When I was 12 I met Kane Hodder at Spookyworld (Halloween-time theme park in Berlin, MA) and thought it was the greatest thing ever. So it was a bit thrilling, 17 years later, to be invited to the Paramount lot to eat lunch with him, John Carl Buechler (writer/director of The New Blood), and VC Dupree (Julius from Jason Takes Manhattan) to celebrate the new special edition releases of their entries in the long-running, historic, and, quite frankly, f-ing awesome Friday the 13th series. Keep reading for their thoughts on the films and the new DVDs!!
While the previous boxed set in 2004 left many (OK, all) fans disappointed due to their shoddy representation (two movies on the same side of the disc?) and lack of extras, these new DVDS, particularly for parts IV-VIII, are 99% perfect (uncut versions of the films remain elusive), thanks to the tireless work of Dan Farrands (editor of the amazing “Crystal Lake Memories” book, and director of this year’s His Name Was Jason documentary) and his crew. Countless hours spent digging through vaults, sorting boxes of film, and even holding negatives up to a light have resulted in new editions that are truly special. Lost endings, alternate kill scenes, and yes, even some MPAA-enforced cuts are present, and while they are not cut back into the film, just having them is enough proof you need to know that Paramount knows that they screwed up in the past and want to do right by the fans. In addition, the films have been re-mastered (see our reviews for comparison shots) and given 5.1 soundtracks; they haven’t looked this good since they first hit theaters.
So a few days before they hit stores, Bloody-Disgusting, along with a few select other outlets, joined the aforementioned Friday crew (plus Farrands and his editor Andrew Kasch) for lunch and well over an hour of the trio swapping war stories about the productions, and how these new editions were put together.
The big question is, of course, why the films (particularly New Blood) are still sans the bloody kills? Buechler says that the negatives for that footage are probably forever lost. “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 on May 13th.” Because of the rush to get the film in theaters, the usual careful cataloging and storing was presumably rushed as well, and thus the footage may no longer exist as studios occasionally destroy unclaimed footage rather than sort it out. The DVD (read our review HERE) does have some of the footage courtesy of a low-quality VHS cut of Buechler’s workprint, but even that is incomplete. “It was actually an assembly that I made prior to doing additional photography, so even if it were restored and you found that negative, it still wouldn’t be the whole movie.”
Various other “wish-list” items, such as Manhattan‘s hilarious teaser, are also absent, but that is mainly due to a lack of space on the disc (hardly anything to complain about – a full disc is a GOOD thing). Blu-rays for 4-8 have been brought up, but Farrands tells us that nothing is set in stone yet. On the plus side, that means that they weren’t holding back for an eventual double (triple?) dip. Says Farrands: “There would be more room on the Blu-ray discs, so maybe there’s an opportunity to find more material. A lot of this depends on how the DVDs sell, and what the fan reaction is, but there’s always interest in doing more. If there’s more to be found, they will give it to us; I know for a fact they weren’t holding back on, like, let’s reserve this for Blu-ray. They never took that attitude, and if it was there, we put it in.”
Speaking of that teaser (featuring Jason standing on New York harbor, looking at the water while a Sinatra tune plays over shots of screaming yuppies and commuters), Kane drops an interesting tidbit – that’s not even him! “We were shooting in Vancouver when they shot it… I don’t know who it is… he looks kind of small. I don’t know why they didn’t just wait until we got to New York. My Jason wouldn’t turn like that!”
Replacements and stand-ins seemed to be the order of the day for the 8th film. Not only was Vancouver used instead of New York (except for the Times Square scenes, which Kane claims was “the single most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced in film – being in Times Square in the full costume”), but the script sent out to actors was disguised as a generic slasher film to keep fans from raiding the set. VC Dupree tells us that his script was titled “Ashes To Ashes”. Laughing, he tells us about the script’s rather goofy attempts at tricking people. “I guess they had the name changed from Jason Voorhees to Ethan Dearborn; Crystal Lake was changed to something else, just so you could plug the letters in there.” It was co-star Kelly Hu that tipped him off, a tale he recounts on the DVD’s retrospective piece (which features several co-stars, as well as writer/director Rob Hedden, editor Steve Mirkovich, and composer Fred Mollin – read our review HERE).
Dupree and Hodder also waxed nostalgic about their boxing match, easily Manhattan’s highlight and according to Kane, “one of the kills I get asked about the most.” According to Hodder, Dupree was really hitting him through most of the punches (“66 punches”, Hodder claims, using the number provided by a fan), and despite wearing a catcher’s pad, he was pretty bruised up. The scene took a toll on Dupree as well; he tells us his knuckles really were all cut up from punching the hockey mask.
These two films didn’t perform up to par at the box office, resulting in Paramount essentially ending the series and selling the rights to New Line (who gave us Jason Goes To Hell, Jason X, and Freddy Vs. Jason), but it’s clear that they are held in high regard by both fans and their creators. Buechler recalls his film with a big smile on his face: “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.”
With the new discs giving the films their best representation ever, there has never been a better time to see if you agree. The new discs are in stores; complete your collection and get rid of that old boxed set once and for all!
(Special thanks to Todd Gilchrist for his assistance in transcribing the chat)
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