“One of the great, great things about horror movies is that because there’s almost, I don’t want to use the words ‘cult following,’ but a fanatic fan base, they last forever.”
Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI hit theatres on August 1, 1986, and three decades on, it’s a film that has not only demonstrated the staying power Vinny Guastaferro described, but seems to be gaining in popularity with each passing year. To mark the 32nd anniversary of Jason Voorhees’ resurrection, Guastaferro shared some memories of one the most popular, and certainly most unique chapters in franchise history.
Guastaferro came to the role of Deputy Rick Colone after being cast in Bullpen, a baseball play that revolved around the “banter between the pitchers” in the bullpen of a New York Yankees / Boston Red Sox contest that was directed by Tom McLoughlin.
The mastermind behind Friday’s sixth chapter, “like a lot of people in Hollywood,” shared with Guastaferro that “I just got a job doing a big movie and I’d like you to be in the movie,” the Jason Lives writer and director told the man who would go on to be Colone, “but it’s for Paramount Pictures and you have to audition and everything.”
Guastaferro didn’t mind the specter of an audition because “fighting for a role is part of what an actor is inured to.” It wasn’t until Guastaferro read the script, however, that he became excited for a “terrific role,” because he would be playing a cop with “a singular agenda,” itching to shoot somebody or something, who was “kind of the comic relief and the asshole all at once.”
McLoughlin loved Guastaferro’s take on the character, as would the fans. The rest, as they say, is history.
The overwhelming fan response to Deputy Rick from the Friday faithful was a bit foreign to Guastaferro at first. He wondered if some of the fans were a bit crazy, what with couples waking around conventions with two-year olds in strollers, others with his lines tattooed on body parts, and stories of 10-year olds watching with their parents. But the more exposure he had to horror aficionados, the more Guastaferro came to realize that it was all about the love of Jason Lives being handed down from generation-to-generation.
“I actually came to appreciate the fans and the fanaticism for these movies a little bit later because I just did [Jason Lives] as a movie and said ‘I hope it’s good,’ and it was good.” Guastaferro admits to being “a little prejudiced” when saying that he believes Part VI to be “the best of the whole franchise,” but legions of fans back up that assertion. “Look, I know people who are fanatic about this movie who are still under 10 years old, and I know people that are fanatics about this movie that are about 65 or 70 years old.”
That a horror flick filmed in Georgia three decades back has enjoyed an almost incomprehensible shelf life is humbling to Guastaferro.
“It’s been a privilege to be in a movie that has had this kind of recognition for this many years. People still email me and Facebook me and call me Rick and deputy, and they quote my lines. Pretty amazing to me.”
The affable New Jersey native is very humorous by nature, and wasted no time noting that one of those lines that gets quoted constantly has been more rewarding than the wife he got out of the production.
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Guastaferro had been dating Cynthia Kania, who along with Roger Rose was brought in to play Annette following principle photography to be double-skewered on a motor scooter to ensure McLoughlin reached the picture’s death quota. And when asked which ranked higher, landing the line or the spouse, Guastaferro didn’t hesitate.
“Ohhh, having one of the most memorable lines, I was gonna get that wife no matter what,” Guastaferro shot back. “I had met her a little earlier, and I had dated her, but definitely having the line. Are you kidding?! ‘Wherever the red dot goes, ya-bang!’ is something that I get in the mail, I get people sending me photos with that written on it, I had a woman in Vienna (Austria) show up at one of the horror cons I did over there, and she had that line tattooed on her fucking arm!”
“I think having the line is probably the most rewarding thing ever,” Guastaferro said. “I mean, I was watching Predator the other night, and I love the line (adopting an Ahnold accent) ‘If it bleeds, we can kill it.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah! I own one of those lines!’ I’m really happy to have that (laughs).”
It was a line Guastaferro came up with himself, exclaiming “Ya-bang!” when McLoughlin presented him with the hand cannon and scope that would be used in the cemetery scene, a benefit of the trust established through his previous project with McLoughlin. “Tom gave me a lot of leeway in there, and I invented some of the lines and improvised and he decided to keep them because he wanted the character to be revealed as partly a jerk, and funny.”
The line (and the decision to keep it) was inspired, because with the fans, all these decades later, the red dot still hits the target.
“I’ve been to conventions where people have asked me to write it on their ass, on their bald head with a permanent marker, on their cleavage. Girls would come in with crop tops on and have me write ‘Wherever the red dot goes, ya-bang!’ right across [the small of their back].”
For those scoring at home, Guastaferro and Kania were married a month after they wrapped on Jason Lives, but the legacy of “ya-bang!” isn’t lost on Guastaferro.
“I felt good every night knowing that the audience was leaving touched by what I did (on stage), but it’s nowhere near as rewarding as knowing that there are friggin’ five million people out there who were enamored of Friday the 13th,” Guastaferro reflected.
“Listen, every actor wants to know that what they did had some kind of impact on people,” Guastaferro said. After more than 50 films, 100 television appearances and extensive theatre performances, it hasn’t been the dramatic roles with social messages that have endured, but a horror film from 1986.
“It’s not deep, it’s not meaningful, it’s not about social cause or change, it’s entertainment. And that’s what Tom wanted it to be.”
Guastaferro referred to Jason Lives as “the king of my movies,” and continued, “I am so pleased, I’m so pleased. One of my proudest movies is Friday the 13th.
Ted White, who portrayed Jason in The Final Chapter, is apt to say “Always leave them wanting more,” a sentiment echoed by Guastaferro. “Smile and laugh, that’s what we want.”
It’s been 32 years since Deputy Rick Colone unholstered his sidearm. We’re still smiling, and still laughing.