Three years ago producer/writer Anthony Masi took on the legacy of Haddonfield’s most infamous resident, Michael Myers, in his documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (review here). The very same year he helped with a retrospective on Bob Clark’s cult horror classic Black Christmas. How does someone follow that up? By taking horror fans back to Camp Crystal Lake with a new documentary, “>His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th..
“Everyone knows who Jason is. He’s so iconic that it’s not even just horror fans that know who he is. He’s almost like Santa Claus, really,” said Masi. “The hockey mask alone is now just a symbol of what Jason is in terms of the pop culture lexicon. While considering Jason’s legacy, the 30th anniversary of the first film and the reboot film coming out, we just knew the timing was right to take a look back at the entire film series.”
HNWJ takes a look at the entire legacy of the Friday the 13th film series and deconstructs the legacy of not only Jason but of the eight films themselves throughout the ten years during which they were released. One of the biggest challenges Masi and his team faced was trying to construct a documentary that would not only interest the die-hard genre fans but also appeal to the “casual fan” as well.
“When putting HNWJ together, it was important that we didn’t just say: Here’s the first film, here’s part two, etc.,” explains Masi. “We wanted to craft something a little different and give everyone watching a taste of things like Jason’s role in pop culture, Jason as a monster, all the ‘final girls,’ how they switched from Mrs. Voorhees to Jason as the killer, and of course all of Jason’s best kills.”
The timeline from concept to production on HNWJ was pretty swift, which was astounding to Masi. Once the project was given the go-ahead, Masi and his team had about 13 weeks to coordinate getting together 90 different interview subjects, finding shooting locations, actually shooting the interviews, and then putting everything together into documentary form.
Masi said that, “saying I was sleep-deprived is an understatement. We interviewed so many people that were key players in the Friday the 13th franchise, but we also wanted to talk to those in the industry who just have a love for the horror genre. These interviews are important because you can really just see who appreciates this legacy, and without having that heart, your project isn’t worth much then. The heart has to be there.”
“We filmed all 90 interviews within a 10-day time frame,” added Masi. “It was almost surreal. Every hour someone new would show up, and it seemed almost like a parade of the horror genre. It was a blast to just sit there and wait for the next person to show up.”
Some of the featured interviewees include Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Ari Lehman, Kane Hodder, Ken Kirzinger, Sean S. Cunningham, Greg Nicotero, Marcus Nispel, and composer Harry Manfredini.
Featured “industry fan” testimonials include actress Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), writer/director Adam Green (Hatchet, Spiral), director Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), our own Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton, and Peter Bracke (author, Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th). HNWJ is hosted by special effects legend Tom Savini, whose effects work was part of both the original Friday the 13th and Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.
Masi relishes his ability to work within a time frame of the horror genre that really speaks to him as a fan. According to Masi, “Movies shouldn’t make you feel like you want to kill yourself when you’re done watching them, which happens with a lot of films these days. What I love about 80s and 90s horror, and even most recently something like Hatchet, is the idea of turning horror into this ‘over the top’ ride where everything seems like almost a stunt and you just can’t help but get swept away in the momentum.”
Masi added, “When you have situations where people are realistically hurting each other, those movies don’t interest me at all. I like being able to show new audiences that there was a time when you were able to have fun with horror and not watch people just get tortured.”
Masi is currently serving as producer on The Psycho Legacy, a documentary by writer/director/horror enthusiast Rob Galluzzo that explores the entire catalog of Psycho films. Masi is also serving as a writer/producer on the upcoming film Prank, which is an anthology horror film that allows some of the “ladies of horror” an opportunity to step behind the camera and show off their directorial chops.
“I wanted to give all these strong women a chance to show that they have so many talents and just show them the respect they deserve for what they’ve given to the horror industry,” said Masi. “Giving them a chance to direct was a great way to give them a different type of excitement in their careers. It’s definitely about this feeling of ‘girl power’.”
His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th will be released as a special two-disc “splatter edition” DVD on February 3, 2009 (pre-order below). Also, on February 13th, 2009, Encore Action will host the broadcast premiere of the documentary as well.
In the interim check out the rest of our exclusive pics!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Find your inner tortured psychopath with mommy issues in the Dread Central forums!