Ahh, I see you’re about to read this article on top ten defining moments of the Friday the 13th series. You damn fool young folks are all the same. You come here from the city to read these articles even though I’ve warned you what will happen. We had some folks this way last year. They started reading even though I told them not to. They ended up … well, let’s just say it was messy. This article has a death curse, you know. I’m the messenger of God, sent here to tell you that you’re doomed if you carry on reading! You’re going to read this, aint ya? This top ten has a death curse, you’re doomed!!!!
(Editor’s note : Crazy Ralph staggered off on his bike before having a chance to properly finish this introduction. We tried to get the new Jason from the on-release Friday The 13th remake to contribute an additional intro but he declined, muttering something about having to go and check his weed stash. Apologies)
10 .Shelley fakes his own death in Friday The 13th Part III (1982) Most of the Friday movies have an even spread of archetypal slasher characters. Pick any one at random and you are likely to get variations on the same types: the slut, the plucky (and, no, not necessarily virginal) survivor girl, the rat-faced old-timer warning the teenagers of imminent doom. Shelley is one of a series of doomed practical jokers in the franchise.
Ned in the first film clowns around and fakes his own drowning before Mrs Vorhees creates him a new hole. Ted in Part 2 is a gangly loser who makes fun of the legend of Jason, tells a joke with the punch line “and the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit” and does a Stan Laurel impression. (As a side note, anyone who caught the superb documentary His Name Was Jason may be alarmed to discover that “Ted” actor Stu Charno now looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings trilogy). And a different Ted in The Final Chapter is a porn-loving wiseass who brags about the pussy he has never had and makes you yearn for a painful end long before ol’ Jason shoves a knife in the back of his noggin.
Chubby, helmet-haired Shelley (Larry Zerner) in episode three is relentlessly annoying in his mission to be liked and persistent in his practical jokery. This ill-fated lunk exists to provide fake-scares in between authentic shocks: falling out of cupboards with a faux-slit throat and wandering into frame with a fake knife. It’s thanks to Shelley that Jason obtains his iconic hockey mask but, like most of the goofy prankster characters in the franchise, Shelley’s jokester days are cut short by a well placed sharp implement when the script runs out of ways for him to be irritating.
9 .Deborah Sue Vorhees gets her boobs out in Friday the 13th : A New Beginning (1985) Many lifelong Friday the 13th fans first encountered the franchise as horny-handed adolescent boys. You know, the period in your life when the only real concern was finding the time to masturbate six times a day and unsticking the relevant pages of your mum’s Freeman’s catalogue to provide inspiration. We all grow up and shed such habits - these days, for instance, this writer is proud to proclaim the need to masturbate just four times a day. And we live in a wanker-friendly universe. God bless you, the internets.
The Friday films were a reliable source for hot chicks in states of undress. They emerged during a delightfully unburdened, pre-PC decade in which gratuitous female nudity was as much a part of the horror formula as blood or monsters. Some of the sexiest Friday girls (notably Part 2 ‘s Amy Steel) didn’t bare their boobs at all (such is the cruel nature of life) but only the most curmudgeonly of hairy-palmed horror fans could deny the majesty of Julie Aronson (The Final Chapter), Juliette Cummins (A New Beginning) and the gal who spectacularly cums and goes in Jason Goes To Hell The Final Friday (more of which later).
If you’re in these movies for tits and dim-witted eye candy, however, your best bet may well be to get an endurable copy of the fifth chapter. Arguably one of the sleaziest movies to ever get a major studio release, A New Beginning features the gloriously buxom, improbably named Debisue Vorhees as an air headed nympho who enjoys an enthusiastic ride on an equally brainless himbo before a Jason-imposter gouges out her eyes with hedge-clippers. This doomed gal’s magnificent chest will make you grateful to be alive and in possession of a functioning right hand. Just black out the fact that, these days, the actress looks a bit like a giant walnut with eyes and hair.
8 .Crispin Glover gets his groove on in Friday The 13th The Final Chapter (1984) The fourth in the series is memorable for all sorts of reasons, not least the punch line that involves Jason falling face first onto his own machete, losing a decent chunk of his head in the process. It also has one of the most entertaining cast of victims in the whole franchise: that’s “victims” as in “fashion victims” - this movie’s biggest shock comes from the costume department’s decision to take a pair of young, easy, hot female twins and dress them in something your nan might wear circa 1984. If your nan had absolutely no fuckin’ dress sense.
As a loser continually mocked by his irritating buddy Ted - fond of labelling him a “dead fuck” - Crispin Glover is among the series’ most endearing and amusing characters. The script likes him enough to let him get lucky with one of said twins prior to having his face messily parted in a gruesome kitchen demise (last line: “Where the hell’s the corkscrew?”). His golden moment, however, involves a show-stopping sequence in which he displays disarming dance moves that resemble an epileptic being strategically electrocuted by an off-camera sadist. Glover’s game performance in this scene is well worth multiple viewings, though it’s worth noting that there’s an almost comparable mid-80’s time capsule moment in the next chapter, in which weird-looking (but strangely sexy) 80’s Goth Violet Helm performs a robot-dance before a pseudo-Jason shoves something sharp into her belly.
7 .Jason back from the dead in Friday The 13th Part VI : Jason Lives (1986) As the franchise moved on, Jason’s deaths became ever more outlandish - we progressed from the big guy felled by a mere axe-in-the-face (Part III ) to Jason literally blown to bits by a SWAT team ( Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday ). Similarly, hired-gun screenwriters went to great lengths in order to bring J.V. back to life at the start of each new instalment. Some barely bothered to come up with anything (in the second and fourth entries, Jason is just “out there” and that’s that), while the wildest contrivance comes in Part VII : The New Blood , in which a grieving telekinetic teenager attempts to use her powers to resurrect her dead dad (who just happened to drown in Crystal Lake!)…but instead revives the wrong corpse!
Tom McLoughlin’s witty sixth movie has by far the best resurrection set piece: a marvellously atmospheric old-school Gothic cemetery scene that owes more to Mario Bava and Hammer horror than it does to the 80’s slasher cycle. Tommy Jarvis, survivor of both previous entries, isn’t convinced his machete-wielding nemesis is really dead, so has the bright idea of exhuming his body - in the process, a conveniently timed lightning bolt brings Vorhees back in a maggoty, indestructible zombie-like form. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, deliciously retro start to the funniest of all the Fridays.
6 .Jason being a mean muthafucka in Times Square, Friday The 13th Part VIII : Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) By part eight, Jason was well and truly established as a movie icon. This chapter boasted an unforgettable teaser poster in which the hockey-masked maniac peers out of a trademarked “I Love NY” poster. Budget realities meant that the movie would have been more realistically entitled “Jason Kills The Usual Archetypes On A Cruise Ship That Somehow Travels From Crystal Lake to New York City”, though when the movie finally does reach the Big Apple, it briefly lives up to some of its potential.
You’d have to be dead or a Daily Mail reader (the difference is barely significant) not to get a kick out of seeing Jason stomping around Manhattan, throwing short-order cooks around in greasy spoon diners, bashing the heads of gang-bangers into drainpipes, hurling his weight around on the subway. The stand-out, however, is a simple sight gag in which Jason gets harassed by punks in Times Square. He stomps efficiently past them, but when unwisely start to take the proverbial piss, he pauses to lift his mask momentarily, conveying that he’s not to be messed with. Their reaction is priceless enough - “It’s cool, man, it’s cool!” - to make up for the lack of a scene in which Vorhees disembowels Rudy Guiliani and becomes the city’s first silent mass-murdering Mayor.
5 .The tragic fate of Ethel (Carol Locatell) in Friday the 13th : A New Beginning (1985) Part V pissed a lot of people off (including long-term fans) for daring to a) be a sequel to a movie that promised to be the grand finale and b) ditching the “dead” Jason totally and replacing him with a “mystery” copycat killer whose identity is so obvious he might as well have appeared on screen in a giant close up with a malevolent look on his face (oh wait, he did…). In truth, the movie has a lot going for it : loads of boobs, some in-depth characterisation (one guy has a stutter, another is fat and eats a lot) and plenty of boobs. Did we mention also that it features boobs galore?
It also has Carol Locatell, a deranged matriarch with a retarded buffoon son referred to only as “Junior” and the kind of woman you could conceivably see taking on the real Jason and successfully beating the shit out of him in mere seconds. Locatell’s awesomely over the top “Ethel” is a foul-mouthed redneck harridan who gobs in her stew, hates everyone and constantly berates her lunk-headed offspring (“Eat yer fuckin’ slop!”). Her appropriately ludicrous demise is one of the overlooked jewels in the Friday franchise crown. Just as she’s mouthing off in the profane fashion that dominates her every scene, the fake-Jason plops a cleaver in her face head-on and she drops face-first into her own godforsaken slop.
4 .Amy Steel Vs Potato-Sack Jason, Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) Almost all of the original set of Friday movies climax with around 10-15 minutes of frenetic battle between the plucky final girl and the relentless Jason. Adrienne King’s ace fight with Mrs Vorhees in the original - all hair pulling, frying pan bashing and machete swinging - set the tone and the subsequent movies offered similarly rousing, finely choreographed confrontations involving her wayward psycho son.
Just as Amy Steel, cute and loveable survivor girl of Part 2 is the most appealing of all the Friday girls, the finale of her movie is arguably the most suspenseful of the series’ mano a mano set pieces. More than most, her character is established as bright, resourceful and intelligent, so we’re fully rooting for her in the final reel as she resiliently survives a series of near-death experiences before confronting Jason with a chainsaw.
The protracted chase includes a memorable encounter under a bed involving a rat and some wee, plus a creepy resolution at the shrine of Mrs Vorhees. Here Steel shines as she halts the killer’s murderous fury by pretending to be his dear old mom, slipping into one of Betsy Palmer’s manky, chunky old jumpers and confusing the pick-ax wielding nutter by praising him: “It’s all done…you’ve done your job well and Mommy is pleased”. Jason’s unsettling bemusement and Steel’s nicely conveyed combination of outright terror, spontaneity and survival instinct make this the best of all those last-act confrontations. The makers of the 2009 Friday The 13th clearly liked this finale a whole lot because they “borrowed” it for the climax of their movie.
3 .The comedy grave-digger in Friday the 13th Part VI : Jason Lives (1986) There’s a lot to like about the sixth Friday, in which Jason - after a one movie absence - returns as a maggot-infested, brisk-walking zombie and proves more efficient than ever in his kills, at one point slicing the heads off three poor saps simultaneously with one swoop of his machete. Writer-director Tom McLoughlin cannily decided to reinvigorate the franchise by taking the piss in a witty, post-modern way a whole decade before Scream used a lot of the same kind of gags.
The knowing, tongue in cheek approach extends to the characterisation, in particular the presence of a drunk, doomed gravedigger (Bob Larkin) whose ongoing dryly funny commentary throughout the movie makes him the slasher movie equivalent of one of those comic-relief Shakespearean characters. Larkin’s character is a jokier variation of the prophets of doom found in the earlier movies, notably the aptly named Crazy Ralph from the first two movies - the kind of loopy fogey fond of hanging out in pantries just so he can surprise the occupants of the house with an ominous cry of “You’re all dooooomed”.
Larkin’s highlight breaks the fourth cinematic wall in a delightful and (for the series) unique way. Discovering Vorhees’ empty gravesite, he stares directly into the camera and laments “Why’d they have to go and dig up Jason? Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment…” No shit, old man, but if these movies didn’t exist we’d all be out on the streets raping and pillaging.
2 .The final scare in Friday the 13th (1980) The lasting impact of the final it’s-only-a-dream shock in Brian DePalma’s Carrie led just about every key horror film of the 1980’s to craft something equally startling with the aim of causing the audience to shit themselves just as they were reaching for their coats and fumbling for the car keys. This influence ranges from the awesome sight of John Cassavetes exploding from around 13 different camera angles in DePalma’s own The Fury to the last-minute reveal in Sleepaway Camp of a chick with a dick (no, not Ann Widdecombe).
The Friday The 13th franchise tried many a final frisson of fear just when you thought Jason had hung up his boots for another adventure. Part 2 has one of the best even though by the time of its release any moderately intelligent horror fan would be fully EXPECTING Jason to come crashing through that big, Jason-sized window to surprise our heroine one last time. And if you weren’t expecting it, the suspicious use of soft, lilting music and characters noting, over optimistically, “It’s all over” would have given clear warning signs of what was to come.
The final scare of the original Friday is a tough one to beat. It’s one of those scenes that always had a strong rewind factor if you grew up watching it on VHS. It’s also a scare that remains potent on repeat viewings, because you’re never quite sure when the jolt in question is going to happen. For those that need reminding, survivor girl Adrienne King is snoozily drifting in a boat on Crystal Lake to the reassuring strains of the sweetest, most calming music Harry Manfredini could muster…only to be rudely disturbed by a decaying, disfigured undead young-Jason emerging monstrously from the lake, like The Milky Bar Kid after a sleepover at Chernobyl. It was all a dream, apparently, but that fact didn’t help when you had to explain the brown stains in your underpants to your mum.
1 .Have sex, get ripped in half in Jason Goes To Hell The Final Friday (1993) The “have sex, die horribly” ethos is often seen as being a key part of the slasher genre’s codes and conventions, and sometimes viewed as representing a conservative moral high-ground at work. The more likely explanation for the proliferation of violent death following sex in slasher films is that it’s always good to see a nice pair of tits and some enthusiastic rutting before a throat slashing. It really doesn’t get much more complicated than that.
The sex / death equation was used in spectacularly grisly fashion as early as Mario Bava’s 1970 Bay of Blood for a sequence that was lifted wholesale by Steve Miner’s Friday The 13th Part 2 , in which a gormless pair of young lovers are speared together during the act. The MPAA effectively neutered the impact of the scene so that the viewer is left with a tame bit of humping followed by a splatter-free shot of the spear hitting the floor under the bed.
This means that you have to look for the unrated cut of New Line’s Jason Goes To Hell for the definitive have-sex-and-die Friday franchise set piece. Here an in-jokey interlude involving horny campers climaxes in every sense with a surprisingly graphic sex scene (full frontal male and female nudity, for once) in which, at the point of orgasm, the hot girl bouncing up and down on top of the hot guy is ripped vertically in half with a tent spike by the Jason imposter. Blood sprays enthusiastically all over the dumb-founded horny guy and the spliced halves of the bimbo’s corpse colourfully drop courtesy of some sublime KNB FX work.
The sequence titillates, shocks and amuses all at once and, like all of these memorable Friday The 13th moments, helped make the franchise an endurable part in the modern horror canon.