its sense of humor I feel it sets it apart from just a series of people getting killed and I think thats why its survived as long as it has.
Please stay tuned for second and final part of the interview!