Summer Camp Gun Media

GamesBeat: Bear with me, but when I was a little kid, my older sister worked at this hole-in-the-wall VHS rental spot. From about 4th grade until my freshman year of high school, I would spend Friday night watching three movie marathons of whatever in the horror section didn’t get rented.

Those visual aesthetic of ’70s and ’80s horror soaked into my young and impressionable brain. So when I saw that Summer Camp image and some of the screenshots, I could see a creative team that, at least visually, has a close relationship with the same era of shock and exploitation.

Maybe you guys can share some of your VHS horror memories? Perhaps … look at what the biggest influences were for going with this premise and aesthetic?

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Keltner: Oh man, that is so good to hear, because yes! We were those kids. I, too, had a hole in the wall VHS rental store in my hometown. I didn’t have a relative in the rental biz, but I had that friend whose parents were more lax with what we could and couldn’t see.

But my mother was pretty cool about me renting horror movies, too. Of course, being a kid, you have no concept of what is good and what is complete garbage. You just picked the movie based on the cover art, right?

Ghoulies, with the little monster in the toilet … oh yeah, gotta get that! Critters and Puppet Master, yep, rented those multiple times.

My first proper slasher film was A Nightmare on Elm Street. That film wrecked me. But it’s funny. Not sure if you had a similar experience or not, but in the school cafeteria, kids would pull out different ‘extreme’ candy, and lay it out on the table. Warheads and the like. Super hot or super sour candy. And we would dare each other to eat them.  In a weird way, that’s synonymous with horror films and my childhood. Horror films became a rite of passage.

Gonzalez: My mother tried her hardest to shelter me from this stuff, but USA Up All Night would sneak in the goods for me. As a kid growing up, these movies were the things I snuck behind her back.

I didn’t have access to VHS tapes so much, but I was always down to watch whatever I could find on TV. Tales from the Crypt was my weekly obsession, followed by a lot of scary books, drawing morbid stuff, and slowly turning into a pretty dark person overall.

My earliest horror memory is watching Halloween for the first time. I couldn’t sleep for weeks. It’s amazing.

GamesBeat: The Summer Camp concept has obviously evolved since then. When and where did Friday the 13th wind up falling onto the drawing board?

Keltner: It was roughly February or March of this year when they [the creators and owners of the Friday the 13th brand] initially reached out, via email.

Honestly, we thought we were being trolled at first. So we ignored them. We just kept our head down and kept working.

A month later they called and I answered. I’m glad I did. Apparently Sean Cunningham, the original creator of the film series, had caught wind of what we were doing. And he was very impressed. He saw the passion that Gun Media and IllFonic were pouring into this project.

We were a little intimidated at first, but we were way wrong. He loved the concept! The conversation then changed from questioned about the game, to figuring out a way to partner. Here we had Tom, Kane, and Harry — basically the team that built the franchise — but we were missing two key elements; Sean and the license.

Sean offered both. My heart sank, because here we are, this small team with a conservative budget. I informed Sean that we were very grateful for the offer, but we simply didn’t have the budget required to pay the licensing fees. I mean, they had to be expensive. Probably more than our entire working budget.

“I understand Wes, that’s why I’m offering it to you, gratis.” said Sean.

I knew just enough Latin to know what I had just heard was incredible, amazing, and totally fucking unheard of!