Happy Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees!

Happy Friday the 13th

The evolution of Jason Voorhees.

The film title Friday The 13th refers to the birthday of Jason Voorhees and also the day of his re-birth from the dead. So, yeah, it makes more sense when you know that. Because, each film does not take place on the same day, of course. Jason is probably my favorite horror character. Sure, he was a ripoff of Michael Myers. The producers just wanted to cash in on the slasher film craze that was happening at the time. But, his tragic backstory and evolution as a character, was much more compelling. He may have been the first serial killer in film history that the audience rooted for. He predated Dexter by over three decades (another one of my favorites).

I saw the first four movies at the drive-in (remember those?). The franchise probably should have ended with Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Friday. I mean, it is right there in the title for Chrissakes! But, as long as a film makes a profit, a sequel is certain. Part 5 was a letdown. Jason isn’t even it. Part 6 was very good (it is possibly the best one) and would have made for an excellent coda to the series. It was funny, well produced, and gave Alice Cooper a much deserved comeback. The franchise really jumped the shark after that, though.

Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan was the lowest point, IMO. It should have been called Jason Takes A Boat! He’s only in New York for a few minutes at the end. It was just so stupid! It looks like it was shot during a single weekend with a home video camera. Don’t get me wrong. All of the movies have some good elements in them, even the ones that sucked. The deaths became more creative. Kane Hodder became the definitive Jason Voorhees, actually giving the character more “acting” ability than the previous stuntmen in a costume. But, his talents were wasted in the worst movies.

There was a reboot in 2009. It was okay, I guess. It sort of combined the first four movies together, which isn’t a bad concept. I just don’t think that they executed it as well as they could have. Maybe there wasn’t enough time to do it justice in one movie. Jason’s story would probably fit better into a mini-series, that could be binge-watched. That is the way I prefer to watch the movies, anyway, like episodes in a TV show. The continuity in them is a little muddled. That could be easily fixed, though. In my headcanon, Jason’s death as a young boy is still the same. He is a bullied retarded child with physical deformities, who drowns in Crystal Lake, while the counselors who were supposed to supervise the kids were elsewhere having sex. Subsequently, Camp Crystal Lake is shut down. Pamela Voorhees, the cook (and Jason’s mother), returned twenty years later before it was reopened, to kill everyone there.

Now, in Jason Goes to Hell, one of the Easter eggs in his mother’s house is the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (the Book of the Dead). It originally appeared in the Evil Dead series. It was intended to play a part in the film, but the producers couldn’t get the rights. It may have been used in the comics or other media. I dunno, I haven’t seen them. Maybe, after the camp was shut down, Pamela Voorhee’s got a job at the college where Professor Raymond Knowby taught. She could have found his notes in his office, translations from the book he discovered in Europe, finding a way to resurrect her son. I theorize that the resurrection requires human sacrifice. This may explain Mrs. Voorhees’ later actions. She would kill trespassers at the camp, to keep it closed. The vacant property came to be known as Camp Blood. Ralph Neeley (often called by his nickname “Crazy Ralph”) claimed that the area has a “death curse”. Counselors who were engaging in sex, drugs, drinking alcohol, or (in her view) other immoral activities would be her prime targets. The more souls she sent to Hell gave Jason more strength to return. At first, he could only manifest himself within her mind as a disembodied spirit. This would give her the appearance of being schizophrenic as Jason spoke to her. Her death would be the final sacrifice needed to restore his body. Before returning from the bottom of the lake, Jason’s spirit sent a psychic message, in a dream, to the girl responsible for killing his mother. The meaning of the dream was clear, “I’m coming for you.” Of course, she was killed in Part 2.

Alone and homeless, the reborn Jason Voorhees built a tiny shack in the woods for shelter, with a shrine to his mother inside. Her decapitated head lay in the center. He survived by hunting wild animals, stealing clothing and supplies from the nearby area, always out of sight. Claiming Camp Crystal Lake as his territory, Jason would continue to reap the souls of “sinners”, rapidly growing in size and strength. That explains the physical build of the different stuntmen who played him in each movie. The second movie is supposed to take place a few months after events in the first, yet Jason has already grown into a teenager or young adult.

Jason wore a burlap sack over his head with a single eyehole that was cut out on the left side, in Part 2, much like the Phantom Killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown. He was still very self-conscious about his disfigured appearance, from all the bullying he received as a child. When the sack was lost, he replaced it with a hockey mask taken from one of his victims in Part 3. This is the same mask he wore in the rest of the movies, identifiable by a crack he received from a blow to the head with an axe.

The only people he has ever shown mercy to have been children. The only person able to kill him, permanently, has been a child. That is very interesting. The innocence of children may be his only weakness. Maybe because they’re virgins? Maybe because he has a tiny bit of a conscience left?

Part 4 has the unique distinction of having two cast members who I have been compared to before on multiple occasions, Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover. Wow! Corey (as young Tommy Jarvis) kills Jason, too! Double wow!

I will forgive Part 6 for the idiocy of its protagonist, a now grown adult Tommy Jarvis, who digs up and accidentally resurrects the decomposing corpse of Jason from his grave. Way to go Tommy! You’re no Corey Feldman, buddy! The rest of the movie makes up for it. Part 6 is the last really good film in the series. It is funny , well written, well produced, and is a lot of fun. This rotting decomposing version of Jason is sometimes called Zombie Jason by fans. He was always sort of undead. But, he was faster in the earlier movies and susceptible to experiencing pain. Not so with Zombie Jason. Maybe his necrotic muscles and decayed nervous system are responsible. He does continue to get stronger in each movie. So the Necronomicon theory still holds, I think.

His long anticipated showdown with Freddy Krueger in Freddy vs. Jason takes place between Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X, in the canonical continuity. But, it was released afterward due to rights issues. All three are pretty stupid. It is said that New Line Cinema killed the franchise when they purchased, then mismanaged, it. But, it was already on the decline, with diminishing box office returns and poor reception from fans & critics. Maybe they put it out of its misery. I still watch them, I admit. Jason himself is still great, even in the worst ones. But, I cringe at the dumb retcons and shitty storytelling. It is fitting that Friday The 13th‘s final resting place is in space. Outer space is where horror franchises go to die; Critters, Leprechaun… Hellraiser?

Should it get another sequel? Should it be rebooted again? Or should this boogeyman be laid to rest?

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