Interview by Royce Freeman
HOW DID YOU MEET SEAN CUNNINGHAM?
I met Sean through a mutual friend of Steve Miner's. My friend, Gary Templeton is also
film maker, and I have scored all of his Children's Films. At the time, Steve was the film
editor for Sean, and Sean was making a Children's film. I subsequently scored that film
"Here Come the Tigers", and then another "Kick" before we embarked on
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE THE SCORE FOR FRIDAY THE WAY IT WAS?
I'm not quite sure what you mean exactly, but I'll try to answer anyway. When I was asked
to do the score, I was studying a number of "serious" composers, namely
Penderecki, and Lutoslawski, and Bartok. They were inspirational to the actual sound of
the score. Remember, this was an extremely low budget score. It was recorded in a basement
studio in New Jersey with only 13 (oddly enough) players. I played all the percussion,
effects, keyboards, and winds and also did the now infamous vocal effects. I'm surprised
that you didn't ask about that, so I'll throw this in for free. Sean laughingly asked me
if we could have a choir in the score. We were lucky to afford the 13 players. I was
listening to Penderecki, and he had an enormous choir, and they did some interesting vocal
effects. Of course, we had no choir. So, necessity being the mother of invention, I had to
come up with something. If you remember in the picture, at the end we saw a close-up of
Betsy Palmer's mouth, saying "kill her, mommy" over and over. As she said this,
the voice changed from her voice to the voice of young Jason. So, I took that as a cue. I
simply pronounced the letters "ki" for kill, and "ma" for mommy, and
then ran them through a piece of equipment called an echoplex. (now really an old piece of
gear) and that's how it came to be. So what you hear is KI KI KI KI ---- MA MA MA MA MA.
WAS THERE ANY MUSIC RECORDED BUT NOT USED IN THE FILM?
That's an easy one. No.
HAVE YOU EVER MET VICTOR MILLER, IF SO WHAT IS HE LIKE?
Yes I have met Victor on numerous occasions when I lived back east. I think he still lives
out there somewhere. I haven't seen him in a long time, but if you talk with him please
give him my best. He is a bright, smart, creative and possesses a quick wit and humor. He
is a very personable and charming fellow.
WAS A SOUNDTRACK EVER RELEASED FOR THE FIRST FRIDAY THE 13TH MOVIE? WHERE CAN IT
BE FOUND? DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS ON RELEASING IT AGAIN IN THE FUTURE, AS MAYBE A BOX SET OF
ALL FRIDAY THE 13TH MUSIC? THE FANS WOULD REALLY LIKE THAT. WHY WERE ONLY CERTAIN
There was a record released on Friday the 13th part 3. There were not any for the first
two. The only other one was the CD for Friday 9. The original record was re-released on
CD, but I am told by a friend they sell for $200. I don't even have one. But my guess with
the new writable CD machine, there will be plenty available on the black market. I do not
have any plans to release other scores. I don't control the rights to do that, I think
they are controlled by Paramount, or maybe now by New Line Cinema. It's interesting that
you ask about other soundtracks. Here is the inside story, and this might shock you,
or perhaps not.
I scored the first Friday, and the second Friday. The score to the third Friday was a
compilation of the music from the first two. I only scored the first and the last reel.
The rest of the scored was manufactured from pre-existing music. Actually, I have never
seen Friday the 13th part THREE !!!
I only scored sections of Part 4. The rest was also recycled music. I never have seen the
entire Friday Part 4
I did score most of part 5. Is that the only that Joe Zito did? I keep losing track of
them? I did score part 6. And I did do part 9. Part 9 was all synthesizers and no live
orchestra. The CD sounds awful. Something happened to the tracks between me giving to the
record company and the actual printing of the CDs. They got really compressed and limited.
There are no real dynamics. The actual score on the film sounded 1000% better. Oh well. As
far as there being a boxed set, this is something I highly doubt would ever happen. Unless
there was a real demand for this that seems to be escaping those who control the rights.
FOR THE FRIDAY THE 13TH FILMS, WHERE DID THEY FIND THE SONGS TO USE IN THE MOVIES?
ALL OF THE GROUPS ARE UNDERGROUND STUFF.
Well in the first Friday, I wrote the songs for the radio, and Harry Crosby played his own
guitar music. (a very talented and smart guy). In the early Friday films, 1,2, and 3, 4,
5. I wrote most of the source music and just had studio players come in and record it. The
other stuff you hear was music picked by the particular director. I have no idea of what
they are or where they came from. They would just usually say, "we will put a source
cue here, don't do anything" and I say. Okay.
VICTOR MILLER SAID THAT HE DID NOT LIKE THE IDEA OF HAVING JASON AS THE KILLER, HE
ONLY LIKED MRS. VOORHEES AS THE KILLER. WHAT DO YOU THINK, WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL OPINIONS
ABOUT THE SERIES? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FRIDAY, AND WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE? WHY?
First of all, I agree with Victor. After that, Jason became essentially a
"Shark", and just killed over and over ad nauseum. My feelings about the series
is more of amazement. When I saw the first one, my reaction was " Is anyone going to
go to see this?" And yet here we are 18 years later still talking about it. This may
or may not come as a shock to you but I am really not a big fan of horror films. I rarely
go to see any in the theatres. My favorite, I guess would have to be the first. There were
sections of some of the others that I particularly liked. The scene in part 2, where Jason
has his "lair", and the girl dresses as his mother to get away. There were a
number of nice scenes in the Joe Zito one, and also in the Tom McLaughlin one. There is no
question in my mind that the worst one was the one where the ambulance driver was
impersonating Jason. I don't remember what number that was, but by far it was the worst.
OUT OF ALL THE FRIDAY FILMS, WHICH ONE WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING TO SCORE, MOST
FUN, HARDEST, AND EASIEST.
The most challenging and the hardest was the first, because that is the place where all
the concepts that permiated the rest, were conceived. It was also fun. Lying on the floor
and scraping a piano, then standing in front of a mike and going K K k k, MA ma. and then
playing tin whistle, and scraping cymbals with quarters, and playing an orchestron. That
was fun. Remember, Friday ONE was I think only the 7th film I ever scored. I was really
still learning. Another that was fun was the Joe Zito film. That was really fun, not so
much the film. But all the people involved. Joe is really funny, and the editing
team, along with the music editors and Frank Mancuso Jr., who is also a very funny and
witty guy. As I think back, that was probably the most fun. But there were many fun
moments in most of them. Can't really take all that gore without cracking a
few jokes. None of them were really hard to score. The thing that makes them difficult to
score is that they are so formula driven. There are really only four kinds of cues. STALK,
KILL, CHASE, "RED HERRING". That's it. Occasionally
there is something else, but that is the bulk of the music.
WHAT ABOUT THE SERIES HAS ATTRACTED YOU TO KEEP DOING THEM OVER THE YEARS?
Nothing is attracting about these films, other than putting food on the table and paying
the mortgage. I'm simply a hired gun. If they ask, and I have the time, I do it. They pay
me, I go home.
WAS THERE ANY SPECIFIC MUSICIAN OR FILM SCORE THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO MAP THE
SCORE FOR THE ORIGINAL FRIDAY AFTER? THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE THAT SAY THAT THE FIRST FRIDAY
IS JUST A REWORKING OF PSYCHO, IS THAT TRUE?
Well to answer the first question first. I told you earlier that I was studying the music
of Penderecki, and Lutoslawski when the film was offered to me. And I did use those
techniques in the score, and that I think is evident. The score to Friday One, and most of
the subsequent scores "I" did for the series included dodecaphonic atonal
techniques, aleatoric music, non-functioning coloristic use of harmony,vocal and
percussive effects, prepared piano, and synthesized sounds. I don't remember hearing any
of that in the score to Psycho. Like all film composers, I am a big fan of Bernard Herman,
and am well aware of his music. I could sight many scores by many composers that have
"Herman" esque flavors. But I can also go through many of the Mr. Herman's
scores and cite the various composers he has alluded to in his music. Trashing film
composers is a favorite pastime of many a poor soul. It's even a pastime of many of the
composer's out here. I try not to go there anymore.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING THAT COMES INTO YOUR MIND WHEN YOU GET A CALL FROM A
DIRECTOR SAYING, "YOU WANNA SCORE ANOTHER FRIDAY FILM?"
DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN, AND IF SO, WOULD YOU LET THEM SEE YOUR FILMS?
By "Your films" I think you mean the FRIDAY 13th films. Correct? I have scored
about 40 features and well as many children's films. My daughter has seen many of my
films. She is now 26, so she can watch whatever she wants. When she was young, I would do
everything I could to not let her see these, and for the most part she didn't want to see
them. Now she is a grown person, and sees them for what they are.
OVER THE PERIOD OF THE TIME BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE NINTH FRIDAY FILM, WHAT HAS
SEAN CUNNINGHAM SAID WHEN YOU'VE TOLD HIM YOU WERE SCORING ANOTHER FRIDAY FILM?
Well, he would of course know that another Friday was being made, and he probably knew
that I was scoring it. So he knew, I didn't have to tell him anything. Understand he owns
DID YOU EVER SEE THE FRIDAY FILMS BEFORE THEY WERE EDITED BY ORDER OF THE MPAA?
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE UNCUT WORKS? ANYTHING YOU WISHED HADN'T BEEN CUT? DO YOU THINK
THE FRIDAY FILMS SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN CUT AS BADLY AS THEY WERE? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE
Yes, I have seen the ones that I scored before the MPAA cuts. They were more gory. No I
wish they would cut more. It's amazing how incredibly horrific the first Friday seemed,
and now it's practically tame. This is a result of the envelope constantly being pushed.
The film makers know that the MPAA will cut a certain amount, so they go way, way over the
top with the violence. Then the MPAA suggests cuts. And they are so far over the top, that
the cuts contain more violence then ever before. I remember one time I heard that the MPAA
said that the entire concept of the films were X rated. I wish they would have enforced
that, but alas that could not be done. I am not a big fan of horror, and especially stalk
and slash films. The gory versions were just a stupid as the rest, just gorier. You have
to remember, I'm just scoring these things. To me, they are like cartoons with knives.
They are just film. I write the appropriate music, and then I'm done. I don't have to like
them to do this. When it comes to these films, it's just like being a bricklayer, or a
WHAT MADE YOU RELEASE THE SOUNDTRACK TO "JASON GOES TO HELL" AND NOT
MOST OF THE OTHERS? WHY COULDN'T YOU USE MOST OF THE OLDER MUSIC IN JASON GOES TO
Well, there was an offer to make the album, that's why it got made. Remember, these things
are not in my control. I just didn't use any of the older music because it would not have
sounded as good. Of course, the CD got messed up somehow.
WOULD YOU KEEP ON SCORING THE FRIDAY FILMS AS LONG AS THEY KEEP MAKING THEM?
Interesting question. I suppose that would depend on a number of things. Availability, and
time. The actual picture, and the budget.
DID YOU EVER GO TO SEE THEM FILM? AND OF THE FILMS DO YOU KNOW WHERE THEY FILMED 4
AND 5? WHAT CITY AND STATE?
No I never went to a Friday Shoot. I hear they are lots of fun though. I have no idea as
to where they were filmed.
HOW DID THE PRODUCERS PICK FRED MOLLIN TO CO-SCORE WITH YOU ON PART 7, AND THEN
TAKE OVER ON 8? AND WHY DID YOU COME BACK FOR 9?
I actually have never met Fred Mollin. By co-score, they mean that they used some of my
old music, and of course the "Jason sound". I didn't write anything at all. I
came back for 9 because I was asked, and had the time.
GROWING UP, WHO DID YOU ADMIRE MOST MUSICALLY?
Now that's a great question. I was influenced on two separate fronts. Italian Opera, and
Jazz. That was playing a lot in our house, and my brother played a lot of Stan Kenton,
which influenced me a lot. People say they hear a lot of Kenton in my music. When I got to
college, I was introduced to the rest of the world of music. That's when I began to really
get into Stravinsky, Bartok, Copland, Hindemith, Webern, Berg, Schoenberg, Ravel, Boulez,
Berio, Foss, and a myriad of other composers.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE SERIES?
I don't think there is anything I love about the series, but there are many people I have
met working on the various pictures whose friendship I cherish.
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