In celebration of the reissues of Friday the 13th Parts 7 & 8, Dread Central was part of an exclusive roundtable luncheon with Part 7 director John Carl Buechler, actor Kane Hodder, special features producer Daniel Farrands, Jason Takes Manhattan actor Vincent Craig Dupree, and special features assistant Andrew Kasch.
The New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan mark the last two Jason Voorhees entries with Paramount Pictures so giving both films a proper reissue was important to everyone at the studio and for those who either worked on the films twenty years ago or worked on putting together the special features over the last several months.
“One thing that has always plagued me with this particular movie in post production was the compromises we had to make,” explained Buechler. “For me, that has everything to do with me as a director especially since I have a background with effects. We had so many ratings board issues at that time.”
The edits to The New Blood are almost legendary. Fans have waited a long time to see the kills that Buechler was forced to practically eliminate in part seven, and for the special edition the missing scenes were finally located and are included on the DVD release.
Buechler said, “I think horror is like telling a joke – you have the anticipation and then the payoff. The payoff in horror is the kill with the big juicy effects shot at the end. We kept submitting The New Blood to the ratings board, and it got to the point where we had pretty much castrated the punch lines (the kills) in the film just to get the film released.”
“I am pretty proud of the film, especially the fact that we had a subplot of the telekinetic girl kicking Jason’s butt. No one had been able to take on Jason until then. I wanted the movie to have a more dynamic version of Jason that hadn’t really been seen before. Now that we’ve just revisited The New Blood, I still think the film works. It’s a lot of fun,” Buechler added.
“One reason I was excited that they were going to reissue parts 7 and 8 was that there was the opportunity to get missing footage,” explained Hodder. “The fans always ask me about that footage, and I think for fans it’s cool to see what we did, especially with the head squeeze. The New Blood has five decent kills that you really missed out on when the movie first came out.”
“I never understood why the board made the cuts to begin with because the kills were so over-the-top. In theaters, when you have the crazy, the audience cheers because it’s so fun. That’s what horror should be – fun,” added Hodder.
One fact that a lot of horror fans may not be aware of is that Hodder (whom many fans deem “the only real Jason”) almost didn’t make the cut as Jason.
“I had to fight to keep Kane,” said Buechler. “The studio said he wasn’t big enough. I needed Jason to be more unique and a larger character than he had been in previous films – a living, breathing makeup effect. This is why Kane’s size didn’t concern me. You don’t really subtract anything when creating those kinds of effects; you add to the person so I knew Kane would end up being larger than life when we were done creating Jason for The New Blood.”
Another fact that a lot of horror fans might not be aware of is the fact that The New Blood very well could be one of the fastest horror films ever produced. According to Buechler he had his deal completed in January. On March 8th the principal photography wrapped, and The New Blood hit theaters on May 15th.
Despite having a marathon production schedule, the director never really felt a lot of pressure, and he discussed why he made sure that his crew on The New Blood never felt that pressure either.
“One night alone I did 72 set-ups. The crew rarely complains on my films because I am really good at planning and I don’t like to beat them up. I think you get a lot more out of a cast and crew when you are good to them,” Buechler said.
The director added, “For me, making a movie happens more on paper before I even step on a stage because I like to be able to communicate my plans very clearly. I very rarely ever change schedules. I always like to keep a relaxed environment. The stunt/special effects elements were really the only thing that ever stressed us out, but you can’t avoid that on any set.”
“The rooftop scene has one of those kills that people mention to me all the time other than the sleeping bag kill in part seven. A fan was even able to tell me how many times Julius punched Jason – 66 times. I went back, and honestly, it’s hard to count so I was impressed someone took the time to figure it out,” said Hodder.
“I have a lot of love for the rooftop scene because I was one of the only black guys to make it that far in a horror film,” explained Dupree. “I really had to box Jason in that scene, too. Kane had padding on the stomach so the swelling of my knuckles came from hitting the mask. I was pretty sore after we finished.”
“What’s funny is that there were all these people in the apartment buildings adjacent to where we were filming our scene. The director would have to tell all those people to get down during every take. But when we were done, it was cool to see the reactions from all of them,” Dupree added.
“One of the most amazing things for me was being in Times Square as Jason in full costume,” said Hodder. “There were hundreds of people being held back by barriers, and they were amazingly excited that we were there filming a Friday the 13th movie. I made sure I never got out of costume just so I could keep up the mystery.”
As an avid fan of the Friday the 13th series, working on the special features for parts 7 & 8 was extremely important to Farrands (who previously did special features on parts 4-6), especially since he knew what the fans were looking for in the special features.
“I feel like working on these reissues was like being in Raiders of the Lost Ark and finding the vault,” Farrands explained. “Andrew and I were the ones digging through all the boxes looking at every single piece of footage we could get our hands on. Any time we wanted something, Paramount was great about having it delivered to us. They were completely behind us giving the fans everything they wanted to see.”
“With part 7, there was only one box so anything we found is on the DVD. We were lucky we were able to get our hands on the tapes of the missing scenes because the film itself is nowhere to be found,” added Farrands.
One thing fans will notice with The New Blood is the fact that unfortunately, due to technological limitations, the found missing footage is definitely of an inferior quality when compared to the film itself.
Kasch explained the quality by saying, “35 mm film is restorable, but if we have to work from VHS masters of footage, they just can’t be restored.”
Now with the Paramount DVD reissues series completed, what can fans expect from the upcoming Blu-ray releases?
Farrands said, “We haven’t officially discussed the Blu-rays from parts four through eight yet, but there will be room to put more stuff from the other films that we have access to. There have been no talks about restoring things any further for the Blu-ray just yet, but we are excited to put the new Blu-ray releases together when it’s time.”
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