Interviewed by Royce Freeman
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE VOORHEES HOUSE PAGE?
I liked it a lot. Thought it was very professional.
DID YOU FIND THE SHOT OF THE GIRL GETTING SLICED TOO OFFENSIVE?
It was a pretty heavy-duty shot. There's no way that image could be in the feature length film, maybe on the video but not in the feature. I mean, it's got everything the MPAA hates. It's got nudity, sex and graphic gore all in one shot. I mean for the fans, I'm sure they eat that stuff up.
DID YOU CHECK OUT THE OTHER INTERVIEWS ON MY PAGE?
I read Kane's interview and I actually was sad. I was really surprised when I read it and discovered that he didn't like the ending of the movie. I was shocked in fact because to the best of my recollection he never said a word to me about it, that he didn't like it. In the interview, he said that he fought bitterly to change it. Well, if he fought bitterly to change the ending, it wasn't with me. It must have been with someone else like the producers or something. I wrote the script, and from day one, that was the ending. And the producers signed off on the script, the studio signed off on the script before we shot. It wasn't like I got to go off and autonomously make a movie that I wanted. I mean, yes I wrote the script, but it's not like it's a one-man thing. You gotta get approval from the studio head. Y'know and that was the way it was from the beginning. And if Kane would have come to me and said "Hey, this ending, we gotta rethink it." I would have been the first one to say, "Well, hey, what's bothering you about it? What can we do to make it better. Let me talk to the producers about it." I mean, you get a sense from that interview that he like our relationship. We really did have a great working relationship. And anytime he had ideas and he came to me, they got in the movie.
So, that's why I was really surprised that he didn't like it because he never came to me and said he didn't like it. And I thought, "If he didn't like it, why didn't he say anything to me?" Cause he eludes to it in the interview. It makes it look like he came to me and said, "I hate this ending," and I said, "Oh, well too bad." And I can guarantee you, this was not the case. I mean, I love Kane and I would have been the first guy to listen to any of his comments. I did listen to them, all throughout the movie. I was depressed after reading that part. And I was depressed too with -- I mean everyone has a right to their opinion, and if you ask three different people which movie they thinks their favorite, you're gonna hear one thing from one fan, one from another, and one from someone else. Kane's opinion carries a lot of weight. He's been Jason in more movies than anyone so that's what made me a little bummed out. It's not like my ego needs to be stroked to the point where I'd want him to say that mine's his favorite or any of those things. It's nothing like that. It's just that he concludes the interview really talking about how he didn't like the ending of Friday VIII. I enjoyed reading the interview and when I got to the end, I was really depressed. I wish he would have said something. The ironic thing is that -- and I don't wanna blow my own horn here, that's not who I am, I'm just not comfortable doing it -- I felt like I was instantly on the defensive when I finished reading the interview.
God only knows what all the fans think. I've gotten letters from different people of various kinds. Critics feel one way. In Cinemania, Leonard Maltin, said that he thought that this was the best of all of them. This was before part nine came out. But it made me feel great that he thought that mine was the best for whatever reasons. And that doesn't mean anything. There are gonna be people who think that mine was the worst. Kane thinks that of all the ones that he has done, mine is probably down there at the bottom of the three. I mean, there you go. The critic thinks one thing, Kane thinks something else. I got a great review in the Daily Variety and an awful review in the L.A. Times. So, you gotta take it with a grain of salt and just be thrilled that you got the job, which is what I was quite frankly at the time that I got it I was so thrilled that someone was gonna let me direct a feature film. I couldn't have been happier about it and I tried to do my best. And tried to make everyone happy, the actors, the studio, the producers, myself. It's tough. I mean, you do what you can do.
So, as far as your questions, I thought the ones you asked Kane were great. They were all good, well-rounded stuff. It's a very nice site you got there.
YOU KNOW I HAVE INTERVIEWED MANY OTHER PEOPLE FOR MY PAGE BUT HAVEN'T YET TRANSCRIBED THE CONVERSATION?
WELL I INTERVIEWED DEAN LOREY, THE WRITER OF JASON GOES TO HELL? HE ALSO WROTE JOHNNY ZOMBIE.
It's funny, they gave me Johnny Zombie as a directing assignment. I had read that script. They gave it to me as a potential directing assignment. It was for New Line Cinema. And I remember getting it and remember reading it and actually thought the script was quite good. However, when it was released they changed the title of the movie to My Boyfriend's Back. But I never saw the movie cause I had heard that it was terrible, I mean really bad. And the fact is, the script was good. When I read it I thought the script was witty and very funny.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET THE JOB OF DIRECTING 'JASON TAKES MANHATTAN'?
I started out writing and directing for Friday the 13th: The Series, which I loved. I thought it was a sensational show. I felt honored to even be amongst the people who were working on that show like David Cronenberg, who directed some of them. Atom Egoyan, who just got an Academy Award nomination for The Sweet Hereafter, he directed some of them.
I got involved in the show when they were first starting up. It was four weeks until production on the pilot. Well, there really wasn't a pilot of the show, there was just episode 1. I think it had already gotten a 13 episode order, or it might have been a 26 episode order up front. And it was a month to go till they had to start filming and they didn't have any scripts and they invited me in. I was writing a feature at the time, and I had just finished working on MacGyver, and I was on the Paramount lot. They called and said, "Can you please come over here and help us with the first four episodes and get us up and running?" I said, "I'd love to but you gotta let me direct an episode." And they kinda groaned, and they thought "Oh, man." Cause up until then, the only thing I had directed were documentaries. A lot of "The Making of...." documentaries. I did one for "Brazil" for Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python people.
So they took a shot. They gambled and figured "Oh, how bad can it be?" So I wrote the first four, or actually re-wrote the first four depending on the case. And then came in and wrote and directed my first episode for them which was called "The Electrocutioner" and they liked it, thank God. And so they said, "Do another one." So then I wrote and directed another one called "Thirteen O' Clock" which they liked as well. I continued to write and directed a few more after that. And the producers came to me and said, "How'd you like to write and direct the next Friday the 13th feature. And I just couldn't believe it. I was like "out of all the people in the world they asked me." I was blown away. So that's basically how I got the job.
WHY WAS VANCOUVER THE CHOICE LOCATION FOR FILMING?
Vancouver was a great choice for a number of reasons. Cost was a factor but not the main factor. For me, the primary thing was finding a place that had all the locations we needed. Because we couldn't afford to bop around all over the country and the movie took place in New York, the movie took place on the water, the movie took place at Crystal Lake, it took place in the forest, all these things. And to make that happen, we had to find one place that had it all, and we could afford to shoot in.
So we looked at Vancouver because Vancouver has a whole lot of lakes that looked like the lakes that were used in all the other Friday the 13th movies because we all felt an obligation to honor the previous movies. Y'know, we couldn't all of a sudden have Crystal Lake be some lake in the desert. It had to look the lake from Sean Cunningham's movie on down the films in the series. So there were some wonderful lakes there. We found a lake that matched really well with the same kind of foliage and everything. There were docks there that would work well with the ship sequence. And the streets of Vancouver, the alleys especially, were remarkably a good match to New York. We did actually go to New York as well to make Time Square. There's no way we could fake Time Square. But we even used the subway system in Vancouver and dressed it to look like the New York subway.
It had everything. Vancouver had it all. And we could afford to film there with the budget. In fact, the budget on our Friday was more than on the previous Fridays. But we had to make it stretch. There were a lot of effects and all those things. We actually went to New York, which was extremely expensive. So that's why Vancouver was chosen.
WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE CAMP USED FOR CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE?
It was a Boy Scout camp. It wasn't Boy Scouts of America, it was whatever the Canadian equivalent was. Honestly, I can't remember the name of the camp. We looked at so many and we actually shot in a couple of different ones. For the opening, was this one camp on this lake. I don't remember the name. But it was what Crystal Lake would be. In other words, it was a teenage camp, like the real thing. That's what really got to us, was that if Crystal Lake were a real place, this would be it. They had the cabins, they had the little docks, they had the forest. It was the real thing. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody's been murdered there.
WHY WAS A SOUNDTRACK NEVER RELEASED FOR JASON TAKES MANHATTAN?
That's a good question. Fred Mollin actually sent a CD for the score to Friday the 13th: The Series, which he also scored. Several of my episodes are on there and that's why he sent it to me. I'm surprised they didn't release a soundtrack. Fred might have released the score to Friday the 13th: The Series on his own.
But as far as the feature, I think he did a wonderful job. In fact, it was my idea, I begged them to let me use Fred. I knew they liked him cause they hired him to do the series. But I said, "Hey, he's the guy to do the feature."
WHY WAS HARRY MANFREDINI NOT CHOSEN?
I love Harry Manfredini's music. I didn't know him at all. And hiring a composer was not my unilateral decision. This was my first feature and I was hired to direct it. So I was working for Paramount and the producers. It was really their call on who the composer would be. And I said, "I love Fred Mollin." It would have been them that would have said, "No we wanna use Harry Manfredini." And I think because they had this working relationship with Fred Mollin of the series, and they loved him, and so did I, it was a natural choice. I mean talking with Fred was a real short hand, we'd already had a working relationship for a long time. I knew that it would just be easy and so did they. And I don't think it was because they don't love Harry Manfredini, I just think they felt that for this particular movie that Fred would be a great call. Harry Manfredini would have been outstanding as well. I think that you couldn't have gone wrong with either guy. I don't know Harry, but I still wonder because if they had said, "lets use Harry." I would have gone along with it. I was so thrilled to be doing it, I would have gone along with it. But everyone wanted Fred so that was it.
DID THEY FILM THE T.V. SERIES IN TORONTO?
Yes we did film it there. But as far as the music, this movie was filmed at a time when electronic scoring was already full bloom. A lot of composers basically are a one-man band. And they have their samples and they score and if they need to, they go into a studio. They hire a string section or whatever to fill it out. Friday the 13th traditionally is a fairly electronic score but with this classical feeling. The ominous cellos. But this was something that Fred was able to do in his studio and he brought in some extra musicians, I think. But it's all done electronically as far as the recording and all that. There's no reason to have the composer be anywhere near where the film was being made.
Now, interestingly enough, with Friday the 13th: The Series, most of the show was done in Toronto. The only thing that was done in L.A. was the writing. The writing staff was in L.A. based at Paramount. Everything else was back in Toronto. The post-production was back there, obviously all the filming was done back there. The composer was back there. So it actually made more sense for the composer to be in Toronto anyway.
Now, I've done shows, I did a TV movie, Jan Hammer did the score for, who was of Miami Vice fame. And Jan Hammer lives in upstate New York. I never even met him face to face and he scored a movie that I did. Because we did it all over the phone. And then he would Fed-Ex us the DAT tapes, we would listen to them. We would call him back and say, "We need to make an adjustment here. Could you put a little more percussion in this cue." He said, "sure." He would do it. Send us the DAT out. And now you don't even have to do that. You can just send it over the Fiberoptic or satellite it. But with the case of Friday the 13th, everything was done in Toronto.
HOW COME THE STORYLINE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PREVIOUS FILMS?
That's a tough one to answer. I don't know if it had nothing to do with the previous films. I mean we tried to draw on the previous films, as far as the history of Crystal Lake and other things. There were places where we didn't divert. It was really tough. I had some of the same questions like, "Well, Jason died in part 7. How are we gonna deal with that?" And they basically said, "Don't worry about it?"
At least my feeling was, my intentions going in, were to honor the previous films. I watched all of the previous films in a marathon before I started this, more than once. And to try to honor it, but also they wanted to bring something fresh to it. So, they said, "Feel free to divert from it." And in retrospect maybe we diverted too much in hopes of bringing something new to the franchise, which included the ending. I asked them right up front, I said, "Can I kill Jason? Can I really do an ending that makes you feel like it's come full circle and he's actually dead?" And they said, "Absolutely. You can kill him, kill him, kill me. Don't worry about it." And I said, "Okay." And so I came up with an ending where Jason dies in this toxic waste and in the process of really dying -- cause you've seen him die in other movies and he dies but it's still basically Jason lying there -- he reverts to the child he was when he first died and mutated into this horrible monster. It was a way to at least say, "Hey, maybe he really is dead this time. He's gone back to the place where it all began."
I mean, there are shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey in it, where the lead character in 2001 goes searching, following this signal to Jupiter and when he gets there he sees himself as this older man, and then this dying man on his death-bed, and dies. And what he sees is basically the embryo of a child, maybe himself, floating out into space. Maybe it's the origin of the universe, maybe it's himself, who knows. And to me, that movie was always a powerful image to me. And the idea of Jason reverting to his childhood was something I hadn't seen before in any other movies and that was the intention. It was maybe too cerebral. I got mixed reactions. Some people thought it was terrific, some people thought differently. So you just gotta take a shot. It was obviously approved by everyone at the studio, the producers. They all thought it was fresh. Or it would've never gotten filmed, if they didn't like it. So everyone was on board, so that's what we did. I mean, that's addressing the ending specifically.
There were other things we did. I mean, coming up with the idea of Rennie seeing young Jason in the water when she was seven or eight years old. It was really trying to get into Jason's past a little bit. To give the story a layer that wasn't just slasher, but to give you something to think about. And also to open it up into something that hadn't been done in the other films, which was more weird fantasy stuff like young Jason coming out of the liquid mirror and grabbing Rennie. I mean that was an image that was, maybe it was all in her own mind. Maybe it was something that was a phantasm. Maybe it was supernatural. There's supernatural shades to Jason clearly in all the movies. And I think our attempt was to go a little further. We'd certainly been influenced by Nightmare on Elm Street and what they had done with that.
WHAT YEAR WAS IT SUPPOSED TO TAKE PLACE?
I think our intention when we went in was that we were shooting present day. We made the film in 1989 and our intention was it was present day. We weren't saying that it was two years in the future. We weren't saying it was two years in the past. Our intention was that it was present day. That's what everyone felt going in.
THE DIRECTOR OF PART VII SAID THAT THE FILM WAS SUPPOSED TO BE 10 YEARS AFTER PART VI. WAS THERE ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT THE TIMELINE OF PART VII WHEN YOU MADE JASON TAKES MANHATTAN?
If we had been locked into Jason Takes Manhattan set in the year 2000, when we made it in 1989, there was no way that it was gonna happen. Cause then you're talking about a futuristic movie. You're talking about a different genre. You're talking about going to New York where's it's now 11 years in the future. Cars are gonna be 11 years newer, fashion's gonna be 11 years newer. I would counter and say that the logic of part VII was illogical. There's no way we could have followed the logic of part VII. It was impossible. You'd be dealing with a futuristic movie. I was told up front to discard that logic. When Jason Goes to Hell came out, they chose to ignore the logic of my film. They decided that they were gonna go off and do their own thing.
I watched part VII and I caught the logic but I didn't get the sense of the film taking place in 1999. None of us were talking in terms of, "we have to set our movie in the year 1999 or 2000." Everyone felt that part VII took place present day, and that my film was present day as well. Also, if you watch part VII the logic that it is 1999 wouldn't track. Maybe it tracks because of what they say in dialogue, but if you look at what's going on in part VII you'll see things that couldn't possibly be 1999. If I were a filmmaker and I was trying to say that this was 1999, I would go out of my way to show that it is 1999. I would underscore it.
John Buechler is a wonderful guy and he's extremely talented with FX, special FX and with special FX make-up. He is a nice guy, he's talent, and he did a great job on the movie. And I can't speak for that movie. I can only speak for the one that I did. My intention going into the movie and the producer's intention, and everyone's intention including Kane and everyone else on board, was that this was present day. Bottom line, this was not set in the future. This was set present day. If this was in the future you would have seen shades of futuristic. I'm a subscriber of Futurist Magazine, I'm writing a futurist story right now for Paramount. I'm really into it. If my intention was to make a futuristic movie, you would have known it. And Friday the 13th Part VIII was set present day.
There's an interesting thing that Kane said in his interview that I think is absolutely true. I think that none of the filmmakers, with the exception of Sean Cunningham who started the series, but the producers, all of us, we're all responsible. I would share the blame. Again, you go into it trying to do the best job you can do. But there is a tendency to underestimate the fans' knowledge of what's come before, or what comes after, timelines, logic, and all those things. And I think it's an oversight.
When I came into Friday the 13th, I was trying to make the best I could make on its own, standing alone. If there weren't any movies before, and there weren't any movies after, that you could watch the movie and you'd go "Wow. The story's interesting. The production value's interesting." We've talked about restrictions I've had with the MPAA and other entities involved. But you still do the best you can do with what's on the plate. And that's what I tried to do. I think that's what every director that did any of the Friday the 13th movies tried to do. And you do the best you can do. In the process of doing that, sometimes what are seemingly small details are overlooked in quest of the bigger goal. And that could very well be a mistake.
I think that if I were to make this film again, since the internet wasn't really happening back then, I would get on a web site and I would pose a question to everyone that logs on to your web site, and I would say, "Hey guys. I'm writing Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Tell me what you want to see, and what you don't want to see. Give me some guidance here." And I would take all that information, and I would use what worked for the movie, and what I could get out of it. Not everyone out there is gonna be a great writer, and my job is to write and not to get someone to write it for me. But it's basically research and you find out what the fans want and you try to deliver on that. I think that would be a wonderful thing to do. Bottom line is, you're trying to please the fans when you make these movies.
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