Along with Anthony Masi (Halloween: 25 Years of Terror), Thommy Hutson co-wrote and produced the ultimate retrospective on the Friday the 13th franchise, His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. Anticipation is high and fans are understandably eager to see the stars of all twelve movies discuss their memories and favourite moments, along with previously unseen footage and anecdotes.
Thommy Hutson reveals his reasons for making His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th.
When did your love of Friday the 13th begin and which movie in particular sparked your interest?
Though I was too young to see most of the Friday films in theatres, I vividly remember sneaking in to see Friday the 13th Part VII with two friends after school. We were covering our eyes, screaming, laughing… it was such a blast and such a great memory. From there I had to see the rest of them, but I can say that Part VII is still my favorite. I guess my love of Friday the 13th actually started because of a girl… with telekinetic abilities!
What is it about Jason Voorhees that has kept the franchise so popular for so long, and how would you compare him to the other main pop culture monsters (Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Chucky, etc.)?
I think that it’s popular because the movies always offer something familiar, something new…things that fans feel they have to come out and see. They are, in a way, almost like the old serial films. Jason Voorhees will just keep coming back and, if you’re a fan, don’t you just have to see how, and what he is going to do next? I’d say the films offer a little bit of something for everyone: scares, makeup effects, creativity, a hero, a villain… and no matter what a fan thinks of each film they are really escapist entertainment and fun.
As for Jason in comparison to the other movie villains, it seems that they each have a little something that sets them apart, whether it’s the way their story is told or the the way the character is portrayed. All the great movie monsters, even going back to the days of Universal’s Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man and The Mummy, are unique in their own way. They all offer some sort of style, strength and terror that works for the viewer. Some are more psychological, more evil, more sympathetic. I think that is why Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, Leatherface and Chucky have worked for so long. Aside from a formula, they each have their fans clamoring to see more.
How do you feel the movies and, more importantly, the character of Jason have evolved through the years?
I think that as time has gone on a few things have happened. The first being that the films became less and less scary and more of a roller coaster ride. Of course, each film has its scary moments and jumps, but if you look at parts one and two, I think those were definitely very scary, edge of your seat films. There wasn’t any real intentional humor back then, other than some antics by the characters; antics that fit within the story. Other than that, it was regular kids being murdered one by one. The second thing is that Jason, the character, became less a scary, ‘race after you and kill you’ character and more of the commodity. Instead of staying in the shadows and being that scary thing that is lurking around the corner, he came out into the spotlight to be showcased. But, what else can be done after so many movies and so many iterations of the theme. It’s what audiences wanted and they certainly got that in all it’s crazy, bloody fun!
How did you become involved with His Name Was Jason, and was it your intention for the release to coincide with the reinvention of the franchise?
It was over a dinner to discuss other potential projects with Anthony Masi and Daniel Farrands. The idea of a documentary had been kicked around by them for a number of years and it was brought up again. When we discussed it at length, I was immediately enthusiastic. From there things really started to snowball and it happened very quickly (as many a good project often does!). In terms of its release coinciding with the new film, that was something that was in the back of our minds since interest would be high, but it wasn’t something that was a definitive plan, though we certainly saw the merits in it. We had hoped it could work within that timeframe in some way and it just ended up that Anchor Bay felt it was the right time.
Was it difficult to find funding and support for your feature, and did you find most people eager to take part?
Finding funding for any project is never an easy thing, even for something on a franchise as well known as Friday the 13th. But, with Anthony having produced Halloween: 25 Years of Terror for Anchor Bay, that certainly helped immensely. He was instrumental in making the deal happen through his previous relationship with them. They also saw what we saw: a great project on a series that has really stood the test of time! And the support we have received from every person asked has been tremendous. Truly invaluable.
Did you find that some of those that contributed interviews were bitter or disappointed by their involvement in the franchise, as many had tried to distance themselves from it over the years?
Luckily for us, we never really felt that from anyone. Everyone was eager to come in, lend their talents, tell their stories, share with us items we could use… it was truly incredible and felt great to be part of something that so many people involved with the series truly hold dear and remember fondly. It was a real treat to watch and listen to the cast and crew speak of their time in the films. Even better was when Dan (our director), who is a fountain of knowledge on the series, would bring things up that a cast or crew member might have forgotten… the look on their faces was great. It was easy to tell they had a good time thinking back. It was also nice to have been the ones to bring some cast together who hadn’t seen each other in a long time!
Apparently Tom Savini will be hosting the documentary. What can you reveal of this and will there be any treats in store for the fans?
I first have to say how thrilling it was to work with Tom on this. His involvement in the franchise is so seminal, having created – and ‘destroyed’ – Jason. In writing things, Anthony and I never wanted anything to be cookie cutter, so we tried hard to come up with things for Tom to say or do that were not only fun, interesting and organic to the documentary, but also that would be an homage to the Friday films themselves. And Tom is such a pro, so able to draw you in when he speaks on the subject of the films. And, he is terrifically funny which added so much to what we had hoped to achieve in his segments. Also, we were so lucky to have been able to film the segments with Tom at the Friday the 13th maze at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was a very memorable time on set to say the least!
What kind of release are you hoping for with His Name Was Jason, theatrical or straight-to-DVD, and will you be showing it at any conventions or festivals beforehand?
It will be a DVD and television release. It’s also going to premiere at the Denver Film Festival on November 14th and 15th… it will really be a treat to see it on the big screen with a crowd of fans!
When can fans expect for the feature to be released, and do you have a special edition lined up for DVD?
It will be released on DVD February 3, 2009 by Anchor Bay and will also premiere on Starz Friday, February 13, 2009. The DVD will have a tong of great bonus features that are really fun and informative.
What are your plans beyond His Name Was Jason? Will there be any other iconic movies you intend to focus on?
My writing partner and I just finished writing an exciting supernatural adventure film based on a character created by Robert E. Howard for producer Denise Di Novi and the company that owns the Howard properties, Paradox Entertainment. We have a few things in development with some great genre talent and are making the rounds with a non-horror, coming of age adventure. Other than that, it’s taking meetings and writing, writing, writing. In addition, Anthony Masi and I are in production on Prank, an anthology film franchise with segments in the first film directed by Heather Langenkamp, Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell. As for other iconic films that might be getting a definitive retrospective from us, yes, I have my eyes set on a few. I don’t want to say too much – you never know what will happen – but one would definitely be a ‘dream’ come true!