Interview: Friday the 13th Part 6 Director Tom McLoughlin

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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is one of the best loved slasher sequels of all time. With some of the best humour of the Friday franchise and a body count to compliment it, this really did breath new life into the ailing series back in 1986.

We got the chance to ask Director Tom McLoughlin all about Jason Lives, here’s what he had to say.

Jason Lives is now 31 years old, are you pleased with the cult status this has among Friday fans?

No, I’m not pleased….I’M SHOCKED!!  In the BEST way.  I truly thought the fans might hate me for the liberties I took with the franchise. I was totally changing Jason from a Slasher into a Stalking Dead. More in the realm of the gothic horror and monsters I loved from Universal. Plus the satirical sense of humor I was adding to the series might not be appreciated.  But as I said much to my amazement 30 years later all these aspects are some of the films most beloved aspects. Just goes to prove “take a chance. risk failure. make the film you’d love to see.”

You stated previously you were a fan of gothic horror and you wanted to fuse Friday 6 with this, was this a hard pitch to the studio?

 I thought it would be. But Frank Mancuso Jr the producer of the film said “just don’t make fun of Jason”  I assured him that the comedy would never be at Jason’s expense. The teens and the little kids would have humor in their dialogue. And the film would have a style that told the audience this is going to be scary AND fun (like the James Bond title opening with Jason and his machete). But the drama between Tommy and Jason would be the story’s main conflict.

What was your favourite day on set?

Man, good question. Basically shooting six days a week from sundown to sunrise was a surreal experience. It all blends together in my mind. There were scenes that were either better than I imagined when I wrote them or things went wrong. But it wasn’t wrong as much as it was just harder than I thought it should be or it had to be sacrificed due to our tight schedule and budget. But the day I DO recall the strongest, so maybe it’s the best, was the last day. The last scene. The flying RV Camper that Cort was driving. That was actually an extremely dangerous stunt because those tin campers could easily collapse on the crash and seriously hurt our stuntman. So I was on my knees in gratitude when the stuntman emerged unharmed and excited as hell. We set fire to the RV and got Jason up on top just as the sun rose. And I called ‘Wrap!’  A great way to finish the film.

There’s some pretty memorable kills in Friday 6, which is your personal favourite?

 Actually, the simplest one that didn’t have a drop of blood BUT the censors, the MPAA, made us cut it more every time they saw the movie. We had NINE screenings with the censors before they finally gave us an R-Rating instead of an X.  Which kill was it?  The sheriff being bent backwards by Jason and hearing his vertebrae snapping and cracking. I love this kill because it gets the BIGGEST woos and howls from the audiences. It’s just a silly old illusion with two guys play the part of one bending body but in the context of the movie it gets a horrific reaction.

In a novelisation of the film we see a version a Jason’s father Elias, do you think including him would have detracted from your story?

Unfortunately, yes. When I originally wrote it in the script I loved the idea of introducing Jason’s father as the final surprise element in my Friday the 13th.  But Frank Mancuso was right. If we left our audience on that note some would think the next film might be ‘FRIDAY the 13thPart 7; FATHER’S PREY or some other crazy story turn that might result in less of Jason. Part 5 really pissed a lot of fans off and many didn’t come to part six thinking Tommy Jarvis would be playing Jason because how part 5 ended. Many hated that the ambulance driver was ‘pretending to be Jason’ and Paramount couldn’t risk hurting the franchise a 2nd time.  BUT in terms of Jason’s father.. I scripted the PAMELA VOORHEES TAPES for the just released FRIDAY the 13th THE GAME. In this audio script Pamela Voorhees reveals the TRUTH about who IS Jason’s ‘actual father’…it wasn’t her husband Elias.

Were there ever discussion about doing another Friday the 13th film?

After the first week release of Jason Lives in August 1986, Frank called me in to discuss a new concept….’Jason vs Freddy’. I said doesn’t New Line own the Freddy franchise? He said yes but they want to see if they can possibly make a deal between the two studios. Unlike today, when it’s normal for studios or networks to co-produce, it wasn’t then. So no deal could be struck. Then half-kidding and half-serious I said Paramount owns the Cheech & Chong franchise, right? How about ‘Cheech & Chong vs Jason’.  We laughed about the possible comic situations with those 2 stoners living in the woods secretly running a weed farm when they have encounters with the Man behind the mask. Or they’re the new camp councilors.

But we quickly agreed ultimately the film would be more a comedy and probably not scary enough…thus pissing off the fans.

You worked on Friday the 13th Game, how has this been for you? 

Yeah, it was an honor to be asked to work on a project with so many alumni of the Friday films including Sean Cunningham.  I was hired to write a series of police interviews in 1957 with Pamela during the time she believed her son had just drown in Crystal Lake. The actress, I believe her name is Jen Burton, who did Betsy Palmer’s voice is incredible!  My only lament was not being able to direct it as well.

But it wasn’t financially feasible to fly me out from L.A..   The game itself is pretty damn cool…and violent.

It looks like the franchise is done for now, would you consider going back to the Friday universe?

IF I was asked to do another Friday film I would seriously consider it. For many years I said no because I couldn’t think of something to make it as unique as I had with Jason Lives. I was also EXTREMELY lucky to be given so much creative control over the film. What I wrote and how I directed it was totally supported by Frank Mancuso Jr. and Paramount. It’s very hard today to have that kind of creative freedom. I think the recent Friday part 13 and the TV series failed to happen due to TOO many people and opinions and costs involved. It’s easy to tear things apart and not remember why something was initially a cool idea.  Horror is a very difficult genre to get truly right. I myself didn’t make a straight out horror film with Jason Lives. It was a mix of genres. But IF I was to do another I think to make it far scarier yet still cool.

Tell us about your latest projects?

My band THE SLOTHS has taken over a lot of my life these past 5 years. Our BACK FROM THE GRAVE album has been a dream literally 50 years in the making. Check out The Sloths site:   https://www.thesloths.org   Being onstage again was something I figured I’d never do again after 1969. But we’re back and rocking it harder than ever and it’s an awesome experience.

I also teach part-time at Chapman University/Dodge College in Orange County, California. I have both directing and film production courses and students are making short films every week. I love inspiring and being inspired while sharing our love for cinema. And I’m still writing. Mainly horror..of course. One is a total re-envision of my first film ONE DARK NIGHT.  After making over 40 films I know I can return to my first one and vastly improve it. The original has a large cult following and will finally be released on Blu-Ray & HD 4K in the fall of 2017.

My other horror project is something that will have a new horror icon in the way we had classic monsters in 1930s-40s from Universal Pictures and in the 80s had Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Pinhead, etc.  I want to also create in this a REAL supernatural fear in the audience based on religious and superstitious beliefs as the Exorcist and other biblically based horror movies in the 70s did. I believe I have something that will truly create fear..and with a worldwide audience.

‘The means we use to obtain what we want in life will be the very thing that will take you over and force you to do it’s bidding.’

 Just a little warning for you reading this to recall as you try to sleep tonight.  😉

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