Thoughts I Had While Binge-Watching the Entire FRIDAY THE 13th Franchise
One of the earliest memories as a child was when my parents used to run the Halloween haunted hayride in my hometown. At the end of the ride, the tractor malfunctions, the driver leaves to find help, and suddenly “Jason Voorhees,” aka my own father donning a stained hockey mask and a fake chainsaw (continuity be damned) appears and kills the driver in front of us. With the riders stranded, Jason jumps on the wagon to terrorize everyone on board.
It didn’t matter that I knew my dad was the one behind the mask or that I’d seen him trying on the costume at home; the moment I came face to face with the unstoppable force of Camp Crystal Lake, I was doomed. The driver had to “rise from the dead” and apologize to the other guests for ending the ride, my dad had to give away his identity in front of a crowd of screaming teenagers to calm me down, and my six-year-old ass was carried off, crying, by an unmasked Jason Voorhees.
I never did find out how the ride was supposed to actually end.
From that moment on, I developed an unhealthy uneasiness about the Friday the 13th franchise. I’ve seen all of the films at least once, but I’ve never given them the full attention I’ve given the other iconic slashers (save for analyzing Pamela Voorhees) because, well, the sight of Jason turns me back into a freaked out six-year-old. It’s pavlovian and, up until this point, something I’ve mostly kept secret from my horror contemporaries.
Now, thanks to Shudder providing instant access to Friday the 13th I-VIII, the time has come to conquer my fears and actually watch the Friday the 13th franchise. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve laughed a lot, and I’ve definitely groaned more than I could have predicted, but here are the most pressing thoughts I had during each film after roughly 15 hours of binge-watching horror’s favorite killer hockey goalie.
Friday the 13th (1980)
- The frozen still of Claudette screaming is burned into my brain with the same intensity as Angela Baker’s final shot in Sleepaway Camp.
- Harry Manfredini didn’t have to go this hard on the score for Friday the 13th, but he did that for us. He did that. FOR US.
- I wonder if Steve Christy knows that future generations of hipsters would emulate his look 30 years later and turn him into a fashion icon.
- Consider this article my petition to put Kevin Bacon’s speedo in the Smithsonian.
- I’ll never understand how people fell for Pamela as a bait-and-switch killer. There’s so much psychological manipulation going on that sets people up for their death that tracks with female serial killers, and no hitchhiker would ever feel comfortable enough to talk about dreams with their random driver unless it was a sweet old woman.
Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
- How funny would it have been if F13: II’s flashback sequence was just as long and prominent as the one in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2?
- Look, I always ignore the rants of crazy men spouting nonsense at me in public, so I cannot blame any of these counselors who ignored him. My ass would absolutely get slashed to bits because I didn’t pay attention to the harbinger.
- Okay, I’m gonna say it … this is my least favorite of the Jasons. I hate how he runs like someone shot him in the ass with a paintball. ( … is this foreshadowing to Part VI?)
- On the flip side, Ginny is the best final girl this franchise has and it’s not even a fair competition.
- Full disclosure, that damn final “Muffin” scare with the window gets me every single time, even when I know it’s coming. It just riddles me with anxiety and I jump.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
- Fun Fact: This is the only F13 film where they never say the name “Jason.” This stupid trivia answer was brought to you by the horror movie trivia I helped my future wife write last year.
- Fox is a bad bitch with wicked Mommy energy and this franchise did not deserve her.
- Loco, however, looks like he smells like a carton of cigarettes that was left out during a rainstorm.
- LOL this movie is the one that dethroned E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial from the number one spot at the box office.
- I’ve read so many defenses of Shelley Finkelstein over the years, and it always boils down to “I was also a horror fan who liked to make people laugh and was unlucky with girls.” Y’all, it’s time to finally admit that Shelley Finkelstein is a shitty prankster, pulls unjustified acts of revenge, needs to learn to just TALK to a girl, and is responsible for getting a bunch of his friends killed for not taking Jason’s presence seriously after pranking them with fake death so much like a god damned sociopath.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
- Okay, remember what I said about the flashbacks in Part II? Second that for this one, times fifty.
- Who would win in a sexy, nerdy dance off — Jimmy Mortimer in F13 IV or Jesse Walsh in Nightmare on Elm Street 2?
- The shot of the kill illuminated only by lightning strike while all of the kids are watching porn is legitimately awesome and really creative.
- Ted White (the stuntman who plays Jason) forever has a gold star in my mind. He’s the reason Judie Aronson didn’t catch hypothermia after director Joseph Vito wouldn’t stop shooting when she was freezing her ass off during her nude scene in that lake. (More fun facts from writing horror trivia)
- If we’ve learned anything from Ginny in Part II and pre-teen Tommy Jarvis in this, the trick to getting past Jason is some psychological manipulation where you weaponize his childhood against him. Jason Voorhees is Sigmund Freud’s biggest wet dream.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
- Spoiler Alert: Jason Voorhees isn’t the killer in this movie and horror fans have a lot of feelings about this.
- Me? I have a lot of feelings about the fact that Reggie Winter’s brother is named “Demon,” meaning his name is DEMON WINTER. (Related: Miguel A. Nunez Jr. can get it)
- Violet Moraine is a fashion icon and I’d argue that her dancing would defeat Jimmy Mortimer any day of the week. There, I said it. I’m not taking it back.
- “Bout time, ya fuck wad” is an insult that has absolutely made its way into my own vernacular. It’s such a great insult.
- Confession: I don’t think this is a bad slasher film; I think it’s a bad Friday the 13th film, and there’s a difference. I enjoy the exploration of trauma most of the characters are dealing with, I love the PTSD angle of Tommy Jarvis, and the nature of cyclical abuse … but these are incredibly deep topics that require more nuance than a Friday the 13th film is going to have time to give.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
- That James Bond ass opening sequence in the eye is the stupidest and greatest opening moment in the entire franchise and I will die on this hill.
- WOW ARE WE NOT GONNA ADDRESS THAT THE COP STRAIGHT UP THREATENS TO BLOW TOMMY JARVIS’ BRAINS OVER THE WALL WITHIN LIKE 45 SECONDS OF MEETING HIM?!
- Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit? What pre-teen boy is reading existentialist french theatre at summer camp?! Wait. Probably that kid who wore the Les Mis shirt to the dance in Heavyweights. Carry on.
- I’m happy to report that Cort Andrews wears his tank tops above his nipples the same way that I do during sex … and shares the same affinity for rock and roll dry-hump dancing with hot women and blasting Alice Cooper.
- Thank the universe that John Shepard was an evangelical (dude quit movies and joined the seminary) and didn’t return to the franchise because Thom Matthews’ performance is fucking iconic.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
- They want baby Tina to be Heather O’Rourke from Poltergeist in these flashbacks, right? That’s what we’re supposed to be taking away from this, yeah?
- It’s really ironic that a character totally defined by his relationship to his mother would be resurrected through a telekinetic teen girl crying and begging for her “Daddy” to come back. I guess Jason identifies as a “daddy,” now.
- MADDY PAULSON DID NOT NEED A TOUCH-UP. SHE WAS PERFECTLY ADORABLE AND DESERVED WAY BETTER FRIENDS AND ALSO NOT TO DIE.
- I am very concerned for Eddie talking about using soap as a lubricant to jerk off in the shower after he finds out Melissa is just using him to make Nick jealous. You’re gonna dry out your junk, pal!
- Kane Hodder really is Jason Voorhees. His character work is absolutely magnificent and downright untouchable.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
- Why they didn’t just advertise this as “Jason takes a Cruise” is beyond me. I genuinely think more than half the hate this movie gets is from the misleading title.
- This deckhand wants to be Crazy Ralph so damn bad.
- Am I in love with J.J. or do I just want to be her? Stay tuned to find out. (The answer is both)
- How in the fresh hell did Jason get to New York after the boat sank? Did he swim? Did he walk across the underwater floor like one of those old-timey heavy scuba suits? HOW?!
- I know, I know, budget cuts are why most of this movie takes place on a boat, but when Jason finally does arrive in NYC, this movie is non-stop fun. The hockey billboard? The punks? The shot in Times Square? Toxic sewage? The latter part of this movie has it all.
Shudder lovingly has the first 8 films of the franchise ready and waiting for your consumption, but the completionist part of my brain would never let me forget it if I left out the last three films. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is my least favorite of the entire franchise (save for the moment that sets up Freddy vs. Jason) and that’s all I’ll be saying on that film. Jason X, however, is a camp masterpiece and gets a bad rap, especially considering both the liquid nitrogen and return of the “sleeping bag v. tree” deaths are two of the best in the entire series. As for Freddy vs. Jason? I love a problematic fave that reeks of its time period and oh, lord, does FvJ exist as a time capsule for all of the worst aspects of 2003.
Well, there you have it. The films are a mixed bag, to put it kindly, but still a lot of fun to watch with your loved one forced by quarantine to watch whatever you decide to put on. If there’s any consistency in the series, it’s that Jason struggles with memories and trauma from his childhood and DESPERATELY needed a therapist. He definitely still creeps me out because of my own childhood trauma related to his image and should probably bring this up with my own therapist.
I guess Jason and I aren’t so different after all.
*BJ Colangelo is a recovering child beauty queen that fancies herself the lovechild of Chistopher Sarandon in FRIGHT NIGHT and Susan Sarandon in THE HUNGER. She writes about horror, wrestling, sex, kicking pancreatic cancer’s ass, and being a fat queer all over the Internet. Find her on twitter @bjcolangelo.