Most of us probably have a favorite when it comes to the horror icons, even if we keep it to ourselves. I’m on record several times and happy to admit that Jason is my main man, and has been since those distant days of youth.
Back then it was a visual thing for me. I thought Myers was creepier and quite possibly cooler, I thought Freddy was obviously funnier and more dynamic … but Jason just LOOKED the best. He was the biggest, the strongest, and the ugliest. The first Friday I remember watching fully was Part 7, and we all know just how incredible Jason looked in that! So, over the years the big bald guy just became the slasher I loved the most, and as such I have a passion for ALL the Crystal Lake movies. Obviously I have favorites, but I’ve watched every single one repeatedly during my life and each delivers ‘something’. Something unique, something a little different, and it doesn’t get much more different than Jason Goes To Hell.
Love it, like it, or hate it, there are some qualities within the ninth Friday The 13th movie that are impossible to deny …
The cast is one of the strongest you will find across the entire franchise, with John D. LeMay and Steven Williams delivering standout performances. Several of the kills are pleasingly gruesome AND, at times, disturbing. The story moves along at a good pace, the effects are dated but do the job … I could go on. If you haven’t seen Jason Goes To Hell in a long time then it’s a movie I would happily recommend that you revisit. As a part of the big picture it’s a very interesting change of pace. It shakes things up a bit and was brave enough to attempt something new and run with it. Sure, I missed Jason, but he’s there at the beginning and makes a big return at the end, so there was just enough hockey mask wearing action to keep me from getting too despondent …
I’m delighted to say I recently had the opportunity to send a small handful of questions to the director of Jason Goes To Hell; Adam Marcus. He was incredibly courteous and personally I found it an utter thrill to have the chance to briefly communicate with the creator of an actual Friday movie!
Here’s what he had to say.
Halloween Love: First of all can you tell me a little bit about your journey to directing Jason Goes To Hell. I believe you were only 23 when you landed the directing and writing duties?
Adam Marcus: “The quickest version of the story is this: I was a child actor. That led to production work. Noel Cunningham was my childhood best friend. His dad made movies. I wanted to do that so I made myself a fixture around their home. I started a theatrical company and did about 80 shows from the ages of 11 to 21. During that time, I was accepted to NYU’s film program. My Theatrical work helped pay my way and gave me the capital to produce my short films while at school. My thesis project, “So You Like This Girl” was a comedy that stared Tom Lennon (Reno 911) and Joe LoTruglio (Brooklyn 9-9) and it won me best picture, cinematography, and a special award for ensemble performance (every actor in the film was awarded)!”
“I then moved to LA where I lived in a car (which I had no license to drive, yet) which I bought with my last $300. I started working for Sean Cunningham as an Asst./P.A. I had a script that my Collegiate Best Friend, Dean Lorey, had workshopped with me at NYU. It was called “Johnny Zombie”. It was a musical Comedy, horror film about a guy who comes back from the dead so he can go to his senior prom but in order to make it to prom night without falling apart (literally) he must eat the flesh of the living. Sean read the script and hated it but he loved the title so I convinced him to fly Dean to LA and put us up in a hotel where we could work on the script and get it into shape. Disney picked up the project which would later be named “My Boyfriend’s Back“. It’s in no way the movie Dean and I wanted to make but it got made and we had our first credits.”
“Because I had NO interest in directing the Disneyfied version of our movie I asked Sean to let me take the helm of something else. He agreed and gave me JGTH. At the time, the only stipulation to me having the job was that I had to get “the damn hockey mask” out of the picture, if I could make that happen he would let me write and direct the movie. I wrote a story that was MUCH darker than what we ended up making. Sean dug where I was going and I was off to the races, so to speak. I had many hoops to jump through including a horror movie exam given by Bob Shaye (the President/Founder of New Line) and a Director’s test that ended up landing me the gig from the Studio standpoint. I was the youngest director to be hired by New Line, ever! I started writing the movie when I was 21, directing it at 23, and it opened just days after my 25th birthday.”
HL: Was being relatively young a help or a hinderance on such a big project? Or maybe a bit of both?
AM: “Directing at 23 was BOTH a help and a hinderance. I was 23 so I was an idiot who had a whole world of knowledge to learn but I was brave enough to just go for it. I had no doubts. Youthful arrogance. The best stuff in the movie came out of me just saying things like, “Damn right, I’m gonna strap that naked dude to a table and make the guy possessed by Jason shave him and kiss him”!
HL: Were you a fan of the franchise and horror in general before you got the job?
AM: “Fan really wouldn’t cover it. I LOVE movies! All movies. But when I want to watch something for fun, it’s always horror! Always. I was the kid with the poster of David Cronenberg leaning over bloody film canisters above my bed.”
HL: I personally love the opening scene with the slow build up and typical Friday The 13th ‘moments’ … Was that a fun section to shoot?
AM: “The opening of JGTH is some of my favorite stuff in the film and it was an awesome 2 days of shooting. And I knew that blowing Jason up at the end of the sequence was going to shock the audience. First massive applause and then WTF. I also love telling the audience, “Yeah, we know these movies have a lot of cliches. Now look at them all”. It was to make the audience know we were in on the joke then throw them out of their comfort zone for the rest of the movie because we just killed Jason Voorhees at the beginning of the film! You had no idea what we were going to do next.”
“Also, I got to work with Kane Hodder and Julie Michaels during those nights who are two of the best people you could ever want to be around. Oh, and I drove my Director of Photography, Bill Dill, to the hospital to be there for the birth of his daughter right after we blew up Jason. True story!”
HL: Is there anything specific you wanted in the movie but time or budget constraints made it impossible?
AM: “I had a great schedule on that movie, 37 days, it was luxurious. It’s still the longest schedule I’ve ever had as a director. So no, I was real happy with what I got on screen. But I will say the darker version of the movie was a better film. What we were trying to do at first was more intense and vicious. It would have been a different film and expanded the Friday universe in a darker way.”
HL: Do you have one memory or moment from your time filming that you look back on and remember most fondly?
AM: “Not really. It was all kind of amazing. Great people many of whom are still great friends to this day.”
HL: Finally, How do feel about being a big part of the Friday the 13th legacy? A movie series that will probably be loved and watched for generations to come …
AM: “I’m very proud of my association with with the legacy. I take being part of the Friday family very seriously. Because the fans deserve that the filmmakers take it seriously. Because I’m a fan I never thought of it as a “job” or a “Stepping stone” to bigger, better things. I saw it as an honor to be asked to participate in something super-freakin-cool! And please know, I know that half of the fans out there HATE my film. “Not enough Jason”, “The whole body-hopping thing is lame”, “Jason’s sister? What?!”. I get it, it’s not gonna be everybody’s cup of gore. But I made something with imagination and guts. It’s the most violent entry in the series with some of the most off-the-wall kills ever! I also hope alongside of part 6, it’s the funniest of the films.”
“Look, for everyone who hates the movie, sorry I didn’t give you what you wanted, but for the others, it was my pleasure to make something that came from the heart rather than the same thing you’d seen in parts 2-8. Damn skippy, I’m proud of the film and of being part of one of the greatest horror film franchises ever!”
On behalf of myself and the rest of the Halloween Love team I want to say a huge thank you to Adam for taking some time to answer my questions.
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