This weekend was the junket for The Hitcher, the latest remake from Platinum Dunes. At the junket press conference producers Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller confirmed that they were moving ahead with their remake of Friday the 13th at some point in 2008. But when I talked to them in an exclusive interview – which stretched from a scheduled 15 minutes to almost 50 – they went into much more detail about how they’re approaching the movie, as well as the history of the long road they had to take to get the film to where it is today. And about how we may very well see fan-favorite Tommy Jarvis appear in the new film.
Fuller and Form were approached by New Line to do a remake of Friday the 13th, and they couldn’t have been more excited. “I said, ‘I love Jason Voorhees,’” Form told me. “Those are movies I lived on when I was younger.”
There was one obstacle – New Line only owned the sequels, and not the first film. Plus, Paramount retained the rights to the title Friday the 13th. “So we were put in a box – we couldn’t use anything from the first one,” said Form. “So we started going down the road of making a Friday the 13th movie that didn’t include anything from part one.”
Says Fuller: “We had to create our own backstory.” That would mean no Mrs. Voorhees or drowned Jason – although the truth of the matter is that most people don’t have any idea that the first Friday had Jason’s MOM doing all the killings, Fuller and Form feel that the original history is important to keep in some way.
All of that seemed moot until Paramount came knocking and said that they wanted to play. MTV Films came on board as well, and suddenly everything was changed – they had the rights to the title and to the first film.
“The box is completely open – we can use 1, 2 or 3,” Form says. “The title will be Friday the 13th. So we’re now going to bring in a new writer, [Jonathan] Liebesman [director of the Texas Chainsaw prequel] is going to direct, and we’re going to pull from the first three movies.”
Fuller says that the film won’t be The Best of Jason Voorhees, but they’re free to pick and choose elements that they like the best. And their Jason will wear the hockey mask, even though he first got it in the third film. Form told me, “I think there are moments we want to address, like how does the hockey mask happen. It’ll happen differently in our movie than in the third one. Where is Jason from, why do these killings happen, and what is Crystal Lake?”
And then Bradley Fuller dropped the bomb on me: “And how does Tommy Jarvis fit in?”
“You’re going to have Tommy Jarvis?” I just about shouted.
Fuller laughed. “You got all excited.”
How could I not? Tommy Jarvis is the seminal survivor figure in the F13 series. Introduced in Part IV, the Final Chapter, he’s played by a young Corey Feldman as a horror movie nerd who deals Jason his best death ever – a machete to the side of the face that our favorite hard to kill backwoods retard slowly slides down. In Part V, The New Beginning, Tommy is in a mental institution dealing with his Crystal Lake experiences when someone tries to convince him that Jason is back from the dead. This film was the worst of the series until Part VIII, Jason Takes Manhattan, which the Bible would call an abomination. Finally, Tommy shows up in VI, Jason Lives, where he and Arnold Horschack open Jason’s grave to prove he’s still dead. Tommy sticks a metal spike in Jason’s heart and the spike acts as a lightning rod. In true Frankenstein fashion, Jason rises from his grave and promptly bends Horschack in half!
Fuller warned me that nothing is certain yet, including Tommy Jarvis, but it’s one of the many things they’re talking about. Says Form: “[Y]ou want the movie to feel real. When the killing gets over the top, it can feel campy, and we don’t want that. And with a machete and the way Jason kills, there’s a fine line. We want it to feel real, and he is a brutal killer. We’re dancing with that; we’ll put all of these elements together.”
One of the other main elements they’re still wrestling with is Jason’s origin. In the original Friday, young, retarded Jason Voorhees is drowned due to camp counselor negligence, prompting his mom to go on a murder spree. In one of the most famous images in the series, a dead Jason leaps out of Crystal Lake and claims a victim – but it’s all a Carrie rip-off dream. Yet somehow Jason shows up in Part II as a big, grown and ostensibly living man (if a guy who can take a hatchet to the face and not be slowed down can be considered to be living, that is. Still, he’s fleshy and pink).
Fuller says that Jason’s origin is the big sticking point for them right now. “We talk about that for hours on end. How do you do that and not make it seem cheesy? If you don’t do that well, they’re not along for the ride of the movie. In some ways, you’re better off not addressing it – which I don’t think we’re going to do – or you come up with a writer and a group of people who sit in a room and come up with an idea so brilliant that it works, and that’s what we’re striving to do. Every discussion about this movie – you talk about the kills, you talk about the hot chicks, you talk about the nudity, you talk about Crystal Lake – but at the end of the day, the question is, ‘Is there a supernatural element to this movie?’ Is Jason a demon? I think you can’t figure out any of the other things until you figure that out.”
That’s one of the most heartening things to hear from these guys – that they’re going to wait to make the movie until they have it all figured out. We live in a world where scripts sometimes seem like the last element in a movie’s development.
I have more coming from Form and Fuller, including the lowdown on their next two pictures, which are going to be original scripts, and some thoughts on The Birds, more thoughts on Friday the 13th, and lots of frank talk about the state of the horror genre, the future of film, and their philosophy of remakes.