Posts Tagged ‘friday the 13th’


Why does Jason kill?

jason9For many of us, the urge to kill is something that we can suppress from day to day. Unlike eating, breathing, and sleeping, murder does not fall under the umbrella of daily necessities. Jason Voorhees is not like most people.jason1

Introduced to an unprepared public at the very end of the seminal film Friday the 13th (1980), Jason has since gone through many transformations. In the beginning, he was a tragic drowning victim – a statistic to be filed under accidents that happen at summer camp. Who knew that he would go on to murder dozens and dozens of unsuspecting teenagers in the ensuing years? Certainly not the camp counselors who should have been watching him when he swam out into Camp Crystal Lake’s deeper waters. To their credit, they had better things to do than monitor the safety of their campers. They were humping like cats in heat.

Those camp counselors would not be the ones who paid for Jason’s drowning. It would be the collective burden of every horny teenager that followed (and more than a few adults). Years after his preventable drowning, Jason rose from his underwater grave and began his quest to kill every person he met.

Compounding the problem is the murder of Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees. Second-hand sources say that Jason, while still slumbering in Davy Jones’ locker, awoke when he heard his mother fighting with a camper on the shores of the Camp Crystal Lake. He woke up just in time to see her beheaded by the camper. Granted, she had been on a killing spree up to that point, but Jason was unaware of that fact. He only witnessed her death. This anger, the anger of watching your own mother die at the hands of a teenage camper, may propel Jason’s rage.

As to why Jason keeps killing long after it is socially acceptable: it’s anyone’s guess. There are almost as many theories as there are experts. One thing that everyone can agree on, though, is that Jason has passed the normal stages of grief (both for his own death and for his mother’s) and moved into uncharted psychological waters.

Jason’s motives may be unclear, as may his mental state, but his killing methods have been well-documented. Beginning with Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) and extending as recently as 2001 with the release of Jason X, Jason has used an array of weaponry. (An unofficial addendum, Freddy Vs. Jason, exists but experts are unsure as to how this fits with the Jason canon.) Jason prefers knives, throwing people from windows, strangling people with cord or wire, or mangling then killing with shrub clippers and assorted cleavers. Jason doesn’t have a proven track record with guns or larger military-style weaponry; his is a personal war fought at the hand-to-hand level.

Complicating matters further is Jason’s mortality and lifestyle. He has died in nearly all the Friday the 13th movies, yet he manages to return as easily as walking through a door. He is nearly silent – except for a few grunts and the occasional moan, Jason doesn’t have much to say either to his victims or the press. He lives, one assumes, alone. This Spartan lifestyle may suit him, but humans are social creatures. He could use a friend if he is to make any sort of recovery.

There are few cases of killers as compelling and well-documented as Jason Voorhees. Yet for all the talk, all the film showing his complex psyche to the world, we have so much to learn from Jason. What does he want? What are his needs? Why does he kill? Will he ever find happiness? What would he have been without tragedy early in his life? Sadly, we may never know the answer to these questions.

Jason is a unique and tragic figure. Kind of like Marilyn Monroe, except hideously deformed and psychotic. And he is a man. But like Marilyn Monroe, his candle burned out long before his legend ever will.jason4


Jason in Spppppppaaaaaaaaaaaaccccccccce!

jason-sadThe year is 2455. There are no more bicycles. Earth has been abandoned long ago because Al Gore or somebody made the planet uninhabitable. Humans live in ships and space stations scattered throughout the solar system. Many things have changed. And yet, some things remain the same.
According to Jason X, the culmination (so far) of the Friday the 13th saga, sex is still the best way to spend your free time. Teenagers – and androids created by teenagers – engage in this rite of passage frequently, generally before they get married. I’m not sure if there are Brave New World levels of birth control, but I’m sure they’re not stuck with sheepskin.
Another constant in the future is Death. Grisly, bone-crunching, face-squeezing, blood-spurting death, delivered by none other than the master of disaster himself: Jason Voorhees.
That’s right kids! Jason was given a gift in the year 2010. He was caught and convicted of murdering over two hundred people. The government tried to kill him, but capital punishment never really took. Jason kept coming back to life. So they tried the only option left: they froze him, hoping that a future society would be able to finish the job. Well, apparently 2455 is not far enough in the future, because Jason has a pretty easy time killing off almost every single member of the hapless ship that plucks frozen Jason from Earth.
Now, the question before us is not, Is this a good movie? It is not, Is this a great movie? The question should be: Is this the greatest movie of all time? The answer, dear readers, is a definitive YES.
Usually, sending the main character into space represents the last desperate shot of a dying franchise. Not so here. Jason X turns out to be a high-water mark for the series, joining Part 4 (The Final Chapter) and Part 8 (Jason Takes Manhattan) as the pinnacles of the Voorhees legend.Jason is a fully formed character, and the makers know exactly what the audience wants. He performs the rarely-seen head squeeze (one of my favorite moves of his repertoire). Kane Hodder, the actor/stuntman who played Jason in the last four Friday the 13th films (except, sadly, not in Freddy v. Jason), makes Jason more than a hockey mask. Like a T-Rex sniffing out his prey, Jason cocks his head to the side before moving decisively. He doesn’t want food or drink – his only need is his trusty machete. Hodder makes you realize how scary it would be to have a huge guy you can’t kill chasing after you. This sounds obvious, but after ten movies, that basic truth can sometimes be forgotten.
Jason X is not without its faults. The character responsible for the thawing of Jason is a greedy, money-grubbing professor. Yes, a professor. Unfortunately his professor displays none of the hallmarks of a life in academia. He swears frequently but with none of the verbal flair of a sailor or pirate. He is obsessed with money and fame. Until someone tells him, he has no idea he has the most notorious villain of the 20th century on his ship (despite the villain being frozen with a hockey mask on and a machette in his hand). Further, he is the anti-presence. Most actors strive to make an impression in their brief flickering moments onscreen. I don’t even remember what the poor guy looked like. It’s obvious from the get-go this guy’s not going to hold up well when Jason comes a-courtin’. The professor does get the best line in the movie, though. “Everything’s under control!” It’s a cry into the ink-black night of space, and only said when the exact opposite is true.
Unlike Alien, that other horror movie set on a spaceship, you don’t get a good sense of the ship’s layout. People run, people hide, but you never know where they’re going. I never felt that tingling claustrophobic sensation, even though that is exactly what the filmmakers were trying for. The ship kept expanding as the characters ran into yet another new room or corridor. The floorplan wasn’t clearly defined in the beginning, so it seemed like the terrified crew could keep running forever.
The ending was hilarious but left me a little uninspired. The problem of “killing” Jason is allowing him to be out of commission for a while, but keeping that door open for a triumphant return. Without wanting to give too much away, I don’t know how they will carry on the series. Freddy Vs. Jason solved that little conundrum by taking place before the events of Jason X – that is, before he gets frozen in the year 2010. But what will happen next? It appears the series is set for a reboot: Friday the 13th is coming to theaters near all of us in February 2009. If all goes well, we could see many more sequels from there, none of them having to get Jason out of the distant future, a long way from Earth and Camp Crystal Lake.
It’s too bad, really. I would have liked to see the continuation of Jason, rather than starting all over from the beginning. We’ve come so far together. I do see the advantages of starting from scratch: we can build him again, but better! Yet, Jason’s baggage is part of his glory. There are certainly some stinkers in the series (Part 5, anyone?), but without them Jason is a little less war-torn. A little less embattled. With a ghoul like Jason, the more sensational the history, the better. Jason, like a crooked politician, needs his past infamies. They are what set him apart from other dark spirits and ne’er-do-wells. So, it is with a heavy heart that I conclude my inquiry into Jason Voorhees. We will see how they treat him in this new Friday the 13th, but we must never forget what has come before.
FDR, during one of his fireside chats, said, “Jason Voorhees is evil, and I have seen evil. Yet this nation, without Jason, is something less than whole. It would be a shadow of a nation, a nation where a hockey mask is just a hockey mask. Let Jason live and kill, not just today, but tomorrow, and forever more.”
Amen, Mr. Roosevelt. Amen.

His Name Was Jason

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?

slashy spooky

F13_Poster According to Yahoo, the top 10 searches for paranormal phenomenon were: Ghosts, Bigfoot, Dragons, Chupacabra, Aliens, Mermaids, Fairies, Vampires, Loch Ness Monster, and Shape Shifter. I wonder: is that an accurate portrayal of what most interested people last year? I’d have to say ghosts are the scariest member of that elite group. I was an insomniac kid, and one night I came to the realization that ghosts are dead people. They wouldn’t look like Casper; they would look like old, decomposing corpses. The image of a glowing, floating corpse with tattered clothes floating in the doorway to my bedroom kept me up the remainder of the night.

I wouldn’t say I have a dark personality. Perhaps it is my undying optimism that permits me to enjoy scary stories. They spook me, but I keep returning to them. Curiosity killed the cat, and I want to know why.

February has brought us not one but two excellent scary movies. The first is the remake of Friday the 13th. In 2009, it isn’t enough to have a bunch of camp counselors hunted down, one by one. The makers of this “reboot” have given us a stew comprised of some of the best moments from the first few Friday the 13th films. For those of you yet to see the film, just know that the end of the original movie is now the beginning of this one. That’s right: the climax in 1980 is now merely a prologue. You know it’s going to be good when the first kill happens before the title credit appears.

Happily, they got the tone right. Jason Voorhees rarely runs, doesn’t speak, and pops up behind his victims no matter how far or how fast they flee. The teenagers are now twentysomethings, but they’re just as stupid as their predecessors. Smoking pot, having sex, speaking the Lord’s name in vain: they’re asking for trouble. Jason is the Morality Police, and he wields a large Blade of Justice to mow down the sinners.

My only complaint about Friday the 13th is the same one I have for most horror and action movies today. The filmmakers won’t allow any shot to last for longer than 2 seconds. At the risk of sounding like a geezer, I can’t stand to look at a series of images flashing in my face for 90 minutes. It’s fatiguing. Why not let the suspense build a little before the payoff? Think of the scene in The Shining, when Dick Hallorann arrives at the Overlook in hopes of saving Wendy and Danny. He walks down a long corridor, yelling into the cavernous, empty hotel. Just as he reaches the end, Jack jumps out from behind a pillar and hacks him to death with an ax. Think about this: Jack must have been waiting there for a long, long time. Waiting for just the right moment to make his move. We are allowed to ponder this horrifying thought. Now, with hyper-editing, we cannot ponder the intricacies of horror. We’re forced to keep up, barely registering one kill before we see the next one.

Not all scary movies are filled with death. Some have no body count at all. Coraline is one of those movies.coraline-oldladies
Coraline is a work of art. There is no better way to describe it. I found myself not following the story so much as simply watching the images on the screen. The stop-motion animation is more refined than Nightmare Before Christmas. The sets are more elaborate, the characters fuller. This is not in any way disparaging Nightmare; Henry Selick directed both movies and this just shows his progression.

If I was reticent about giving away too much plot of Friday the 13th, I’m completely against talking about Coraline. It’s best to see it for yourself.

Coraline, like the best scary movies, doesn’t hit you over the head with it. It presents situations that aren’t overtly horrific, but after you leave the theater you think to yourself, “that was really creepy.” That’s how it got a PG rating: it’s what it doesn’t show that spooks you. Oh, and there are ghosts. Friday the 13th doesn’t have ghosts.

Who knew that February, the month that brings us Valentine’s Day and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, could also bring two of the best scary movies I’ve seen in a long time?


twitter killed jason?

jason axJason Voorhees. Until today, I thought he was simply indestructible. That is, until the online text message dumping ground that is Twitter alerted me to the fact that Jason is, perhaps finally, dead.

While responding to questions, the producer of the recent Friday the 13th remake said about a possible sequel:

@bcfuller:
it is dead- not happening.

and later:
i simply can’t get one made right now.

This is how Jason dies?? Not by stabbing, beheading, drowning, burning, drowning again, exploding, freezing, or burying? Death by Tweet?

We shouldn’t be carving the epitaph right away. If I know Jason, he will find a way to stage a comeback. But really, it is a depressing way for a screen icon to go. I hope that Twitter won’t kill off any more Hollywood legends, but if it does, I hear you can kill Twitter by simply going to a different website.


friday robots

Friday Robots inhabit every city in the world.
This week we highlight Denver and Portland.
Do you live somewhere on planet Earth? There is a Friday Robot nearby.