Jason 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:
it is dead- not happening.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
For 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.
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.