Legendary horror producer, writer, and director Sean Cunningham hasn’t produced anything since 2009’s Last House on the Left remake, but it doesn’t mean that he’s slowed down any. Not at all. Instead, he’s brimming with excitement as we connect over the phone on the heels of the Friday, September 13 release of Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection to discuss his thirty-three year old slasher series and his many upcoming projects. It’s almost as if Cunningham himself is just as (if not more) excited for fans to finally have the chance to grab all twelve Friday… films in one Blu-ray box set for the first time. So excited, it seems, we even got him to spill the beans on a possible new Freddy vs. Jason, another F13 entry, and a TV series called Crystal Lake Chronicles.
It’s been 33 years since the original Friday the 13th was released.
Oh, Jesus. Don’t say that.
Can you believe it?
No. No no no no. There was a time a few years ago – the 25th anniversary thing – and I was like, “Really?! Oh my god.”
Did you ever imagine you’d be talking to a journalist about a twelve-movie box set thirty-three years later?
No. God, no. [Laughs] Well, it was always part of my grand plan, you see. [Laughs] Now, I can finally rest. It’s like getting to the top of the mountain. [Laughs]
I’m delighted that they’re all actually going to be in one place and people can have them and work out the different genealogies and whatever. Then they can explain it to me. [Laughs]
For years, fans were making their own box sets and cover art in an effort to “complete” their collections. What finally led to this happening?
It started when Warner Bros. / New Line and Paramount decided to cooperate and co-finance the reboot of Friday the 13th, there was talk about putting all the discs together. I guess it took a couple of years, but they finally decided that it would be a good thing to have on the shelf and that it would be a win-win. I wasn’t in the room, but that’s how it was presented to me and it seemed like a really obvious, really good idea.
A lot of the extra features in the box set were already created for the previous Blu-ray and DVD releases. Was there ever a thought to go back and fully remaster the prints again with the new technology we have now, or is it just too cost prohibitive?
That was my thought for the original one. I think that would have been wonderful to be able to transfer to 4K and be able to do a complete color correction to deal with the blacks and the rain. It would be the same movie, but I just think it could be so much cleaner and nicer. I think that’ll just be a question of when it’s worth the money.
What’s the status of some of the harder-to-find items? Uncut Part 2 and all the other stuff. Is that really out there sitting somewhere or is it just gone forever?
I think it would probably depend on the stuff. Let me put it this way: I never kept track of any of it. The reason it was cut was because we didn’t think it was any good or worth anything. [Laughs] I don’t think anybody, at the time, was trying to “preserve their legacy” or anything. If there’s stuff out there, there’s not much of it. Keeping the film, or some scene that was cut, I think is the least likely because it would be predicated on keeping outtakes in really good condition and then being able to reconstitute them with sound and everything that goes with it. That would be really, terribly difficult.
Back then, I’m sure you guys weren’t thinking about living in this ecosystem of the Internet where everybody picks up on every single piece of everything.
No, not at all. That was hard to imagine even five years ago although it was starting to go on. The amount of information that we have at our fingertips, and we just take for granted, today is stunning. I marvel at it every day.
What’s your take on some of the more independent-minded studios like Scream Factory and Synapse, that are taking cult films and giving them special edition releases. Are you a fan of their work?
I’m a fan of the better quality. I think what’s going to happen is that horror films, in general, are going to find a primary location outside of movie theaters. It will probably be delivered by the broadband, in some way. Rather than delivering something that’s a stepchild, we have to think about delivering to a high-definition television set first quality because that’s going to ultimately be the place where most people will see this movie. That way, they’ll respect it and enjoy it and we’ll make better business if you can deliver the kind of experience that you would get in the movie theater.
Do you have a favorite memory, either on screen or off, from all your work on the Friday the 13th series?
The time, ultimately, when it all came together was when we started to screen the finished movie and watched the audience enjoy it. Especially the last three minutes. That was fun. The audience left with smiles on their faces. They’d paid their five bucks and they’d had a good time and they were laughing and punching each other and pointing at each other. It was a fun moment for them and, by extension, a fun moment for us.
It started when we were screening it for Paramount. We had screened it for two or three executives, and maybe their secretaries or someone else in the office, and all these hardened men and women (when the moment came) just got lifted out of their chairs, gasping. Within a week, they had scheduled a second screening, which was at a bigger theater with as many young people and women as the executives could get in the there. It was just for their fun so they could watch these people jump at the end. [Laughs] You could see the people who had already seen the movie and knew it, when that time came, they weren’t watching the movie. They were watching audience. That was a great deal of fun.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Freddy vs. Jason. We’ve seen reboots of both franchises since then. What are the chances we’ll get another Freddy and Jason faceoff?
I think the chances are good, for a couple of reasons, but I think it will ultimately be a marketing concept. Right now, I think the audience would have to start getting bored with the Friday… movie by itself or the Freddy movie by itself. I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next short period of time. Conceivably in five years.
The other reason that I think it’s a possibility is that we spent so much effort in trying to find a way to get the two of them together in a movie that was action-packed and unpredictable that we had lots of material that was unused. It becomes possible to use it, or at least basic ideas or structural ideas that are already in place. We don’t have to start from scratch.
The last thing you produced is the Last House on the Left remake. Do you have anything else in the pipeline right now?
I do. There will be another Friday the 13th, which will probably get shot in the spring. If it all goes as I would like, it would then be released at the beginning of 2015.
Is that going to carry on some of the characters and cast from the reboot or is this going to be a completely new story?
That’s not likely, but it’s hard to know. It won’t be a continuation of that story, though. It’ll be a fresh story.
I think there will also be Friday the 13th: Crystal Lake Chronicles, which is sort of a Smallville. We’ve been on-again off-again with that for years and there are a bunch of great stories to be told, but I think the way that it’s finally going to get delivered is not through a conventional television network, but through the Internet. I can’t tell you who the delivery people will be, but it won’t be the traditional route. There’s also the possibility of webisodes, and I think we even have an idea for a terrific Friday the 13th video game.
There’s a bunch of stuff out there. And, of course, a gift shop. What says Happy Birthday better than a machete and a hockey mask? [Laughs]
Crystal Lake Chronicles sounds like something tailor-made for someone like Netflix.
Yeah, it does. It’s also more than just me saying, “You know, Friday the 13th would be a great series!” We’ve got a couple of really good writers that have been working and writing. It can’t be just Jason killing someone new every week. That’s not going to make it. [Laughs]
Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection hits stores on Friday, September 13.
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