12 Days of Friday, Day 1: Friday the 13th
Editor Alex Vo watches a Friday the 13th movie daily until the reboot.
Day One: Friday the 13thWelcome back, counselors! Crystal Lake re-opens in two weeks with Marcus Nispel's Friday the 13th reboot, returning Jason back to his old haunting grounds after stints in Manhattan, suburbia, and, uh, deep space. As intrepid head counselor, everyone's invited along for my Friday movie marathon, exploring the franchise's transformation from indie shocker to horror icon, one a day up to February 13, 2009.
First, my brief history with the franchise: I bought the Paramount box set in 2004, having not seen any of them, though childhood was thoroughly haunted by the unbeatable NES adaptation. I watched the movies over the course of a month for absolutely nothing more than boobs and blood, because, hey, that's all they offered, right? I've forgotten pretty much everything about them, except that The Final Chapter was my favorite and I found Jason Takes Manhattan borderline unwatchable. Friday the 13th isn't necessarily a good movie, but it does seem to develop beyond its origins, at least more than when I last saw it. Grabbing my attention this time is how Friday the 13th is less a slasher and more a giallo flick, that subgenre of horror combining mystery plots and slick kills, popularized by early Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Even from their first movies, the Halloweens and A Nightmare on Elm Streets maintain momentum by forcing audiences to guess who will survive. Friday the 13th's driving question is less who will survive, but rather who is the killer? (Of course, we all know now it's Jason's mother.)
I get the feeling director Sean S. Cunningham resented for a long time that his modest thriller gradually morphed into a monster slasher. He took obvious pride in Friday the 13th, as evidenced by the very first shot:
Check out Cunningham in the video interviews on the uncut DVD coming out tomorrow: he comes off a bit dismissive or uncurious about why America has latched onto Jason Voorhees as an icon. It was never really his bag. Cunningham's early career displays a fascination with sexuality, whether in drama (1971's Together, which always struck me as America's answer to the I am Curious movies), comedy (the softcore Case of the Full Moon Murders), or horror (he produced The Last House on the Left). Friday the 13th represented an accumulation of these interests: beautiful kids running around, screwing, smoking dope, getting killed. No monster necessary.
For a movie famed for being shot on the cheap and quick, there's a tiny abundance of cinematic flourishes, enough I guess to drive a director to "stamp" Friday the 13th with his name. For example, after lone survivor Alice (Adrienne King) finally discovers her friends are dead, she flees to her cabin. As she barricades the door, we're treated to a handheld, three-minute single take, a patient accumulation of dread and choreography rarely seen in slashers, before and after: Friday the 13th Part 2!
Schedule of Fridays:
- Day 1: Friday the 13th (1980)
- Day 2: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
- Day 3: Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
- Day 4: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
- Day 5: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
- Day 6: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)
- Day 7: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
- Day 8: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
- Day 9: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
- Day 10: Jason X (2001)
- Day 11: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
- Day 12: Friday the 13th (2009)