Dean Lorey had graduated from New York University in 1989, where he had worked on a screenplay entitled Johnny Zombie. A former classmate, Adam Marcus, introduced Lorey to independent producer Sean S. Cunningham, who was in the process of resurrecting his Friday the 13th franchise with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Whilst Cunningham expressed interest in developing Lorey’s own concept (which would later be released as My Boyfriend’s Back), he was invited to rewrite the script for Jason Goes to Hell, which had initially been developed by Jay Huguely.
Following Jason Goes to Hell, Lorey finally brought his pet project, My Boyfriend’s Back, to the big screen but the failed to perform as well as he had hoped. Over recent years, Lorey has gained considerable acclaim for his work as an author of fantasy fiction, most notably his award-winning series Nightmare Academy.
Dean Lorey talks about both rewriting and acting in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.
How did you become involved with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, and how did you come to share the writing credit with Jay Huguely?
I was under contract to Sean Cunningham at the time and was working on my own movie (My Boyfriend’s Back) when Sean asked me to take a pass through the JGTH screenplay that Jay Huguely had written, based on an outline by Adam Marcus. It was a very last minute thing. I think he told me on a Thursday that I had to substantially rewrite the movie for delivery to New Line by the following Monday.
Were you a fan of Friday the 13th, and was it difficult attempting to continue the story after the way that Jason Takes Manhattan ended?
I really liked the first couple F13 movies and had seen some, but not all, of the ones that followed. I would have had no problem picking up where JTM left off, but Sean and Adam had decided to pretend that the previous movies didn’t exist, so continuing from the end of JTM was never an option.
Were you dubious about working on the ninth entry of a critically panned franchise, and how did you approach reinventing the series? Who came up with the ‘body jumping’ idea, and were you confident that a Friday the 13th movie without Jason was the right thing to do?
Well, I was probably twenty-three when I wrote JGTH, so I was, frankly, just thrilled to be working on a movie – ANY movie – critically panned or otherwise. Because of the time constraints, there wasn’t a whole lot of thought, at least on my end, to ‘reinventing the series.’ I was just trying to accomplish what Sean and Adam were looking for on the crazy schedule we had. As for the ‘body jumping’ idea, that was Adam’s and it was the core element of his very first outline. I always felt that a F13 movie without Jason was going to ultimately be unsatisfying, so the first thing I did in my draft was to add Jason to the beginning and end of the movie, making it about a quest for him to ‘return to his body’. That way, it kept the premise of the earlier script but allowed you to at least see him in the movie, which I thought was critical. Originally, I don’t think he even made an appearance, except in a flashback as a child. Those early scripts were largely about his brother, Elias.
Did you write the role of the coroner’s assistant with yourself in mind, as you seemed to have given yourself most of the best lines?
Actually, I had no idea I would play the coroner’s assistant when I wrote it – that came much later. And the lines in the movie are not the lines that I wrote in the script. The truth is, I was terrified when it came time for me to act on the day of shooting and I couldn’t remember any of my scripted lines, so I just improvised other ones. Because I was the writer, no one questioned me – but it was really the result of complete terror.
What was the general atmosphere on set; was everyone pleased that they would finally (supposedly) be laying Jason to rest?
I think there was enthusiasm that Sean Cunningham had returned to the series and that, as a result, it would make a nice bookend to the first film. I wasn’t around for a lot of the shooting, actually, because I was writing my next movie at the time… although, I always made a point of coming by for lunch, because it was free and I was starving.
What was your opinion Eric Morse novels that were released to coincide with the movie’s release?
Actually, this is the first that I’ve even heard there were novels. I know they did a comic book but I was unaware of the novels.
Was there ever any talk about making a sequel that would follow directly on from Jason Goes to Hell and, if so, would you have been involved?
There was never any talk of a sequel – we always assumed it really would be the last movie. I don’t know if I would have done another, unless I had the opportunity to use the story that I had originally been interested in for the movie that became JGTH. I thought it would be cool to follow Jason Takes Manhattan with Jason Takes LA, and I was interested in putting Jason into the middle of a gang war with the Bloods and the Crips, forcing them, for the first time, to stop killing each other and join together to take down someone even badder. Of course, this was fifteen years ago – before urban movies had become so popular – and I thought, at the time, that it would have felt fresh and fun.