Bloggers Kelly Hager, Erik Kristopher Myers, and myself take on the infamous Jason Voorhees!
I come with a lot of controversial opinions, but the biggest one of all is this: Friday the 13th is probably my least favorite horror franchise. (With the possible exception of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.) Please don’t hate me. (I’m hoping my mind will be changed by this rewatch, because it is lonely to be a horror fan who doesn’t particularly like Jason Voorhees.
That said, the original is surprisingly good. It’s a fun thriller and I remember how shocking it was that the killer was a woman. I think this was one of the first horror movies I saw, so I was nine or 10. (The actual first was an Elm Street sequel, which is probably why I like Freddy more.) If you are a Jason fan, please explain why in the comments or on Twitter. I am @khager.
I do love the special effects (we can all agree that Tom Savini is the best, right?) and am excited to rewatch the others.
I do want to see the uncut version, because I bet that’s a little better.
Favorite kill: Mrs. Voorhees.
Ah yes. Camp Blood.
I remember being PUMPED to see this film as a kid just waiting for Jason to jump up. Obviously, he never did. BUT I thought the Ms. Voorhees twist was great. Even though she was a murderer, she was still a bad ass. Is that okay to say or naw?
This is the film that made Kevin Bacon a goddamn star. His death scene is iconic and pretty bloody. That was one of the more shocking moments of the film for me. The most shocking would have to be the very end when lake Jason jumps out and lunges at Alice on the canoe.
(Erik’s being a smart ass so his review of both films will come under Part 2)
I’m of two minds about this one. I mostly really like it (Ginny has the best idea on how to get Jason to leave her alone—by pretending to be his dead mom, which isn’t nice but which actually IS really effective—and that makes her a great final girl even if she (a) wets herself and (b) says “Paul” a lot. (To the point where I’m pretty sure that’s her most used dialogue) but I also don’t like it. (Ned is the worst and also they kill Crazy Ralph, our favorite prophet of doom.)
Also I know the hockey mask is more iconic but I really like Sack-Mask Jason, with its one eyehole. I don’t think the movies would be as beloved as they are without the hockey mask, but the potato sack is underrated.
This is a fun sequel but not as fun as Part 3…the one that’s in 3D!
Favorite kill: I am going straight to hell for this, but probably Mark. (It would’ve been Ned but that jerk lives.)
FINALLY we get Jason!
I didn’t like how they dispatched Alice so quickly. They could’ve built a nice story line around her but WHATEVS.
This is a nice sequel. It ups the blood, body count, and sex factor. Ginny is a pretty smart cookie but Jesus CHRIST she says “Paul” a lot. My favorite kill has to be Mark. Yes. The guy in the wheelchair. It’s just so BRUTAL. So Kelly, save me that seat in hell!
The ending is pretty ambiguous which frustrates tons of fans. I couldn’t care about Paul, I just wanna know if Muffin lived!
One of the recurring images in horror cinema is that of the Evil Mother, or “Monstrous-Feminine,” in which the female is represented as a castrating force who threatens male supremacy in a patriarchal world. Due to its primal nature, the aforementioned idea has manifested in contemporary 35mm mythologies via the exploration of gender roles, archetypes, and destructive female empowerment.
The most misunderstood genre of horror film is arguably the “Slasher,” in which “Good Girls” are rewarded for their chastity while “Bad Girls” are murdered in particularly gruesome ways; these morality tales speak volumes about our view of gender roles, and contain more room for discussion than the simplistic exploitation vehicles they are often categorized as being. Friday the 13th stands apart within this subgenre, as it offers the clear and unique example of the Monstrous-Feminine in an otherwise male-dominated genre. The plot twist in this claret-stained Ten Little Indians knockoff is that our shadowy killer is not a man at all; rather, the non-subservient maternal figure who threatens all sense of borders, of positions, and rules. As in Alien the year prior, Friday the 13th presents a Bad Mother who refuses to bend to the stereotypical distinctions of the “weaker sex,” and seeks to overcome those who stand in her way for the sake of her child. Essentially, the female acts as a castrated male who then becomes the castrator.
The notion of the Monstrous Feminine comes from Julia Kristeva and Barbara Creed, feminist writers who sought a deeper meaning in cinema via the concept of the abject. According to these ideas, a child exists first in a Semiotic phase (one that is pre-Oedipal), in which the child sees no differentiation between itself, its mother, or its surroundings. It is the move toward the Symbolic — patriarchal — that distances the child from the mother. The mother’s need is to maintain control over the child, refusing to allow it to move on to the Symbolic (as in Psycho); if this is challenged, she becomes the “Evil Mother,” who cannot seem to justify her own existence beyond the maternal concept. Because she concentrates solely on the reproductive process and positions herself outside the law, she becomes a threat to patriarchal order and must be destroyed.
One can make this argument about the role of Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th, which, despite its sensationalist tone, borrows freely from ancient myth. The basic storyline of Friday the 13th and its immediate sequel is rarely acknowledged as a reworking of Beowulf, though whether this connection was by design or strictly unintentional remains open to debate; mythologies endure, though the names and faces change to reflect contemporary cultures and society. Jason (who appears only during the climax of the original film) is essentially a modern interpretation of the deformed child-monster Grendel, who rises from his watery home to seek revenge for the beheading of his mother — which is more or less exactly how Friday the 13th is played out. More than a decade after the drowning of her developmentally challenged son Jason at a summer camp on the outskirts of New Jersey, Mrs. Voorhees — presented as a single and altogether asexual parent — takes it upon herself to punish anyone working at the newly-reopened Camp Crystal Lake. There’s nothing remotely feminine about her appearance: she wears a frumpy sweater that removes any trace of sexuality, and sports a haircut that’s short and unappealing. Couple this with her tendency to commit her crimes with blunt or phallic objects (knives, arrows, axes and hatchets) and you have a woman who embraces her sex without ever seeming to understand its implications beyond the base notion of motherhood.
All the while, Mrs. Voorhees seems obsessed with protecting the ideals of parenting, while punishing those who approach sex — the act preceding parenting — lightly. She may also be equally fixated on what the act of sex represents: the dominance of the male figure (who symbolically stabs, cuts, or rapes the female), and in turn reacts by killing both the male and the female; the former for committing the act, and the latter for allowing it to happen. The girl who gives herself willingly (and submissively) is at odds with the notion of the Monstrous Feminine, and stands as a figure to be removed for lack of personal responsibility to her gender, as well as denying the responsibility of potential motherhood. Why not stab her to death when she’s already allowed the male to stab her through the act of intercourse…?
In the case of Friday the 13th, childbirth is only hinted at, but its corresponding sequence is the best-remembered (if least understood) of the entire film. After beheading the murderous Mrs. Voorhees and escaping onto the lake in a boat, Alice (Adrienne King), awakens the following morning to a beautiful sight: the lake at dawn, the trees filled with color, and her rescuers (the patriarchal police force) waiting for her on the shore. However, as order seems restored, she is attacked from behind when Jason, the long-dead inhabitant of the lake, emerges from the water to pull Alice down with him. Jason, as presented in the film, is a hairless man-child, covered in placenta-like mud, who bursts forth from a watery womb after a night of sexually oriented deaths via phallic objects. (While Friday the 13th went on to spawn ten sequels, most dropped the notion of the Monstrous Feminine in favor of Jason’s redundant exploits as a one-dimensional killer. Friday the 13th Part 2 was the only film in the series to continue the original’s motif, presenting us with Jason as a “mama’s boy” who has kept his mother’s head and clothing in an abandoned cabin, to whom he brings his victims to make his mother proud.) Following this emergence, Jason is reborn to continue his mother’s work, but is incomplete in development, trapped in a perpetual Semiotic phase without a father figure to lead him toward the Symbolic. In effect, he becomes the mother, carrying on with the process of castration. It’s interesting to note that this bond is hinted at earlier in Friday the 13th, when Mrs. Voorhees actually holds conversations with Jason, speaking in both voices. One can further the argument that he is reborn at the end of the film by implying that this repeated dialogue exchange represents the singular bond between a pregnant mother and her unborn fetus.
Intriguingly, Mrs. Voorhees seeks to protect her offspring despite the fact that the child is already dead, but the ideology remain the same: innocence must be governed by a female who takes a male stance. However, unlike the patriarchal notions of a ruling class, the Monstrous-Feminine lurks in the shadows, committing her crimes off-screen, as if consciously aware that the “stronger sex” still possesses the power to prevent her actions. It is only when she is forced to reveal herself that she does so, choosing instead to eliminate her obstacles one by one until the option is removed. The men, however, are never the ones to force her final appearance.
Interestingly, it is a female — the “Final Girl” — who survives and ultimately triumphs over the Monstrous-Feminine, yet the message Friday the 13th attempts to send is unclear at best. Inverting the notion of the male gaze, the “Final Girl” serves as the viewer’s chief identification within the narrative; however, the “Final Girl” inhabits the physical characteristics of the Monstrous-Feminine, in that Alice is capable of using her fists rather than simply screaming. Like Mrs. Voohees, she is in no way a passive character, and neither one is particularly feminine in the classical sense of the word, choosing to wear clothing that downplays their sexuality and wearing hairstyles that border on masculine. While Alice’s physicality is hinted at (she sleeps with camp owner Steve Christy on Thursday the 14th, and later participates in a game of Strip Monopoly), she never fully inhabits the full-blown characteristics of a sexually-aware woman. For this reason, she triumphs over the Monstrous-Feminine by inhabiting similar characteristics she shares with her adversary. Yet despite the fact that she survives the climactic confrontation, Alice is dispatched by Jason during the opening sequence of Friday the 13th Part 2. The “Final Girl” always manages to escape, but she is never truly free, and eventually falls victim to the monster.
The notion of the Monstrous-Feminine is apparent is other horror or suspense films (most notably Psycho, IT, and Dressed to Kill), but it’s a concept that has been only touched on within the genre. Typically, Slasher films are dominated by male killers enacting female punishment fantasies via decidedly phallic weapons, but the notion of the “Bad Mother” is one that appears in surprisingly few films. While it has endured thousands of years and repeated retellings, it surfaces rarely now, perhaps because of the uncomfortable implications inherent within the concept.
I would say this is probably the most ridiculous Friday, but I’m pretty sure that’s actually Jason Takes Manhattan. Either way, this is the most ridiculous of the three I’ve rewatched so far. It’s in 3D, which is completely cheesy (although generally it’s just weapons coming toward the screen but sometimes juggling fruit and in one lovely case, an eye. So there’s that).
The opening credits music is very disco, and it’s goofy as hell but I love it. The Friday the 13th title track is one of the most iconic horror themes (second only to Halloween and maybe “Tubular Bells” from the Exorcist?) and the disco version is really fun.
The rest of the movie? Well, it’s where Jason gets his famous mask (thanks to Shelly, the biggest jerk ever) and there’s a motorcycle gang and sex in a hammock. (Like all sex in horror movies, the aftermath is brutal.) On to part 4, where we meet Tommy Jarvis.
Favorite Kill: I think Rick? (I can only remember one non-Voorhees character name per movie, and this one is Shelly.) Either way, it’s the guy who looks like an actual Ken doll and whose death is clearly due to 3D. Who doesn’t love an eye coming toward you?
Is it bad I have I have the disco theme music on my computer?
Anyway, I actually kinda like this one. The kills are memorable: Vera gets shot in the eye with a arrow, Debbie (who by the way is possibly pregnant) is killed a la Kevin Bacon, and her boyfriend Andy is cut in half basically with a machete.
And yes. THIS is the one where Jason gets his iconic mask. This takes place two days AFTER the events of Part 2, so there’s some continuity.
Bring on Part 4…
In discussing Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, I referenced the unfortunate resurgence of 3-D in the early 1980s. While it seems a format tailor-made for a subgenre of Horror built around the idea of stabbing, impaling and otherwise launching bodies toward the audience, it was never successfully utilized in this fashion; to wit, Friday the 13th Part 3 is more concerned with allowing viewers to revel in the sight of a yo-yo descending toward camera, or characters juggling because Fuck You, It’s 3-D. For a series of quickly-made and cheaply-shot exploitation cash-ins, the third installment was exhaustively taxing for director Steve Miner, who had to worry about novel concepts like lighting and focus. These latter points are particularly important to anyone only saw Part 3 on television or home video, as the 3-D process, stripped of the theatrical effect, results in a film that is excessively over-lit, and soft in terms of overall clarity, due to the merging of two separate images for a two-dimensional render. As such, it’s an ugly-looking film filled with people awkwardly shoving things in your face for absolutely no reason. In other words, it’s a Friday the 13th movie.
This is probably my actual favorite of the sequels. It’s got the debut of Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), Crispin Glover, Felicity’s dad and Tom Savini doing effects. It is everything I love.
There’s a lot going on in this sequel, too. There’s Tommy and his sister, the house next door (full of teenagers that are there for a body count) and Felicity’s dad (whose name in this is Rob), who is there to find Jason and avenge his sister. (She was killed in part II, but here’s the thing with that: Part II takes place a few years after the original and Part III takes place right after Part II and Part IV takes place right after Part III. So how does he even know as much as he does about Jason? (I know, I’m overthinking it.)
Also, this movie is where the kills started to get super bloody. I guess technically that began in Part 3, but it ramped up in this one. We all know where it goes from here.
Favorite kill: Crispin Glover. Corkscrew to the hand, cleaver to the face. This whole movie was not kind to Crispin Glover.
My favorite sequel! This is the third night of Jason’s murder spree where he magically finds another house full of horny teenagers.
And Corey Feldman, his mom, sister, and dog.
Unlike in the previous two entries, most of these kids can act. Oh hey, Crispin Glover, I see you! His dancing scene is pretty funny and his death scene is pretty brutal. Probably one of the best kills of the series. Sara’s death was kinda brutal too. Jason throws an axe through the door when she’s running away from him. Yikes. She had just given up her virginity to her boyfriend too..oops.
By the way, the scene where the hitchhiker is eating the banana and Jason stabs her in the back of the head? Scarred me for life. I ALWAYS look behind me when I’m eating a banana in public now.
Make no mistake, it’s still a cheap rush-job more concerned with hitting a calendar date than scoring with critics. As Colonel Tom Parker once famously told Denis Sanders during the making of one of Elvis’s latter-day films, “Now don’t you go winning no Oscar with this pitcha, because we don’t have no tuxedos to wear to the celebration.” Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. and Director Joseph Zito know exactly what kind of dog food they’re making, but they dress it up a little so it looks like actual meat. The teens all have personality, and the psychology of Jason that was introduced during the second film is gently shoehorned into the final reel. We even have a nemesis for our masked killer, in the form of the pissed-off sibling of one of Jason’s previous victims, who’s now hunting the elusive stalker in the woods surrounding Crystal Lake…since yesterday. Never mind the fact that this, along with the two previous films, are supposed to have taken place over a weekend; the only thing more baffling than the jarring change in fashion over the course of three days is the realization that Jason technically buys it on Sunday the 15th. But what a death scene it is, as makeup maestro Tom Savini returns to kill off his very own creation in what can best be described as a Machete Slide. He’s not dead, though — even a one-eyed homicidal lunatic can see that. Did anyone really think this was actually the Final Chapter? Nah. But considering the substantial step-up in quality (and the sheer drop in the following installment), we would be right to consider this the end of the franchise, at least insofar as we knew it.
Tommy Jarvis is, not surprisingly, in sort of a halfway house for troubled teenagers. (It turns out that when Jason kills your mom and almost kills you and your sister, you have ramifications. For quite a while. But of course, hallucinations (and soon murder) follow him anyway.
Shameful confession: I actually really like this one. I know that it’s really kind of a cheat (a Friday with no Jason! AND no Mrs. Voorhees) but it’s fun. I love Reggie and I love the neighbor lady and her idiot man-child son, and I love near-mute Tommy Jarvis. I also like the end, where it seems like Tommy has decided to just become Jason.
So basically yes, this movie is Halloween III with the ending of Halloween 4. And I’m here for it. I get why a lot of people hate it (and also hate Halloween III) but it’s just fun.
Favorite kill: the neighbor lady. Also, I kind of wish we had had more of her. I would watch a prequel with her life any day.
What a bad movie. Seriously. What’s the point of watching a “Friday The 13th” flick WITHOUT Jason? (The first one is an exception obviously.) I felt cheated the first time I saw it.
The acting is horrible. The characters suck. Ethel is the only character worth mentioning. She was hilarious.
Nope. Not even the kid from “Different Strokes” could save it for me.
Fans like to bag on this entry as being the one with “Fake Jason,” but let’s give credit where credit’s due — if you’re going to essentially attempt a soft reboot of Friday the 13th, it makes sense to return to the Whodunit aspect of the first film. Introducing fresh iconography would have helped the proceedings significantly, as the only thing “new” about A New Beginning is absolutely nothing at all. Well, that’s not entirely fair: there is a hitherto unexplored fixation on bowel movements in this particular entry, namely the Who The Fuck Pitched This Scene in which two greasers get into an argument after one of them decides he needs to take a dump in the woods (?), as well as the stirring and romantic singing duet between Michael Jackson clone “Demon” and his girlfriend (as the former loudly evacuates his colon of enchiladas) in Who The Fuck Pitched This Scene Part 2. At least no one can accuse the filmmakers of not giving a crap.
So it turns out that I actually love the Tommy Jarvis trilogy. (AND it turns out that I like Tommy Jarvis, even though he’s played by three different people.)
This one is more funny than scary, and I like the tone shift. My big problem with this series is the fact that you’re clearly meant to be rooting for Jason. The teenagers are fairly interchangeable and clearly just there for bloodshed and a body count. With this one, though, they make it a lot more fun than the series has been up to this point. (For me, anyway; I know most horror fans love Jason.)
Favorite Kill: Tony Goldwyn. (What can I say; I hated Fitz in Scandal and this is the closest I can get to seeing that guy die.)
I kinda like this entry. Sure, it has it’s incredibly stupid moments. But some of the kills are great.
I love the idea of going back to the camp after the shit show that was Part 5. One character I can’t get over being killed is sweet Paula. Apparently, the sweet ones get their heart and insides thrown all over the cabin walls. Yes. Look closely. Blech.
A young Tony Goldwyn is a victim here. Right before he got Sam killed in “Ghost”, he played Darren who hilariously dropped his Amex Card after Jason killed him.
This film also gave birth to the Alice Cooper hit “He’s Back! (The Man Behind The Mask.”) So that’s something.
According to the popular consensus, Jason Lives is the Dream Warriors of the Friday the 13th franchise: one of the best, if not the best. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two (released only a year apart), in that both introduce a quasi-gothic component while simultaneously playing the overall concept for laughs. You’ve got Freddy murdering Zsa Zsa Gabor on The Dick Cavett Show in one; Jason skewers Ron “Horshack” Palillo on a fence post in the other. Hell, both films even had an MTV music video tie-in that further cemented the nebulous association between Horror and (Hair) Metal. So yeah, they’ve got stuff in common, but if you want to know the biggest similarity between the two, it’s the fact that both films jump the shark so spectacularly that neither franchise ever came down again; it’s no coincidence that Jason eventually winds up in outer space. Yes, that was a metaphor, but it also literally happens, minus the shark part (which would be so stupid that I’m surprised it isn’t actually in the movie).
So now Jason’s a zombie. Whatever. Dude was able to take an axe to the head and survive, so turning him into a zombie-Terminator just means he walks slower. Meanwhile, his adversary is once again Tommy Jarvis (played by the third actor in as many movies, only this time with an unfortunate speech impediment), who has become some sort of bizarre riff on Sam Loomis rather than the deranged weirdo of the previous film. Even his kung-fu skills have fallen by the wayside, which is unfortunate for both people who enjoy the climax of Halloween: Resurrection. Director Tom McLoughlin gets a lot of praise for bringing in car chases, American Express jokes, and James Bond homages, but really, what more was left to do with the character? Oh yeah — paintball jokes. Overrated and fucking stupid.
This is the one that’s generally known as Jason vs. Carrie. And it’s a little ridiculous but it’s also really fun. But even more importantly, it’s the one where Kane Hodder first appears.
I would like to also take a second to discuss how Terry Kiser (as Dr. Crews) is the actual worst person ever, and I spent a lot of the movie actively waiting for him to die. And then he did and it was GLORIOUS. (I’ve seen all the Friday movies before, but this is probably only my third time watching most of them. I am much more familiar with basically every other major horror franchise.)
I’m loving the series a lot more this time. (Is this Stockholm Syndrome?)
Favorite kill: All of them. Kane Hodder as Jason is the absolute best, and his kills are actual masterpieces. (Fine, Dr. Crews. Or Melissa. Or everyone.)
Nick: I have mixed feelings about this one. The kill where Jason smacks the girl in the sleeping bag is CLASSIC Kane Hodder as ‘Jason.’ The party favor to the eye was kinda fun.
But the plot? Dear lord.
This is the one where Jason tries to take a vacation and it ends up ruined.
This is also the one where Jason “takes Manhattan,” by which we mean “Spends most of the movie on a boat and about 20 minutes in Manhattan, where he stops an attempted rape (YOU’RE WELCOME, RENNIE), is temporarily accosted by a street gang, takes a subway ride and eventually drowns in toxic waste. I don’t think he’ll ever leave Crystal Lake again. (Well, until the future, where he ends up in space. And also when he ends up in Springwood, thanks to Freddy. AND I’m also pretty sure the next movie involves some travel, too. So maybe this just broadened his horizons, because it’s not like Crystal Lake has been that kind to him, either.)
Favorite kill: the one in the sauna. (Jason picks up one of those ridiculously hot rocks and slams it into a guy’s chest.)
Thanks to Jason Takes Manhattan, we learn the following Important Life Lessons about the city of New York.
1. It looks like Vancouver.
2. It is almost entirely a series of alleyways filled with drug addicts who are eager to share their heroin.
3. Spray-paint graffiti looks shockingly like washable colored-charcoal.
4. It can be accessed via a landlocked New Jersey lake flanked by towering cliffs and mountains.
5. The sewers are flooded with toxic waste at midnight just because fuck you, that’s how they roll in New York.
6. If Jason Voorhees visits the city, he will reveal that beneath his mask, he looks like a cross between an albino turnip and that picture your two-year-old drew of you.