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.