So many people working in the horror industry are there because they grew up being a fan. However, for writer/producer Dan Farrands, his reason for pursuing his dream came from a fan letter response he received when he was 14 years old.
“I had written this letter to Frank Mancuso, Jr., telling him how much of a fan I was of the Friday the 13th movies, and I even pitched him my idea for the ‘ultimate’ Jason movie too,” explained Farrands. “I really didn’t expect to get a response from him, let alone a full-blown letter. Once I got it, it lit the fire for me to want to work in the horror industry. I still have it framed on my desk.”
Farrands, as a life-long fan of the Friday the 13th series, is now experiencing his life coming full circle with the release of the new editions of Friday the 13th Parts Four through Six. His involvement with producing the bonus features on these discs can be attributed to his work on the recent Jason documentary His Name Was Jason (review here).
Farrands said, “I loved working on His Name Was Jason, but as a huge Jason fan, I feel like that documentary didn’t hit the mark or really tell the story I wanted to see being told. So now working with Paramount on the special features was my way to give fans the opportunity to see the materials they deserve to see.”
A lack of access to Paramount’s vaults is what Farrands attributes his own disappointment to surrounding the His Name Was Jason project since there wasn’t a lot of new material that they could get access to. But when it came time for Paramount to start planning out their reissued versions of installments four through six, they knew they’d need to get the ultimate expert involved – Farrands.
“We told them we needed every single frame from these movies, and Paramount literally sent us any scrap of Jason film that they still had in their vaults from all over,” said Farrands. “Boxes were being delivered to me and Andrew [Kasch, who served as editor for all the bonus features] for weeks on end, and we pored through every single second of it.”
Because of the diligence of both Farrands and Kasch, the new Friday discs boast amazing bonus features that should appease even the most finicky Voorhees fan out there. As Farrands says, “The Final Chapter is almost everyone’s favorite because it’s so well-made. We just knew we were going to have to really deliver on the goods for this one. We worked closely with director Joe Zito and screenwriter Barney Cohen on the commentary so it was fun to get them in the room together to hear all their thoughts on making the film.”
“We also found all the footage of Crispin Glover’s ‘Dead Fuck’ dance, which is hilarious. It’s funny to watch the cast try to hold it together while he’s dancing away, but they just couldn’t do it. I think it’s even cooler that Paramount didn’t censor the dance name either – I wasn’t expecting that to say the least,” Farrands added.
Probably the icing on the cake for The Final Chapter for Farrands and Kasch was locating the lost ending.
“The ending was just a series of raw dailies and didn’t even have a soundtrack so Andrew had his work cut out for him in putting it in order for the disc,” Farrands explained. “We worked with Joe to get it all together and see what he thought, and then we brought in Kimberly (who played Trish) to give a narration over hints of Harry Manfredini’s original score, and it was just such an amazing thing to see come together as a fan.”
For A New Beginning (which Farrands lovingly dubbed “the bastard stepchild of the Jason movies” since it has no real Jason in it), director Danny Steinmann and actors John Shephard and Shevar Ross lent their time for the commentary track.
Actress Tiffany Helm also donated her talents for the special features and recently shot a video doing her famous “Violet Robot Dance” for the fans. The other gem that Farrands and Kasch were able to create was a “Part Five Making-Of” mini-movie that featured the back story from Steinmann, the cast, and the crew detailing all of the shenanigans that went on while they were filming the movie.
The biggest challenge both Farrands and Kasch faced was finding lost footage for Jason Lives since there wasn’t much to work with from that particular movie. That being said, the team knew they had to cook up something special for fans all the same.
“There’s always been this much talked-about alternate ending of Jason Lives that introduces audiences to Jason’s father, but ultimately, it was never shot,” said Farrands.
“So we brought in a visual artist to create storyboards for this alternate ending (with director Tom McLoughlin’s blessing) and had Bob Larkin, who played the caretaker, do a voice-over alongside the storyboards. As a fan, it is chilling to watch, and we really hope we gave those who buy this disc something special,” Farrands added.
One of the long-time controversies that always surrounds the Special Edition DVD phenomenon is that studios release them, and then a few years later they somehow come up with new and better material to entice fans. Farrands wants to ensure fans that this isn’t the case with these editions.
Farrands said, “The reality is that back when these movies were being made, home video was just getting started so no one had the foresight to think that all this extra film was going to be of use in the future. DVD hadn’t even been dreamt of yet, so unfortunately a lot of the materials from some of the Friday flms were either tossed out of the vault or destroyed.”
“Everything that could be salvaged is on these discs, and there isn’t anything beyond what you’ll find in the special features unless the missing footage is living in some guy’s garage somewhere. Paramount gave us everything and held nothing back because they know how passionate the horror community is,” Farrands added.
One of the bonus features that is completely independent of anything Paramount might have had stored away is a series of mockumentaries entitled he Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited, which is a tongue-in-cheek retrospective that plays along as if everything in the Voorhees universe was reality.
“The mockumentaries were something I originally wanted to do on His Name Was Jason, but we just ran out of time,” Farrands explained. “I brought the idea to Paramount, and they fell in love with it. We got our friends and some industry favorites like Stuart Gordon and Tom Holland involved, and they all turned out better than I could have imagined.”
Farrands attributed most of the mockumentary’s creative force to associate producer Don Crandall, who did double-duty playing the intrepid Deputy Buz Dorf, Jr. “Don was an amazing collaborator and brought a ton of creative ideas to the table that helped shape the narrative of the mockumentaries,” said Farrands.
Another coup for Farrands and those who worked on the mockumentaries was being able to film at the original Jarvis House from The Final Chapter. Farrands gushed, “We actually got to re-create the ‘crime scene’ that audiences never got to see when it was all over. And being in the actual home in Topanga Canyon (where not a whole lot has changed in 25 years!) was completely over-the-top amazing.”
With The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, and Jason Lives under his belt, Farrands is now looking forward to the special editions of The New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan, which should be hitting stores later this year.
“We definitely have some great stuff lined up for fans for these movies even though so much of the extra footage has been lost,” Farrands said. “I can promise you, as a fan, I still think they will be awesome to watch. Producing the special features has been a dream come true for me. I hope everyone that sees these discs understands that the work we all did came from the love we have for the entire series,” Farrands added.
Look for these stellar packages in stores on June 16th.
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