It has been said that only five people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but every one of them started their own band. Listening to it, you can understand the impulse. The album sounds satisfyingly homemade, like you could just pull four or five of your drug-addled, artistic friends together one weekend to make your own. Then five more people would buy it, and create bands of their own, and on and on until everyone’s done it.
It took me a while to figure out why I was so addicted to the Friday the 13th movies. Sure, they’re satisfying in the set-up/pay-off formula of “teenagers fool around, get brutally murdered in the woods.” Who wouldn’t want to watch movie after movie of sex punctuated by intense violence? But I knew there was a deeper reason for my attachment. Was it in the characters? No. Let’s be honest; Jason is not a sympathetic character. Yes, he caught a bad break when we drowned in a lake due to neglect, and another when he watched helplessly as his mother was killed on the shore of the same lake. But his actions since that time have been anything but forgivable.
The Friday the 13th movies appeal to me in the same way the Velvet Underground appealed to aspiring musicians. They have that homemade quality. When I watch, say, Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, I feel the overwhelming urge to make a Jason movie of my own. It would be easy! All the elements are within my reach: woods and water, friends to play the parts, an axe or similar weapon, a hockey mask. I would, of course, want to explore Jason’s psychology a bit. Is he a wild animal? A manic depressive man-child? A inter-dimensional demon? Don’t get me wrong; I’m no Joseph Campbell. Jason, like Richard Nixon, is endlessly intriguing, but you don’t want to get too close.
His Name Was Jason is a new documentary on the Friday the 13th series. I watched in awe, riveted by every utterance. Many of the major players were interviewed. Sean Cunningham, Producer/Director of the first film, serves as Jason Guru to this day. He seems like an affable old hippie. Back in 1980, he needed to make a cheap movie that would make some money, but what he came up with was an icon. The three girls (women now) who survived Jason’s wrath all spoke about their desire to reprise their characters in a team-up film. For the record, I think that would be unspeakably awesome. Tom Savini, the special effects wizard who brought the gore to cinematic life, hosted the documentary.
If you have a deep and abiding love of the lore of Jason Voorhees, I strongly suggest you check out His Name Was Jason. Never fear; if you haven’t seen all the Jason movies, or if you can’t recall certain details, they summarize all eleven of them at the beginning of the doc.
And don’t forget: Friday, February 13th brings the much-anticipated reboot of the series to theaters. Although I am quietly optimistic about the new movie, it won’t inspire in me the same feelings the original did. They took a low-budget labor of love and turned it into a multimillion dollar extravaganza (made by Michael Bay’s production company, no less). Mr. Voorhees survived Freddy Krueger; will he survive this?