21 September 2015

September 21st

Friday the 13th (1980) directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Ari Lehman as Jason
9 May 1980
Freddy vs. Jason, Part I: Mommy's Revenge
The most successful of the Halloween rip-offs and arguably the starter pistol shot that kicked off the early '80s slasher boom. All of the stereotypical slasher tropes are in place in this film: the sinning teens, the killer's POV shots, the lone female survivor, the over-the-top kills created by a special effects genius. It's this last bit that made Friday the 13th special at the time; it was something a little more titillating than the mostly bloodless Halloween and just the thing to get audiences wanting more. Even if the series had not continued, people would still be watching Friday the 13th as they do Prom Night and Maniac and My Bloody Valentine.

This is not the way you'd expect the saga of Jason Voorhees to begin. If it weren't for the last minute addition of the Carrie rip-off shock ending, we wouldn't even have seen the character at all in this first film. This is great. I love the way this series just organically grew in whatever direction it felt was best, damn the continuity to Hell. I don't think our society would allow this anymore. Everything has to be pre-planned (into trilogies, or shared universes) and there are legions of nerds on the Internet ready to mercilessly pick apart anything that doesn't make perfect sense (how is Jason still a kid in 1979 and then grown up in the next movie?). There's no longer a lot of freedom in these series. Had Friday the 13th been released this decade, we probably would've had two sequels featuring two other killers with grudges against camp counselors (see: the Scream series).

I think this is actually a part of a larger change in society. We're losing the ability to accept magical thinking in our stories. Fairy tales are dead. It seems like everything has to have a logical explanation. How does the Force work? The Phantom Menace tells us it's generated by little organisms. What are vampires? Countless modern vampire movies tell us it's just a nasty disease, and that vampires' problems with garlic and silver are "allergies." This slavish allegiance to realism sucks the fun right out of everything. I hate when I catch myself thinking things like: "but zombies wouldn't be able to movie without active chemical processes in their muscles." No, brain, zombies move because it's scary. Full stop.

Favorite Character
Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney): "I'm a messenger of God. You're doomed if you stay here!"

Favorite Sin
Strip Monopoly.

Favorite Kill
Jack (Kevin Bacon) getting an arrow through the neck.

Jason's Mood
Wanting a hug.

1 comment:

  1. I think Kevin Bacon getting arrowed is everyone's favorite kill from the first movie.

    I'll admit, I'm guilty of analyzing the various continuity errors and gaps of logic between movies. I've spent way more time justifying plot holes in the "Friday the 13th" films or the Universal Monster movie then is either healthy or practical. Maybe it's always been in our nature, maybe it's the internet's fault. Movies these day mostly plan around such problems, filling the holes for us. That's the way it's likely to remain, for better or worst. More satisfying? Maybe. Less fun? Probably.