The ABC's of Friday the 13th!

A few weeks back I began reaching out to fellow horror geeks in an attempt to create this list.  While it was a bit arduous the list is complete and I'm pretty happy with outcome.  I realize Friday the 13th happens a few times every year, but with Warner Bros releasing the complete collection on blu-ray today along with numerous other horror blogs getting in on the action, it would just feel wrong to not do something special.  I want to thank everyone who suggested a word or a phrase, if yours didn't show up it was certainly nothing personal, I've just been in a huge rush trying to get this finished and I do fear a few submissions might have fell through the cracks.  

So without further ado...

Alice was the first person to make it to the credits in any Friday the 13th film.  I'm sure actress Adrienne King had no idea what she was getting herself into at the time, while Friday the 13th wasn't the first slasher film it's notoriety and her character's popularity still live on to this day.  Congrats Adrienne, you were one of the first "survivor girls!"

Another staple in the older slasher films; a soon-to-be-famous actor getting offed in the worst possible way.  With his participation in the first Friday, Kevin Bacon joined fellow actors Margot Kidder, Brooke Shields, Tom Hanks, Paul Rudd, and a legion of others who all got an early start thanks to the slasher film.

 (servo90)
Ah yes, the one who got the train a' rollin.'  Sean S. Cunningham is responsible for the franchise we all know and love.  I owe a lot to this guy, I could have been out raising hell but no, many Friday nights of my youth were spent basking in the glow of my television while USA Up All Night aired cut versions of our beloved films.  Thank you Mr. Cunningham!

What's that?  You think Friday the 13th: A New Beginning blows?  Well I can give you two reasons why I believe otherwise.  There was a lot of nudity throughout the franchise, but I really think it peaked with this young actress.  The fact that she shared the famed killer's last name is just a small bonus.   

The entrails, the Friday the 13th films have always been synonymous the red stuff.  While the films were critically panned for the violence and often had to be cut down to appease the vicious ratings board, the filmmakers still found ways to deliver the goods to eager fans.  Every fan has a favorite kill scene.  Is it sadistic?  Who cares, it's FRIDAY THE 13TH!

Which brings us to the letter F.  At one point Friday the 13th was only known as an "unlucky day."  Now that date is Jason's day.  It's funny really, there's a new generation of kids out there, many of which probably haven't seen the early Friday films...But they still have a clear understanding of who that character is.  The notion might offend some, but the Jason's and Freddy's have almost become the Frankenstein's and Dracula's of this time period.  Friday the 13th is no different.  As I write this I take great comfort in knowing many other horror enthusiasts are doing something very similar to celebrate this day.  

Another reason why V is a great entry in the series!  C'mon, how can you not like this scene?  Secondly who in the hell thought this part up?  A character named Demon stuck in one of cinema's most disgusting outhouses who breaks into a catchy song right before being dispatched.   Craziness.  Anyone else notice that Demon forgot to wipe?  Just sayin.'

Much like the date, the hockey mask is another thing now synonymous with Jason Voorhees.  It took us two sequels to get there, but I can't imagine the guy without the thing.  The mask has undergone various changes throughout the films but one thing's for certain, even that blank lifeless mask in the image I chose will cull up multiple Jason images from one's memory bank.

Even if you're just a novice in all things slasher you probably know the subgenre is built on characters making the most inane decisions.  Close your eyes and imagine if the characters were smart.  Did you do it?  How boring would that movie be?  "Crazy Ralph said we're all doomed, I think we should probably leave."  *Roll credits*  I'm truly thankful for the idiotic choices some of these characters have made.

Is this an obvious choice?  Sure!  That doesn't make it any less relevant.  This masked killer has been haunting campgrounds for decades and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.  Sure, the wait between sequels seems to get longer and longer, but he still manages to rear his deformed head our way in the form of action figures, stuffed dolls, baseball caps, wallets, face it, Jason is no longer just a horror villain, but a merch-heavy pop culture icon.

Jason has been portrayed by a lot of different actors, but none of them seem to embrace the idea as much as Kane Hodder.  Here's a guy who truly loves his work and his fans.  He is Jason, no question.

Which brings us to Ari Lehman, the very first Jason.  While he might not have murdered any teens in that first film he was the inspiration behind everything.  Like Kane, Ari has embraced his role, the guy even has a band titled "First Jason."  No joke.

Here's another everyday item that has forever been tainted thanks to the likes of Jason Voorhees.  Hockey mask and machete.  Yep, that's Jason.

NECA wasn't the first company to give us a Jason action figure (that award goes to McFarlane Toys and their legendary Movie Maniacs line) but they've definitely given us the most accurate representation of the masked killer.  Their "Final Chapter" figure is about as close to perfection as a 7 inch toy can get.  They've also given fans two 18 inch figures and plan on revisiting the character again before the year's end in the form of a retro-Mego inspired figure.

Every tormented horror baddie has an origin story.  Jason is no different.   A "special needs" kid left to his own devices dies tragically because of two irresponsible camp counselors .  His mom's attempts avenge him  leaves her decapitated.  That's some Shakespearean shit right there. But "origin" doesn't have to be strictly referencing Voorhees, there's a lot that went into creating what would eventually be one of the most successful film franchises in horror history.  The above picture is actually from Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood, a film that obviously had a very heavy influence on the earlier Friday the 13th films.  There's a good chance Friday would have been vastly different if not for Bava's film.  There's a wonderful write up over at DOCTERROR that's required reading.

"C'mon Voorhees, slow down you're making us all look bad."  Jason is the kind of guy that will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  Now usually "what he wants" is the decimation of poor twenty-somethings, but hey who's judging?  Not me.  He's overcome drownings, stabbings, head trauma, being buried, being chained to the bottom of a lake, so on and so forth.  There's no stopping the guy, if that's not persistence I don't know what is.

That's another thing that has kept these films fresh throughout the years, quotability.  Whether it was intentional or just a lucky mistake, there are some truly unforgettable lines uttered in these films.

My buddy Pizowell had a great point when he said "the series copied itself for years."  It's true, while a few films of the series attempted to do something different, for the most part the films were a bit repetitive.  Nothing wrong with that though, slasher films have always had a specific "formula."  Another cool factoid the guy dropped was that the original working title of V was "Repetition."

Clearly this is one of the more popular Friday kills.  In Part VII Mr. Voorhees slashes into a tent inhabited by a young lady, drags her out via sleeping bag, and proceeds to hurl the human burrito against a tree.  It's actually pretty brilliant when you think about it.  Kudos Jason, kudos.

Tommy Jarvis is Jason's greatest advisory.  Spanning three films and three different actors, it was hard to pick a favorite Jarvis.  I went with Thom Mathews' portrayal of the tormented character.  In Jason Lives Jarvis (Thom Mathews) returns to Crystal Lake and in a fit of rage inadvertently resurrects Voorhees.  With that opening it's obvious the Friday series really knew what it had become and was embracing it.  While I doubt we'll see the character pop up in a future sequel, Jarvis did make an appearance in the comic Freddy vs Jason vs Ash.  Tommy Jarvis will always be an important part of the film series' legacy.

An important part of the Friday films is the camp setting, along with that you've got a lot of obvious legend and mythos (campfire stories.)  As I mentioned earlier, Jason has intertwined himself with pop culture becoming more than just a fictional character.  What was an urban legend in the film is now one in our own reality.  Yes, I know Jason doesn't exist, but that doesn't mean kids don't sit around weaving together stories featuring the masked killer.  It's actually kinda cool when you think about it.

Every horror franchise has "that one sequel."  A film that tends to get trashed on every level.  For Friday the 13th that film seems to be The New Blood.  It's rep is mainly tarnished due to the end reveal; Jason Voorhees isn't actually the killer, rather a distraught father avenging his son's murder.  Aside from that one nag I really don't get the hate.  Jarvis is back, there's a handful of zany-yet-memorable characters, a few pretty cool kills...Yeah, I really don't get the hate.  

Another staple of the horror genre; a senile old man warns the kids of imminent danger; the kids do not listen.  While this isn't exactly the most original of roles, I think Walter Gorney did it best with Crazy Ralph.  The facial expressions, the voice, the lines, all pure gold.

While heavy handed with it's tongue and cheek delivery, Jason X is a very important film in the franchise.  While still being different than the past sequels, it was a definite return to form when compared to Jason Goes to Hell.  Space is a place most franchises go to die, but I thought this film was handled well.  The jokes were obvious but funny, the kills were creative, and best of all Kane Hodder was back.

This one is a given.  You can't have a Friday the 13th without young campers.  Without them it would just be plain boring.  Who's going to get boozed up and go skinny dipping?  Who's going to entertain us with an awful dance routine?  Not Jason, that's for sure.

Lastly we have Mr. Zito, the director who gave us two of the best slasher films of the 80's, The Prowler and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.  The latter is renowned as being one of the best Friday films in the series, something I wouldn't dare argue.  With Zito at the helm The Final Chapter also saw the return of Tom Savini, who at the time was at the top of his game.  Ted White's performance coupled with Savini's FX, some great actors, and very strong direction made for one very memorable sequel.  Thank you Joe!

Thanks again for all of the great input!  While I've yet to receive a shipping confirmation, I'm still hopeful I'll get the new set tomorrow, expect a full overview soon!

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