If you suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, you’re cowering under your bed right now, afraid to go outside on Friday the 13th. Luckily, you were smart enough to bring your laptop along, as MTV News is eager to buck the bad luck of the holiday with a first look at the return of Jason Voorhees: cinema’s greatest serial killer.
Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company is relaunching the “Friday the 13th” series, much as they recently did with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” mixing the first several films with brand-new elements to once again resurrect Jason (this time, thankfully, without the help of a lightning bolt). Keep checking back for the full report of our set visit, which will run on MTV.com soon. The movie hits theaters February 13 (you guessed it: that’s a Friday). In the meantime, our very own horror junky Tera Heater offers her thoughts on going toe-to-toe with the new machete-wielding madman.
AUSTIN, Texas — The excitement of my first breath of stiflingly humid Texas air sent tingles up my spine. Or maybe it was the mosquitoes and ticks gnawing on my flesh. Or perhaps it was the sight of one of my childhood heroes, Jason Voorhees, lurking through the makeshift woods with his newest victim slung over his shoulder.
An abandoned shack where the next camp full of Jason’s victims will rest stood amid overgrown grass and cornfields as far as the eye could see. The cry of a goat echoed near a rusty gate behind us, as the cast and crew took their places for the next shot just past the weathered Camp Crystal Lake sign.
Jason has always been a striking man, with his scraggly patches of hair, mutilated face, tattered clothes and oversize machete, and actor Kane Hodder seems to be the most adored Jason of the 11-film franchise. However, after attending a screening of “Friday the 13th Part III” (in 3-D), I think my favorite shifted to Richard Brooker, who made a drunk and boisterous appearance at the post-screening Q&A (I wonder why they didn’t hire him for more movies?). The newest Jason to slash his way through Camp Crystal Lake, Derek Mears from “The Hills Have Eyes II,” has some monstrous shoes to fill.
After meeting the massive Tyler Mane on the set of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” last February, I had high expectations for Mears. Standing behind the monitors, I watched Amanda Righetti (who plays terrorized teen Whitney) reapply the duct tape over her mouth and lift her arms to allow Mears to hoist her over his right shoulder. As she hung lifeless, Mears lurched along a path that led to the abandoned shack where he stores his prey.
At first glance, Mears is a large man but not mammoth. That is, until he approached us to introduce himself. He towered over me with his prosthetic neckpiece covering only what the mask would reveal. What was once his right eye was now a bulging shiny pus-bubble just begging to be popped by one of his desperate victims. His spine was crooked, one shoulder sat higher than the other, and I got a taste of what his swagger might look like. A machete holster strapped on his left thigh held a considerable weapon, which Mears assured us was “the dull one.”
Watching Jason Voorhees in all his warped glory before me, shaking my hand and carrying on with pleasantries, was simply surreal. Mears was an extremely kind and focused man, who everyone on set seemed to admire. Then the mask was carefully placed over his face, and he was transformed into a ruthless psychopath with killer abs.
As Mears walked toward Jason’s shack, he paused to look over his shoulder and glared right into the camera, then proceeded to his destination. The light splashed his battered mask, and when everyone was satisfied with the outcome, it was time for my colleagues and I to see the mask and meet the man behind its creation (which is always the best part for a blood geek like me).
The new mask was held in a thick plastic suitcase by special makeup effects artist Scott Stoddard and treated as if it were the Holy Grail. When it was revealed, I could have sworn a heavenly light shone from the foam that held it safely in place, and the goat cried a little louder. But it was nearly 4 in the morning, and I was starting to eat my own hair as coffee seeped out of my pores, so maybe my interpretation is slightly askew.
As Stoddard told us stories of attempting to fly the mask through LAX airport (he was pulled in for an inspection by some “Friday the 13th” fans who worked airport security), I stared at every scuff, scratch and clump of dirt with utter infatuation. Since Rob Zombie’s people had been so protective of the Michael Myers mask during the “Halloween” set visit, I never expected that I would actually be able to hold the Voorhees mask! It was incredible. I inspected every little mark, knick and imperfection with a soft grip and a child-like grin.
The night finally wrapped up and I stumbled into the car and dozed off, satisfied with my new favorite Jason Voorhees, Mr. Derek Mears.
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