There are few names in modern Hollywood more responsible than Jason Blum for getting good, challenging or just plain interesting horror movies into cinemas. With his production company Blumhouse, he’s overseen a string of modern horror classics – and he’s done so against the odds, hustling as he goes and rallying against a rigid Hollywood system that more often values economics over innovation.
With Halloween just around the corner, we thought there was no better time than now to pick Jason’s brain about his favourite horror movies ever. “Can I pick some of my own movies?” he asks. Oh go on, then.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Jason: “This is the most important horror movie to me for multiple reasons. Firstly, it gave birth to our company, Blumhouse. The entire business model of our company is modelled on Paranormal Activity, which was basically an independent movie distributed by a big studio. Secondly, I think Oren [Peli, writer and director] really did make one of the scariest movies I’ve still ever seen.
“Hollywood is such a machine. It’s supposed to celebrate creativity, but Hollywood rejects originality and has done since its very beginning. That movie was rejected by every genius in Hollywood for three years. Nobody in Hollywood really knows what they’re doing, which I guess is what makes it so much fun!”
“This is a very important movie to me. I took a class in college on Alfred Hitchcock and, like anything in your life, at the time I didn’t think it was going to be that meaningful. But I think that class became very, very, very meaningful to me. It was my education in film. I think Hitchcock, more than any other director, is the director that Blumhouse owes the most to. Everything I was saying about Hollywood? Hitchcock was having those problems 80 years ago. I find it very frustrating – he must have found it unbelievably frustrating.”
“Let’s stick with Hitchcock. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched this film. I genuinely think it’s a perfect movie. It’s just so haunting and so violent – even though, by today’s standards, it’s actually not that violent. It shouldn’t have been made, really: it amazes me it did. The thing I love about the best producers and directors and writers and artists is that when they get the bit in the mouth, they don’t let go and they push impossible things through the system.”
The Purge (2013)
“Another one of ours, and another really important film to the company. We’d done Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister, but The Purge was the first time that Hollywood wasn’t like, ‘OK, these guys aren’t just doing magic tricks with these movies: they’re actually tackling moviemaking in a different way and producing great financial results and interesting, cutting-edge scary movies’. It put us on the map and gave us access to higher-level filmmakers, actors, producers and writers. We’ve said this most recent one [2021’s The Forever Purge] is the last one, but I think there’s further we can go. I think the series has endless potential.”
Friday the 13th (1980)
“I saw it when I was pretty young at my cousin’s house in Beverlywood, which is a part of Los Angeles, and during that era children were basically ignored. I don’t know where my cousins were: my dad was most likely out to dinner, and so I threw on Friday the 13th. It terrified me to my core – and not actually in a good way, it really wasn’t fun. I was in this little room with a bunch of glass doors that looked onto a little terrace. I was convinced Jason was gonna come through the glass and kill me. Convinced of that! I didn’t see another horror movie after that for at least two or three years. Thing is, it’s not really a great movie, but Jason is a great villain: that gets you a long way. There were a lot of terrible Halloween movies, but people kept coming back for more Michael Myers.”
Get Out (2017)
“Another hugely important movie to the company. We’d been nominated for an Academy Award with both BlacKkKlansman and Whiplash, but to get there with a horror movie was something else. Like The Purge, it took the company to another level. And I think it’s an important movie, too. Not that we were the first company to make a horror movie with a social theme – look at everything John Carpenter has done – but it did feel like Jordan [Peele, writer and director] had tapped into something really important with that movie.”
“The original is great, obviously, but I really loved David Gordon Green’s 2018 version. First of all, I got to know Jamie Lee Curtis, which was great, and we’ve had a great partnership with her. We have a deal with her now, and we have four different television things with her in development. We’ve also made a second Halloween movie with her, and we’re about to start our third with her. And the same thing with David Gordon Green – we’ll be working with him on projects for the next four or five years. But really, I think Michael Myers is the scariest character in any horror movie, ever.”