Fan Fest ’31 Days of Slashers’: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Tom McLoughlin talks Directing Iconic Horror Franchise; Friday the 13th!
Happy October, my fellow geeklings! Now that October has finally stumbled upon us, we can officially begin our haunting season. For the month of October, we will be doing ’31 Days of Slashers’, which will feature facts, spotlights and even some interviews from some of our favorite iconic horror villains.
Are you ready for Halloween?! We sure are!
Tonight, we have another special treat for you! I recently spoke with Hollywood Director Tom McLoughlin on directing the iconic horror film Friday the 13th: Jason Lives.
Since his work on Friday, has wow’d audiences with his spectacular TV Movies including The Staircase Murders, At Risk, The Front and The Wronged Man.
Mr. McLoughlin is truly inspiring in the way that he illustrates the world through his film making, and certainly has a lot to offer to motivated individuals who are looking to dive into the world of film!
Jules: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us here at Fan Fest News today, it is truly an honor to get the perspective on horror from the perspective of a director!
Tom: It’s truly my pleasure! I love talking about that movie (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives) because they’re so many people that I would have never thought would be loving this movie 31 years later. It’s just incredible how it’s gained in popularity, much to my surprise and an honor!
Jules: How did you come about directing into the Friday the 13th franchise?
Tom: I had made an independent film called One Dark Night back in 1981 and it came out in 1983, and it was kind of a small hit in the world of alleged horror. I carried those film cans around for the next couple years trying to get my next job. I really wanted to do comedy, that was kind of where my art was. I got an offer from Frank Mancuso Jr. at Paramount to come and meet on the next Friday film. I only saw the first one with Pamela Voorhees being the murderer. I hadn’t seen the other ones because the genre had become despicable, not necessarily just the Friday films but so many people were getting the deal with some girls, a forest, a knife and some kind of mask no matter what it was.
I wanted to make something that was more of a movie with horror if I was going to do it and with this case, being the sixth one, I said ‘Can I put humor in it?’ and he said ‘yeah, as long as you don’t make fun of Jason’ and I said ‘no I just want people to be likeable!’
So I went to the cemetery called Hollywood Forever that’s literally right against the Paramount backlot and that’s where I shot a lot of my One Dark Night movie so I went back there to write the treatment. This is all documented in a short documentary called Legends Never Die: Hollywood Forever you can see on YouTube. It talks about how I went there and wrote the treatment, and sent that in. They said ‘this is great’, like the script, so they said ‘let’s go!’
Jules: Everyone knows that Jason is the Hockey Mask killer, the hockey mask is what makes up Jason. I know all directors kind of do their own thing, which is why I ask… why did you make your Jason’s mask so different from the other movies?
Tom: We really tried to say ‘okay, no one was really happy with part 5’, because the killer turned out to not be Jason. Jason died in Part IV, this young boy named Tommy Jarvis killed him and then he went into an institution. So I kind of picked up from there and we made sure that the mask was correct to where Tommy hit him with the machete in the face, so there is a slice in it and then just the overall look of it, we maintained. I basically took the idea that Tommy Jarvis went into a mental institution and he comes out with his sidekick and his whole thing is ‘I just want to make sure Jason is dead, dead.’ You know, I got to see him in his coffin. So that’s kind of where we rake the story and draw the focus. I wanted it to have much more of a story so that Tommy starts out to just want to see that he is there, and then he would burn the body but circumstances came in and then the lightning bolt hit and now Jason is back.
Now, Jason has an agenda… which is get Tommy Jarvis. The whole story is really about anyone who gets in his way before he gets to Tommy gets killed, it’s not just arbitrary. It really played a thrill ride, and not something that is just gory and horrific.
Jules: Do you remember what the very first scene you shot was for Friday the 13th: Jason Lives? I bet it was extremely exciting! Your first official shot in an iconic horror franchise!
Tom: It was the daytime stuff that we were doing out in the forest area, we had blackened trees to make them look like they were dark – forest black. We had the guys playing the paintball game so I know that’s basically what we were shooting the first couple of days, literally what scene we began with I can’t remember. I gotta look into that, that’s a good question!
Jules: Jason Lives is 31 years old, looking back now would you add or change anything to the film? Or would you keep it all as is?
Tom: Well, when I made it I felt the audience reviewed it that they loved it that they were really, really stoked that Jason was back and now he is unstoppable and can’t be killed, like the walking dead. I never thought of him as a zombie, I thought of him more as Frankstein. He was brought back to life with this electric bolt and if you buy into that premise then it’s like he’s an unstoppable monster and the humor and stuff has played so well over the years and I know I could have put in some more jokes, or I wish that some of the kills were not cut down by the Motion Picture Rating Board. I felt we did things very tastefully and not over the top, but they were out to get any of the horror movies at that time. So, it was like pieces I would love to put back in but in terms of it working I mean, I was really lucky that it worked!
I thought the fans would not like the humor, or not appreciate the structure of it but the exact opposite was true. The fact that I used children for the first time. There were a lot of first that I wanted to do in mine. The car chases, the underwater fights, the kids, humor… there was just things that I thought ‘well I want to go for it’ despite the low budget.
So short answer, yeah! I’m really happy with how it all turned out!
Jules: There is a scene in your film where Jason encounters a young girl. He enters the cabin and when he sees that she is afraid of him, he doesn’t kill her. He just kind of stops, tilts his head and leans in. What was your original direction for that scene? Do you think that Jason would have killed her if the cops hadn’t showed up or was it more of a curiosity sort of a thing?
Tom: I wanted that to be more of a, First off, ‘Oh my God, is he going to hurt children?’ and he was just kind of walking through there and he probably would have just walked out the other end of the cabin if that child wasn’t looking at him. Before that point, we had never seen Jason have any interaction with a young child. She comes into his view and he just moves towards her and it is almost like that scene with Frankenstein and the little girl at the lake. That was what I had in the back of my mind. I’m a huge geek into universal horror monsters and obviously Frankstein.
So as Jason’s leaning down and the little girl closes her eyes and starts praying. It’s not like she ran away and he chased after her. She was just following the advice that she was told by her counselors and Jason just kind of kept leaning in, out of curiosity. When the cops showed up, he went away.
Then I had that moment where I threw in the little girl peeking under her bed, looking for the monster like ‘where did he go?’
Jules: Do you wish the scene with Jason’s father, Elias Voorhees, had been put into your film? If it had, what direction do you think that it could have set up for Part VII?
Tom: You hit it right on the head. I wrote it into the script. It was sort of planned to be possibly shot and then the decision was by Frank Mancuso Jr. that if we ended the movie with Jason’s father then the audience is going to think ‘oh no, the next film is going to be about Jason’s father and not Jason’.
So he said he just didn’t want to give any indication to the fans that they were going to lose Jason again on the next version. That was the reason it was not shot. They storyboarded it, and there are story boards of it.
I was hired to do Friday the 13th: The Game and they wanted me to write basically a scene with Pamela Voorhees talking to the police the day after Jason disappeared at Crystal Lake. She talked about his real father, and it’s not Elias. So, I decided I wanted to take the legend just a little bit different then what everyone thought. Hopefully, I can institute that one day because it really would kind of answer a lot more of the supernatural aspects of Jason’s unstoppable power.
Jules: So do Megan and Tommy eventually wind up together, or did you leave that up for the fans to debate?
Tom: I think that they were together after all of that! It was one of those things where there was a lot of sexual attraction with her headstrong way and him being fearless, doing the thing that he did. I always looked at them as a couple. I also thought at some point that they may return to Crystal Lake and if not them, perhaps their offspring!
I just think there is an interesting thing about the Tommy Jarvis line and if I got the chance to do another Friday, that is what I would go to.
Jules: What was your favorite kill scene to film in your movie?
Tom: Oh! The favorite kill scene is the one I had to do the most cutting on, which is funny because there was no gore in it at all, and it was the bending back of the sheriff by Jason, so that his back snaps! The MPRB kept picking on it, saying it was too intense and horrific after everything else we saw in the movie!
I mean, it’s like a gag! I did a chiropractic sketch on the Dick Van Dyke show and we did that with Dick Van Dyke! We bent him forwards, bent him backwards and used the same trick of another body there.
What I cared about was the impact, it’s not something that a human could do.
Jules: Well, Jason is unstoppable!
Tom: Yeah, exactly!
Jules: Here’s a question you’ve never been asked before! Since we are a group of nerds here at Fan Fest… If you could chose to be the sidekick to any superhero or superhero team, who would it be?
Tom: It would be somewhere between Iron Man or Dr. Strange! I always loved that comic book (Dr. Strange), and I was so excited they were making that a movie! It was very well done!