Bust out Alice Cooper’s Constrictor, fire up your SelectaVision player, warm up those damn enchiladas, and tear open a can of Beer brand ale: it’s Friday the 13th! And you know what that means: Friday the 13th. Ew baby, hey baby!
Friday the 13th is still easily one of the hottest franchises in the horror genre, and now that rabid fans who grew up with the series are much older, collecting is on a whole new level. There’s merchandise like Jason Mad Balls, Friday the 13th movie scores on vinyl by Waxwork Records, movie prints from Austin’s Mondo or the Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn, and action figures from Neca and Funko. If you want something Jason Voorhees-related, chances are it’s out there. As you can see, I have a problem:
Just this year, III Phonics/Gun Media released the highly anticipated video game for Friday the 13th (the hard copies for PS4 and XBOX come out today.) I’m no gamer, but this may have turned me into one—because it’s amazing! I even purchased a headset to talk to people from the online world. I know, if Socrates was here he would take one look at me on my couch in my fucking headset—with attached microphone, of course—and utter out the word “Geek!” Oh, and talking to random people while playing this game online is its own kind of horror. Here’s the premise of the game: There are eight players in a lobby, and one person is randomly picked as Jason, while the other seven are counselors. You must work together to escape, survive for twenty whole minutes, or kill Jason. All this occurs while Jason is hunting you down as you scurry through different campsites that the creators of the game so perfectly replicated from the films. Buy it now or forever be haunted by the 1989 Nintendo version.
From very early on, horror movies have been a big part of my life. After getting out of school in the mid-80’s, I would stay at my neighbor’s house until my Mom got home. It was much like the Walsh house from The Goonies: A neighborhood hangout for kids on the block, most of them in high school. It was the ’80s, so there was no adult supervision. Horror movies played all the time, and Creepshow was the first one I remember watching. Right from the start, I was hooked. Creepshow was the gateway drug which led to Halloween, which led to Evil Dead. At my first sleepover, I saw a Betamax copy of Friday the 13th sitting on the kitchen table. That tape was the welcoming party to Camp Crystal Lake, and a meeting with Jason was just hours away. There was no escape, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s do a quick spoiler-filled rundown of all 12 films in the series, shall we?
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
A few years ago, director John Carpenter was on Bret Easton Ellis’s podcast and he had some not-so-pleasant things to say about the Friday the 13th series. The first movie was one of many films to cash in on the slasher genre after the smash success of Carpenter’s 1978 independent masterpiece, Halloween. “I think the reason that all these slasher movies came about in the ’80s was a lot of folks saying, ‘Look at that Halloween movie!,'” posited Carpenter. “One sprints from an organic idea and has a truly artist’s eye working,” he added. “And Friday the 13th affects me as very cynical. It’s very cynical moviemaking. It just doesn’t rise above its cheapness.” I love John Carpenter and I agree, but I think that is what we all love about the Friday the 13th movies. It’s kinda like how I love both the White Album and Look What the Cat Dragged In.
1980 marks the beginning of the series. A group of drug and sex-crazed teenagers are in charge of watching innocent children at the cursed Camp Crystal Lake. Have sex, you die. Smoke pot, you die. Try to take a shower to get clean? You die. It was the beginning of Kevin Bacon’s career, and we find out that the killer isn’t actually Jason.
You know what I mean. What, you just get off a spaceship or something? Come on! Colombian gold, man. Grass, hash, the weed, dig it?
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)
Jason is now on the loose hunting camp counselors with a sack over his head. Adrienne King is back, reprising her role as Alice, and Crazy Ralph is also back… but this time he doesn’t make it. Not only is Crazy Ralph crazy, he also happens to be a peeping tom! While peeping two “teenagers” making out, Jason introduces Crazy Ralph to his chain. RIP Crazy Ralph.
Friday the 13th Fun Fact: Crazy Ralph comes back to the series as a narrator at the beginning of part seven.
These kids smoke better dope than I do.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART III (1982)
Every time I watch Part III, I always wonder why the motorcycle gang is hanging out at a convenience shop. Shouldn’t they be at a biker bar? Then they get revenge by syphoning gas out of the kids’ van? That’s not very tough.
I also wonder why Shelly is around. Why did they bring him when everyone seems to hate him? In one scene alone he is called a “creep,” a “jerk,” and an “asshole,” and then they say he doesn’t know any better—all in the span of two minutes. Actually, this is starting to sound like some of the things said to me anytime I showed up somewhere in high school/now. One thing I definitely learned from Shelly is that being a jerk is better than being a nothing. Why is Shelly there, honestly? If he wasn’t brought along, Jason may have never found his hockey mask. Yes! Part III is the first time Jason dawns his iconic mask— and with that, a horror icon was born.
Is that all you’re gonna do this weekend? Smoke dope?
FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)
This is the last movie in the series to take place directly after the events of the last one, and we all thought Jason was dead by now… right? Wrong. Jason is taken to a hospital and mysteriously resurrected. We welcome Tommy Jarvis to the Friday the 13th, series played by none other than a 12-year-old Corey Feldman. I recently saw Corey Feldman play in Kansas City with his band the Angels and… you should all go see them, now! Fly out to where they are playing.
Remember that girl hitchhiking at the beginning? Her name in the original script was “Fat Girl.” That would fly over pretty well today, right? Hmmm. The big thing that everybody should remember the most from The Final Chapter is Crispin Glover’s dance scene. I guess he used to really dance this way, and it was his idea to do it, so here you go:
Axel, you are the Super Bowl of self-abuse!
-Morgan the Nurse
FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)
“Yo, breakfast! Come and get it!” Most people either love or hate A New Beginning. I love it. In fact, it might be my favorite because it’s just so bizarre and I don’t understand any of it. Whoever wrote A New Beginning had to be out of their mind. And I’m not talking bizarre in a Jodorowsky sense. More like, what the hell are all these people doing in the same movie? Take Vic, he lives in the halfway house for teens that the movie revolves around, yet he looks like he’s about 48-years-old. Or Billy, the male nurse that’s highly addicted to cocaine—what’s his story? Then you got Demon, Ethel, Reckless, Vinnie, Joey, Violet and—one of my favorite actors of all time—Vernon Washington, who plays Gramps. It’s all too out of control for me, and I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Jason isn’t even in this movie! Fucking Roy Burns.
Now, I’m gonna tell all of ya, you mark my words, the next little bastard that comes near my farm, I’m gonn’ blow your fuckin’ brains out, you hear me?!
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986)
Tommy Jarvis is back and he wants to make sure Jason is dead. Jason is not dead, thanks to goddamn Tommy, who brought Mr. Vorhees back to life. Oh bis, you fucked up Tommy! Now Tommy needs to kill Jason, again.
This one, in my opinion, is the last really great movie in the series.
If I had you where I wanted you, they’d be pumping your ass full of formaldehyde.
– Sheriff Garris
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988)
Enter the “ridiculous ideas” phase of the series. The New Blood has to do with telekinetic powers, wizards, and hobbits (okay no wizards or hobbits.) Kane Hodder makes his debut as Jason, and that is dope. The original cut of this one is the most violent of all the Friday the 13th films, and would have received an X-rating if released in its original form. You can find the uncut version on the internet, or via its Dutch VHS release. I do like this one a lot, I just need to be in the right mind frame for it.
Who’s friend is that scuzball dope head?
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)
I can see the pre-production meeting in my mind: “We need to change it up. Where can we have Jason go?” One suit looks at the other in confusion, who looks at the other, who then looks at a framed poster on the wall of Paul Hogan standing over a large city skyline in Crocodile Dundee, [pause], “New York City!” They all blankly look at each other, then begin to smile. “Genius!”
In reality Jason is in the Big Apple only for the tail end of the film. He spends most of our time on a cruise ship for a graduating class of high school students. Jason Takes Manhattan isn’t bad by any means—in my opinion, it’s the last Friday the 13th that mattered.
After Jason Takes Manhattan, the rest are all pretty terrible. In 1992, Paramount sold the rights of Friday the 13th to New Line Cinema—for those who don’t know, New Line is known as “The house that Freddy built.” Jason’s turf was dangerously closing in on Elm St., and I guess the suits over at New Line didn’t care what happened with Sean S. Cunnigham’s treasured legacy, so long as they filled seats in the theaters.
Julius is the only senior I would even consider doing it with.
JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993)
Fuck this one… Burn it! It was directed by someone who’d never made a movie before, and was not a fan of the previous films. Jason is barely in the movie, they spell the Voorhees name wrong, and they disregard all prior bits of the canon leading up to it. This one has so many flaws this whole article could be about them, and this was supposed to be the death of Jason. The “grand finale?” Embarrassing.
JASON X (2001)
AKA Jason Goes to Space. Ugh… Why on earth would you… Ugh…
1. Jason is dressed like a fucking Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.
2. They send him to space.
3. They send him to space.
Again, they wanted something “new” for Jason. If you watch interviews and bonus features, you will see the other (horrible) ideas before they settled on space, like Jason Goes to Africa, or Jason in the North Pole (I’m not joking.) But, instead of Camp Crystal Lake they had to be eXtreme and send him to damn space, fully loaded—wearing Rollerblades, a Surge citrus soda in hand, and a bright green manic panic mohawk (okay, joking on those.) Pinhead, Leprechaun and now Jason have all been to space. So awesome. So eXtreme!
FREDDY VS. JASON (2003)
The dream was finally coming true in the world of horror. After years and years of talk, it was finally happening. Then it happened.
Here’s the deal: I don’t enjoy not liking a horror movie. I don’t knock a horror remake or a new part in a series for no reason. “I like garlic,” I’m a horror fan, and I want every horror movie to be good—or at least entertaining. Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, Suspiria, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Evil Dead—what makes these so great? The director and the love they have for these films.
So when a production company hires a director who knows absolutely nothing about the series or characters, Freddy vs. Jason is what you get. A shitty film with poor acting, a poor script, no love, and no scares. Jason is a fucking dweeb, Freddy over-explains shit, and is even called a f****t by Kelly Rowland. Yes, that Kelly Rowland, she of the singing sensation Destiny’s Child was cast in this movie and calls Freddy a homophobic slur that should never be said by anybody. Horrible.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)
I’m not even going to talk about this remake. Nothing to see there. Carry on…
There you have a quick rundown of a long horror series. Will they ever get the Friday the 13th series back on track? Or in the next part will we find Jason traveling to Melmac to fight ALF? I really don’t know, but if another movie is made, and someone is reading this who wants my two cents: hire a director and a writer who have a love for the originals, and stick to the basics of what made Jason great. Jason doesn’t talk, he doesn’t have any sense of emotion, and he does not take people hostage. It’s not rocket science. Don’t try to make it complicated.
Check out Josh’s band Berwanger’s new music video for the song “Horror Show.” The entire video was made by Josh Berwanger on his Super Nintendo using the game Mario Paint. New Noise premiered it with another listicle by Josh—his top 10 horror films!
The song is taken from his forthcoming album The Star Invaders, which is scheduled to be released on Halloween. You can pre-order the album here.