FX Workshop: The Split Girl

Following the relatively blood-free restraint of Paramount’s Friday the 13th swan song, 1989′s Jason Takes Manhattan, the franchise would return to its gruesome roots for New Line’s first offering, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. The special effects were handled by KNB EFX, one of the most respected make-up and effects workshops in the industry. Formed by Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger in 1988, the company had already worked with Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham on two projects; The Horror Show (aka House III) and DeepStar Six, as well as having contributed gruesome gags to several other recent slasher movies; A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Yet their work on Jason Goes to Hell would prove far more ambitious and complex than their previous forays into the genre.

Shooting on the $3m production had come to an end in the fall of 1992 but, at the urging of studio executives, twenty-three year old director Adam Marcus and screenwriter Dean Lorey wrote an additional sequence, in which a group of campers are slaughtered whilst out in the woods. The casting for the three characters that would appear in the new scenes took place separately, with Michelle Clunie and Michael Silver landing the roles of horny young couple Deborah and Luke, respectively, whilst their sweet-natured friend, Alexis, would be portrayed by Kathryn Atwood. In a bizarre case of irony, Clunie and Silver had once dated for several years but had split up the previous year and were unaware that they would be sharing a sex scene together until they arrived on set. During the sequence in question, Alexis agrees to sleep outside for the night whilst Deborah and Luke make love inside the tent, but Alexis is murdered soon afterwards by Jason Voorhees, who has possessed the body of a coroner (Richard Gant).

As the two have sex in the tent, Jason rams a pole through Deborah’s stomach, then thrusting it upwards and tearing her torso in half. To prepare for the scene, Clunie was sent to KNB’s workshop, where she had to strip naked and was covered from head to toe in urethane, a substance that forms into a liquid rubber, so that the special effects team could create two life-size dummies; one which would have the spike poking out of the chest and the second that would split in two. Both dummies, which KNB had a little over two weeks to complete, were then fitted with pumps that would produce the blood on cue. The filming of the sequence took place in February 1993, almost six months after principal photography had wrapped and, despite the campers stripping off in the woods, the temperature was very cold. Unlike previous Friday the 13th movies, this scene would feature both female and male nudity, although Silver’s genitals would remain covered beneath his co-star. Despite the cold, Silver enjoyed being naked throughout the scene.

The shots inside the tent were actually filmed on a stage two days after the exteriors and would require both Clunie and her two replicas. As Deborah reaches her climax the pole is thrust through her stomach. This show-stopping effect, which would prove to be the most memorable moment of the entire movie, would be achieved by blood-filled fire extinguishers being placed inside the dummy, that would be set off a moment after impact, as Jason tears the body in half, covering Silver with fake blood. The scene also benefited from a subtle addition; immediately after Deborah’s death the camera cuts to an external shot of the tent, in which the sound of Luke’s head being crushed by Jason can be heard. This gag was simply achieved by one of the crew squashing a melon. Naturally, the MPAA, who had been ruthless towards the franchise over the previous decade, ordered severe cuts to this sequence, something which angered the special effects artists. The uncut scene was later available on the region 1 DVD, as part of the unrated cut.



Jason Goes to Hell (DVD)

Director: Adam Marcus
Starring: John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Erin Gray, Allison Smith, Steven Culp
Rating: R (Restricted)

List Price: $6.00 USD
New From: $2.00 In Stock
Used from: $0.01 In Stock
Release date September 27, 2005.
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