Posted on February 8, 2009 by Jason Thorson
On February 13th, 2009 a new installment of horror cinema’s most prolific series opens, unlocking Camp Crystal Lake and unleashing Jason Voorhees on yet another generation of horror fans. By way of Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes, Marcus Nispel’s (Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake 2003) Friday the 13th re-imagining/remake will mark the twelfth time in the last 29 years that we’ve been given the opportunity to spend an hour and a half at Camp blood.
The Friday the 13th films are guilty pleasures one and all. They’ve contributed as much to the global pop cultural make up as any other film or film series made. The iconography in these movies is among the most recognizable, comparable to The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. The hockey mask-wearing, machete-wielding maniac is now considered cliché. Harry Manfredini’s musical score has been imitated arguably more than any other. And we all know what happens to those morally bankrupt youngsters who have sex, do drugs, and decide the investigate strange noises – rules that have become permanent fixtures in the horror genre.
Yet, despite the numerous contributions the series has made to film and pop culture, there is no denying that the first eleven of them have been for the most part as bad as movies can be. This begs the question: Why do I and millions of others love them so damn much? Well, I’ll get to that, but first let’s look back at how it’s all gone down so far….
Friday the 13th (1980)
Jason Voorhees drowns at Camp Crystal Lake way back in 1957. His mother Pamela, the camp’s cook, does not take this well. The following year, two horny camp counselors are slaughtered. The camp’s attempts to reopen after the murders are thwarted by mysterious fires and “bad” water. Two decades later the camp finally reopens despite dire warnings from crazy Ralph, the all-knowing, yet bat-shit-crazy local. Soon camp counselors are dropping like flies, including Kevin Bacon. Alice, the lone survivor, inevitably comes face to face with the murderous stalker. Surprise! It’s middle-aged Pamela Voorhees exacting revenge on the negligent camp counselors whom she blames for Jason’s death decades earlier. No worries, though. Alice beheads Pamela and saves the day…or does she?
Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
Two months after Mrs. Voorhees was put down, Alice opens her refrigerator to find Mrs. Voorhees’ severed head. Alice is then promptly stabbed through the brain with an ice pick. Apparently Jason didn’t drown after all. The events of the first film were just a huge misunderstanding, but now Jason must exact his own revenge on all camp counselors since one of them killed his mother. This episode is in many ways better than the original, not to mention it’s the first time that Jason is the baddie. Like countless other horror films, this episode uses the real life exploits of Ed Gein to give us a disturbing psychological element as Jason hangs out in an abandoned shack in the woods in which he’s erected an altar featuring his mother’s head. Sporting a burlap sack over his disfigured face, long hair and patchy beard, the pre-iconic Jason is a frightening sight.
Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Chris and her friends are on a get away vacation to the family cabin. While stopping in town for supplies they have an unfortunate run in with a biker gang. The bikers follow the horny teens to the cabin. However, Jason kills the bikers before they can get retribution on their teenaged antagonists. Later, one of Jason’s teenaged victims happens to be in the middle of pranking the others – a prank requiring that he wear a hockey mask. One sliced throat later and Jason’s got a new disguise and we’re given the first example of iconic Jason. Chris and Jason eventually face off, but not before a slew of creative butchering occurs. Did I mention this all happens in 3-D? That’s right. You will be compelled to duck away from spears, eye balls, and implements of juggling, among many other things.
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
This star studded event features Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman, and effects by Tom Savini who also handled them in the original. Jason’s body is taken to the morgue, but wait! He’s not dead. He kills his way back to Crystal Lake where another batch of teens have rented a lakeside home situated next door to the Jarvis Family Home. After Jason dispatches nearly everyone, twelve-year-old Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) kills Jason with a machete. And that’s that, folks. It’s over. Final chapter. No?
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
Tommy Jarvis, now a teenager, resides in a halfway house for troubled teens. Soon a resident named Vic butchers another resident, Joey, with an axe. The ambulance comes to take away the Joey’s corpse and that night more Jason-style murders begin. Sex seems to be the quickest route toward butchery in this episode although all roads eventually lead to murder. Tommy must once again kill Jason and when he does he discovers that the killer isn’t Jason, but rather it’s ambulance attendant Roy Burns! That’s right – the father of Joey burns whose body he had taken away in the ambulance earlier. And thus we’re treated to the first proverbial shark that the series jumps over with gusto.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Fresh out of the mental institution, Tommy Jarvis and his friend, Allen, go to the cemetery and dig up Jason’s corpse just to err on the side of caution, of course. Once they uncover Jason’s body, Tommy impales it with an iron bar and lo and behold lightening strikes it thereby reanimating Jason. Back at Camp Crystal Lake Jason kills most everyone leading to a showdown between him and Tommy. Once again Tommy, who at this point should be given a uniform and an official title, is forced to kill Jason by luring him into the lake and anchoring him to the bottom with a weighted chain around his neck. This run of the mill episode contains the most intentional humor of the series to this point, bordering on self parody at times.
Watch for Hurts so Good: A Friday the 13th Retrospective Part 2 later this week.
Jason Thorson – 2009