Today is…..#HappyFriday13th! What a good day to celebrate one of the famous horror franchise, impersonated by the chubby guy with the hockey mask, Jason Voorhees. It is certainly not the first slasher movie by its appearance (the first slasher that has a wide audience was John Carpenter’s Halloween) but certaintly the most profitable.
Interestingly enough, Jason became an icon of the horror-pop culture, the boogeyman of the 80s and went beyond the genius work of Tom Savini (one of the best talented makeup artist in horror movies) to get a life by its own. According to Friday the 13th Wiki, Jason was the son of Pamela and Elias Voorhees, born on June 13, 1946 (Thursday). We know almost nothing about his father but we know his mother was showing an extreme attachment to her son (that get unfolded in both Friday the 13th Part I and II).
It seems the whole tragedy that will set Jason as a serial killer took place in Camp Crystal Lake in 1957, a summer camp owned by the Christy family and juxtaposing Crystal Lake, located in Cunningham County (likely a reference to Sean Cunningham), NJ. The drowning of Jason Voorhees under her mom’s watch was the event to set the franchise. Seeking revenge for her son’s death, Pamela killed two counselors having sex the next summer as she blamed his death on counselors having sex instead of watching her son. That resulted in the closing of the Camp Crystal Lake until 1979. Its reopening in 1979 by Steve Christy (son of the Christy’s family) sets up Camp Blood open for business.
I will go through the different movies of the franchise that are considered canon (and ignore the spin-off and others) and also some attempts of video games adaptation.
For your eyes only, all the Friday the 13th (I to X):
Friday the 13th (1980):
The first Friday the 13th, it is unique as the murderer is seen in plain sight and does not attract attention, unlike Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. It is the only one starring Pamela Voorhees and not Jason as the main boogeyman, although Jason makes a cameo at the end. What it is probably the most interesting is the contribution of Henry Manfredini score giving this thrilling atmosphere and the now iconic “ki, ki, ki……ma, ma, ma……” (from “kill, mommy!” a sentence Pamela mentioning in her schizophrenic mind). What is also the most memorable in my opinion is the end sequence of the last survivor (she decapitated Pamela as a defense move), drifting on a canoe in the middle of the lake, with a soft and easy-listening song putting the viewer in a false sense of happy ending. Suddenly, from the lake comes Jason to try to drown her. White screen. Only to see that appears as a nightmare. Not only it confuses the reader (was it real? or just an hallucination) but cleverly opens up a possible second movie.
Friday the 13th, part 2 (1981):
The second movie takes place few years later after the first one. Alice, the only survivor of the first movie, is still fighting her demons. An impressive and oppressive figure comes in and kill her in her house, surely telling the audience someone is back with a vengeance. The scenario is fairly thin, just another excuse for some massacre and gore with the famous wheelchair victim. It is also the first time we discover Jason is the killer, hiding his ugly face with a potato bag. The last scene is fairly disturbing as one of the survivor found Jason’s shack and his mummified head and body. As a surviving reflex, she wears Pamela’s sweater and pose as his mother. The last sequence is in my opinion epic as it show one of the few times Jason without his mask. Less good than the first one but still okay.
Friday the 13th, Part 3 (1982):
You know you are running in trouble when you have almost a “Friday the 13th” movie every single year. What worse? When someone in the early 1980s thought that 3D movie was the future! (well you needed to wait another 20 years to get into the 3D movies in a sustainable manner). Just watching the opening sequence was enough to hear the screaming “exploitation” movie. However it worth its bag of pesos for finally Jason donning the hockey mask and ditching his potato bag. It is also posing as an unofficial final as Jason is presumably dead, hanging from a nose.
Friday the 13th, Final Chapter (1984):
My favorite. Not much by the quality of the movie but by the sentimental value. This was my first Friday the 13th movie, I was maybe 7 or 8 when I watch it, enough to get sermonized by Daddy as I was afraid of going back in my room. The interesting thing about is having Jason coming back from the dead, as it takes immediately place right after Chapter 3. It also have the young Tommy Jarvis that will be a main antagonist in Chapter 5 and 6. It is kind of brutal and very dark. One of the best of the franchise in my opinion.
Friday the 13th, Part 5: A New Beginning (1985):
Another meh chapter. This time, Jason is dead, plain dead. But Tommy Jarvis is completely insane from the murder of his family by Jason. Since he is fighting his inner demon, seeing Jason everywhere. He is withdrawn and asocial, sent into a youth refuge for teenagers with social and behavioral issues (almost like Freddy III, sounds like troubled teenagers was the success recipe back then). Nothing much, except a reheated sauce in which a father (a paramedic) witness his son murdered by another patient and decide to don a Jason hockey mask to claim revenge a la Pamela Voorhees.
Friday the 13th, Part 6: Jason Lives (1986):
Hahaha! This one is one the best by its dark humor (from the title a la James Bond), its numerous reference (Frankenstein monster) and the execution style. This is my favorite. I will not spoil much about it. Watch it and enjoy the carnage!
Friday the 13th, Part 7: The New Blood (1988):
Probably new blood but nevertheless myasthenic, you can feel the franchise is peddling into some sauerkraut. It is nice for the killing but Jason facing a girl with telekinetic superpower? Come on…
Friday the 13th, Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989):
Don’t try to make any logic out of it, nothing makes sense in that one. How come a cruise ship can get out from a closed lake? Furthermore, sailing into Manhattan piers. No less! Come for the fun of seeing Jason wandering into Manhattan and the epic boxing scene!
Friday the 13th, Part 9: Jason Goes to Hell (1993):
This one is a bit weird as it start with Jason being ambushed by the FBI and blown into pieces. For some reason, Jason reincarnates by sharing body envelopes, transforming his victim into a killing machine (and reflecting as Jason). Interesting, as you learn about Jason’s relative and the particular ending.
Jason X (2001):
Imagine Jason slashing teenager in the 25th century. Yep! After being cryopreserved as a lifetime sentence (Demolition Man anyone?), his body get discovered by archeologists students, straight out a Star Trek movie. A Jason propelled into the 25th century knows that nothing beats his good old machete. That’s bring a very good laugh stock and killings (the liquid nitrogen killing was a unique one). Really watch it for the fun.
Now, videogame wise, there are few games. There is one I played on my cousin Commodore64 (Verboten! It was a bootleg copy of Friday the 13th game, because it was simply forbidden to sale in Germany). It was nice but a bit repeating. You have to identify Jason among the different counselor, as he is impersonating one of them (only revealing himself by killing others). You know he is for a killing spree when you have the particular music coming…..
Another video game port was the infamous NES port by LJN, a pile of BS non-sense as reviewed by the AngryVideogameNerd. Oh my God, that was some awful game!
Not directly Friday the 13th but you should give a try to the Splatterhouse series by Namco, with the hero being some kind of Jason fighting monster.Dammit I sold my Splatterhouse 2 SEGA Genesis copy a long time ago!:
Now there is a multiplayer game coming soon that looks very exciting, somewhere in the vein of the original C64 but with one player playing Jason and others counselors trying to set booby-traps and survive his assaults.