Rejoice, Friday fans. Today sees the release of Deluxe Edition DVDs of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. And to celebrate, we chatted last week with the men responsible – actor Kane Hodder (Jason himself), director John Carl Buechler (who helmed Part VII) and actor Vincent Craig "VC" Dupree (Part VIII's Julius Gaw). Check out what they had to say about making the films below.
John Carl Buechler:
"The one thing that had plagued me about this particular movie is – in post-production – the overall compromise of makeup effects that we shot. That has everything to do with, I suppose, not just that I was directing the movie, but I have a big background in makeup effects, so that aspect always kind of bothered me. I started knowing that, going into it, it was really an issue that the ratings board would have at that time; I think they gave an Alan Alda movie almost an X rating for saying ‘Fuck you' once. We kind of knew that was going on, so we went more for a big mechanical-effects look as well as a makeup effects look. But as far as I'm concerned, horror is like telling a joke: there's the setup, the anticipation of it, and then there's the payoff, and the payoff is a nice, juicy makeup effect. We shot it and we kept submitting it and they kept saying you've got to change it, to the point where it basically castrated the punchline for most of these setups.
"But when you say revisiting, I'm pretty proud of the film. I think the fact that we had a full-blown subplot of a telekinetic girl kicking Jason's butt was lots of fun. I got to do a lot of cool stuff with the makeup effects – we designed and engineered something that I thought was unique at the time – that was all just fun stuff that we got to do, and the fact that we got a great guy inside of it to play the role, we both were of a single mind. We wanted this to be a more energetic, more dynamic version of the character than we had seen before, and I think we accomplished that."
"Ours was one of the single fastest movies ever made: I had my signed deal to make the movie in January, and it was in the theaters May 13th… So I never got to make my cut with my music, my effects track, everything. We were submitting to the ratings board the movie cut to picture with very simple temp tracks, and music that wasn't going to be what it was, just to get the rating. And I think we submitted it 13 times, and we got 12 X [ratings]."
"The main reason I was excited they were going to rerelease VII and VIII – you guys know I did four of them – [is that] I was told we might get the footage that was cut for Part VII. It's the thing that the fans ask me the most – where are those scenes? Why couldn't we see them? We were able to get it for this. The quality is not great, which you need to expect, but just the fact that you can see what we really did – especially with the head squeeze! That was the best kill in that movie, and you saw almost nothing of it. There's five major kills that you get to see how it really was, even the original sleeping bag."
"[Regarding Part VIII], I have gotten a lot of feedback from fans and… most people liked it, but if they didn't, it was [because] it was too much on the boat and not enough in New York. The scenes we did in Times Square were the single most amazing thing I've ever experienced in film: being in Times Square in the full costume and – I'm not exaggerating – hundreds of people held back by barriers and police watching. We had to shoot certain angles so we wouldn't see the crowd, and they were just amazingly excited that we were there. I never took the mask off because I just wanted to stay in character, and I'd stare at them and they would start cheering."
Vincent Craig "VC" Dupree:
"People just have a lot of love for that particular kill, and as Kane and I were just talking about, the fact that I'm one of the only black guys who's made it towards the end of the movie [is significant]. So the response from it is really cool. More recently I started doing these conventions, and I didn't realize how much love people had out there for that kill."
"It's one of the kills that I'd done that fans talked about the most. In fact, I was just in Atlanta at DragonCon and a guy came up and was talking about that kill. He says, ‘Do you know how many times he punched you before you knocked his head off?' I said, ‘No.' ‘Sixty-six!' The guy knew that. Then, I was looking at them and it was hard to count because he was throwing body punches really fast. I'm not kidding – he was hitting me. I had a catcher's pad on."
Vincent Craig "VC" Dupree:
"I was asking Kane, so are we going for this? He's like, ‘What are you going to do?' And just like he was saying in New York, how there were all of the people behind the barricades and stuff like that… I don't know how many people it was, but out of the apartment buildings that were adjacent to the rooftop… [It was like] those Where's Waldo books; you would literally see curtains and heads, and the director was like, get down! It was just the energy of all those people, and then just realizing what we were actually doing.
"I think the first script I read was [called] Burial At Sea, or Ashes to Ashes. It was going to be one of my first leads in a film, it was going to be shot out of town; they were paying me; and I was going to fight this monster. I guess they had the name changed from Jason Voorhees to Ethan Deerborn. Crystal Lake was changed to something else, just so you could plug the letters in there. As I said on the DVD, I was in the lounge area just before you board, and this actress, Kelly Hu, came in and was like ‘oh my Gosh, I'm so excited.' ‘Me too, girl, me too.' ‘Oh, a Friday the 13th!' And I'm like, ‘Well, we must not be shooting the same movie. I'm going up here to shoot Ashes To Ashes.' Then, slowly two and two came together and I was like, ‘Wow, okay, this is a little different.' So I found out on my way up to Vancouver what we were doing."
Note: Thanks to our good friend Todd Gilchrist for his help in transcribing this interview.