Just last week I had the good fortune to be able to review Alyse Wax’s in-depth look at Friday the 13th the TV show with her fantastic new book Curious Goods – Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series!
Well, since the Projectionist has been missing for the last few weeks so to speak I was emboldened to invite the talented Author down here to the Retroist Vault for a little Q and A about her work and the Television series itself.
Vic Sage: Hey, Alyse! Welcome to the Retroist Vault. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come down here and chat with me about your fantastic new book, Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th the Series.
Alyse Wax: Thanks!
VS: Would you mind telling us what gave you the idea of publishing a book that not only details all 72 episodes of one of my favorite 1980s television series but also offers interviews with the cast and crew of those episodes?
AW: I have been obsessed with Friday the 13th: The Series since I was about nine or ten years old. I mean, obsessed. In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the internet, I started the first F13 internet fan club. In the late 1990s I made my own fanzine. Flash forward to my 30s, and I am a journalist who specializes in the horror genre – something that I never even imagined was a “thing!” Being surrounded by dedicated horror fans, I found that I was not the only one who loved the series, and I started toying with an idea to write a book about the show. I figured I was covering 10+ TV shows per week for FEARnet.com, on top of other articles for the site, so I figured, how hard could it be to write a book? LOL. A friend who has been published referred me to Bearmanor Media. A page-long proposal was met with an email a few hours later that said, “Guess what? You just sold a book.” It was almost too easy!
VS: I really was blown away by the interviews in your book, it gives some great insight on not just the fun of what it was like on those sets but also the difficulty in bringing such a quality show to television. How easy was it to secure interviews with the likes of Louise Robey, John LeMay, and Executive Producer for the series Frank Mancuso Jr.?
AW: Surprisingly easy. A little bit of internet sleuthing led me to their agents, and their agents set me up with them. Both Louise Robey and John LeMay were more than happy to help. In fact, almost everyone I reached out to was more than happy to contribute. The only one that was tough to get was Frank Mancuso Jr. He is very busy and I suspect he thought that this was just some silly fanzine interview or something. Luckily a friend of mine was able to get his agent to contact Frank’s agent and in the end, I got a solid hour on the phone with him.
VS: In Curious Goods you have some amazing and heartfelt interviews supplied by The Twilight Zone Companion’s Marc Scott Zicree, in particular for the first season episode “Doctor Jack”. I am a huge fan of the Twilight Zone and I have shared a project or two of Zicree’s on the Retroist before. Are you too a Twilight Zone fan? What is your favorite episode?
AW: Of course I am a fan! You are not allowed to be a horror fan without being a fan of The Twilight Zone. It was Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion that showed me that you could actually write a book about television. “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” was always the episode that stuck with me, more than any other. I liked the “double whammy” of an ending.
VS: For myself when I was watching Friday the 13th the Series the character I most identified with was Ryan Dallion, he was a kid at heart and I found myself really looking up to him, and to be fair the rest of the characters who were putting their lives on the line to wrong evils. Sorry for the spoilers for our readers but in the Season 3 two-part episode entitled “The Prophecies” by the end of the second part Ryan is transformed back into a child and though he was alive and would be fine…I found myself almost in mourning for like a week after the episode aired.
AW: I remember mourning over a LOT of episodes!
VS: In Curious Goods you make a mention of how you were hooked on the series thanks to Louise Robey’s portrayal of Micki Foster, would you mind telling our readers what it was that made her your favorite character?
AW: Though I didn’t realize it when I was a kid, Louise was the first redhead I ever saw on television. As a redhead myself, I identified with her immediately. The 1980s didn’t have many redheaded heroines. Of course, it was more than that. I grew up watching 1980s slashers and Married With Children, both of which do not have a great history with strong female role models. Micki was nothing like that. She was intelligent, she was strong, and she managed to save herself more than the boys ever saved themselves. “Bedazzled” and “And Now the News” are the two episodes that best demonstrate Micki’s strength to me. “Wedding Bell Blues” was also hugely influential to me, with the way Micki handled Johnny. She was never whiny, never weak. And she was beautiful. I always wanted to look like Micki.
VS: As I mentioned in the review of your book this series was a huge part of my young adulthood. My top three favorite episodes are “The Inheritance”, not just because it’s the first episode and I think strongly sets up the rules of the series but you also had that incredibly horrifying porcelain doll named Veda.
AW: She was a bitch, that doll! Apparently, that episode gave Channing Tatum a life-long fear of porcelain dolls. (And it did an excellent job setting up the “rules” of the series, something which the show did a great job sticking to.)
VS: My second favorite is probably “And Now the News” where Micki and Ryan have to track down a cursed radio that offers solutions to problems thanks to a broadcast announcement…heck…the radio doesn’t even have to be plugged in to work. Of course being a cursed antique means it needs a horrible death to offer a solution to the owner which in this case is Dr. Carter, a “miracle worker” at the The Maseo Institute for the Criminally Insane.
AW: This was also a favorite of mine, although the snake scene at the beginning of this episode was one of the main factors that made me phobic of snakes! This episode also had some of the best anecdotes.
VS: Last but not least for myself is “Scarlet Cinema”, being a huge Universal Monsters fan even in my youth I kind of couldn’t be prepped to love this episode where the gang of Curious Goods are after a film camera that after being given three victims will grant the wish of the owner. Which in this case involves a big fan of Universal’s 1941 classic The Wolf Man.
AW: This one never really “spoke” to me as a kid, and I don’t know why. It is a great episode.
VS: Alyse, I totally understand if this is a case of picking your favorite children but what might your three favorite episodes be?
AW: “The Charnal Pit,” the last episode. It was so beautiful to look at, and it was another great example of Micki’s strength. I remember showing this episode to some friends, and they couldn’t understand the “lure” of de Sade – he was older and overweight and bald. But I knew, I understood the allure. I was probably about ten at the time and had no idea who the Marquis de Sade was.
“The Long Road Home.” I hate Johnny with such a passion, something that still flickered up as an adult. But beside that, this was a true horror movie. A young couple stranded in the middle of nowhere, a couple crazy hillbillies trying to do unspeakable things to them. To this day that is still one of my favorite horror movie tropes.
“Wedding Bell Blues.” This was a Micki-focused episode, and I liked that, and I LOVE how she cuts down Johnny at every turn.
I have to give honorable mentions to “And Now the News,” “Repetition,” and “Scarecrow.” When I was a kid, “Doorway to Hell” was one of my favorites, but as an adult, I have no idea what I saw in that episode!
VS: Friday the 13th the Series’ plot of tracking down cursed and sometimes just evil artifacts is brilliant and certainly lends itself well to a weekly series, look at the SyFy channels similar premise with Warehouse 13. Do you feel that the series itself could be revived today with a new cast…maybe have Micki and Ryan filling in the role that Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins) did of the older and wiser character?
AW: Absolutely. That may, in part, be because I just want the series back. But in actuality, genre television is SO BIG right now. CW is developing an F13 (based on the movies, not the show) series; there are shows like The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Bates Motel, Teen Wolf, The Originals, Penny Dreadful, Scream, Scream Queens, Supernatural, The Strain, American Horror Story, Grimm… and these are are just the series that are currently in production. There are a half-dozen in development that I can think of off the top of my head. Genre television is hugely popular right now, so bringing back the gang would do very well!
VS: I want to thank you again for taking the time to come down here and visiting us today, Alyse. I’m not trying to put you on the spot but as a fan of the series I really want to thank you for Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th the Series. Informative and blessedly informal.
AW: Thanks for having me! Trust me, this is a dream of mine: to talk non-stop about F13!
VS: Before you leave…I’m sorry…I have to ask. Which object would you most like to possess for good or ill?
AW: Umm… probably the pocket watch in “13 o’clock.” I always loved the idea of having an hour to myself, especially in the middle of the night! I don’t think I would have done anything nefarious with that hour. As a kid, I just wanted an hour to watch the crazy late-night monster movies without worrying I would wake up my parents.
VS: Before you go, Alyse, I thought you might like to see this vintage interview with Louise Robey from The Late Show back in 1988!
I want to thank the talented Alyse Wax for taking the time to speak with me once again, if you would like to read more of her work you might want to check out her site and remember to pick up her book Curious Goods:Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series which is out now!