The Fans Behind the Mask: Inside the World of The F13th Fan Film Mixtape: AGFA Archivist Joseph Ziemba Explores the World of Discount Voorhees – Screens
Did you know that 13 years have passed since the last official Friday 13 film?
Yes, in 2009 director Marcus Nispel came to Austin to film the Platinum Dunes remake of the 1980 OG slasher film. Since then, the rights have been tied up in an incredibly messy lawsuit, and poor Jason Voorhees has had to hang up his iconic hockey mask and let his machete rust.
Ah, but those are just the official movies. For four decades, fans have been picking up hockey masks, rubber knives and black Karo syrup (or light stuff mixed with red food coloring) at discount stores, and heading to the woods to make their own Friday 13 fan-films. Three years ago, the American Genre Film Archive (the film nonprofit founded by the Alamo Drafthouse) hosted a one-night special event of the best… well, some of the most memorable of these deranged horrors, where Jason was as likely to be a teenager as he was creatively butchering one.
However, you can’t hold back a good undead slayer and, like Jason himself in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, the mixtape is back as an official part of the AGFA lineup and will screen tonight at the Violet Crown Cinema in Austin. AGFA Creative Director Joseph A. Ziemba, who put together the audacious gallery of ghoulish delights, took a minute from all that hash to explain a bit about the history of these bootleg Voorhees…
Austin Chronicle So, obvious question – where did you find these tapes?
Joseph A. Ziemba The majority of them came from years of trading and buying counterfeit VHS tapes and DVD-Rs. I miss those years! But luckily, the internet made it possible for DIY maniacs to share their untold 1993 epics. So, a small amount of clips came from online sources. I simply recorded them to tape and re-digitized them, so that the quality was consistent throughout the mix.
THAT: From the looks of it, it looks like there was a Golden Age of Friday the 13th fan movies in the VHS era, but there are still a huge number of them, including many feature films. Considering 13 years have passed since the last official release, why do you think Jason still has such a grip?
J.A.Z.: I think Jason’s main appeal to fan filmmakers is his simplicity. It’s a massive killing machine in a hockey mask, and it’s easy to recreate for $10 on Saturday nights. Freddy’s look is very specific – it’s more complicated conceptually. Michael Myers is similar to Jason, but his mask is more expensive to find. Jason is therefore the obvious choice for any budding filmmaker who wants to grab a camera and go wild.
THAT: Philosophical question: Aren’t all remakes, reboots and sequels basically fan movies with bigger budget and better lawyers?
J.A.Z.: Definitively. But Friday the 13th: Halloween night is way more fun than Rob Zombie’s Halloween because he has a mortal combat-style battle between Jason and Michael Myers which is marked by “Sabotage” of the Beastie Boys.
THAT: There’s a lot of crossover fiction here, with appearances from Leatherface, Michael Myers, even Pinhead. Were there any particularly strange ones you saw?
J.A.Z.: My favorite thing about fan movies is that you never know who’s going to show up. It’s not really horror, but Batman: Dead End features Joker getting eaten by a Xenomorph and Batman battling some Predators. Chef’s kiss.
THAT: Did you get any comments from any of the filmmakers about resurrecting their old home movies?
J.A.Z.: Not yet! It would be fascinating to choose their brains.
THAT: And, the horror classic – the best kill in these films?
J.A.Z.: My favorite kill comes from The Resurrection of Michael Myers Part 2 (1989). Jason throws battery acid in someone’s face — multiple times! – and laughs hysterically as his victim melts into a pool of slop.
The F13th fan movie mixtape screens Friday, May 13, 9 p.m., Violet Crown Cinema, 434 W. Second. Tickets at austin.violetcrown.com.
The mixtape, along with other AGFA titles, is available for theatrical reservation through americangenrefilm.com.