At 12 films (and a 13th confirmed for 2015), the Friday the 13th Franchise is one of the most prolific in cinema history. It’s tropes and trademarks have become an integral part of Pop Culture, and it’s chief slasher has become about as recognizable around the world as Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula. The odd part is that the films really didn’t hit their stride until much later in the series, and that a series was never in the cards in the first place.
The beginnings of Friday the 13th were intended to be a legitimately scary, if not somewhat tongue in cheek takeoff of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Director/Producer Sean Cunningham even went and purchased the above advertisement in Variety magazine, having only the title, a tagline of “The Most Terrifying Film Ever Made”, and NO FINISHED SCRIPT! Curiously enough, a working title during the writing process was “A Long Night At Camp Blood”, but Cunningham stuck to his guns and committed to Friday the 13th.
Screenwriter Victor Miller crafted a tale that begins with two randy Councilors at Camp Crystal Lake sneak off from their group to go fool around. They are interrupted by an unseen presence whom they seem to recognize and are bashful towards. Wordlessly, this unseen person slaughters the two, and the narrative jumps forward 21 years. Camp Crystal lake has long been closed, and local kook “Crazy Ralph” tells anyone who will listen that the nicknamed “Camp Blood” is cursed. Steve Christy, the son of the original owner is attempting to re-open the camp, and has several employees joining him to put the finishing touches on fixing up the grounds. One of these employees is Annie, who stops in town to ask for a ride to the camp, and is greeted with warnings of Doom (Fuck you, Crazy Ralph), the history of the Murders, stories of fires, water poisonings on the grounds. Clearly the Town of Crystal lake knows something is up… But their warnings are ignored. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff arrives at the camp and begins to lazily go about the remaining repair jobs, while also making time for lounging by the lake, drinking, smoking pot, and of course…fucking. Annie manages to hitch a ride with someone driving a Jeep whom we don’t see and who does not speak. After ignoring the turn off for Camp Crystal Lake, Annie realizes something is very wrong and bails out of the vehicle, only to be chased into the woods by the driver where she is eventually caught, held against a tree, and her throat is slit with a hunting knife. On the hand of the Killer, we see a Mans Senior Class ring. remember that…
Back at the Camp, Steve Christy heads to town for supplies, leaving the rest of the staff unsupervised and vulnerable. Crazy Ralph makes an appearance to once again tell everyone they are doomed, but this time adds that he’s a “messenger from God”. After Running Ralph off, Jokester Ned follows a mysterious presence into one of the Cabins, and is killed off camera. Jack and Marcie take shelter from the rain in a cabin, and have sex in one of the bunks…not knowing that the Mutilated corpse of Ned lies in the bunk above them. After leaving the cabin to clean up, Jack is stabbed through the throat from underneath the bed with an arrow, then the killer follows Marcie unseen to finish her off with an axe to the face.
That’s right…Kevin Fucking Bacon!
Meanwhile, Steve Christy returns to the camp on foot after car troubles, and meets the killer. He knows this person and is not alarmed by their presence…well, until he is killed like all the rest. Alince, Brenda and Bill are in the midst of Strip Monopoly when Brenda decides to head to bed, but is lured to the archery range to investigate what sounds like a child’s cries…you can guess what comes next. Only just now becoming suspicious of the strange goings on of the evening, Bill and Alice are unable to find any of their friends. Laughing it all off as a joke, Alice goes to sleep in her cabin and Bill tromps off to re-start the Camp’s Generator. Awakening soon after and venturing to find Bill, Alice finds his body impaled to a door with arrows. Fleeing in terror back to her cabin, she is further tormented by Brenda’s bloody corpse being hurled through the window. Horrified, Alice bolts out of the cabin just as a vehicle pulls up, driven by Pamela Voorhees, who identifies herself as a friend of the Christys. At first she seems kind and willing to help Alice, but soon things take a turn for the worse.
Mrs. Voorhees tells a story of a young boy who drowned in the lake a year before the murders all those years ago. His name was Jason. She explains with mourning in her voice that Jason was not a very good swimmer and should have been watched. But the counselors were off screwing around, leaving Jason, who we realize was her son, to drown. Reeling from Psychosis and speaking to herself in “Jason’s” voice (Kill Her Mommy…Kill Her), Mrs. Voorhees brandishes a knife and attacks Alice. After a long game of cat and mouse, Alice is able to decapitate Mrs. Voorhees with a machete and then collapse in a canoe which floats to the middle of the lake. Alice wakes in the morning just as Police arrive on the scene. As she breathes a sigh of relief that her ordeal is over, suddenly the decaying corpse of Jason rises from the depths of the lake and pulls her under the cold dark water, which is in reality a dream. She awakens in the hospital and discovers her friends are all dead, but remembers and asks about the boy. The sheriff tells her that no boy was found, and Alice says “Then he’s still there…” as the final shot shows the lake in peace. Bubbles can be seen erupting from the bottom, before the screen fades to black.
Alright, So here we have the beginnings of one of the greatest sagas in Horror history. Obvious comparisons leveled towards this film at the time were to to works of Giallo masters such as Bava and Argento, but also that of Halloween, and Carrie (mostly for the last second nonsensical scare). We all know that the series would shift to be focused on Jason as the killer who had somehow survived his drowning as a child, but are never told just how he survived and what happened since then. I’ll discuss what I think happened…but first we need to get through the Next Chapter.
Part 2 is where shit really starts to get weird. We know that Jason drowned in the Lake as a child. The entire plot of the first film is set into motion by his death all those years ago. Somehow, Jason is alive, and has been for some time, long enough to grow into Manhood and resume the Murderous work of his Mother…More on this later.
Two months following the Massacre at Crystal lake, Alice, the Lone survivor, is struggling to put her life back together and is tormented by nightmares of her ordeal. While feeding her cat, she opens her fridge only to find the severed head of Pamela Voorhees inside. Reeling in shock, she is gripped from behind by an unseen assailant who rams an ice-pick into her head.
Fast Forward two years, and Paul Holt is setting up a training camp for Camp Counselors on the other side of Crystal lake. Despite its infamy and the police frowning on the location, Paul collects a group of would-be counselors to train. Good girls Terry and Vicki, prankster Scott, and wheelchair bound Mark, despite warnings from local Crazy Ralph, also arrive. Paul’s girlfriend and assistant Ginny Field arrives late, much to his chagrin. As the Day progresses, Crazy Ralph tries to go about his usual Crazy Ralph routine, but is quickly Garroted against a tree with a piece of Barbed-Wire. I nspired by the legend of Jason Voorhees whose story was told at a camp fire the night before, Sandra and Jeff sneak over to explore the abandoned camp(Idiot kids will be idiot kids, afterall) , only to be caught by the sheriff and hauled back to camp. After being read the riot act by the Sheriff, Paul informs the two explorers that they are in hot water. It seems that the towns people are aware that the threat associated with camp Blood is not yet passed and make sure that nobody goes near it. While driving through the woods, the Sheriff witnesses a man running through the woods and chases him to a dilapidated shack where he makes a particularly gruesome discovery (unseen to the viewer) before a claw hammer tears through his skull from behind.
That night, Paul and Ginny take the counselors for one last night on the town; Sandra and Jeff, being punished for their excursion earlier are volunteered to stay behind; Terry decides to stay behind and look for her missing dog Muffin while Scott volunteers to put the moves on Terry. Wheelchair-bound Mark decides to stay as well and Vicki, smitten with Mark, decides to stay. Just think…If only everyone had gone out partying, they might have all lived. How often does that ever happen? While searching for Muffin, Terry apparently decides that the dog is no longer important, and goes Skinny Dipping. Scott plays a prank on her by stealing her clothes before being caught in one of Paul’s survival traps. It’s some border line Wile E. Coyote shit. He steps in the trap, a rope cinches tight around his ankle, and then hauls him upside down into the air. Terry goes to get a knife to cut him down, Leaving Scott easy pickins for our Machete wielding killer, who then Kills Terry off screen after she returns and finds Scott’s body. At the bar, Ginny imagines what Jason would be like if he were alive. Wondering aloud if the legend is true, she makes a few very intuitive leaps in logic, deducing he had seen his mother murdered and would be a vengeful creature unaware of the meaning of life and death. Paul dismisses her concerns and tells her that he is only a legend, his insistence hinting that Jason is the one responsible for the killings. How much was Paul told about Camp Blood by the people of Crystal Lake? How much do they know, in the first place?
As it begins raining heavily back at the camp, Mark and Vicki are about to get it on, before the killer murders Mark with a machete to the face and pushes his chair down a flight of stairs. Nobody is allowed to get away with having a good time at Crystal Lake. Not even the crippled guy.
The killer then moves upstairs and kills Jeff and Sandra as they are having sex by double impalement with a spear.
Both of these last two kills were heavily influenced by, or straight-up stolen verbatim, from the 1971 Italian film Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka, Bloodbath, and Bay Of Blood)
When Vicki returns for Mark she finds Sandra and Jeff’s bodies and is then stabbed by the killer, who is revealed to be wearing a sack over his head with an eyehole cutout. This look was heavily inspired by the “Phantom Killer” who had terrorized Texarkana(see the film: The Town That Dreaded Sundown”) decades before.
Paul and Ginny return from town to discover the grisly aftermath. Paul is attacked by the killer, who then chases Ginny through the camp. She finds her way to the shack and enters to find an altar with Mrs. Voorhees’ mummified head on it, surrounded by the bodies of the victims. The killer is revealed to be none other than Jason himself, who apparently didn’t drown after all. Just as Ginny had taken a wild stab in the dark and guessed…
Using her child psychology to her advantage, which was mentioned once in passing at the beginning of the film, she puts on Pamela’s sweater and manages to convince Jason that she is his mother…fuck sakes… The ruse fails when he spots his mother’s head, but Paul intervenes, distracting Jason long enough for Ginny to take the machete and bring it down several inches into his shoulder. Jason falls over, presumably dead. Ginny and Paul uncover his disfigured face before taking shelter in a nearby cabin. Muffin then appears at the cabin door, and while Ginny reaches down to pick her up, Jason (now unmasked, with long stringy hair and a fledgling beard, and the machete still in his shoulder) bursts through the window behind her and attacks her. Ginny wakes up the next morning, confused and being pulled aboard an ambulance with no recollection of how she escaped. She calls for Paul, who is nowhere to be seen, and she is driven off to the hospital. The final scene then switches over to show Mrs. Voorhees’ head, before ultimately fading to black.
Waaaaaay more unanswered questions, and What-The-Fucks now, right? Just wait…We’ll go through Part 3(D) and then examine things…
It doesn’t get much more campy in 1982 than to film your movie in 3-D, and to have a disco theme song, having said that, it produced some of the most funny and inventive gags in slasher film history, and the theme turned out to be awesome! (http://youtu.be/ODm01T3zY-w)
The film itself opens up by recapping the last few minutes of Part 2. Ginny tricks Jason with the sweater, Jason Brawls with Paul, Ginny Machetes Jason in the shoulder and he collapses. Ginny pulls the sack off Jason’s head and then she and Paul leave. We next see Jason pull the blade out of his shoulder then start crawling away, so we know the Jumping-through-the-window scene is a nightmare of Ginny’s, which still leaves the question of what happens to Paul. Also of note is that Jason now appears completely bald and with no stubble on his face. The only explanation for this is that Ginny only got a glimpse of Jason after being unmasked and created the hairy image in her mind because of her earlier assessment of Jason as a confused savage living by himself in the woods. What a condescending bitch. Can’t even get a proper look at the guy when he’s right in front of her! Anyway…
Jason apparently decides that his clothing is too shredded, or that the Over-alls look is dead, so he makes his way to a back-woods general store nearby and steals clothes from the laundry line outside. The live-in couple who run the store are watching a news report on tv which describes the unfolding events we’ve seen from the previous film, firmly establishing that Part 3 takes place one day after the events of Part 2. Edna catches a glimpse of Jason outside, but thinks it’s her husband Harold, who is in the store, sneaking food and tending a a scared rabbit what is hiding in the produce racks. That’s actually what happens. Jason dispatches them both amid a flurry of hit-or-miss 3-D gags then moves on to Higgins Haven, a nearby lakefront cottage, where he hides in the barn to heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Chris Higgins and her friends Debbie, Andy, Shelly, Vera, Chili and Chuck come to visit the cottage, so Chris can get a handle on a tragedy that happened two years prior. Of this group, Debbie is pregnant with Andy’s child, Chili and Chuck are Stoners out of a Cheech and Chong film, and Shelly is the Misfit. Not blessed with good looks, Shelly is overweight, and has a curly afro, as well as plenty of insecurities about himself. He feels that the only way he will be accepted by his peers is if he can make them laugh, but he overcompensates and frightens them, leaving him labeled an obnoxious pain. In a complete fluke, this Misfit would leave the greatest contribution to the legacy of Jason. Shelly and Vera(who at first is none to thrilled to have been set up with Shelly) go to town for some shopping and run afoul with a local gang of bikers; Ali, Fox and Loco. Pushed too far, Shelly stands up to them and runs over Ali’s motorcycle, impressing Vera. When they return, Chris’ boyfriend Rick is upset by the display and the pair of them leave together. Jason, recovering from his injuries, kills Fox and Loco with a pitchfork as they attempt to set fire to the barn after siphoning gas from Chris’ van. Ali attacks Jason and is beaten unconscious. As night falls, Andy and Debbie go off alone to have sex while Shelly attempts to come onto Vera, but he is rejected. After scaring her with a harpoon gun and hockey mask, he ventures into the barn after who he thinks is Chili and Chuck while Vera accidentally drops Shelly’s wallet into the lake. In the wallet, she finds a picture of Shelly with a woman we are to assume is his mother. For a split second, we see Vera’s expression change…Is she now able to see Shelly for the sweet guy he is deep down inside? We’ll never know…As she goes to retrieve it, Jason, now in the hockey mask, shoots Vera through the eye socket with the harpoon gun. Fun fact, as Jason prepares to fire, you can actually see the actor hooking the gun onto a nearly invisible wire, then fire the harpoon straight at the camera…looks great in 3-D. Inside, Debbie goes to take a shower and Andy, while walking on his hands is unexpectedly bisected by Jason.
This’ll teach you to do circus tricks, ya lil bastard!
Debbie goes to lay down and discovers Andy’s body in the rafters just before she is impaled through her neck from underneath the hammock, eerily similar to the death of Jack from the original film.
Meanwhile, Chris fills Rick in on what happened two years prior when she ran away from home, and was attacked by a horrible, disfigured man in the woods…We are left to assume the man was Jason, and even though this is never specifically stated, the implication is that Chris was raped that night. Whether this plot point was intended to be expanded on or not, is anyone’s guess . Later, Rick’s car breaks down and the two begin to walk back. At the same time, the power goes out at the Haven and Chuck goes down to the cellar to check on the power. Shelly, whose throat was slashed, falls down dead in the kitchen in front of Chili, who, having fallen for his “Hatchet-In-The-Head” gag earlier, thinks he is playing a prank on her. Chuck encounters Jason in the cellar and is thrown against the fuse box and is electrocuted. Chili discovers that Shelly’s death isn’t an act, then finds Debbie and Andy’s bodies upstairs. She tries to escape but Jason appears out of nowhere and impales her with a red-hot fireplace poker. Rick and Chris return to discover the house in disarray. Rick wanders out alone. Chris goes outside to call out to him, but Jason keeps his hand held over his mouth just a few feet away. Chris goes back inside and Jason kills Rick by crushing his skull with his bare hands, causing his eye to pop out…IN 3-D!!!!!. Now alone, Chris faces Jason, who chases her through the house and the barn. She stabs him and hangs him, but he remains alive. When she recognizes him as the man who attacked her, Ali awakens from his earlier attack only to be dismembered and killed by Jason upon attacking him. Chris picks up an axe and brings it down on his skull.
Terrified after he staggers after her for a few steps, Chris then watches Jason fall to the ground presumably dead at her feet. Harkening back to the first film again, Chris pushes a canoe out onto the lake, where she falls asleep before awakening, frightened. She sees Jason, now unmasked and bloody, in the house and tries to flee when he comes after her, only to realize that his coming after her was just a hallucination.
The decayed body of Pamela Voorhees suddenly leaps from the lake and pulls her under the water, which also turns out only to be a dream. A period of time later, the police arrive and take a clearly hysterical and disturbed Chris from the property as the camera pans over to Jason, dead on the floor of the barn, and showing the lake is at peace again.
Okay…time to recap! We know Jason was thought to have drowned in the lake as a child, but somehow he survived, growing to manhood. We know his mother committed the first Murders at the Camp, effectively closing the camp, and presumably also committed the vandalism and water poisonings to keep people away. We know that after the death of Pamela, Jason returned, fully grown to continue killing those who came to Crystal lake as well as others. What are we missing? how is it all possible? There seem to be two things we can establish for certain. Jason appears to be able to regenerate damaged or dead tissue, including reviving himself after dead, and also, there is a tremendous amount of Psychic energy in and around Crystal lake, which seems to manifest at it’s strongest in relation to Jason Voorhees. Mrs. Voorhees refers to Jason as a very special boy, and due to his appearance, we are to assume she means his is handicapped. While this may be true, I believe she knew at least to some extent that Jason healed quickly, and maybe even had displayed some degree of psychic ability. When Jason drowned in the lake, It seems that a piece of himself was left in the lake, almost like his spirit were haunting the lake. When his Mother commited the first killings, it is likely she had already begun hearing the voice of her child, asking him to kill those responsible for letting him drown. Had Jason actually risen from the Lake by that point? Or had he returned sooner? Either way, for the next 20-some years, Camp Crystal lake remained closed as Jason grew to adulthood in the surrounding woods. His mother likely knew about this and made sure the Camp never opened again so that Jason would remain hidden from the world. In several Documentaries on the franchise, Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees) describes how she will immerse herself in the roll by creating an off camera back story for each character. She describes that Mrs. Voorhees wore a Male’s class ring because back in those days, for a girl to wear her fellas ring, was considered a sign they were going steady. Pamela became pregnant by her fella, who when told of this decided he couldn’t handle it, and dumped Pamela. She goes on to describe how Pamela would then have been disowned by her family and an outcast in her own community, Pamela would have lost everything by getting pregnant. After moving to Crystal Lake to make a fresh start for her and her son, Jason grew to be her whole world. Her Special little boy. Now imagine your special Boy drowns in a lake, while those who were supposed to be watching him were off getting wasted and fucking… who wouldn’t be of the mind to kill those responsible?
I imagine that Mrs. Voorhees likely spent quite a bit of time at the now closed camp, yearning to feel closer to her sweet Jason, only to learn that he was in fact still alive, scared and confused in the woods. How do you go back to a normal life when you have become a killer to avenge the death of your only son, only to find out that he has risen from the dead? You don’t. You live in seclusion with your son. This is why she worked so hard to keep the camp closed, so she and Jason could be at peace. When Pamela got word that someone was going to open the Camp Proper after all those years, she had to take brutal action. As she carries out the killings she seems to hear the voice of Jason commanding her to kill, but by this time she must have known Jason had survived his death in the lake…
Before I go any further, I feel I should establish that these recaps are purely my own speculation at connecting the dots, so take it for what you will. But since you read my Blog I assume you have some interest in what I have to say…so…on with it!
Throughout the series, Jason never speaks, and although not a specific part of the script, Tom Savini portrayed the young Jason as a “Mongoloid”. Could Jason have had some form of latent psychic ability hidden beneath a mental handicap? I’d say it is quite likely. It could explain his lack of speech, as well as how his labeling as “Special” by his mother. It would also stand to reason that he would have a type of psychic bond to his Mother in place of traditional communication. But when Jason drowned in the lake, a part of Jason seems to have remained behind, haunting Crystal Lake and those in close proximity. This would account for the dream sequences at the end of all three films. In each one, the survivors dreamed they were still being pursued by Jason, or some cases his Mother, despite some having no knowledge of them. Jason’s Psyche is constantly reaching out and trying to kill. Not just to avenge his Mothers murder, but to take out his anger in a very childishly irrational fashion. He died because his caregivers were off fucking, drinking and getting high…so in his limited mental comprehension EVERYONE who does these things must die.
In the upcoming 3 films, we see more manifestations of Jason’s murderous Psyche and we meet who might just be our Captain Ahab to this story. Oh, and I promise that going forward the examinations won’t be so damn long and boring. I just needed to establish 2 things… Jason regenerates at an alarming rate, and there’s all kinds of psychic bullshit around the lake. Got it? Good. Fuck off now.