Jason Blum remembers the first horror movie that scared the bejesus out of him. He was 11 years old — "too young" — when he watched the original Friday the 13th. "For some reason I was alone," he recalls. "And I saw that movie, and I was really scared for a long time! I didn't see another horror movie for like three years after that movie."
Blum not only returned to the genre but ultimately founded Blumhouse Productions. The production company specializes in producing high-quality micro-budget films, usually in the horror genre. "I don't understand action movies at all. Comedies and comedians make me uncomfortable. And dramatic movies are full of people who are really snobby, and that drives me crazy," Blum explains. "So, that leaves me with horror movies, which don't have any of those other problems. And I love them for all those reasons."
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Blumhouse is behind blockbuster franchises like Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and the latest Halloween "reinvention" trilogy, amongst others, as well as 2020's The Invisible Man and the studio's newest release, this summer's The Black Phone. Blum is also a three-time Oscar nominee for Best Picture as the producer of 2014's Whiplash, 2017's Get Out, and 2018's BlacKkKlansman.
(Whiplash won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor; Get Out won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; and BlacKkKlansman won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.)
"I wanted to make TV and movies when I was young because it's fun. And horror directors have a great sense of fun — in a funny way, more than comedians do!" Blum says. "The set of a comedy feels like a funeral. We have fun on our movies."
Below, he shares with A.frame the five films that have most influenced his career.
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann | Screenplay by: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce
I went to the premiere of Moulin Rouge! at the Ziegfeld in New York, and I'm happy to say it happens quite frequently, where I'll see a TV show or a movie and it will remind me why I'm in this business. And it wasn't all about the movie, of course — it never is. Like, it's the right time in my life, the time of year, the moment that it was. I just had this magical experience in this movie theater from beginning to end. And I still can recall that feeling of being so happy that I was in a business tangentially related to this experience. The reason that movie's on the list is because that's when I felt it the most powerfully, of anything I've ever seen after that premiere.
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by: Joseph Stefano
It's not my favorite Hitchcock movie, but it's the most memorable Hitchcock movie for me. I think I saw it before, but the first time I really remember it was when I took a class on Hitchcock in college. That's really when I got kind of re-interested in genre after my scares from Friday the 13th got healed a little bit. We spent a lot of time on Psycho — I've probably seen Psycho more than any other Hitchcock movie. We saw it five times or something like that.
What I like about Psycho, and what I try and tip our hat to in some of our movies is pure visceral violence — especially, obviously, in the famous shower scene. There's a reason that scene is famous. The feeling people first had when they're watching that scene is a feeling I'm trying to get from audiences in a lot of the movies that we make.
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock | Screenplay by: Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison (from an adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan)
The first time I saw Rebecca was in that class. I don't think I'd ever heard of it before, and I saw it and I wrote a paper called "Why Rebecca Isn't Rambo," which is the worst, most pretentious title ever. It was this very profound idea that Rebecca is kind of more artful than Rambo. I mean, it was so dumb.
I chose Rebecca because it was my favorite Hitchcock movie that we saw in that class. It's hard to say what my favorite Hitchcock movie is, but I love that movie a lot. I wish I had an articulate reason as to why that's my favorite movie. I love the story. I love the performances. It's a little bit over the top. I love everything about it. So, Rebecca might be my favorite Hitchcock movie.
Directed by: Robert Altman | Screenplay by: Leigh Brackett
The Long Goodbye is one of my favorite movies. I guess I first saw it in my early 20s. And, for my 30th birthday, I was friends with someone who was friends with Quentin Tarantino, and Quentin screened The Long Goodbye for me in L.A. I had about 20 people over to see it, and I think that cemented The Long Goodbye as one of my favorite movies because that experience was so incredible. You know, I've had some pretty good birthdays, but that one was a lot of fun.
Written and Directed by: Jordan Peele
Get Out is one of my favorite horror movies, because it's like the culmination of act one of Blumhouse. I think we're in our second act now and making different kinds of movies, but the company was founded on this idea that you make something as inexpensively as possible, you give the director creative control, and you can take creative risks. And Get Out checked every box. It was a script that everyone had passed on and no one wanted to make, most notably Warner Brothers and New Line where Jordan was working. We went to him and said, "If you can make it for this budget, we'll make it." He said yes. We made it for $4.5 million. It's scary. It's haunting. It's about something. And it's a brilliantly made movie.
I would say our specific system we apply to movies has never worked better than on the movie Get Out, and that's why that's on my list. I thought we were going to win Best Picture, so my memory of the Oscars is: I did my speech a million times. I had it all prepared. I even made a little videotape of my speech, which I sent out to everyone the next day saying, "Even though we lost, I want you all to see my speech." Because we should have won! But what I remember the most of that Oscar day is me in my closet before the Oscars practicing my speech.