Thirty years ago Tom McLoughlin created a great piece of slasher cinema and brought back to life an icon of horror… Jason Voorhees. Tom has been overwhelmed with the love and praise fans showed this week as it marked the anniversary of his film’s release.
Sitting in his West Coast home, Tom and I had a long conversation about Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. He described to me at the beginning of the interview sitting in a smoking jacket with a scarf and pipe and asked me to think of him as Iggy Pop meets Vincent Price.
Dr. Chris: How cool is it that you have so much merchandise based on your film?
Tom McLoughlin: The tennis shoes, the toys, that little 3-3/4 figure are all so cool, but the thing that really got me is being in a issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland. I grew up reading that magazine, and to have them feature me for the 30th anniversary of my film really means a lot. To see me on their site after being a fan of their magazine for so long is a true honor. That magazine I grew up with as a kid. It’s beyond a childhood dream. That was the best moment of this anniversary.
Dr. C: Why in your film and no other do we have kids? Granted, Reggie, Tommy, and baby Jessica are in Parts 4, 5, and 9; but those are not campers.
TM: I felt like we needed kids… every time they go to camp, where are the kids? Why not have the camp up and running? Since Jason had been dead for a few years, it was safe to do so. I was worried about the restrictions of child actors, [but] we got away with what we needed for the time we had them. I wanted that true innocence in the movie beyond teenagers having sex. I was trying to add other elements with a real sense of danger. I based the two little brothers – one who asks the other, “So, what were you going to be when you grow up?” – on the Little Rascals; their sarcastic demeanor was influenced by that show.
Dr. C: Do you think the uncut version of your movie will ever come out?
TM: Maybe… I’m hoping someone will come across a film vault one day and see a reel for some movie like Flashdance, put it in, and realize it’s all Jason kill footage. I found a VHS tape years later containing footage I know was cut from the movie. The MPAA fucked my film, as they did most of the Friday movies. We sent our film back to the MPAA 9 times before they finally approved it. Paramount just wanted to get it out and said to keep trimming to avoid an X rating.
Dr. C: You killed your own wife in the movies; how did you get her to do that?
TM: Nancy was a trooper; it was a job for her like any other. She was a bit shocked about the sequence, and we threw in the humor in her scene with the American Express card too.
Dr. C: You wrote the script for Friday Part VI as well, correct?
TM: Yes, I wrote it in a cemetery called Hollywood Forever, which is next to Paramount Studios. Joey Ramone and Cecil B. DeMille are buried there, among many others. (Ed. Note: 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038, is the location of the cemetery for anyone interested in checking it out. ) What better place to resurrect Jason than in a graveyard? I also wrote my first feature, One Dark Night, at the same cemetery. I am really proud of both scripts.
Dr. C: Can you talk a bit more about One Dark Night and how it came together?
TM: I was in the Catacombs in Paris and broke away from the rest of the group. I got the idea being down there alone and probably where I was not supposed to be for this really creepy and unreal experience. It’s because of the dark Gothic horror roots of that film that I got the job on Friday Part VI. I am currently working on a remake of One Dark Night. Code Red is releasing One Dark Night on Blu-ray soon.
Dr. C: Did you have a lot of changes from your script besides the part of Jason’s dad?
TM: No, it was really kept exactly the same, except one tiny detail: Jason was going to use an Uzi, which one of the paintball players had on him, and he was going to shoot up the RV. That was originally going to make it flip. He would have been like Rambo.
Dr. C: Your work on Friday the 13th continues to this very day, right?
TM: Yes, I wrote the Pamela Voorhees tapes in the Friday the 13th video game coming out this fall… all these little tapes filled with secrets into the mind of Pamela you can find throughout the game. I also have a twist with Jason’s dad, something I started in the ending to Friday Part VI. I can’t discuss much more than that, but I think you will really like what I have come up with.
Dr. C: You hold the honor of working on both a Friday the 13th film and a Nightmare on Elm Street TV show, two separate properties before Ronny Yu brought both characters together in Freddy vs. Jason or the small cameo in Jason Goes to Hell.
TM: I also had been for several years the only director to work on a Stephen King movie, a Nightmare on Elm Street project, and a Friday movie. I was really proud of that for a long time.
Dr. C: So, Tom, with all this love for Friday, when are we getting a epecial edition from Disney of The Black Hole?
TM: Ha ha ha! We do need one; I think it’s only on DVD and still has not gotten a special edition release.
Dr.C: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.
TM: Thank you, Chris, and Dread Central for talking with me. I love what you guys do on Dread Central!