the 13th Celebration, Part 1 (or
1 through 4, technically)
You have to love holidays that aren't really holidays. You know what I'm talking about: St. Patrick's Day, Yom Kippur, and Winter Solstice for example. Well, those ARE holidays, but they're holidays that not everyone celebrates, nor does the general population get the day off work. My special holiday is, without question, Friday the 13th. It can come at almost any time of year, always happens on a weekend, and already has a pretty well-designed mascot going for it. I've mentioned my love for Friday the 13th on the site before, when it happened to be the day right before Valentines day (click here for the ancient article), but I've never really dived into the cinematic namesake of this special day. So this past weekend, I sat myself down and watched the first 6 Friday the 13th movies back to back. If you've been living under a rock, that means I watched a lot of movies about Jason Voorhees killing horny teenagers in the woods while wearing a hockey mask. Well, that's not terribly accurate. Of the first 5 films, Jason is only in three of them and only wears the hockey mask in two. Sort of boring trivia, but I pride myself on pointless sharing. The thing is, Jason Voorhees was not the "unstoppable zombie in a hockey mask" in the beginning. The movies are an interesting time capsule. Starting in 1980, a new "Jason" movie was made almost every following year until the 1990's. So you get to see the subtle (or not-so-subtle) shift from terrible 1970's hair and fashion to terrible 1980's hair and fashion. Enough rambling. Let's take a quick look into the prehistory of Jason Voorhees. Or the "original" Jason movies....before he turned into the unstoppable zombie we know and love.
Warning: This article contains pictures of goofy special effects that, if in a movie, require it to be rated R. They're mostly goofy-looking taken out of context, but if you're not comfortable with latex violence you might not want to continue.
Friday the 13th (1980)
I'm really curious as to how many of you HAVEN'T seen this film. The story takes place on June 13th (a Friday, get it?) and a bunch of camp counselors show up early to a summer camp so that they can do drugs, have sex, and get killed by Jason's mom. There's a little more to it, but not really.
So what's the gimmick behind this film? Sean Cunningham (the director) wanted to cash in on John Carpenter's successful "Halloween" flick (he admits) and grabbed whatever he could from it. For you horror movie fanatics out there, I don't mean to bash Mr. Cunningham, but the main film gimmick of Friday the 13th is how most of the film uses the 1st person perspective, just like Carpenter did in the first ten minutes of Halloween. :shrug: Oh, well. Originality isn't everything, and, when it comes down to it, the Friday the 13th films have done infinitely better than the Halloween series ever did. So what's the formula? Well, if you take away characters and have an hour of teens getting stabbed in the woods, there you have it.
On the topics of the killings, I think that if I ever end up teaching about film, I'll have to force the class to watch this one. Sure, kids get killed all over the place, but do you know what really kills them? Editing. The special effects were hailed as amazing back in the day, but what people saw was a great example of montage editing. A random collection of shots thrown together left us with the idea that a girl gets her head bashed in with an ax.
Hollywood magic. Almost all the kids in early Friday the 13th series die at the hands of editing, but let's forget film theory and start making fun of what has to be mocked.
I am so glad the 1970's is over. Mullets, afros, and bad dye jobs abound. Also, let's take a moment to talk about pants. Pants are an amazing invention that, when looking at films like this, didn't catch on amongst the teens until the 1980's. Seriously though, what the HELL is it with guys wearing shorter shorts than the girls? I don't mean to sound sexist, but if you look at the picture on the left, that's Kevin freakin' Bacon wearing "Daisy Dukes." I guess it sort of balances out, because while most of the guys are wearing denim underwear all the time, the girls all end up running around in their panties in the rain. By the way, Kevin Bacon is indeed the only person to really get "famous" after this film.
This is Crazy Ralph. I think every summer camp needs to have an old guy that runs around babbling about a "death curse" and how "you're all going to die." In fact, I think that when I retire I'm going to do just that. "Crazy Jared," they'll call me, and I'll go after the big leagues. So in 60 years, when you see an old man dressed as a banana outside Disney World screaming about how the park's cursed...that'll be me.
There's also an interesting trend amongst the first few Friday the 13th movies: The ugly girl survives. Well, I'm not going to call them ugly, but the "small-chested" girl, or maybe the "normal" looking girl. I'm not sure why this is the case...it probably has something to do with the whole "We've seen your breasts now it's time to die" rule of slasher films. Then again, maybe what was and what wasn't sexy was different back then. Like this:
If the director's going to do an extreme close-up on his surviving heroine, a woman having facial hair MUST have been quite sexy at the time. It totally bothers me that it looks like she could grow a better moustache than I could. Gah.
Of course the killer from this film ISN'T Jason Voorhees (trivia question most people know already), but his vengeful mother played by Betsy Palmer. Now I wasn't born in the 1940's, so this is really the only thing I've ever seen her in. She's apparently this old TV actress from the old days when television shows were blatant advertisements (she had roles on both the "Kraft Television Theatre" and "The United States Steel Hour"). Anyway, to our generation, she's just that crazy old lady that gave birth to Jason. Over the course of the film, she kills all but one of the teenagers. When only one is left standing, she falls victim to what many of us call the "James Bond Villain" syndrome. That is to say that, instead of just gutting the last homely girl as she did the rest, she decides she needs to tell her entire master plan and motivation to the final survivor. Much like what happens in every James Bond film, this is her undoing. She tells us that today (June 13th, according to the film) is Jason's birthday and how she's pretty much been killing teens since some counselor let her retarded son drown in the lake. By the way, now you can answer "what day was Jason Voorhees born?" a rather hardcore trivia question. In the end, the final confrontation shifts from suspenseful slasher film to female catfighting as Betsy and Alice (girl with moustache) wrestle with each other. To make a long story short, Alice beheads Ms. Voorhees in slow motion. (Betsy's death scream pictured on the right.) Alice hops in a canoe and falls asleep of exhaustion. Later she wakes up in the peaceful Crystal Lake. The music assures us that the horror is over and that we can relax. Then a mutant child hops out of the river and drags her under.
Say hello to the original Jason. Sure, he only appears in a dream sequence but there he is. Covered in sewage and seaweed, he's pretty much the zinger surprise at the end of the film. After he grabs Alice (you know, facial hair girl) she wakes up in the hospital blabbering about the little boy. We the audience are left with the question: Is there really a little mutant boy in the lake or was she having a nightmare? For all her trouble, Alice gets a big injection of valium....
straight in the ass. Woo Hoo. (I WISH that was a trivia question.)
Now I know you're wondering when I'm going to list the murders and post pictures of them, just like I did for the Nightmare on Elm Street article. The reason I mentioned how almost everyone in this film is killed by editing is that, because of it, it's very hard to capture an image that tells you what the hell happened. Sometimes it works...but often it's "scream-knife-extreme close-up of eyes-blood splatter on wall-close-up of wound-dead body lying on the ground." Some of the later films have better visual deaths, but editing has a strong hold on the death count throughout the entire Friday the 13th series. So here's the list (which I tried to make complete):
3 deaths by stabbing (one in slow motion), 2 throats slit, 1 pointy thing through Kevin Bacon's throat, 2 archery-related deaths, and 1 ax to the face (and a partridge in a pear tree). What saves the day: Beheading Betsy Palmer with a machete. Total Deaths: 10
Well, that's it for part one. I wish I could say that all the remaining movies are about Jason killing people (I am, admittedly, a Jason fan) but such isn't quite the case. With that ominous statement, let's move on.
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Ah, the joy of sequels. In this one we're introduced to the first non-hallucination (most likely) Jason. He doesn't have his trademark mask yet and looks pretty goofy with a pillowcase on his head, but this movie doesn't mess with the original formula...with one exception. There's a bit more of something that's more commonly found outside of the slasher genre: Characterization. I'm not saying it's great and I'm not saying it wasn't written by a 12-year-old, but I'm just saying it's there. Again this flick takes place at Crystal Lake...but not Camp Crystal Lake. It's a camp counselor training camp on the other side of said body of water. Again we get Crazy Ralph telling kids they're doomed and yet again we get lots of sex, drugs, and ultraviolence (mostly through editing). The film begins with the girl who cut off Betsy Palmer's head at the end of the first film sitting at home. The spooky music tells us she's doomed (well, the fact that she's on the screen tells us she's doomed, really. I mean, can you imagine a long scene in a horror movie where the finale is the girl makes herself a sandwich and goes to bed?). Betsy Palmer has returned for vengeance:
Well, not vengeance per say, but I would say that whoever put her severed head in the fridge probably didn't have sanitation in mind. The weird thing is that when I saw this, my first thought was "Damn. Someone better wrap that in cellophane or it'll spoil." What's wrong with me? Oh back on topic:
Then the last film's survivor gets an icepick to the brain. What's interesting about this is that here we see that Jason was alive the whole time and retrieved his Mom's head. He also cut the phone line and BROUGHT his mother's severed head on the "let's go kill your murderer" road trip. Yup. Jason's a psycho. I wonder what he transported the head in?
There's a lot of backstory being written for Jason Voorhees in this one. The implication is that he survived the drowning and has been living like a feral animal in the woods since then. Sure, whatever. The film goes so far as to show you what he's been doing in his free time, namely building himself a luxurious villa out of scrap metal (pictured to the left) and creating a shrine to his dead mother using parts of his dead mother (pictured to the right). In the end the heroine ends up taking his mom's rotten sweater and puts it on to pretend to be his mother. Now I will say that I found the survivor of this film to ALSO be sort of goofy looking, but I feel that was what the director was going for when he determined that she could play the part of a shrivelled rotted corpse-head without any make-up. Well, that's how I interpret it.
I don't know if I'd say she looks like a corpse, but I will say she's not winning any beauty pageants. Still, that's to her favor: The sexy girls die horribly. Speaking of misogyny, let's take a look at a little product placement.
Nothing says "Women have important roles in Jason films" quite like starting a scene with an extreme close-up of an ass. Luckily that's a woman's ass...but considering when this was made I'll probably find out later that those are men's shorts. Anyway this sort of long moment of watching a girl's ass gets your attention. Filmmakers do this kind of stuff because it gets you looking at the screen...the perfect time for product placement. So when you see the rest of her, what is she selling?
When Disney paid Paramount Studios to place their logo/character in the film (as I assume they did), I'm pretty sure they didn't have "place it on the ass girl with the wet t-shirt on and the pointy nipples." Then again, this may be the best product placement Disney's ever gotten....next to that tattoo of Donald Duck pleasuring Goofy on Bruce Campbell's arm. But I digress. A lot of people have called the Friday the 13th series sort of sexist, or at least representing women as objects. I don't know if the films are meant to be taken that seriously, but I will admit that the series has no shame when it comes to using breasts and ass to get your attention.
Nothing builds horrific tension quite like a girl in panties bent over. Sadly, this exact shot is sort of a Friday the 13th tradition, as it happens a number of times over the series. Part 2 is still my favorite film when it comes to insulting women, though: The camp director gives a long speech about how women's periods will attract bears and how he wants all his counselors feeling "fresh." Any film that uses women's menstruation in relation to very hungry bears as a joke is both awesome and sort of whack (but not wiggity).
Affirmative action and equal opportunity aside, does anyone else think the idea of a handicapped guy in a wheelchair as a camp counselor in the WOODS is kind of a stupid idea? Jason thinks so too and ends up finding the only stairway in the woods to push him down, ironically. Don't ask my why there's a staircase in the woods. It's ironic.
Jason himself is pretty funny looking in this one...and very small as compared to how we seem to collectively remember him. He actually runs in this one...instead of that trademark walking after his victims. Here's Jason 2.0. With the mask:
And without the Mask:
You know, if Jason grew a goatee/beard, he would look pretty close to that guy on American Idol. Maybe it's just the filthy hippy hair. Or maybe I'm insane. On a related note, you'd think he'd do the whole comb over thing and put the hippy hair over his bad side. Oh well.
So Jason's got a lumpy face and likes to wear a pillow over his head....where does it get him? In this film he doesn't die or run away...he sort of just vanishes. You think he's dead and then he bust through the wall. The scene ends and the girl's still alive, the boy is missing and we, the audience, have no idea what just happened. Apparently, when you're writing a horror movie, it's always best to throw a WHAT THE HELL... IT WAS ALL A DREAM, OR WAS IT??? moment at the audience right at the end. This happens a few times over the course of the series. It really makes you appreciate the joy that is having an actual END to the movie, instead of a mysterious "we left it open so we could easily make a sequel" kind of thing.
The Deaths: Jason brings a lot of style to the killing floor. Still, it's mostly done through editing. For example:
This is the part of the film where Jason sticks a spear through two people while they're having sex. God damn you editing. You make it look so much more lame in picture form.
Crap. Jason killed Crazy Ralph by choking him with barbed wire. I can only hope the same thing won't happen to me in the Disney World parking lot.
It's so hard to not make a "It's Hammer Time" joke here. What I really like is how in reality that's just a handle glued to the actor's head and he's having to make that expression. I wonder what he's looking at?
When the first film didn't feature anyone that was handicapped, a lot of people wrote in to complain. Jason solved the problem by bringing a wheelchair-needing ex-football player to the middle of the woods, sticking a machete through his FACE, and pushing him down the only outdoor stairway he could find. I can only imagine how much worse his death would have been if he'd been a minority. Man.
The Deaths: 1 icepick to the brain, 1 choked with Barbed wire, 1 hammer to the brain, 1 throat cut, 2 people stabbed with a spear while they were having sex (ladies, remember to not just scream if you see a killer behind me during sex), 2 stabbings. 1 machete through the face + pushed down the stairs, and 1 "he just disappears at the end" bullcrap. Total: 10. Grand Total: 20.
Now it's time for:
Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D (1982)
That's actually the cover art for the soundtrack, but god damn it's cool. And yes, it's time for Jason Voorhees in 3-D! I'm a big fan of 3-D movies...even if they're not being presented in 3-D. Directors come up with all sorts of weird gimmicks and goofy effects that you wouldn't normally see just for the sake of sticking the thing out at the audience. Since the "plots" to Jason movies aren't usually important, it's time for a small gallery of 3D goofiness:
I'm sure a lot of thought went into creating the "pass me that joint" 3-D effect.
Say hello to "Crazy Abel," the nutty guy who kept an eyeball and waves it around at the audience.
Jason squeezes a man's head until his eye pops out at the camera. It's not funny, but it is sort of cool...well, to me.
Oh No! Jason's coming for YOU!
The 3-D thing gets kind of old pretty fast, but it's a fun gimmick that's used throughout the entire film, unlike other 3-D horror films (like Freddy's Dead or Amityville 3-D). The film picks up where the last one left off: Jason is out there and killing people. Great plot, right?
This is also the film where Jason gets his trademark hockey mask. For you trivia goons out there, he gets it from Shelly, the trickster pictured above (the one in the mask...NOT the one with the perky butt). Of course by "gets," I mean he kills him and takes the damn thing for himself. Apparently, that old pillowcase he was using was beginning to chafe.
What would a Jason flick be without the required girl bending over wearing a bikini? You'd think that scantily-clad women are vital to the plot of Jason films. Actually this sort of ties into the morality of Jason films. I've always said they were very, very Christian. Think about it. If you do drugs: YOU DIE. If you have premarital sex: YOU DIE. Pleasure = Sin = a violent death at the hands of Jason. Of course, this film introduces yet another rule to remember if you want to survive horror movies. We all know the "don't have sex" and "don't drink/do drugs" rules, but did you know:
Poop kills! Apparently, if you have to go to the bathroom, it means you have to die. This film has the first of several "I have to take a dump" deaths where the bathroom is integral to suspensefully killing the character in question. It's embarrassing but if you ever find yourself in the woods with a psycho and have to "go", HOLD IT, FOR GOD'S SAKE. Also, this film shows that other people are much more casual about taking craps than I am. Sure, I take the occasional magazine in with me (if you come to my house I'm not telling you which ones) but I would never drink, smoke, or sing while doing my business. Maybe I'm weird. On a related note, taking a shower is also a quick way to get yourself killed, but no one talks about how you can survive longer if you stop bathing. :shrug:
This is Rick. Rick couldn't die fast enough for me. He's apparently the old boyfriend of the main heroine and he pretty much keeps trying to guilt her into having sex with him. It's pretty realistic, I guess. You see his lady friend keeps talking about how she was attacked by a horrible freakish looking man, blacked out and was fine but traumatized. By the end of the film we find out she was apparently spared by Jason in the past or...er...something like that. It doesn't make a lot of sense. I guess what I'm trying to get to here is that there are scenes that involve more characterization than the other two films. The goofy guy has a comedic run in (comedic being a joke because these films aren't funny, even by 1934 standards) with some bikers and characters begin to fall in love. Of course that doesn't matter because Friday the 13th is all about the deaths.
The editing really makes it hard to convey that the two above shots equate to a guy getting cut in half crotch first. That's why I don't walk around on my hands. It's begging for a gross genital injury.
If you hate hippies (and I know you do) then please enjoy this shot of one being electrocuted.
What's most retarded about the above picture is that I have friends who will argue FOREVER that this isn't a fatal wound. They won't let me prove or disprove their argument.
Deaths: 3 stabbings, 1 knitting needle through the skull, 2 death by pitchfork, 1 speargun shot to the eye, 1 cutting in half, 1 implied throat slitting, 1 unborn child murdered (one girl was pregnant and I want to let to Pro-Life folks know), 1 electrocuted stoner, 1 impaled by fireplace poker, 1 head popping, and 1 ax to the head. Total: 14. Grand Total: 34. A lot of people don't count Jason's death at the end of this one, but if you didn't know there would be a bunch of sequels the death at the end it's pretty cut and dry. By the way, speaking of endings, we get a repeat of the original ending, only slightly different:
Instead of a zombie Jason popping out of the lake it's Betsy Palmer the corpse leaping out and grabbing our heroine. By the way, I'd like to point out that the women are getting more "mainstream" beautiful. By that I just mean they don't have obvious facial hair or pug noses like the older starlets did. The heroines are also getting progressively larger breasts, but the less said about that the better. Speaking of change, have you met Jason in this one yet?
Apparently between the last film and this one Jason started to shave but stopped brushing his teeth. This has got to be my favorite Jason so far, if only because he looks like a drooling retard that would make donkey noises while chasing you. Jason 3.0 is pretty lame, but it's lame in a "his new nickname is Lumpy" kind of way. Also keep in mind that Jason is still JUST a normal guy. Well, a crazily strong feral mutant psycho kind of normal guy, but he's still human. Cinematically, he's not more supernatural than any action hero who keeps surviving impossible things. Hell, he's a lot like the big guy from Sin City. Really. A lot. Anyway since he's just a guy he's vulnerable to one major thing that Paramount cashed in on in the next film.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
I wish I didn't think the phrase "fan favorite" whenever I think of this movie. The thing is that very few slasher films feature both a young Corey Feldman and a young Crispin Glover. Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover. Before Back to the Future and before the Goonies, there was Friday the 13th Part 4. Surreal, right? This is the film where Jason really dies. Well, that's obviously not correct, but at the time it sounded like a good idea. This movie takes place immediately after Part 3, with Jason's body (which seems to be dead but the paramedics don't check for vital signs) being taken to the morgue. This is one of the better Fridays if only because it was the first one to make me actually laugh and it's sort of cool to hear Crispin Glover mutter the line "Oh God I'm Horny." Yep. Crispin Glover plays a horny teenager who has to die. Corey Feldman plays Tommy Jarvis...a character that is sort of important to the series but more on that crap later.
Having sex with a nurse while in a morgue next to the body of Jason is something that lowers your Purity score by about ten points. I'm so jealous. Of course, what happens next makes me less jealous.
Sure, the nurse gets stabbed. But what happens to the guy? He's watching television. What's he watching, you ask?
Aerobic workout programs aren't sexual at all. On a related note that's not an image from the movie but something that I dream about on cold nights.
That may be the greatest expression ever caught on film.
With that out of the way, Jason wanders off into the woods to find the main characters. Besides Corey Feldman and Crispin, these include the usual batch of horny jocks and slutty girls that are pretty much there as machete-fodder.
It seems tacky to keep posting the "butt shot" from each Jason film, but I think I need to point out that it's a tradition. I mean, do they still do this in horror films? (Actually, Deep Water, that killer shark film, had that totally pointless topless scene in it, so I guess the practice of objectification isn't completely dead.)
If you've seen the film then you already know that Crispin Glover is very good at what is best known as "Spaz Dancing." This is also the moment I had to laugh...mainly because if you've ever gone clubbing then you already have seen someone very good at dancing terribly. Oh and just because I'll never get a better excuse to post a picture of Crispin Glover in post-coital greasy bliss, here you go:
The after sex with Crispin is also pretty familiar. Not that I've had sex with him, but he starts asking all these "I'm insecure about my sexual performance" questions. Not. That. I. Worry. About. That. Ever. :sigh: Moving on:
Let's all take a moment of silence while Crispin Glover takes a cleaver to the face.
There are a lot of deaths in this one...nothing really new, yet one death really haunts me to this day:
I KNOW you can't tell what you're looking at. You don't really want to know, but Jason kills a guy named Paul by shoving a spear into his crotch. Read that again and imagine someone doing that to you. I think my first reaction would be to ask why the hell they couldn't have killed me in a more normal fashion...or why the hell my crotch looked like it needed to be stabbed. Death by crotch impalement is definitely pretty low on my "Ways to Die Wish List." (By the way, death by "Boob Suffocation" is currently at the top, thanks to last week's Chesty Morgan article.)
Deaths: 1 Bonesaw to the Neck, 2 Stabbings, 1 Knife through the neck (and spine), 1 pointy thing through torso, 1 SPEAR TO THE CROTCH, 1 Crispin Glover taking a clever to the face, 1 implied off-screen death, 1 throat slitting, 1 thrown through window, 1 ax to the chest, 1 hacked to bits while screaming "He's Killing ME" (which is both the best and worst acting I've ever heard), 1 head crushed against bathroom shower tiles, 1 machete through the brain + frenzied stabbing by Corey Feldman. Total: 14. Grand Total: 48.
Let's say hello to Jason 4.0:
It would seem that Jason stopped using his skin moisturizer since his last film, because he looks both a lot scarier and more like a goofy rubber mask. This is also the closest we've seen to an officially "zombie" Jason (barring the first film dream-cameo), but it's a step in the right direction. He ends up being tricked by Corey Feldman (more on him in a second) which results in the most gruesome moment in the film:
Jason falls on the damn machete that's lodged in his head. It's one thing to have a guy take a machete to his head, but to watch him slowly slide down it is just unsettling (even if it is obviously a rubber mask). So how did this happen to our favorite Voorhees?
Corey Feldman shaves his head, puts on goth make-up and pretends to be a young Jason. Obviously, it works or at least confuses our main slasher because in the the next minute Jason is pretty much very dead. Corey Feldman (as Tommy Jarvis) is sort of important as a character because he pretends to be Jason, kills him (in slow motion by the way) and pretty much ends the film looking right at you with this psychotic look as if to say "Corey Feldman IS the New Jason now, Bitches!" Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but judge for yourself:
More films need to end with Corey Feldman staring at you.
So what's the score? Jason is Dead. The next Friday the 13th film doesn't even have Jason in it except in a dream. We know he doesn't stay dead....but you'll have to wait until the next Friday the 13th to read about that (or wait until my computer implodes again and I need content something fierce).
Coming Next Friday the 13th: How Jason got his Groove Back (or how Paramount realized there was more money and films to be made). Jason TALKS! Jason in Space! Jason and the Muppets Take Manhattan! Jason versus Carrie! (By the way, the next Friday the 13th takes place this October just in time for Halloween, if you were curious.)
Until next time, remember: If you stop showering and going to the bathroom you'll live a lot longer. I promise.
CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE FRIDAY THE 13TH MOVIES!
copyright 2005 Jared von Hindman, except for the images which are property of their respectful owners. The images are used for review purposes, except for that one of Crispin Glover covered in after-sex glow. That one was for me.