[interview by Jacob Helgren]
Jason Paul Collum was raised in Brookfield; it is near Racine, Wisconsin and he came from a quite large family. His mother alone was one of seventeen children. He grew up Catholic, in a private Catholic school, and often found his "Catholic angst" to have a daily effect on his life .what else is there to do but begin a career in the horror film industry?
Well, the truth is, he originally wanted to be a teacher .but in his junior year he decided to get into film. He made a short film called "Dead Women Don't Wear Shoes" in one of his classes at the University of Wisconsin. His teacher loved it so much that she changed the entire itinerary for his class projects: he was, from then on, to spend his senior year making short films .sounds harsh, huh? How many potential filmmakers get a shot like that?
Jason was eventually paid to make a documentary while still in school, and soon thereafter offered money to pen the scripts "Three on a Meathook 2," "Mark of the Devil 666" and "Deranged 2." He couldn't stop laughing every time he began to write the "Three on a Meathook" sequel so he ended up only writing scripts for the two latter films. And although "Deranged 2" was never actually made, "Mark of the Devil 666" was the most successful sequel of that franchise.
Also during his last year in school he made his own film, "5 Dark Souls" .and so his career was off. Jason was off, too: moving to California to make his dream a reality, which he has done quite nicely. On Sunday evening, October 7th of 2001, at around 9:30 pm, I gave Jason a call and we spent the following hour gabbing, gossiping and laughing about the dream he now lives as the Media Relations Manager (and so much more) of Rapid Hearts Pictures. Here's what he had to say
Q: You graduated with a major in English from the University of Wisconsin,
correct? And you're currently residing in? What was it like to take such
a large step from moving all that way to pursue a career?
A: Yes, near Racine. I am currently in West Hollywood, CA. It was hard; a lot of decision. I knew where I was that I couldn't have a real career. So I picked up my life, shut out my conscience, and shipped out.
Q: You made your directorial debut with the documentary film "Sacrifices", followed by "Mark of the Devil 666." Give us an insight as to what was going through your head to actually see a film you put together and knowing that others all over the world would be able to view it as well?
A: In all truth, I had seen the first "Mark of the Devil" but never the sequels. I didn't know what I was getting into at the time. The sequels were all foreign films that just used the "Mark of the Devil" name for their sequel titles. Part 6 was supposed to be a murder mystery with the theme of the original. I wish I had made the film gorier.
Q: You have continued directing/writing with the films "Julia
Wept", "5 Dark Souls" and "5 Dark Souls, Part 2"
which are available and on sale at your website. In these films, as well
as "Mark of the Devil 666," did you find yourself releasing
some of your own personal demons into your screenplays?
A: The sequel I scripted to "The Last House on the Left" released a lot of demons for me; however, that script was a movie that was unfortunately never made. "5 Dark Souls" also featured a lot of underdogs in which I related to.
Q: You've also assisted in the directing of "Ancient Evil" and "Final Stab" as the second assistant director to David DeCoteau, directors of such slasher classics as "Dreamaniac" ..what is it like being a right hand to the one of the most popular directors of horror film today?
A: It's really awesome because I grew up watching David's movies. I loved "Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama," "Nightmare Sisters" and the "Puppet Master" movies. I don't think David realizes how popular he is he doesn't have a big ego about it at all. He's basically taken me under his wing and taught me so much .he's been like "The Godfather," a real teacher.
Q: What was it like on the set of "Final Stab"? Did you do anything to prepare yourself for long nights of shooting film? And can you comment on any cast or crew members you found it particularly enjoyable to work with?
A: It was one of the best shoots out of five I've made with David I had the most fun on that set. It was a five day shoot, as compared to others which are usually done in four days. We never had late nights and everyone got along. It was interesting to watch all the action and chase sequences and to see how they were created. Melissa Rene Martin is awesome she has one the funniest personalities her laugh reminds me of Fran Drescher. It's infectious she almost sounds like a little Jewish girl. Everyone in that cast had their dialogue down. Throughout the entire shoot, only three of Melissa's words were changed, which is phenomenal.
Q: In horror films of the past and present, especially in the slasher subgenre, we see many strong central female figures as both heroines and victims ..however, in many of the films made by Rapid Heart, we see a majority of strong male characters. Examples of this include "Final Stab," "Ancient Evil," "The Brotherhood" Parts 1 & 2 and "Voodoo Academy". Is this Rapid Heart trying to bend the genre a bit to be more fair to male actors in horror films or have you discovered something successful in your choices with male leads that other writers and directors have yet to discover?
A: I think it's a combination of both it's something David wanted to do as a director. He wanted a horror movie that girls would appreciate. He had done girls in showers so long he was bored with it, I think. Because of the reaction he got in "Voodoo Academy" and "The Brotherhood," he decided to focus more on that. He wanted to prove that he could do it because no one thought it could be done. As far as mass is concerned and the liking that was taken with those films, he could tell he had done something right. He had caught a nitch.
Q: You also have written many reviews and articles for Fangoria, Femme Fatales and Cinefantastique, including the "Slumber Party Massacre" franchise special. What is it like not only being part of the filmmaking process but also the media coinciding with that and how do you differentiate between the two?
A: When I work with the media, I'm just a huge horror movie fan. The work I do is usually covering films of the past. I want to show the teens of today that there are great movies and actors of the past. There's some great stuff out there. I want to teach and educate young audiences those old films. I want to express my past and what I watched growing up. It's funny: Pamela Susan Shoop (who played Karen in "Halloween 2"), who I met at a Fangoria convention in August of 2000, met with me at Jerry's Deli because I was doing a retrospective on her for Femme Fatales. She was blown away that I knew so much about her career. She really doesn't realize how dedicated her fans are. She was so sweet and excited that I was fan and we've kept in touch. This is also the case with "Night of the Living Dead" star Judith O'Dea, Lisa Wilcox of "Nightmare on Elm Street" Parts 4 & 5 and Felissa Rose of "Sleepaway Camp." They just don't know how dedicated their fans are and the kind of following that they still have.
Q: For some time it has been a rumor as to whether or not the long anticipated "Slumber Party Massacre 4" is actually going to be created .has it been picked up by Rapid Heart Pictures and have you been selected to slate the script under the title "Sleepless Nights"?
A: "Sleepless Nights" has nothing to do with "Slumber Party Massacre 4." I've written a script called "Sleepless Nights" and I actually wrote it before I began working for David. It's about murders on a movie set in the past and then these teens go back to find footage to continue the film and someone from the original set comes back to stop them. Unfortunately, with similar films "Urban Legends 2" and "Cut" having already been released, that movie may or may not be made. I have done a complete treatment for "Slumber Party Massacre 4" and it has been given to Concorde. It has, however, not been greenlit. I was offered this chance because of the retrospect I did in Femme Fatales. Everyone at Concorde was thrilled to do the movie except Roger Corman. Tammy Sutton, a producer of Full Moon and director of "Brides of the Dead" and "Killjoy 2," is trying to assist me in getting the film greenlighted.
Q: If the film is greenlighted, then you are the one of the first
males given a crucial part of this franchise's success. How do you feel
about being the first male to write an "Slumber Party Massacre"
script and are you a potential candidate for director?
A: I will put in my bid as director and as far as being the first male, it has come into play with my thoughts but Concorde has said nothing about it. I think the whole female thing was a gimmick at the time the comments I got about my script are positive. I worked at a video store for seven years and I saw girls rent it all the time, so girls do have a following, although I think some think the original was supposed to be just a T&A flick for boys. This new sequel will cater to both men and women. And it's directly related to the original film as opposed to just being a sequel. It also ties Part 3 into the series. It's a plot-driven sequel as compared to the originals. The slumber party scene won't even come in until the second half of the movie.
Q: Other rumors conclude that our stars will, in fact, be Brinke Stevens of cult classic "Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" and the first "Slumber Party Massacre" and the Julie Strain of "Psycho Cop 2" .is that true? Now, it's also been said they will be playing the adults in the film and not the actual slumber party victims, correct?
A: Both Julie and Brinke have agreed that they did want to do it. Brinke will play her original character Linda, who supposedly died in the original. Julie will play her eccentric neighbor who is very intricate to the plot. And no, they are not the girls having the party.
Q: Other names generating have contemplated that actresses may include Erinn Carter and Melissa Rene Martin of "Final Stab," Karen Dilloo of "5 Dark Souls," Michelle Nordin of "Ancient Evil," Elizabeth Bruderman of "The Brotherhood" and Lee Worrell of "Mark of the Devil 666" .are there any confirmations on what actresses will or will not be in the the film?
A: The only ones who have been approached and have agreed to do the film are Melissa Rene Martin and Karen Dilloo. I would love Elizabeth Bruderman and Erinn Carter to join the cast as well. Lee Worrell is no longer acting, so I don't know where that name came from. The teens in the script will consist of five girls and three boys.
Q: You also penned a script called "Somewhere, He Waits" ..can you give us any information on that film?
A: That is currently being looked at by Full Moon. It's a combination of "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th." It's really old school, with only very few similarities to contemporary frightfare like "Scream" and "The Blair Witch Project" it's about a group of teenagers who are locked in a mall after hours. Three years ago I was hired to write it. Then the investor who had the rights dropped them and I retained them. It was going to star Brinke and it's extremely gory. I was told to write it a certain way, as though it was made in the eighties. It's almost along the lines of cheesy. I tried to keep it intelligent and not be to hip with it. The actual script has sat around since the original project fell apart. In the film, a killer is trying to make a movie out of these teens' deaths by capturing the murders on security cameras. It will play to both male and female audiences.
Q: As a director, writer and part of media relations, you are required to express a part of yourself to all those watching .and therefore considered a role model. If you could give us one piece of advice on how we should live day in and day out, what would it be?
A: Just be nice .what you do to each other as teenagers is going to stick with you the rest of your life. The movie "Carrie" and the real-life situation in Columbine, Colorado are perfect examples. People need to learn to be decent to each other. Follow your dreams and if you're off and alone in some place like Kansas, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something I'm perfect proof that you can. If you make a move and it doesn't work out, you can always go home. Be honest and do what you can to obtain your dreams.
Special thanks to Jason Paul Collum for his time, information and friendliness.