What are your
earliest recollections of the horror genre?
Yikes, that seems so long ago but also like it was yesterday.
I was lucky enough to grow up in the 70s, so I remember seeing
commercials for 'JAWS' and 'The Exorcist' and being absolutely
terrified. My mom wouldn't let me see anything too scary until
I was around 8 or 9, but I did sneak in with my brother to see
John Carpenter's 'The Fog' in 1980.That was the first horror
film that really had a vivid impact on me.
||Then I remember seeing
everything I could, and some favorites were 'When a Stranger Calls',
'An American Werewolf in London' and of course 'Friday the 13th'.
I liked 'Halloween' but to be honest I thought it was a little
overrated. It certainly was responsible for ushering in a whole
new era of horror films and in any case I've seen it a million
times, but it never scared me that much. And of course when 'A
Nightmare on Elm Street' showed up I loved that, too. I also cherished
what you could arguably call great crap, like 'Prom Night', 'One
Dark Night', 'Humanoids from the Deep', 'The Funhouse' and a real
guilty pleasure, 'The Boogens'. I even remember sitting through
'Watcher in the Woods' twice. Now, that's dedication.
What's the first thing you remember about the 'Friday The 13th' series?
Do you remember which of the films you saw first?
I remember this
completely. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, it was still
common for films to be released regionally, meaning they wouldn't
open on 3,000 megascreens, but often city by city, or in just
one theater in your town and then they'd hop from theater to
theater. Drive-ins were still big, too. So while I couldn't
get into the first Friday when it was released, when Part 2
came out, they put them both on a double bill. I remember just
being riveted by the newspaper ads - "A Deadly Combination!"
I was eleven years old, and me and a friend snuck in one night,
and the theater's heat had broken down. Now, in the Fall in
Illinois, that can be real cold. So we were shivering half from
fear and half from fright. But I loved it.
I ran home thinking
Jason was going to pop out of the bushes. And I will admit to
a few nightmares about Mrs. Voorhees. My grandmother was living
with us at the time, and she jumped out of the closet once after
to scare me, and I swear for an instant I saw Betsy Palmer.
Scared the shit out of me, but it remains one of my fondest
memories. There is something weird about being a horror fan.
Tell us a little bit about your writing background, and how you
came to the decision to document the 'Friday The 13th' series?
Writing wasn't necessarily my lifelong goal. I just knew, growing up,
I wanted to be involved somehow with movies and the industry. I didn't
really make films growing up, but did enjoy writing and music. But I
ended up getting into the film school at USC, which was a great experience
and I met many people who remain friends today. It was a great avenue
to make connections and gain the confidence that you can go from loving
movies to actually being involved with them.
|While at USC I started
a little website for fun called DVDFILE.
That led to my introduction into writing about movies. I also
did some freelancing for magazines. After a few years of this
I decided it was time to be a little more strategic about things.
So I was able to find an agent, and we sold my first book, Ultimate
DVD, to Penguin. Then I pitched the second, which is Crystal
Lake Memories. Sounds easy, but it is a lot of work, trying
to land an agent and then write proposals and pitch. After this,
I don't know what I'll do next.
At first, how difficult was it to track down people involved with
the Friday films and who were among some of the first people you contacted?
||That was the biggest
question I faced when I began. Originally, Crystal Lake Memories
was just going to be a small book, maybe fifty interviews at most.
At the time I started, 'Freddy Vs. Jason' was not even in production
yet and there was little guarantee it would happen, and certainly
no one knew it would be the big hit it was. So I felt I needed
to start by contacting the people I felt I couldn't do the book
without, like Sean Cunningham. Just to gauge interest. It also
took some effort when I initially contacted people that I was
doing a serious book about a subject that often causes guffaws.
Still, the reaction was overall pretty good, but it wasn't until
over the course of 2003, as 'Freddy Vs. Jason' heated up, that
momentum built and publishers became more interested in an Friday
the 13th book.
|The success of the
film really ignited things. The studios became far more receptive,
as did Sean, who has since become one of the book's biggest supporters.
But along with that came more workload, and suddenly fifty interviews
became two hundred. The process is like being a detective. Folks
still active in the industry are pretty easy to find through the
usual channels, like SAG and the technical guilds. But with Friday
the 13th many left the profession, so you have to rely on the
Internet but more often other contacts. The more people you interview,
the more your connections grow. So in most cases someone eventually
knew someone else, and so on. About 85 percent of my wish list
I was at least able to contact. Right now, it is down to the wire
and there are still a few people I just can't find. But it has
been a solid 18 months of work, so hopefully the sheer number
of participants will speak for itself.
Did your initial interviews lead to the Friday reunion at the Fangoria
Weekend Of Horrors?
I remember talking with Tony Timpone at Fango back in 2003.
I wrote a piece called "Jason's Journeys" for the
'Freddy Vs. Jason' movie mag, and I mentioned to Tony that the
time was right to start getting Friday the 13th reunions at
their conventions. So we helped with names for the January 2004
FangoCon. Now, with the 25th anniversary this year, there has
been a lot of activity about doing more, so I hope that in the
coming few weeks there will be some announcements of more convention
appearances by 'Friday the 13th' cast and crew.
Tell us, what was it like to host the 'Friday The 13th' panels at
the Fango con?
I thought I was
awful. Just awful. I had never spoke in public before, except
years ago in school in front of like twelve people. I really
wanted to run out of the auditorium. Right before the first
panel, we were all backstage and everyone was so nice. Betsy
Palmer and Adrienne King were trying to boost my confidence,
but that first Jason panel was a blur. All I remember was mumbling
and feeling like I wanted to vomit. So if it came off well,
I would like to thank anyone who actually thought I did a good
job. Thankfully, I did another panel at ComiCon last year, which
was much more fun. I was more relaxed, so if there are any future
panels I would probably enjoy them this time. But I can't say
that Fango panel was a happy memory, although I am so grateful
to have been asked and it really was an honor.
As a fan, what's it been like to have unlimited access to the archives
of photos and Friday related material? Was there anything you
came across that surprised you?
of the highlights so far. Getting access was not immediate,
but once we reached an agreement I got to come in and sit with
a bunch of mouldy old boxes filled with tons of slides. Stuff
that had simply never been seen. Aside from genre magazines,
the PR department of Paramount would send out a few images,
and the rest just collected dust. So everything surprised -
at least two thousand images of stuff I didn't think was ever
I spent a few days going through it all, making notes and picking the
best stuff. It was just great, great fun. The only disappointment was
that some of the materials have been damaged or destroyed. Parts 3,
4 and 6 specifically, a good portion of the slides are lost, which is
sad. But there still was plenty of great stuff, so I am looking forward
to seeing the reaction of the fans when they see the book.
has always shied away from the success of the 'Friday The 13th'
series. Were they co-operative when it came to putting together
material for your book?
This has come up in interviews and was certainly something I wondered
about. I think perhaps it is just not an issue anymore. The height of
the slasher backlash was over twenty years ago, so the majority of those
who worked at the studio at the time are now gone. I remember when I
was going through the archives, everyone in the department was in their
20s or 30s and just thought it was cool. I don't think there is a stigma
anymore. For Paramount, the Friday franchise is just another old catalog
title, slotted alongside the thousands of other titles they have in
It was really
a simple deal - we just agreed on a licensing rate for use of
photos, given that the book was hardly a million dollar project.
Paramount was very gracious, and provided excellent services
to scan in all the materials needed. They were very helpful,
so if there was ever any negative feelings toward 'Friday the
13th' at the studio, I think those days are in the past. Now,
it is just product. As for New Line, 'Freddy Vs. Jason' was
one of their biggest hits of 2003, so they were nothing short
of enthusiastic about the book.
Thru-out the years, there have been numerous 'Friday The 13th' related
merchandise out there such as books, comics, model kits, etc. Will your
book feature a look at some of these collectibles or does it strickly
chronicle the films?
|That is still being
decided. We are at the stage now where we have to decide what
will stay and what will go. We are about to begin editing the
book down for final proof, and I've been warned that this is the
most painful part. You have to just rip out big chunks to make
it all fit, so how much focus there will ultimately be on the
marketing remains to be seen. Certainly, we'll get in there as
much as we can, not only about the models and toys, but also the
novelizations, soundtracks and Friday the 13th-inspired fiction
that New Line is releasing this year. This type of stuff is a
lot of fun, so it will definitely be touched upon in some capacity
in the book, including photos.
The book has been a long time in the making and finally has a street
date of October of 2005. What were among some of the biggest challenges
in the completion and printing of this book?
Really, it was just that the vision of what the book should be changed
so much over the course of two years. It started out as this little
project about a series that many thought was dead. 'Jason X' was not
a box office success, and before 'Freddy Vs. Jason' went into production,
it was fair to ask if the franchise was over.
||So I had to reshape
and expand the book three times over the course of production,
from a primarily text-based book with a few pages of B&W photos
to something much larger. This also required switching publishers
and a host of other issues I never expected. My original schedule
was simply for a different kind of monster, so to speak. Ultimately
I am very happy that it has even become possible to release a
high-quality, full color hardcover book about Jason. I just never
thought that could happen, which is good news. But I do regret
it took about twice as long as expected and promised. In the long
run, the final product is what counts.
Unlike other franchises in the horror genre, the Friday films seem
to consistently be good movies. How do you feel about the series as
a whole and what stands out as among some of your personal favorite
moments in Jason's history?
|Hmmmm, tough one. I certainly felt differently before I started
the book. Now, having heard the stories and the intentions behind
the making of each, you tend to appreciate aspects that before
were problematic. Some say that the 'Friday the 13th' sequels
are simply remakes of the original, a point which has validity.
But each director tried to bring something new to the formula,
and I would say that that is the series' greatest strength. The
critics might not understand, but I think why the fans keep coming
back is because you know you are going to get something that delivers.
Something that is the same every time but also new.
||You could argue that
the least successful 'Friday the 13th' films are the ones that
deviate too much from the formula. It can be a tricky balance,
especially as once you introduce a fresh element, such as comedy
or action, you can't really go back. So each filmmaker who came
in had to acknowledge what came before, adhere to the formula
and add something original. No small feat, and overall I agree
that for a horror series, the quality of the 'Friday the 13th'
films is certainly a cut above most of its competitors.
What are the plans for promotion as far as when the book is released?
We are planning
many fun things, all still being developed. There will definitely
be some events to coincide with the release. Not to be cagey,
but I just can't say yet until everything is ironed out. But
think personal appearances and screenings and the like. Cast
and crew will also be autographing copies of the book that will
be available on the website early for members.
What part does the website play overall in 'Crystal Lake Memories'?
We plan for it
to be quite important. The great thing about the internet is
that you can post material quickly and easily and cheaply. Quite
simply, it is impossible to fit everything in one book. And
some materials just don't lend themselves to a book anyway,
such as printing full scripts or entire production schedules.
There are also many photos that either don't fit the focus of
the book, or were not in a shape suitable for high-quality printing,
even after attempts at restoration. There are also plenty of
fun little stories that fall outside the arc of the book but
make for great reading. So the website is going to be the catch-all
for as much extra stuff as we can fit, and get clearance for.
There are licensing issues with photos, but otherwise most of
the material should appear on the site in the coming months.
Have you decided what your next book might be about? Have you
thought of documenting another horror franchise? Or is there any other
series you would like to research and write about?
|Ha, no! I have gotten
emails asking about the most logical followups, 'Halloween' and
'Nightmare on Elm Street'. I have mixed feelings. On one hand,
I've said much of what I have to say on the subject of 80s horror
franchises. There are many similar themes and threads common to
all the major slashers of the 80s, so I fear to do a book on say
Freddy would feel like repeating oneself. On the other hand, I
certainly have learned a great deal on how to put a book like
this together, so it seems a shame to let all that experience
go to waste, especially if Crystal Lake Memories is successful.
And I'd love to interview all those great people involved with
the other franchises. However, we are discussing perhaps finding
other writers to come in and take the reins, and we may publish
such a book on other franchises under the Sparkplug banner but
not written by me. Just as a fan, I would certainly love to read
Here's a few basic fan related questions. Friday 5 - misunderstood
sequel.Your thoughts on it?
I have loved
hearing the reaction from fans on what sequels they like and
don't. Part 5 certainly has its fair share of critics, but also
plenty of fans. It is always easy in hindsight to find fault
- "Why didn't they do so-and-so instead?" But during
the course of the interviews, it became clear that it was quite
a challenge to find a proper way to go after The Final Chapter.
The slasher boom had quickly faded around 1985, and although
The Final Chapter was a considerable financial success, there
were valid doubts that the formula could continue. It was decided
that a Jason impostor was legitimate way to continue the franchise
in a way that still gave the fans what they wanted but brought
something new. I suppose time has told us that in general, fans
were not that excited about the idea, whatever its merits.
Personally, I think Part 5's mixed reception is more due to the
fact that, as editor Bruce Green put it, the movie is "structured
like a porno film." The body count is over twenty, and at that
rate there is simply no time to introduce characters you care about
and feel for. It is very much kill scene, dialogue bit, kill scene.
I think fans want the body count, but still need mood and at least some
semblance of fully-fleshed out characters to root for. Perhaps Part
5 simply went too far in the direction of a laundry list of murders
and little else.
We love part 5!!! Which is the coolest looking version of Jason in the
series, by your opinion?
My vote would
be Jason in Part VII. I am still very impressed with John Carl
Buechler's makeup creation. I thought it was very smart to finally
show all the damage Jason had endured and make that a part of
his character. All the great little touches - the protruding
spine, exposed teeth and "meaty" appearance - make
Part VII's Jason the one to beat. And I think Kane really made
it his own.
Have you ever checked out the 'Jason Vs. Leatherface' comics by Topps
comics did back in the 90's?
I have never
actually read them. I did flip through one once, but to be honest
I'm not a huge Vs. fan. It always has seemed like a one-off
concept to me in search of a story. You are forced to really
stretch credibility in order to ensure that two incongruent
icons meet. However, I know there are many who disagree, and
these kinds of films really do deliver on a more action-horror
front. So I'm glad 'Freddy Vs. Jason' reinvigorated the franchise.
But I just don't know how many times you can pair Jason up with
someone else before it gets really, really stale. Of course,
they did make ten 'Friday the 13th' sequels.
We recently re-watched the amazing teaser trailer to Friday 8. Should
someone remake Jason Takes Manhattan and call it 'Jason REALLY takes
Manhattan' this time?
Ha! That would
be interesting. Again, like the Vs. concept, there is something
about putting Jason in New York or wherever that becomes a gimmick.
It also requires, I think, a more action-oriented direction.
I believe that the early films were effective because of the
isolated location. Once Jason can hop into a cab, it is pretty
tough to be scared. The real fun of a Jason in the city type
of scenario is to watch him interact with society and demolish
things. Which is still a hoot, but becomes a different kind
After 'Jason X' didn't enjoy much commercial success at the box office,
I wonder how big of an audience there is for another "Jason outside
of Crystal Lake" story. But again, perhaps the success of 'Freddy
Vs. Jason' means that fans don't want a true return to horror but more
videogame-driven thrills. I suppose we'll find out when 'Freddy Vs.
Jason 2' arrives?
We shall see. Our vote is for another Friday The 13th back at Crystal
|Retail Price: $39.95
Format: Hardcover w/full color dust jacket
Dimensions: 9.25" w x 12.0" h
Images: Over 500, in color and B&W
Foreword by series creator Sean S. Cunningham
Visit Peter at: www.Crystal Lake Memories.com