Can you catch all the references in the new Friday the 13th?

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Friday the 13th reboot movie, told reporters that they tried to include dozens of nods and winks to the original franchise to please hardcore fans while telling a new story.

"There's a ton of them," said Swift, who co-wrote the movie with Shannon based on a story by them and Mark Wheaton. The two spoke during a press day in Beverly Hills, Calif., last week.

This reboot compresses and includes material from the first three Friday the 13th movies and leans heavily on the mythology established in the films that were created by Sean S. Cunningham. (Cunningham got a producer credit on the new film but was not heavily involved in its creation.) But the movie is set in the present and focuses on a new cast of characters, with the exception of one returning character: Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears), the masked serial killer living in the woods around Camp Crystal Lake.

The new movie also attempts to capture elements that made the original movies so much fun for horror fans: the jokes, the naked girls and sex, the suspenseful scares and the creatively gruesome (but not gratuitously gory) kills.

Following is an edited version of our group interview. Friday the 13th— which also stars Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker and Amanda Righetti— opens on Feb. 13. (Spoilers ahead!)

There were some flashback scenes that you guys had written and shot and didn't show up in the film.

Swift: Pieces of it should be in the film.

Pieces of it are, during the credits. But there were extended scenes featuring Pamela Voorhees [Nana Visitor], Jason's mother?

Shannon: Yes.

Swift: Yeah, well, now you're going to get the DVD, I guess. I don't know. ... A lot of it is going to have to get cut for pacing and all that kind of stuff. You know, it was important for me and Damian that we had ... backstory and that you cared about Jason to some extent, because he's a villain. I mean, excuse me, ...

An antihero.

Swift: He's a victim. He's an antihero. So the flashbacks are important. We wanted that stuff.

Shannon: [In] the original draft, the flashback actually occurs in the middle of the film. And they took that and they pared it down and they put it at the beginning. ...

Can you talk about the sort of nods and winks to the franchise throughout the film? ...

Swift: Well, the big ones are things that are sort of obvious. Like, we as fans wanted to see him in the sack again. We wanted to see that. I wanted to see him with the hockey mask. ...

Shannon: We wanted to see Jason run again, because he kind of turned into this lumbering zombie that would just kind of stalk after you. And if you watch the original films, in parts two and three, he runs. And he comes after you like a crazy hillbilly. ...

Swift: [There's] stuff in a sleeping bag, you know, that kind of thing. You know, we did nods. ...

There's a wheelchair in one scene, a wink to part two. And a kill in which Jason grabs someone through a window. ...

Swift: We ... try to slip stuff in there. ... You're on set, and they're like, "We're getting rid of this," and we're like, "Nah, you don't want to get rid of that." Because ... we're actually just trying to make sure that the hardcore fans have little things that they can kind of look at each other and wink.

Shannon: Yeah, I mean, every kill. There's literally 11 movies before ours with Jason, so it's like every kill has been done. So what we like to do sometimes, if we can't come up with a kill, is think of one of our favorite kills from the original series and ...

Swift: ... spin it a little. ...

Shannon: An example is the sleeping-bag kill at the beginning. It's one of the fan-favorite kills. And one of the originals is a sleeping-bag death. ...

Swift: So we did our own sleeping bag. ...

How do you reinvent an iconic character like Jason Voorhees?

Shannon: The challenge is exactly what you said. You don't want to reinvent him too much. You want to keep him true to his original roots and his mythology, but come up with some sort of new, fresh twists that a modern audience hasn't seen.

Swift: ... You've got to make sure your fans are happy. ... You don't want to explain too much. You don't want to answer the questions that fans have always wondered, you know what I mean? You want to keep a little bit of mystery to it. ... For instance, did he really drown or not, you know? How did he come back? Where's his father? All that kind of stuff. We weren't going to bring in that. ... Because I think that takes a little bit away from it, truthfully. ...

I think that fans are going to be able to argue that this still is a sequel, you know, with the only returning character being Jason. Maybe that's not the first time he's wearing the hockey mask. ... It was important to us that we don't want to throw out the original mythology. We don't want to throw out those movies, because I know they're really important to fans. So we could also play it both ways.

You do introduce new stuff: He's a hunter in the woods, there's an underground mine where he lives.

Swift: Yeah, because, ... in the Batman Begins sense, it was important for us to make him human again. And so we kind of had to think a little bit logically on "Well, how could he really survive in the woods? Nobody sees him. Well, what if he was underground? What if he did have these sort of areas that he could hide out in?" ...

How much of all the jokiness was written, and how much was improv'd on set?

Shannon: A lot of comedy [was written].

Swift: It was important to us.

Shannon: We definitely tried to inject a lot of humor between the characters. Always keeping in mind that, if there's a scary moment, don't make it funny.

Swift: Yeah, we never wanted to make Jason the expense of any jokes. We didn't want to combine comedy with him. But we definitely wanted to have fun with the kids, and we wanted them to be funny. I think that was important. I mean, we're kind of sick of those torture horror movies where it's a drag to watch. We wanted it to be a bit of a throwback in that sense.

Swift I mean, that was our intention. Like, the Crispin Glover dance [in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter], to me that's a significant part of the franchise. I think that's cool, so we wanted to have a guy doing that kind of dance. I don't even know if that made the final cut. ...

Have you guys had thoughts about a sequel to this Friday the 13th? Do you have any ideas?

Swift: Oh, we have a lot of ideas.

Shannon: Definitely have a lot of ideas.

Swift: Yeah. I mean, I would love to see another one. I would love to see the series continue. I would love this to be the restart for it.

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