In 12 Friday the 13th horrormovies, Jason Voorhees keeps coming back no matter who killed him last time. Film critic Vern wanted to tell his own version of a Jason movie. So, he wrote the novel Worm on a Hook and introduced Stoneback, a military veteran presumed dead for 20 years. New killings occur over Memorial Day weekend at a Washington State beer festival. Only a group of visitors believe Stoneback has returned.
Vern spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone about Worm on a Hook. The novel is now available in paperback or Kindle.
What if Jason Voorhees met his match one Friday the 13th?
The Friday the 13th sequels tried to give Jason formidable opponents, but it’s hard. Friday the 13th Part VII had a telekinetic girl, and Freddy Vs. Jason matched him with another franchise slasher. 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was the second “Final Chapter” which did not end up being the last entry in the series. Nevertheless, it got Vern thinking about Worm on a Hook.
“I always really like the opening of Jason Goes to Hell,” Vern said. “He’s stalking this woman and then she turns out to be a plant and they’ve set him up to be attacked by the police. That probably is what inspired this idea that what if Jason, or a Jason type guy, encountered someone who could really take him on?”
An earlier Friday the 13th sequel provided the main inspiration.
“I think it’s in Friday the 13th Part 2,” Vern said. “There’s a jump scare where Jason’s arms tear through a wall and grab a woman from behind around her neck. I just thought it would be funny if she then turned around, stuck her arms back through the wall and grabbed him. It all evolved from that idea over many years.”
‘Friday the 13th Part 2’ also inspired this part of ‘Worm on a Hook’
Worm On a Hook also begins like many Friday the 13th films. A group of campers coming to town and a scary local warns them not to go where they’re going. Before the killings begin, they learn the legend of the killer who will stalk them.
“I really like Friday the 13th Part 2 a lot,” Vern said. “That was kind of my go to slasher movie tone that I wanted. I have his backstory told at the campfire. That was kind of an homage to Friday the 13th 2. But then I also include him saying all of his military background and skills that he’s trained in and combined them into one thing.”
Action movies also inspired ‘Worm On a Hook’
As a critic, Vern’s two favorite genres are action movies and horror movies. He wrote the book Seagalogy: The Study of the Ass Kicking Films of Steven Seagal. It still remains perhaps the only reverent critical analysis of Seagal’s work. In addition to Friday the 13th movies, Worm On a Hook includes references to the likes of Road House, and Tom Cruise’s intense running in action movies.
“I do a lot of ridiculous Google research as I’m writing things,” Vern said. “I actually found an article where somebody was analyzing the way Tom Cruise ran. I definitely was trying to describe him as running like Tom Cruise.”
Friday the 13th movies take place at Camp Crystal Lake. Stoneback’s backstory takes place in Val Verde. If you watched Joel Silver produced action movies in the ’80s and ’90s, you’ll recognize Val Verde.
Val Verde is a fictional South American country that’s referenced in a few different movies. Predator I guess is said to take place there but it’s kind of ambiguous. Then there’s a dictator from Val Verde involved in Die Hard 2 and I believe Commando takes place there. Although it wasn’t the exact tone that I ended up with, I thought about Commando a lot through this entire process of writing this book. So it seemed important to reference it in an semi-obscure way.
Vern describes the Val Verde tone.
“I like how everything in Commando is always larger than life, to the point where he’s a guy who carries a log on his shoulder,” Vern said. “I see Val Verde as the world where everything is more colorful and exciting than in reality.”
Vern included art films in ‘Worm On a Hook’ too
Devoted readers of Vern will also recognize references to one of his favorite art films. Vern once reviewed and often references Alejandro Jodoworsky’s The Holy Mountain. When the characters get to the cabin, they find a collection of random DVDs. The titles include several mainstream movies, along with The Holy Mountain. Fans will recognize homages to The Holy Mountain early in Worm On a Hook. Perhaps readers will be curious to see Jodoworsky’s movie.
“Do you think it’ll work?” Vern said. “I’m not sure if that joke will make any sense if you don’t figure out that that’s what it’s referring to. The joke about having the DVDs was inspired by having stayed in a cabin that I’m sure, like all cabins have a random collection of DVDs. At the time, I thought I should just buy a bunch of copies of Holy Mountain and leave them at every cabin, which at the time was an in print DVD. I did not actually do it, unfortunately. I would have improved a lot of lives if I had done that.”
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