Director, actor, podcaster and Comic Book Men executive producer Kevin Smith hosts this year’s AMC Fearfest. In an exclusive interview with AMCtv.com, Smith talks about his favorite Friday the 13th movie and why he thinks Michael Myers is such a groundbreaking horror character.
Q: Being a self-described geek, do you prefer science-based horror flicks over slasher movies?
A: It all depends on how well it’s made. The scifi ones tend to get an edge just because of their originality. When you’re doing a masked killer that can’t be stopped, you’ve got to do something incredibly original with that in order to catch my attention anymore. It’s tougher and tougher to make one of those flicks because people have seen it: OK, the dude’s got a knife and a mask, if you shoot him, he’ll get up again. Yeah, yeah. What else you got? In scifi horror, you have the opportunity to be original by masking reality. You can take a social issue and put it through another prism. Like Let’s put it on Mars and just paint the people green. It gives you the ability to do whatever you want.
Q: The Halloween franchise has spawned 10 films. What do you think makes that series so enduring?
A: Let’s be honest, John Carpenter created that relentless, unkillable, I’ll-get-up-and-keep-following-you guy. He’s a nightmare shade of a human being. So much so that he has no face, he’s just this expressionless William Shatner mask. Every other serial killer you know from the movies followed Michael Myers. Now, some people could say Leatherface came first, but nobody shot Leatherface in the first Texas Chainsaw and then he got up. Tobe Hooper played that movie pretty straight. So this unstoppable killing force that has no personality, no life behind its eyes — that character, when it was created, bred a fascination with audiences that has continued three decades later. People still give it up for Michael Myers. Also, Halloween is an iconic title. Even if you haven’t checked in on that series in five movies, they’ll come up with one new angle, like H20 and you’re like “Oh, a different title.” And suddenly, you’re sucked back in. Or Rob Zombie’s gonna do a remake and you’re like “Oh, I’d like to see what that looks like,” and you’re sucked back in, again.
Q: Which of the Friday the 13th movies is your favorite?
A: I remember seeing the first five in theaters, as an avid moviegoer of that generation. The original Friday the 13th still holds up. In the first one — the origins of Jason — he’s a special needs kid who drowned because campers were having sex, so to punish those campers and other campers having sex, this kid’s mother is going around killing people. That’s horrifying and heartbreaking.
Q: Are you a Stephen King fan? What’s your favorite King movie adaptation?
When I was a kid, I read lots of Stephen King. He kind of came to the forefront when I was young: Christine, The Shining, The Stand. Then we’d match them up to the movie adaptations, which all had varying degrees of success. Talking strictly horror, The Shining was my favorite. I know he [King] hates to hear it, but the Stanley Kubrick adaptation is masterful, it’s still chilling to this day, even though it’s doesn’t stay true to the book. I’m 42, and that shot of the two girls in the hallway still makes me close my eyes — I’m like, “Ahh, that’s unnerving.”