1980. The year no one wanted to go to camp anymore.
Friday the 13th was born and was on everyone lips. For a bit of a mystery/horror/slasher film made on a budget of $550k, it grossed nearly $60 million worldwide. Fans loved it, and the studio saw dollar signs. So of course, they wanted a sequel.
Producer Sean S. Cunningham was confused. "How? It’s a mystery. The killer was revealed. She is dead. Who is gonna be the killer?"
The studio said "The boy. Jason."
"He's dead. There was no boy found."
So, against all logic, the little boy that was a figment of Alice's imagination is back and is a grown man in the 1981 sequel a year later.
For Part 2, they doubled the budget, but only brought in about half the domestic returns as the original. Still a hefty profit margin, nonetheless. At first it was going to be an anthology story - a mistake the Halloween franchise would make a year later. (Whew! That was a near miss!)
Jason running around with a burlap sack over his head proved to be profitable. So, a third instalment was in development rather quickly. This time they went for the 3D approach in 1982. Seeing it in theatres must have a real trip with all the effects. Watching it at home, in standard 2D looks a little cheesy, but that’s ok. This is also the film where he gets his famous mask that is associated with Jason the most.
They took a little more time for Part 4: The Final Chapter. Released in 1984 and picking up right where Part 3 leaves off, it was actually supposed to be the end. Jason was dead.
The almighty dollar changed a few minds though and a year later he was back in Part 5: A New Beginning. Well, not really back. The dude in a hockey mask killing people wasn’t Jason. Kind of a rip off. Had some nice kills but still falls a little short for me.
Time for redemption. 1986. Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (for real this time).
This is wasn’t one of my personal faves. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I like some humor in my horror and this has plenty of it. From the opening theme that is a James Bond parody, to the jokes and gags throughout, it’s all great! This is also the beginning of the zombified Jason. Up until now, he was pretty much human. Seemed almost unstoppable, but still supposed to be human.
Jason vs telekinesis was the theme in 1988's Part 7: The New Blood. But Jason soldiers on. He was determined to get out of Crystal Lake for his next adventure.
1989's Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. Now this is where the story gets (a little more) convoluted. Ya see, at the end, he is in the sewer, being drowned in toxic waste, everything rotting off and is turned back into the little boy that drowned again. (Huh?) And this is how they left it for 4 years. This was going to be the ending, again? Then I guess they wanted a proper send off.
1993 brought Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Now things go a little further. The thing I didn’t like about this one is they try to explain the Jason myth. Instead of just being Jason Voorhees, unstoppable killing machine, he is this alien-type being, jumping from body to body and has to inhabit the only living Voorhees left to stay alive!
Ummm, yeah, ok, whatever dude.
The finale is the birth of the Freddy vs Jason story when Freddy's hand comes up and pulls Jason's mask down to hell. But it would be another 10 years before that happens. The Friday franchise was done until someone came up with the idea to put Jason in space! Yes, in space!
Jason X saw several delays, but finally saw the light of day in 2002 to poor reviews. It remains the lowest grossing film in the franchise, just under Part 8 and 9. Personally, I didn’t think it was that bad. It is a fun flick. Yes, its corny and cheesy, but so what? Horror is supposed to be fun! It wasn’t the best in the series but certainly wasn’t the worst. A year later, we would see the much-anticipated Freddy vs Jason, which is will be the last Friday film, at least in this timeline.
We aren’t done yet folks, we still have 3 more points of topic to discuss:
1) The remake -2009. Now, much boohooing can be said about remakes and they aren’t needed, they change things, or keep them the same. There’s always something. One thing this remake did was take what we know, and what fans want, and incorporated it from the beginning. Some people complained that Mrs. Voorhees was the original killer and she should have been the main focus of this one too. It’s been done. Jason is the face of the franchise. Mrs. Voorhees is in the first few minutes and we actually see Jason witness his mother being killed. Also, instead of waiting 3 more movies to get mask he is known for, he finds it in this one as well. Everything is accounted for.
2) The documentary - Crystal Lake Memories. Over 6 hours of interviews!!! A must for any fan! It is incredible!
A must watch!
3) The TV series -1987. I was a little confused by this when I first heard about it in TVGuide. Friday the 13th: The Series. Huh? Is Jason stalking people every week? Will he get killed every week and brought back to life? No. He isn’t even in the series. Not even a cameo. It’s about an antique store that sells cursed objects.
Side note: actor John D. LeMay is the only actor to appear in the both the movie (Part 9) and tv series-- different characters though.
Hope you enjoyed this class of Jason 101. There will be quiz next week. Study hard, and sharpen those machetes.
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Dave Christy loves horror, music, documentaries and more. He is also the co-runner of several fan based groups including Morningstars (THE Lucifer fan group also run by Melanie), and now also writes guest articles for Melanie's Muses. Other than "In The Spotlight" Features - watch for the upcoming "31 Days Of Halloween Movies"