Sean Cunningham Talks ‘Friday the 13th’ series, Despite CW Giving it the Axe


Horror on television has been really hot lately.  Scream the television series, Scream Queens despite it just getting the axe, and of course American Horror Story which is soon to be airing its seventh season.  Why not a Friday the 13th television series?  Well that’s exactly what was beginning to take form over at the CW Network in 2014.

Originally the series was to have Sean S. Cunningham as executive produce, the director and co-writer of the first movie that started the franchise itself!  The story was to be set in the town of Crystal Lake and be about how the ensemble of characters deal with Jason’s (inevitable) return.

We at iHorror followed the development of the show.  How were the creators going to take a machete wielding maniac chasing big breasted actresses every week and turn it into something more appealing for the returning audience?  You can read their original concept here.  It sounded well-crafted and even kind of deep, a concept that held water and could have worked.

Fast forward two years later and rumor was spreading that this project was no longer going to happen.  Having our horror dreams realized then taken away is sadly something we are used to as horror fans.  Strangeland 2, anyone?  But the CW tried to keep the fans interested with claiming the television show will come up again for debate in April 2017.  It wasn’t dead in the water… yet.

Jason Parker reported: “At that point [April 2017] it will be determined by CW if they can find a story to warrant a series order.  If they opt to not go with Friday the 13th at all then the show is open for a different avenue of release.  Netflix has long been requested by fans as a destination that would hopefully limit the amount of studio interference”

Well kids, it’s June 2017, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it looks like the series has officially received the machete from the CW network.  CW president Mark Pedowitz explained to the Television Critics Association press;

“We had better pilots.  The bottom line is we felt we had stronger things to go with, and we didn’t go forward with it.  It was well-written, it was darker than we wanted it to be, and we didn’t believe it had sustainability… We didn’t believe that it was a sustainable script, a sustainable series.  It was a very good pilot, but not a sustainable series.”

This left many of us wanting to know what exactly was being talked about behind closed doors.  What direction was it going to go in?  And as for it being “darker than we wanted to make it” well yeah, it’s a Friday the 13th!  What did they expect?!  What made it so dark that the CW cringed away from it?  Well, this past week the podcast Shockwaves sat down with the man who started it all, Sean S. Cunningham, and picked his brain about the process he was part of to get Friday the 13th greenlit for television.  You can listen to the podcast from Shockwaves here.

Initially Cunningham reports the CW was really excited about the potential project, and offered ideas to help mold it more effectively for television.  You need to make the story interesting and compelling enough to make the viewers come back week after week, but you also need to service the fans who know who Jason is, and who know what he would and wouldn’t do.  Cunningham explained;
“The assumption is this.  Crystal Lake is a town that really exists, and a long time ago they had a serial killer named Jason Voorhees, and then some Hollywood creep comes out and makes this exploitation horror movie called Friday the 13th.  And then they make another one, and another one, and it just crushes the town.  The town becomes the place that “Jason built”  And the stuff that happens, they know what really happened.  The rest is Hollywood lore.  There are people there that lived through it, and they will tell you what really happened.  And so, what you can do is set up Crystal Lake as, more or less, like the town in JAWS, Amity Island.  You have the town with all its prime movers in the town, but the town is located in an area that would allow Jason to exist in whatever form.  But other things as well.  I would describe it as a place where if The X Files Mulder and Scully wandering into this county, they never would of left!  There’s so much weird shit going on!”

Where does this leave us?  Another network?  Perhaps Netflix?  All we can do is wait and hope for the best, something us horror fans have become quite good at.  Maybe one day we will see our favorite hockey masked killer terrorize townies on the small screen.