All of the Jasons gathered for a rousing discussion concerning the Friday the 13th DVD Boxset, coming your way soon from Paramount Home Video. It will contain Parts 1 through Part 8. The next three films in the series, as you probably already know, are owned by New Line Pictures and will not be included.
On hand were Jasons Kane Hodder (Parts 7-10), C.J. Graham (Part 6), Richard Brooker (Part 3-D), Warrington Gillette (Part 2), and Ari Lehman (Part 1). Also there to discuss their work were directors Tom McLoughlin (Part 6) and John Carl Buechler (Part 7)...
Moderator: First of all, I want to thank you all for coming. I think I can speak for everyone on the panel when I say how much it amazes me to have so many fans come out twenty-five years later. Give yourselves all around of applause. (He then introduces the panel from right to left...) Ari, you were the first person to ever play Jason. At that time, we didn't really know who Jason was, but we knew he was important to the story. When you went to audition for the role, what did they tell you about him?
Ari Lehman: Well, originally, when I went to Shawn's office, I was in Connecticut. I had made a very silly movie with him about a bunch of orphan kids that play soccer. Which you can only see nowadays if you stay up way too late and you're watching the wrong cable channel. He actually handed me the lines for Kevin Bacon's role. And it said, "Character goes out in the woods to make out with another counselor." I was thirteen, so I said, "Man, this is a great role!" Then Shawn walks in and goes, "No, no, no...That's not the one for you. You're too young for that. You're going to play the monster. Do you know how to swim?"
Moderator: What was the make-up process like being transformed into Young Jason?
Lehman: Well, they put me into the hands of Tom Savini. You have to hand it to Tom, because he came up with this Jason idea. Even the final scene was largely the idea of Tom Savini. And all the make-up work was his. He's a special effects master. He studied with Dick Smith and all the great old guys. Anyway, he immediately took me down to prosthetics. They took a mold of my head and my mouth. The hardest thing was to keep from laughing all the time, because Tom was always telling jokes. There were a couple that were too smiley. Because I was laughing. For me, being in that workshop was like being in Merlin's laboratory. It was a lot of fun. They did the prosthetics, they did the fake teeth, they did a false eye. And it all had to be waterproof.
Moderator: What was it like to shoot those final scenes?
Lehman: Oh, it was great. Initially, the first time, I was a little cold. They didn't use any of those takes. But the second time we went to shoot it, everyone was in the right mindset. For me, they were like, "Go grab the girl in the boat." And I was like, "Okay. I think I can handle that." What did so much to the scene was not what I did, or what was filmed, but the anticipation of the audience. They were hanging there, thinking it was all over, and then..."Boom!" So the timing had a lot to do with it.
Moderator: Did you ever patch things up with Adrienne King?
Lehman: We're still working on it...No, the first time we did the scene, she was a bit scared. To tell you the truth. Tom instructed me not to talk to her the whole time. To try and build up the fear factor. So, the first time I jumped out of the water, I think she was kind of scared. I think she kind of fell out of the boat. The second time, and I really have to hand it to her acting ability; she doesn't look like she knows I'm there. You don't see that anticipation. She looks like she's just dazed. And then, "Boom!" She was really frightened.
Moderator: The first film was a huge hit, and within a couple of weeks, they started production on the sequel. Warrington, how did the part come to you?
Warrington Gillette: I remember watching the first movie, and I nearly had a heart attack. I loved it. It's just incredibly ironic that I ended up in the next movie. I was acting a lot, and I was ready for a break. But my agent comes up and says, "They have this part for you in a horror movie as a camp councilor." And I said, "Let's go, I'm ready." So we go, and they end up calling us back a couple of times. They say, "We think we're going to go with John Furey as the councilor. But we really like you. How would you like to be Jason?" And I say, "I'll be anything you want." So they say, "Well, you're going to have to have a shaved head...You better start shaving." So, I did that, and they give me the script. It says Jason on the front. I read it, and it kind of went on from there. They didn't really audition for Jason; they just kind of hired me for it.
Moderator: Were you prepared for how hard this was going to be?
Warrington Gillette: I had no idea what special effects make-up was all about. I was young. I'd never had any experience. There was a young guy there, a protégé of Dick Smith, and he was highly talented. He said, "Most of the movie takes place at night." I said, "Great." He said, "That means you have to be in the make-up chair around noon time. And we will be done with you at 8." So I said, "You mean I'm going to be sitting in this chair from noon till eight?" "Yeah. Right."
Moderator: Part 2 also had a lot of stunts that you had to do on your own...
Warrington Gillette: Yes. That was the first time I ever jumped off a roof. They had a platform on the exterior of this house, and I timed it so I would go through the glass and the boards. I had one eye built over the left side of my face. So, if you have one eye closed for twelve hours, your whole depth perception gets out of whack. You're very upset, because it is really uncomfortable. So, the first time I hit the damn window and the boards, I hit it and didn't go through it. It was nuts. So, I had to go back and do it again. I kept getting more tired every time I did it. Pretty soon, there's shattered glass everywhere. There's blood everywhere. And All I could think was, "What the Hell am I doing now?"
Moderator: So, Richard, when you took over the role, the character was somewhat established already. Did you look at these other guys that had played it before you to take some of that characterization, or did you start from scratch?
Richard Brooker: In all honesty, I didn't know that much about Friday the 13th. I'd just arrived, and I wasn't a big fan. They came to me one day and asked me to do this. There was no audition. They said, "You just go out there, and you hack them into little pieces." It's in the script to just kill them. So, I just killed them.
Moderator: Did the 3-D process at all hinder your performance?
Richard Brooker: Yes. The 3-D process was very, very hard. It was like shooting two movies at the same time. They had invented this special lens where you could actually shoot both camera angles at the same time. The way that it was done, without getting to technical, was that each object had a focal point. It was very, very hard to get those focal points in focus to create the 3-D effect. For you fans that have obviously seen the movie, the scene where the girl gets stuck in the eye with the red-hot poker, that took 36 takes. So, I'm standing in front of all these lights with all of this make-up on, and all these clothes on, dripping with sweat. And I kept hearing, "Do it again!" It was very difficult to shoot.
Moderator: C.J., quickly, what was your audition process?
C.J. Graham: I got the role through a phone call. I had the physical structure that they needed, and I was cast as a full-time stunt coordinator. Approximately six hours into the shoot, the guy they had originally hired to play the role wasn't working out. I got the call, and they asked if I could be down there in five or six hours. I was out the door.
Moderator: Did you bring anything new to the role?
Graham: Well, the director, Tom, told me exactly what he expected out of me. He didn't give me much guidance. We knew what the character had to do, because he'd just been resurrected. It was fairly simplistic for me. But it was draining. I listened to every word Tom had to say, and I followed that very much to the letter.
Moderator: What do you think the biggest challenge was?
Graham: We didn't have the luxury of retakes. We had a couple of shots going through a wall, or a window. Or a door. We were very fortunate. We had one shot. One take, and that was it. I remember being told that, when I went through the wall, I had to step down about a foot. And try not to fall. Tom told me this was a twenty thousand dollar shot, and that it had taken all day to set up. And that I could not do it again. I was like, "Oh, this can not be happening." But we were blessed. It was perfect. The shot came out clean. And we moved on to the next one.
Moderator: So, Kane, was this a role you had to compete for, or did they just come to you?
Kane Hodder: I didn't really campaign for it, but my manager did for me. I loved the idea of playing the character. And John, the director, convinced Paramount to give me a shot. I actually did have to do a screen test just to prove that I would look good in the make-up, and everything. After a pretty long process, I got it. C.J. did a great job, so the fact that I got it made me feel very fortunate.
Moderator: Did you have any new ideas to bring to this role?
Hodder: John did have some ideas for me. We did shoot the screen test on film so we could really look at it, and see how it came out. I hunted a stuntman friend of mine down, and we sort of adlibbed a lot of violent stuff where I grabbed him by his hair and dragged him across the room. We threw some shit around. It ended up being pretty convincing, I guess. And it gave me the chance to play the role.
Moderator: As the only actor to play the role more than once, what do you think about the character makes him so enduring to play?
Hodder: Well, just for me, I've been a stuntman for many years, and to play a character like that is pretty physical, and all stunt related. Especially in Part 7. It's like a dream come true for a stunt person. Because you are used to watching actors on TV take all the credit for stuff you had done in their movies. No matter what you ever hear, there is no actor who does all his own stunts. Period. None. Don't listen to them, or take it with a grain of salt if they say they do. But, you know, that kind of part, with that type of notoriety connected to it from the previous films, I just felt that it was kind of appropriate.
Moderator: Tom, when you came on to direct Part 6, you'd already directed One Dark Night. But this was your first major studio film. How did it allow you to grow as a director?
Tom McLoughlin: It gave me an opportunity to write and director a major motion picture for Paramount that was in the horror genre, which I'd always loved. And, I also got an opportunity to have a sense of humor, which, up until that point, I don't believe movies of that type had really embraced that idea. We were doing, slightly, a satire of that world. We were barely breaking that fourth wall, where we had characters talking to the audience. Or I was setting up scenes so that the audience would verbally react to it in the theater. Which, especially in the Eighties, the audiences were so verbal, I felt there was a necessity to give them that opportunity to be smarter than they thought the movie was. That was a great time to watch people watch your work. People literally did what you wanted them to do, in the way they reacted. Out of all the movies I've done over the years, it still was the most fun. Because we were all young and excited to do it. We were out in Georgia. There was nobody standing over our shoulders telling us what we could or couldn't do. It was six weeks of six-day nights, staying up all night, and then staying up all night Sunday, just to keep ourselves going, and it was like one big party. We had a blast.
Moderator: I think I speak for all the fans when I say I was so excited when I heard about your movie. That Jason was coming back. That he was being resurrected. Where did you come up with that idea?
McLaughlin: Well, frankly, Frank Mancuso Jr., his only concern was for me to find a way to bring Jason back. We sort of stepped over Part 5, which wasn't really Jason, it was someone pretending to be Jason, and took the Tommy character and said, this is what happens to him when he finally gets out of the mental institution. He wants to make sure that Jason is definitely in his grave, and he screws up. By sticking him with that spear, and having the lighting bolt hit it, I kind of went back to the old Frankenstein idea of bringing someone back to life. Also, with the opening titles, which contained some of the James Bond satire, I wanted to let everybody know that we were going to have some fun with this one. It was still going to be scary, but it was also going to have a sense of humor. Frank said that as long as I didn't make fun of Jason, and that he was only going to be a killing machine, all of the actors could have a sense of humor. Which I think made it even more horrifying when you saw them get killed. Hopefully, you liked what we were doing.
Moderator: Okay, John...For Part Seven, after six other films, it's obviously a challenge to come up with something new for another film. What were your hopes for this installment?
John Carl Buechler: That was the big challenge, actually. When my agent called and said, "Paramount called and they want you to direct Friday the 13th Part 7." I first answered that with, "Why? They're going to make a 7th one? I can't believe it." I saw all the films. They were very good. But I didn't know what you could do that was new. I actually had an interview with Frank Mancuso Jr. afterwards, and I think I almost lost the job. Because I said, "I'm not interested in making just another Friday the 13th movie. I want to do something over the top and ridiculous. I want to make something big. I think everything you guys have done has been groundbreaking." Every Friday the 13th movie has broken new ground. They all did something different. After six of them, where do you go? Previously, Paramount and New Line Cinema had gotten together, and they wanted to do Freddy vs. Jason back then. Ultimately, because of that project, they were looking for a special effects orientated director. And ultimately, New Line Cinema and Paramount could not figure out how to go to bed together. But they still wanted a match. That idea went through, and it became really interesting. And Tom had already brought an element of the supernatural to it. With the last Friday the 13th movie. So, we just took it a little bit further. We came up with a telekinetic girl. It became Carrie vs. a Mutant Terminator.
Moderator: How did you come up with the new look for Jason?
John Carl Buechler: I think Kane may have already said this, but I really longed for him to play the role. I'd worked with him previously on Renny Harland's first movie in the Untied States called Prison, which he played John Forsythe. He had a full body costume and big prosthetics. The thing is, I've worked with a tremendous amount of actors who are good in make-up. And I've worked with actors who are good at working with a tremendous amount of stuff going on. He was all of that. He was a good actor. He was a good stuntman. And he could wear the make-up. It was a natural progression in thought for me. If I'm going to do a real good terminator, I'm going to have to go really nasty with the make-up. And really show all the wounds as graphically as I can. I needed somebody that could really wrap their head in latex. I have to disagree with Kane on one thing. He says that no actor does their own stunts. He does. And he does them well.
Moderator: We will now turn it over to questions from the audience...
Q: Why is there no uncut footage on these new DVDs?
Tom McLaughlin: Well, I think a workcut print of the uncut footage will be on the DVD. It is primarily a cost factor to go back in the vaults and find all those trims, if they still exist. We were fortunate enough to find one of my work prints that does have all of that stuff in it. You will see, in grainy quality, a lot of things. You will see someone's head squashed to the size of a walnut. And geysers of blood coming out of it. You will see all the things that were castrated from my movie by the MPAA.
Moderator: There is a feature. I didn't get to see it. It's 18 minutes and it is called "Tales from the Cutting Room Floor." It is on the DVD. It has that footage. It also has footage from Parts 6, 1, and 4...And you also do commentary on that, right?
Tom McLaughlin: Yes, I do. It's very cool. It is side-by-side comparisons with commentary. Again, it is an issue about going back. I believe, in my heart, that it is possible to reconstitute the footage. And, maybe, if the DVD does well, and they see the response from the fans, Paramount might be persuaded to go back. They do have the work print, which has all the edge numbers on it. All they have to do is find those elements that need to be reconstituted. So, maybe, we will someday see the film properly.
Q: This question is for Kane Hodder. Are they going to put your excised footage back into a director's cut of Dare Devil?
Hodder: Actually, there wasn't a whole lot of footage cut out of the scene I did for Dare Devil. It's just that you can't really tell that I'm the one beating his wife in the alley. They didn't really show too much of it. I don't anticipate that being too much different.
Q: What did you guys, having already played Jason, think about the outcome of Jason vs. Freddy? Did it live up to what you guys envisioned it being?
Hodder: Everyone knows how I feel about that. I want to make sure I get the mask back on again. I don't think it was a real good choice to replace me. But I'm not the guy who makes the decisions. I was really prepared to play Jason in that movie, but it didn't happen, so...Hopefully, they'll realize it's a better idea if I just stay on.
Q: Was It really worth putting all that make-up on?
Ari Lehman: I can't believe I got away with it. Yeah. It was great.
Q: Is Jason ever going to reemerge from Crystal Lake?
TomMcLaughlin: What I know is that they are currently in pre-production on Jason vs. Freddy Part 2, and that is taking precedent over doing another straight movie. Well have to wait and see how Alien vs. Predator does...
Q: Where is Camp Crystal Lake supposed to be located?
Ari Lehman: Okay, Friday the 13th Part 1 was filmed in Blairstown, New Jersey at Camp Novibosko, in the Delaware Water Gap. And you can still go camp there, if you dare.
Q: For the directors on the panel, with the advent of DVD, how do you think that is affecting the way directors are approaching Horror Films now?
TomMcLaughlin: This was a real fluke on mine, because I got the call about doing a DVD for my first film, One Dark Night. And, they asked if I would do commentary. Just looking for that movie on an old VHS tape was hard, because it disappeared for so many years. And in the process of looking for that tape, that's when I came across this tape we'd made of an early version of Friday the 13th Part 6, which we shot off the camera while we were editing it. We were making a reel transfer. That was great, because all this time I was complaining to the fans about not knowing where any of that footage went. The actual negatives are sitting in a vault, god knows where. But it was really exciting to find that tape. I think they did a really good job on this DVD. I'm really excited that we're going to be able to show you guys a side-by-side comparison. There were a lot of scenes where little tiny things were taken out, but those things really helped the suspense and the horror of it. A perfect example of it...Actually, C.J., there was a scene I was concerned about. There's a scene in the movie where C.J. spears A Volkswagen with a girl in it. C.J. was so into the character that he came really close to nailing the woman. But in the additional scenes, you get to see what happens after he spears her. He watches the bubbles slowly drip down her mouth, and form a puddle. There are a lot of little things. The way the sheriff was bent back. How many shots it took to crack his back. There were a lot of little things that were far too intense for the MPAA. As well as the gore factor. There are a lot of cool things that you do get another chance to show people.
John Carl Buechler: Back in 1987, obviously, there was no concept of a DVD, or additional footage. But, as to the question if it makes a director think differently today, it sure does. Because now, a director can imagine the actual look of the movie, and anticipate all of this. I'm working on a new movie now and I'm doing all the special effects for it. It is a movie called Hatchet. And it involves a serial killer with a lot of over-the-top special make-up and creature effects. It will come out theatrical. Kane is going to play the Killer. And we're not really worried about things being cut out of the theatrical run, because we know it's going to live on the DVD. We can put everything back. It's a big deal.
Q: What is everyone's favorite kill from all of the movies?
Richard Brooker: Sleeping Bag.
Moderator: Ari, what was your favorite kill?
Ari Lehman: My favorite kill? Come on, now. I didn't do any kills, but I was naked in the film.
Richard Brooker: That's scarier than any of the kills.
Moderator: Richard, do you have a favorite kill?
Richard Brooker: Popping the eye.
Hodder: I like the sleeping bag, the weed whacker, the frozen head. The boxer on top of the building, knocking his head off. There are a few I like.
Q: Do you think Freddy vs. Jason will work into the ongoing storyline, or does it even matter?
TomMcLaughlin: I guess that's up to you. What do you people think?
(The audience yells out, "No!!!")
TomMcLaughlin: I was approached to do that, as John was, right after I did my Friday. That was back in 1986. They were already talking about putting these two together, and I just felt that they lived in two different universes. I didn't like the new movie, even in script form. I felt Jason got the short end of the stick on that thing. Freddy was manipulating him, and it took away, for me, the fear factor that was Jason. It ruined everything these guys did, making him such a frightening character. I didn't feel he was scary in Freddy vs. Jason. It sounds like, in the next one, from what I'm hearing through the grapevine, is that they're going to continue in that more comic vein, and fight someone from yet another movie. They're going to throw that into the mix. It all depends on how all these other things; this mixing of monsters does at the box office. I don't think it's a good idea. I want to keep the horror pure.
Hodder: I'd like to add something here. When I was finding out that I probably wouldn't be playing the character in Freddy vs. Jason, I was told that they wanted Jason to be more sympathetic with more sympathetic eyes. That's the honest truth. Excuse my language, but what the fuck is that? I don't see Jason being too sympathetic. But that's what I was told.
Q: Do you think it's possible to go back and make Jason scary after Freddy vs. Jason?
TomMcLaughlin: I think so. I mean, why not.
Ari Lehman: I think what makes it so scary is the vengeance factor. That's why, when you go over to the Freddy vs. Jason thing, it's taking on a whole new angle. I thought they did a good job. They even represented young Jason once again. But ultimately, the whole thing that makes it so appealing is that we've all had that feeling of being disenfranchised. And wanting to get back. And when you want to get back at someone, do you have mercy on them? I don't think so.
Q: My question is for Tom. Your movie is known for being the only one that actually shows kids being at the camp. Was that ever an issue with the studio? Having kids in peril like that?
TomMcLaughlin: Actually not. The only thing that was difficult was how late we were shooting having so many young kids down there at five in the morning. That was the only issue. They knew from the script that the kids were there and would be in jeopardy. But nothing ever happened to the kids. Having the kids in there made it that much scarier. It also made you wonder, "Is this going to be the one that crosses the line?"
Moderator: We have time for one more question...
Q: Do you think you will ever be able to go back and straighten out the inconsistencies in Jason's origins?
TomMcLaughlin: I think it's possible to reinvent the idea of Jason. I don't think it's impossible to do a Freddy vs. Jason that makes sense. But they have to come up with a better concept. These are two huge horror icons. And to turn them into a WWF tag-team wrestling sort of thing provokes too much nonsense, and not enough horror.
Q: I'm not talking about Freddy vs. Jason, I'm talking about re-launching Jason by himself...
TomMcLaughlin: The character of Jason is compelling because he is an unstoppable force of nature. He will not be stopped by anything. He is a boogeyman that is coming after you. It is very possible to start over his origins. But my feeling is that there is something in the enigma of not knowing everything. If you knew that Kryptonite could kill him, then everybody would get Kryptonite. You don't have Kryptonite with Jason. You don't have a book of rules. So there's a wonderful sense of discovery about how you're going to go after him now. You're going to need a thermonuclear launcher, or something. You have to create an immoveable, impenetrable force that is unstoppable. That is why the Alien concept works so well, because these things are indestructible.
Ari Lehman: Interestingly enough, there was an animation created with that timeline gap. It is called Jason: The Rebirth. It won an award, as a matter of fact. It kind of answers that question. But, why is Jason so enduring? I want to speak to that before we end this...It is because of you, the fans. The fans bring Jason back to life by attending the movie. Every time you come and support the movie, that is what brings Jason back to life. It's the fans that make it happen in the first place.
TomMcLaughlin: How do you guys feel about a remake of the first film?
(There are many "boos" from the audience.)
Ari Lehman: It worked for Texas Chainsaw.
Richard Brooker: It's probably inevitable, but a bad idea.
Moderator: Thank you very much. And that ends our discussion.
There you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Jasons! That about does it for me, too. Stay tuned for one last Comic-Con discussion held by the always-humorous Lloyd Kaufman and cartoonist Bill Plimpton...