Friday the 13th, Part 2 – A Retrospective Review

Friday the 13th Part 2Although this is the second FRIDAY film, it is really the first in what became the franchise. In a weird way, it is the A SHOT IN THE DARK of horror films – a sequel that reinvents the basic set-up, creating a launching pad from which the remaining  sequels take off. The methods employed are not particularly clever; in fact, they are sloppy and contradictory. But it’s hard to argue with success. In that regard, at least,  this sequel resembles the original FRIDAY THE 13TH: like its predecessor, PART 2 is a disreputable, unrefined effort that nevertheless sold millions of tickets.
The challenge facing any serious critic assessing the film is dealing with the fact that it became very popular even though it is not very good. The solution is to acknowledge that even crude techniques, when properly employed, can be effective, in a lowest-common-denominator kind of way. Taking the basics of the first FRIDAY, the sequel  places a group of camp counselors in an isolated location where they are stalked by a mostly unseen killer, who dispatches them in a variety of gruesome ways. Sophisticated? No. Scary? Yes.
Certainly it is easy to pinpoint flaws in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 – the most obvious being that its premise contradicts the previous movie in a way that is irreconcilable (although fans have certainly tried). Part 1 had been intended as a stand-alone film, its murderous Mrs. Voorhees neatly decapitated by final girl Alice (Adrienne King), precluding any chance of bringing her back for a rematch. With the killer dead, writer Ron Kurz had her son Jason step into the breach.
The problem, of course, is that in the first film Mrs. Voorhees was avenging the death by drowning of her son; if Jason is alive and well, she had no reason to kill all those camp counselors. Given a charitable frame of mind, one might imagine that the paths of Jason and his mother had somehow never crossed, leaving her in the dark as to his continued existence, but dialogue in PART 2 specifically tells us that Jason witnessed his mother’s death, indicating that he was close at hand during the events of FRIDAY THE 13TH (even though the only sign of him was a CARRIE rip-off in which he scares Alice by jumping out of the lake – a scene clearly meant to be a dream).
In short, PART 2’s premise is completely nonsensical; the only way to enjoy the film is just to ignore it and go for the gore. Even here, the film comes up a bit short. Howls of critical outrage had resulted from the carnage FRIDAY THE 13TH; Siskel and Ebert slammed the MPAA for givng the film an R-rating, and the organization reacted by clamping down on the sequel, ensuring that the body count, though as large as ever, was considerably more bloodless.
What the film has going for it is a certain competent professionalism. The original had been produced and directed by Sean Cunningham as a way to raise money to jump start some non-horror projects. Although Cunningham turned the film into a blockbuster, much of the success was due to the title and the advertising campaign; one cannot shake the lingering suspicion that he was in it for the money, sitting in the director’s chair only because he knew he could turn the film in on time and on budget. On the other hand, PART 2’s director, Steve Miner, is a bit more interested in the hands-on aspects of film-making, in using the camera angles and movement to elicit screams from the audience.
Even this is not enough to make the film really good, and Miner is not above stooping to some seriously lame shtick, as in the opening prologue that – gasp!– kills off the lone survivor from the original.1 Overlooking for a moment that the now-motherless Jason has lived his entire life as an uneducated imbecile lurking in the trees surrounding Crystal Lake – and, consequently, could not possibly have the means or intelligence to track down Alice in a distant city – there is the little issue of the spring-loaded cat that leaps through the window at Alice, providing the film’s first jump. It’s a cheap tacitc to achieve a cheap scare – made all the worse because the cat’s trajectory indicates that it is not leaping but thrown by some off-screen stage hand.2
Once the action shifts to Crystal Lake, things pick up considerably. The usual nonsense ensues (lots of hot young bodies eager for copulation, which serves as a prelude to violent death), but as much as the mind resists, the adrenalin responds to the manipulation – best exemplified by a scene of a lone character in a wheelchair. The editing alternates tracking shots from before and behind him; with both sides covered, it is impossible for Jason to be anywhere near the target without being seen, and yet each switch in angle unnerves the viewer further. It is as if Jason were somehow hiding behind the camera itself, which offers not his POV but our own; we are watching the victim, and feeling as if somewhere over our shoulder, Jason is lurking, ready to strike.
When Jason’s face is finally revealed, it is appropriately hideous; otherwise, the image of the character presented here, wearing a hood that makes him look like the Elephant Man, is hardly strong enough to have embedded itself in the public consciousness; it has long since been eclipsed by the familiar hockey mask he donned in the next sequel.  However, the depiction of Jason as a twisted, superstitious, murderous, but not completely inhuman man-child does yield some interesting results.
The film is notable for presenting a “Final Girl” who relies on something more than mere pluck to survive. Ginny (Amy Steel) is introduced – with all the subtlety of an exploding bomb – as a a girl majoring in child psychology. Since Jason’s psychology is that of a child (admittedly a homicidal one), this  leads to a fairly remarkable confrontation at the end, in which Ginny is able to use her knowledge to manipulate Jason. Trapped in a room that is obviously Jason’s shrine to his dead mother, complete with her severed head, Ginny disguises herself to convince Jason that she is Mrs. Voorhees, back from the dead and urging him to put down his machete now that his work is finished. The film here pulls off the neat trick of making Ginny seem clever and courageous under fire, while at the same time tossing just the tiniest bit of sympathy toward Jason, whose devotion to his mother is being used against him, creating a sense of betrayal.
Unfortunately, there was no doubt that FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 was going to be part of a franchise, so there was no way that the film would be allowed to work itself out to its logical conclusion – that is, Jason thinking he was being killed by his own mother (and the symmetry would have been appropriate, had he, too, died by decapitation). Instead, the film offers up the obligatory slasher cliche: Ginny, who up to now has shown signs of admirable intelligence, does not take advantage when the killer is down for the count, neglecting to deliver the death blow that will silence him once and for all.
Instead, there is another last-minute jump scare that is once again dismissed as a dream, leaving the audience not quite sure what has happened. (Exactly how much of the action is a dream is not made clear, leaving the fate of one victim up in the air – was he killed in “reality” or not?) Ginny, whose overall (though occasionally erratic) competence has earned her the right to dispatch Jason, is denied the opportunity. The film throws away a potentially satisfying ending, undermining its best sequence in favor of setting up a sequel.
Oh well, that’s show business. The nice thing about reviewing FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 decades after its original release is that, after the initial shock has worn off, it no longer seems like the work of a bunch of depraved sadists (not that it ever did -but the critics might have given you that impression at the time). It is a competently executed horror thriller that supplies the expected goods without apology for its own low ambitions and sloppy continuity.  Taken on its own terms, it is a success, and despite many absurdities (such as chick in tight shorts who grabs the wrong cheek when a horny guy sling-shots a pebble off her ass), there are even a few moments (e.g., the confrontation between Ginny and Jason) when you have to set aside your distaste for the cheesy slasher formula and admit that even a disreputable gorefest  can occasionally earn respect.


Several critics have noted certain similarities between the FRIDAY THE 13TH films and Mario Bava’s 1971 giallo murder-fest, BAY OF BLOOD. The most obvious occurs in PART 2, when a pair of lovers are impaled upon a bed by Jason, their death gasps replacing cries of orgasm. Virtually the identical scene takes place in BAY OF BLOOD – although, ironically, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2’s version is much less explicit, because of cuts demanded by the Motion Picture Association of America.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981). Directed by Steve Miner. Written by Ron Kurz, based upon characters created by Victor Miller. Cast: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Warrington Gillette, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Tom McBride.

  1. *One might charitably consider this the filmmakers’ way of brazenly stating that they are severing continuity ties with the original and boldly going off in their own direction. Or it’s just an easy way to work a kill in before the opening credits.
  2. There is also the issue of whether the cat, when seen leaping through the window, resembles what is supposed to be the same cat seen a moment later after having landed. Liz Kingsley at And You Call Yourself a Scientist, notes that “it is a much smaller animal.”


Laserblast: My Name is Bruce; Friday the 13th – the Series; The Lodger; Tales from the Darkside

Last week, we saw a slew of old titles hitting DVD store shelves in anticipation of the new Friday the 13th flick, which actually doesn’t open until this week. The only new Fridaytitle coming out today is not a feature film featuring Jason Voorhees but the second season of the television series. Instead, for some reason, Warner Brothers has decided it’s right bat-time to cash in on the Dark Knight, with reissues of old DVDs plus a couple of two-disc special editions. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in theatrical motion pictures making their way to home video, you will have to be satisfied with a couple of essentially DTV titles that received small platform releases: MY NAME IS BRUCE and THE LODGER.

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My Name Is Bruce (Image DVD & Bluray)
We don’t claim to know exactly how much Bruce Campbell is enough, but the answer is likely to be found somewhere in this release, which appeared briefly in some Landmark Theatres last year on its way to your local store shelves. Since starring in Sam Raimi’s breakthrough The Evil Deadin 1982, Campbell’s very name has become genre fanboy shorthand – our very own secret handshake that says “Yes, friend, I too have the Evil Dead films 5 times each on every possible format”. Campbell has cannily built up his visibility with numerous convention visits, and even a book where he reflects on the ups and downs of being a big fish in a small pond; while this has certainly given his career a boost (a major role on USA’s popular Burn Notice nicely supplements his $40 autograph fee at conventions), it has also turned an actor into a celebrity hired to bring in his patented ‘Campbell shtick’ to any given project. Though the title unwisely recalls the 1982 Kung Fu comedy They Call Me Bruce?, it’s an appropriate choice as Campbell not only stars-in, produces and directs the film – he also plays a Larry Sanders-ish version of himself who’s recruited by the citizens of Gold Lick to battle an ancient Chinese demon awakened by… oh, forget it. The beyond-ludicrous plot only serves as a launching platform for the Bruce Campbell self-reflexive humor delivery system (BCSRHDS©), and we wish him well; whatever its faults, My Name is Brucetruly is a movie made for his fans. Extras include a commentary track by Campbell and producing partner Mike Richardson, in addition to several detailed making-of featurettes and galleries. Click here to read Cinefantastique Online’s interview with Campbell about the film.
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Friday The 13th: The Series – The Second Season (Paramount DVD)
The second season of one of the very best horror series arrives on DVD his week, and though disappointingly devoid of extras, the quality of the second season is comparable to the first (only the third and final season, when John D. LeMay was replaced by Steve Monarque as 21 Jump Streetreject Johnny Ventura, disappoints) and puts the show at the top of the horror heap. Show regulars LeMay, Robey, and Chris Wiggins were all more comfortable in their roles as the proprietors of the Curious Goods antique store, honor bound to collect the cursed objects distributed by the shops former owner, and continued their easy rapport established in the first season. Standout episodes include “Scarlett Cinema,” featuring a movie camera that can release movie characters into the real world, and “The Sweetest Sting,” featuring vampire bees that transfer the lifeforce of a victim.
Hitchcocks THE LODGER
Hitchcock's THE LODGER

Lodger, The: A Story Of The London Fog (MGM/UA DVD)
For anyone interested in the development of Alfred Hitchcock as a filmmaker, 1927’s The Lodger is essential viewing. The plot performs a quick rewrite on the Jack the Ripper legend, centering on a boarding house in London owned by the Bunting family, who have just rented out the top floor apartment to a rather mysterious stranger on the same night that the latest victim of “the Avenger”, a serial killer stalking young blond women, has been found. As a silent film, The Lodger is an often-discussed, but rarely seen Hitchcock that lays out what would become his standard psychological touchstones; particularly the relationship between sex (typically in the form of young, blond women) and death and the fear and paranoia of a hunted man.
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The recent remake

Though the story has been “unofficially” adapted numerous times, it was superbly remade in 1944 by John Brahm (featuring a towering performance from Laird Cregar) and again this year in a DTV release starring Simon Baker and Alfred Molina which appears day and date with the Hitchcock film. Extras include a making-of featurette, commentary with film historian Patrick McGilligan, 2 musical scores written for the film in the late 90s, and a real jewel – a 1940 radio play of the story directed by Hitchcock himself.
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Tales From The Darkside: The First Season (Paramount DVD)
It’s hard to believe that there was once a glut of horror anthology shows on television. Nearly 20 years after The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits ended their respective runs, the success of George A. Romero’s Creepshow showed that Americans had reacquired their taste for the short-form horror tale with an EC Comics twist in the tail. Because Warner Bros held the rights to the title, Romero and his producer, Richard Rubinstein, brought the format to syndicated television under the title Tales From the Darksideand provided after-11pm filler (along with Monsters, Friday the 13th, and the truly ghastly Freddy’s Nightmares, et al) for local stations for the next decade. Though occasionally enlivened by guest stars (the first season features Fritz Weaver, Keenan Wynn, Danny Aiello, a young Christian Slater, and the improbable Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), it was continually hobbled by weak scripts and junky production values (e.g., limited each story to two locations) – qualities that didn’t improve in its subsequent seasons. Paramount is releasing the first season on DVD this week, and the studio deserves points for bothering to include a commentary track by Romero, though it’s likely that the track is limited to episodes that he had direct involvement with.
Other releases this week include DRAGONBALL Z: SEASON 8; a Bluray disc of the cult film DONNIE DARKO; DEATH NOTE 2, a sequel to the anime-inspired DEATHNOTE; a remastered edition of the 1931 SVENGALI, starring John Barrymore; and the aformentioned BATMAN discs.

Laserblast: Jason lives on DVD – again

This year the remake stars finally aligned and the Michael Bay-produced remake of Friday the 13th opens nationally on, fittingly, Friday, February 13th. Cashing in on the free publicity, Paramount has re-released the first 3 Friday films from the ’80s on DVD, with the original also getting a Bluray release. There is also a new documentary and a box set of “Jason” sequels produced at New Line Cinema after aquiring the character from Paramount.  Paramount has previously released their Friday titles on individual DVDs, in two-movie sets, and in a large box set (the first release to include any value-added content). What makes the new release of the original special is that it represents America’s first chance to see the film in its complete, unrated version, restoring roughly 10 seconds of bloodshed. We had so much to say on the topic that our comments have been sliced off into a separate stand-alone review of the film and its new incarnation on Bluray disc, which you can read here. For the rest, read on below…
Friday The 13th: Part 2: Deluxe Edition (Paramount DVD)
Paramount hadn’t even finished counting the profits from Friday the 13th when a sequel was ordered. The directing chores for Part II went to Steve Miner who had worked for Cunningham as an editor as far back as Last House on the Left, and apparently Paramount liked what they saw, because Miner remained on board for the third installment as well. Though of less historical import than the original, 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II is actually superior in many ways; the production budget was significantly higher allowing for more shooting time, a larger cast, and a generally more polished look. Since we all saw Mrs. Voorhees decapitated at the end of the previous installment, a new killer was found in her not-really-drowned-after-all son, Jason. The ‘Jason dream’ was a last minute addition to the first film to give it a Carrie-style closing moment shock and never with the intention to hand the reigns over to him as the killer in a subsequent film, but the idea that a fully grown monster would be looking to kill anyone in the area that reminds him of the young girl that killed his mother makes for a nice reverse dovetail with his mother’s revenge motive in the first film. And since Jason wouldn’t get his ubiquitous hockey mask until Part III, the producers decided to hide his hideously deformed visage under a burlap sack for the majority of the film. I’ve not heard too many comments on exactly how much more frightening this particular image is than the aforementioned mask; it lends Jason a raw, backwoods savagery that is missing from the rest of the series (it’s likely that the idea came from the real-life mass murderer depicted in Charles B Pierce’s southern fried docudrama The Town that Dreaded Sundown).
Speaking of idea theft, the film’s bravura moment – when Jason simultaneously dispatches a lovemaking couple – is also “borrowed” from Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve. The philosophy of Part II seems to be ‘more of the same, in higher quantity’: more kids, more kills, more nudity, etc. Unfortunately, the MPAA had the final say and much of the blood hit the cutting room floor to secure an ‘R’ rating, and unlike the Friday the 13th deluxe edition, nothing had been restored to the new DVD (it’s possible that the deleted footage from this, along with all the Paramount Fridays, has been lost). Picture-wise, the new DVD appears to be the same transfer used on the previous edition, and save for a multi-million dollar, “call in Robert Harris” restoration, this is just about the best that the title will look in standard definition. Extras include “Inside Crystal Lake,” an interview with “Crystal Lake Memories” author Peter M Bracke. “Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions” is exactly what it sounds like – more panel discussions. “Tales from Camp Blood-Part II” is a continuation of the same baffling short found on the Friday the 13th disc, and there is another lengthy panel discussion from a horror convention, “Jason Forever.”
Friday The 13th: Part 3 – 3D Deluxe Edition (Paramount DVD)
The very next year, Paramount lowered the bucket into the well once again for a third go-round, this time with the added attraction of 3D. The early ’80s saw the emergence of numerous unusual trends in the entertainment biz, but few were as unusual as the brief resurgence of 3D films. Dismissed as a fad in the ’50s, only the occasional genre title like The Stewardesses in ’71 appeared to remind people of the memorable gimmick. Comin’ at Ya!, an Italian-made western is generally credited with restarting the trend in 1981 by comin’ at exhibitors with an inexpensive-to-show 3D process that wound up grossing a tidy sum against its low budget. In very short order came Parasite, Metalstorm, Treasure of the Four Crowns, and several major-studio genre efforts like Jaws 3D and Amityville 3D for a slice of the profits. Friday the 13th Part III 3D proves why horror movies have always best utilized the process: of all genres, horror films will traditionally have the least amount of shame in regards to 3D presentation. The recent 3D remake of My Bloody Valentine is a perfect example of application and technique, and though Valentine’s 3D process is light years ahead of what was being used in the early ’80s, the makers of Friday the 13th Part 3 also knew how to have fun with it. Scene after scene throws everything imaginable at the screen, from eyeballs to spear guns to errant Jiffy Pop kernels – all to superb effect. Jason himself would pick up more than just his famous hockey mask in this installment, as the third film showed the character moving beyond being merely a murderous mongoloid into something supernatural, surviving dozens upon dozens of mortal wounds. The series lost something here; audiences stopped rooting for the victims and began rooting for Jason himself – faceless mayhem wins out over actual human feeling. This isn’t to say that the Friday films were the only perpetrations, but I never witnessed cheering for Michael Myers. The new DVD release does contain one very special feature: a 3D version of the film (with two sets of logo-embossed glasses) is included along with the standard, 2D edition, featuring what seems like the same transfer as the previous editions. The 3D effect is decent enough – and gets better depending on the size of the monitor – but it can be a bit headache-inducing if viewed for extended periods.
New Line Jason Slasher Collection (New Line DVD)
Nothing new here, just a box set of the 3 previously-released films produced by New Line after acquiring rights to the Jason character: Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, and Jason vs. Freddy. The discs, image, and extras are identical to the previous DVD editions. You’re unlikely to find horror fans without a solid opinion on these films, one way or the other: some feel that they’re little more than over-produced cash-ins, devoid of what popularized the character in the first place; others are happy for the new blood injected into a series that was growing stale on the Paramount lot. Jason Goes to Hell is the closest in structure to a traditional Friday film, retaining the familiar setting, and Jason vs. Freddy is certainly the most handsomely produced film of either series with Hong Kong ace Ronny Yu at the helm. Sometimes we feel like that only person who liked Jason X, which might as well change its name to “The One in Space;” if there’s a scene half as clever as the one where the crew of the ship try to distract Jason by placing him in a virtual Crystal Lake (circa 1980, hairstyles and all), I haven’t seen it. If you haven’t already invested – and you have more than a passing interest in the series – it’s an extraordinary value.
His Name Was Jason: 2 Disc Splatter Edition (Starz/Anchor Bay DVD).
The centerpiece of this expansive release is a feature-length documentary on the Friday the 13th phenomenon, which also features numerous mini-docus on the actors who’ve played Jason over the years, along with the directors and screenwriters, in addition to more than a half-dozen other featurettes. The completist will find much of interest here, but one can’t help the feeling that much of this should have been presented as supplemental features on disc for actual Friday films.
Assault on Precinct 13: Restored Collector’s Edition (Image Bluray/DVD)
John Carpenter’s first real artistic statement after the student film, Dark Star, Assault is a near perfect example of a stripped-down, lean exploitation film directed with style and wit by a filmmaker schooled in the past but with both eyes trained on the future. Cherry picking elements from Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, Carpenter’s film finds Ethan Bishop (a magnetic performance by Austin Stoker) getting command of an L.A. precinct the evening before it will be closed down forever. With only a skeleton crew on board to answer phones and direct people to the new location, a man staggers into the station after killing a gang member who had murdered his young daughter. Within moments, the station (actually Precinct 9, Division 13) is under siege from the rest of the gang. Cut off from outside aid, and refusing to hand the man over to the gang, Bishop turns to prisoner Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) for help in defending the crumbling station. Carpenter lays his cards on the table during the opening credits, by giving himself the editor pseudonym “John T. Chance”, which was John Wayne’s character in Rio Bravo. Assault is, at its heart, more than just an homage to westerns, but a breakdown of their very essence made at a time when the genre was in deep public disfavor. Filmed in long, slow, deliberate takes to make the most out of the insanely limited 20 day shooting schedule, the show never drags, and watching Carpenter create a tension-filled action scene with little but flying debris and the ‘snip…snip’ sound effect of silenced automatic weapons is exhilarating. This new edition of Assault arrives on both DVD and Bluray this week sporting a new high def transfer which we are very much looking forward to getting our grubby mitts on. We assume that the commentary is the same one recorded ages ago by the director (how long ago? It was originally for the Laserdisc release) but it’s still fun to hear how appalled he is by the leisurely pacing. Assault on Precinct 13 was the warm-up for Halloween, and the makings of Carpenter’s visual vocabulary are well on display. Highly recommended.
Brainstorm: Deluxe Edition (Warner Bros DVD)
An interesting Sci-Fi effort that would unfortunately be forever linked to the drowning death of star Natalie Wood. Filmed in 1982 at Duke University, the film stars Christopher Walken (long before entering into the knowing, self-mockery phase that he seems stuck in now), Louise Fletcher (back when her Cuckoo’s Nest Oscar could still open studio doors), the always dependable Cliff Robertson, and the luminous Miss Wood. The second directorial effort of special effects master Douglas Trumbull following 1972’s Silent Running, Brainstorm uses extremely convincing electronic machinery to convey a device through which one individual can transmit senses remotely – everything that the wearer of the device sees, feels, hears, etc., can be transmitted directly to another person or even recorded onto a special tape. For scientist Dr. Brice (Walken) it’s also a window unto himself when he experiences the memories of estranged wife Karen (Wood) which include all the tense domestic moments that led to their separation. Things turn south when a scientist on the project suffers a fatal heart attack, and manages to record the experience, convincing the powers that be that the device has some decidedly juicy military applications. Brainstorm was meant to christen an expensive new IMAX-like process (seen in the ‘brainstorm’ sequences, which appear much sharper than the rest of the film because they were filmed in 70mm at a higher frame rate) but after sitting on the shelf for 2 years following the death of Natalie Wood, the studio was no longer interesting in making a heavy investment in new technology. We may be no closer to the sort of technological breakthrough seen in the film, but Trumbull manages to wrangle a difficult-to-sell concept, and with the help of a fine cast, give it some emotional resonance. The packaging of Warner Bros new DVD of Brainstorm labels it as a “Remastered Edition” that preserves the multiple aspect ratios of the theatrical showings, and it will be a treat to see this film on a decent sized monitor. Of all the films that get drudged up for a remake, redoing Brainstorm in IMAX 3D would actually make sense.
Also appearing this week:

  • Dragonslayer: I Love the ’80s Edition
  • Five (Sony DVD)
  • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 14 (Shout Factory DVD)
  • The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated, 2007) on Bluray
  • Oliver and Company 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Paura – Lucio Fulci Remembered, Vol 1
  • Space Buddies
  • The Wiz 30th Anniversary Edition
  • Xanadu

Friday the 13th – Bluray Review

Has it really been nearly 30 years since Friday the 13th came out? If, in 1980, you had asked me to watch a film from 1950, I’d probably have wondered why you were forcing such an old movie on me. Maybe Friday doesn’t seem that old because I actually saw it in a theater during its initial release. Now, I couldn’t tell you how it came to pass that I actually managed to convinced my father to take me: I was way, way too young to fake my own way into an R-rated movie – perhaps he was under the impression that it was a modern spin on “10 Little Indians,” but it’s more likely that he simply didn’t know anything about it at all and I had been badgering the poor man to take me ever since seeing the first ads on TV. And what ads they were – who can forget the memorable ‘body count’ trailer that was later adapted into television spots? In NY it seemed like the ad played on channels 5, 9, and 11 around the clock; I was already flirting with disaster by staying up on Saturday nights watching Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, and seeing that ad during the breaks had me absolutely petrified with fear – and things didn’t get any easier in the theater. Even now, while driving by a heavily wooded area, I think back on poor, doomed Annie’s flight from the unseen killer after an unwise attempt to hitchhike to her new job at Camp Crystal Lake. I wasn’t much of an outdoors-man back then, but after that fateful matinee in 1980, I’ve managed to successfully avoid being in any sort of camping or hiking situation. I absolutely cowered in my seat, afraid to look at the screen or admit defeat and leave the theater (an offer that was made several times by my parent and guardian). Does that make Friday the 13th a masterpiece? Nope – but it’s damn effective, and that’s enough.
After failing to recapture his early success producing Last House on the Left by directing a pair of ill-advised family comedies (the just-above-execrable Manny’s Orphans and Here Come the Tigers) Sean S. Cunningham decided to return to familiar territory with another horror tale. Halloween had proved how lucrative the genre could be for a low-budget picture that was smartly advertised and slickly presented, and in true exploitation tradition – without money, cast, or even a script – Cunningham placed a striking ad in Variety for “The most terrifying movie ever made” featuring bold block letters shattering through a pane of glass and spelling out “Friday the 13th.” In short order, he had investors lined up and a script written by Victor Miller that took a more maternal outlook on the traditional killer, giving the film a relatively unique twist in its closing moments. The story follows a group of teens attempting to re-open a long-closed summer camp that is rumored to have a “death curse” ever since the drowning of a young boy several years previous; the camp counselors are killed off in graphic fashion until only one remains to see the face and learn the motive of the murderer. Filming took place at an actual Boy Scout camp in New Jersey, giving the production access to lots of young, hungry, and (except for Betsy Palmer) mostly unknown acting talent in nearby New York, including the fetching Adrienne King as the virginal “final girl” Alice; Bing Crosby’s son, Harry, as future archery target, Bill,\: and a 22 year old Kevin Bacon as Jack, who doesn’t check under the bed.
While filming on a shoestring budget in the middle of Jersey, it’s a safe bet that the notion of creating a franchise that is still going strong three decades hence didn’t occur to anyone, least of all its director. Cunningham’s reputation as a genre producer in the Roger Corman mold is secure, but directing isn’t his strong suit; the success of Friday got him a more prestigious directing gig adapting Mary Higgins Clark’s suspenseful A Stranger is Watchinginto a tepid mess a few years later. But Cunningham kept to a very simple filming style on Friday, relying heavily on a stalking, subjective camera simulating the killer’s viewpoint. But the final key to Friday’s success was composer Harry Manfredini’s iconic musical score, featuring the indelible “ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma”, whispered throughout the score and inspired, according to Manfredini, from Mrs. Voorhees repeating “kill her, mommy…kill her!” during the conclusion (though what remains is a near libelous lift from Hermann’s Psychoscore). And while that conclusion along with its last act reveal might seem trite and overly familiar today, it played beautifully before the horror market was over-saturated with out-of-left-field twist endings (thank you, Sleepaway Camp).
Though often cited as the tipping point for the modern “body count”-style horror movie, it was far from the first. Cunningham was smart enough to steal from the best, namely Mario Bava’s 1971 Twitch of the Death Nerve – a film to which Friday’sfirst sequel would owe an even bigger debt. Bava’s violent thriller was basically a chamber mystery – revolving around a pricey parcel of land and the motley crew of fortune-seekers that assemble to vie for its inheritance (which itself is an extension of what Bava began 7 years earlier in Blood and Black Lace, setting a black-gloved killer loose in an Italian fashion house) – that reveled in the method of murder over motive. I’ve sat through Twitch at least twice and I’d be hard pressed to tell you much about the plot; what I do remember are the inventive and graphic (for the time) murders, which generated some unusually negative press for the acclaimed director.* This is particularly true of a section that has a group of twenty-somethings drop in near the estate for some general teen-type partying. This passage always had a different vibe from the rest of the film – almost as if spliced in from another movie – but it’s this segment that marks the true beginning of the modern slasher film.
Friday the 13th’s attractive cast is also genuinely like-able; not that the characters are memorably written (bluntly put, they were written to be killed), but the actor’s performances are effective. After a 1958 prolog in which two counselors at a seemingly thriving Camp Crystal Lake are murdered during a make-out session, we flash forward to the “present day” (present in this case being 1980) and meet Annie, an attractive young girl hitchhiking her way to a job at the very same camp, about to reopen for a new season after several abortive attempts over the previous 20 years. After shrugging off the warnings of locals in a diner that anyone attempting to reopen the camp will be “doomed,” Annie continues on and accepts a ride for the final leg of the trip from an unseen driver of a Jeep. Now, you don’t have to have seen the movie to know that Annie’s life expectancy clock has hit the under 5-min mark; in fact, she doesn’t even make it to the camp! In the typical modern horror movie, female characters almost always fall into one of two categories: supermodel hot or eyeglass-wearing bookworm that eventually takes off her glasses to reveal – a supermodel. Annie is played by actress Robbi Morgan, an attractive, curly-haired brunette (probably no older than 19 when the film was shot) who appears very much the normal girl. Perky, a bit tomboyish (in a non-sexually intimidating way) and utterly believable in a flannel shirt and backpack on her way to a summer job, we’re instantly engaged and feel a genuine affection for her, making her inevitable fate surprisingly tragic. The waif-like WB castoffs that typically populate horror films today seem even more plastic by comparison, weighing down every scene with phony ennui that can only come from having a cadre of assistants constantly telling you how tough your job is.
Equally strong is Adrienne King as Alice, pigeonholed after the film’s release as the archetypal ‘final girl’, a term proposed by feminist authors in the ’80s to support the notion that the men who wrote and directed these films thought of most women as either virgins or whores, with the latter deserving of a grisly end, elevating a single girl – typically both virginal and somewhat masculine, conforming to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the original Halloween – to survive and face the killer. Though Alice is somewhat dowdy in comparison to her fellow counselors, it’s sexism of a different color to assume that she’s a virgin simply because she doesn’t sleep with Kevin Bacon or tie the tails of her oxford shirt over her bellybutton. Alice is in the midst of an affair with one man when the film begins, and doesn’t flinch at the suggestion of strip Monopoly. Empathy is what’s important here, and King is particularly good at allowing the audience in, even as the cinematography puts us in the place of the killer.
The completed film was picked up for distribution by Paramount Pictures, who invested heavily in its advertising and were rewarded with both a huge moneymaker, and a string of sequels that could each be counted on to bring in many times its meager budget before finally losing the character (and Cunningham) to New Line in the ’90s. Though New Line could have continued to use the Jason character as much as they wanted, the participation of Paramount would be required to use the very marketable title, and this year the remake stars finally aligned and the Michael Bay-produced remake of Friday the 13th opens nationally on, fittingly, Friday, February 13th.
Kicking up a bit of publicity, Paramount has re-released the first 3 films in the series on DVD, with the original also getting a Bluray release. Now, Paramount has already put out DVDs of the series individually, in two-movie sets, and in a large box set (the first release to include any value-added content). What makes the new release of the original special is that America will finally be able to see the film in its complete, unrated version, restoring roughly 10 seconds of bloodshed. But anyone expecting a gore-fest will be sorely disappointed; Friday came out at a time when the MPAA was being particularly tough on horror, routinely targeting genre filmmakers like Wes Craven and Brian DePalma and insisting on myriad cuts from most slashers before passing with an all-important ‘R’ rating. The level of tension that Friday so deftly maintains throughout makes the film seem – like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre before it – much more violent than it actually is. Only Kevin Bacon’s demise is noticeably augmented by the extra bloodletting, but it has the curious effect of calling attention to the Tom Savini-created effect and actually detracting from the moment; however, Paramount should be congratulated for finally making the footage available. The new edition also features a commentary track cobbled together from separate interviews (a practice we’re not fond of, but understand the need for) with Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, Crystal Lake Memoriesauthor Peter M Bracke, actresses King, and Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees), editor Bill Freda, assistant editor Jay Keuper, and composer Manfredini.
Featurettes include “A Friday the 13th Reunion,” which is actually a panel from a horror convention (featuring Palmer, as ever, wearing that famous cable-knit sweater).”Fresh Cuts: New Tails from Friday the 13th” is a more formal collection of interviews featuring many of the above participants, including our favorite victim, Robbi Morgan. “The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S Cunningham” features an interview with same. Also available is the famous original trailer and the inexplicable “Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1,” a short film about a couple who hear noises in the middle of the night, go out into the hallway of their home to investigate, and are killed in short order by a masked, Jason-like figure. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Friday the 13thexcept that the creator is most likely a fan; its inclusion is somewhat baffling. If it appeals, the story continues on the new disc for Part 2. The 1080p Bluray picture brings out clarity and detail in the image that I wouldn’t have thought possible, and is well worth the upgrade if you’re so equipped. Midway through the film, Ned (Mark Nelson) calls out to a hooded, shadowy figure in a cabin doorway where it’s clear for the first time since the original theatrical prints that it’s actually Betsy Palmer, making the most of her 10 shooting days. Paramount also gets high marks for including the original mono soundtrack in addition to a newer surround mix. Highly recommended.
Read about this week’s other Friday the 13th DVD releases in this edition of our weekly Laserblast column.
*Writing in the Fall 1975 issue of Cinefantastique, Jeffrey Frentzen called TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE Bava’s most “complete failure to date” and accused the director of having an “obnoxious eye for detail” in regards to the violent murders.

Friday the 13th 2009

NOTE: This trailer is widescreen, so you will have to click through to see it in its proper aspect ratio. My Space posted the trailer for the new FRIDAY THE 13TH. Amusingly, they flag it with the description “Returning to the story that started it all,” even though the the remake is heavily influenced by the sequels, as evidenced by the trailer’s prominent display of the machete-wielding Jason in his familiar hockey-mask. Jason Voorhees barely appears in the original FRIDAY THE 13TH (his mom committed all the murders), and he did not put on the mask until Part III. Presumably, FRIDAY fans were in no mood to watch another movie about an unseen killer who turns out to be Mrs. Voorhees; they want to see Jason slicing and dicing his way through a cast of innocuous camp counselors.
One potential area for improvement would be for the new FRIDAY to sort out the contradiction that haunts the original franchise: In the first FRIDAY, Mrs. Voorhees was supposedly motivated by the drowning of her son, yet the subsequent sequels had Jason very much alive. So why, exactly, did his mother feel the need to avenge his “death.”
UPDATE: We have replaced the MySpace version of the trailer with one embedded from YouTube. The film comes out in February – on Friday the 13th, naturally.

Friday the 13th Part 3 – Cast & Crew Reunion

To help celebrate Cinefantastique’s new look, which allows us to feature videos on the home page, we are reposting a few videos. This one comes from last year’s ScreamFest horror film festival in Hollywood, which featured a question-and-answer session with several members of the cast and crew after a screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 IN 3-D.

Halloween Horror Nights news for 2008

Freddy's back for 2008Universal Studios Hollywood has issued a press release that is showing up around the web, trumpeting the terrors that await visitors to this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights, the annual celebration that begins on October 3.
Like last year, Horror Nights 2008 will feature mazes based on Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface, but Universal promises that the Kruger maze will be brand new, featuring a recreation of the infamous house on Elm Street. (Last year was more like a trip through an Asylum – not surprising when you know that it located in a maze that had been called “The Asylum” the year before.)
New for this year will be a Scare Zone inspired by THE STRANGERS, the sleeper hit horror film from earlier this year. (For those unfamiliar with the terminology, Scare Zones are simply areas of the park haunted by ghouls, so you get the Halloween experience even before you stand in line for an hour to walk through a maze.)
In addition, the back lot tram tour will be significantly upgraded to double its length, for the first time incorporating mazes.
Universal’s usual rides and attractions will be open, although revamped for Halloween: the Jurassic Park Ride becomes Jurassic Park in the Dark; the Waterworld show becomes Slaughterworld, etc.
Halloween Horror nights will be open on weekends, beginning October 3. Dates are October 3-4, 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and November 1. Doors opening nightly as 7:00pm; closing hours vary.
Tickets are available for $54 onlin at Universal Studios Hollywood’s official website; they are also sold in advance at Ralph’s, Food 4 Less, and Hot Topic, where you can save $20 a ticket by buying a Coke-related product.

A Day to Celebrate Malicious Mothers of the Movies

We all know a boy’s best friend is his mother, but mom and apple pie do not always equate with wholesome goodness when it comes to cinefantastique. In movies, the old cliche about the female of the species being as deadly as the male usually refers to a luscious femme fatale, but there are also many memorable examples of malicious, malevolent, and monstrous mothers. Of course, the very concept of malignant motherhood is disturbing; it violates our deepest, most cherished expectations of the nurturing caregivers who raise helpless babes to become frolicking children and eventually well-adjusted adults. This inversion of expectations is what gives these monstrous mothers the nasty little kick that makes their wickedness all the more horrible; after all, fairy tales have taught us to expect wickedness from step-mothers, but real mother? No, never…

Mrs. Rand in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943).

I Walked with a Zombie edith_barret

This apparently benevolent matriarch has a little secret: in order to dispense medicine to the superstitious locals, she poses as a voodoo priestess. Near the end, it turns out she has an even bigger secret: enraged by a love triangle between her two sons and a woman, she joined one of the voodoo ceremonies and put a curse upon the woman, turning her into a zombie. The result is tragedy and sorrow for all concerned, including the eventual death of one of her sons. Way to go, Mom!

Mrs. Bates in PSYCHO (1960).

The mother of all monstrous mothers is Norman Bates’s alter ego in Hitchcock’s masterpiece of psychological horror. One might argue that the real Norma gets a bum rap (after all, we never see her, only her psycho son’s re-enactment of her), but the very fact that her son is so screwed up leads us to believe she must have been just as terrible as we can possibly imagine. In any case, whatever the reality of her as a character, the film uses her as a symbol of debased motherhood, destroying the old-fashioned schism of classic horror films, in which horror was something outside the home that attacked the goodness and purity inside. Here, home is the house of horror, thanks to the domineering matriarch.

Baroness Meinster in THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960).
Brides of Dracula
The Baroness claims the lives of no victims directly, but she has much to answer for. Her indulgent ways led her son, Baron Meinster, into a life of wickedness that eventually turned him into a vampire. Now she keeps him locked up on a chain, but she procures occasional female victims, to appease his bloodlust. The implication, as in PSYCHO, is that the horror proceeds from the mother-son relationship, in this case with the mother vicariously enjoying the dissolute ways of her son.

Gorgo’s Mom in GORGO (1961).

Mother Love expands to monstrous – and destructive – proportions in this English movie about a giant prehistoric beast run amok. Gorgo’s Mom is not really malicious; she’s just looking for her off-spring, but her effect on London is pretty dire, including the destruction of London Bridge.

The Horta in “Devil in the Dark” (Star Trek)
Star Trek Devil in the Dark Horta with eggs
Like Gorgo, the Horta is not truly malicious – unless provoked. Initially presented as a mindless monster, this silicon-based life form on the planet Janus VI racks up an impressive body count (over 50 victims). Like The Blob, she  dissolves her victims (with corrosive acid), and no obstacles stands in her way – she is capable of appearing anywhere. However, a mind meld with Mr. Spock reveals a startling truth: the Horta is an inoffensive creature, the only member of her species left alive, destined to mother the next generation of her race, when they hatch from the silicon eggs that human miners have thoughtlessly been destroying in their quest to find new deposits of valuable minerals. The poor Horta has merely been fighting back to protect her children and ensure the future survival of her kind. In the episode’s remarkable climax, the vengeful human miners try to attack the alien Horta, but Captain Kirk stops the lynch mob by threatening to kill anyone who harms the creature – siding with the “monster” instead of his fellow Earthlings (a moment that eerily prefigures Hugh Thompson Jr.’s actions at the My Lai Massacre a year later). Alone among the mothers in this list, the Horta survives to happily co-exist with her one-time enemies.

The Older Woman in ONIBABA (1964)
This Japanese horror flick features a metaphoric if not literal Onibaba (“Demon Woman”), a mother whose son has died in a feudal war. Teamed up with her daughter-in-law, she makes a living by killing off stray samurai and selling their armor. When her son’s friend returns from the war and starts an affair with the young woman, the Mother-in-Law resorts to rather heinous method to break them up, filling her daughter-in-law’s head with superstitious fears – that seem to come true when a demon appears in the rice fields. Whether real or imagined, the supernatural horrors pale in comparison to the ruthless efficiency with which the two women dispatch their victims.

Carlo’s Mother in DEEP RED (1975)
Deep Red 1975
This Dario Argento thriller, one of his best, plays a wicked game, leading the audience to believe that self-pitying drunk Carlo is the murderer, but it turns out to be his eccentric mother, who previously seemed like nothing more than a comic relief supporting player (she cannot remember that the hero is a jazz pianist, not an engineer). Martha is one mean bitch, with a body count to her credit that would put Mrs. Voorhees to shame: axing a woman and shoving her head-first through a glass window; drowning another woman in scalding hot water; bashing another’s teeth in and impaling him through the neck with a blade that pins him to a table; and best of all, murdering her husband on Christmas by stabbing him in the back while Carlo (then a toddler) looks in soul-shattering shock (which may explain why he becomes a pathetic alcoholic).

Mrs. White in CARRIE (1976)
Carrie Piper Laurie
The deranged parent certainly gives Mrs. Bates a run for her money in the malevolent mother sweepstakes (a point underlined by director Brian DePalma, who renamed the high school “Bates High,” a name not used in the Stephen King novel). Mrs. White is a whacked out religious loony who sadistically mistreats her telekinetic daughter Carrie, acting out the kind of scenes we could only imagine took place in PSYCHO. No wonder the poor teenage girl eventually goes postal on the entire high school and eventually her mother.

Nola Carveth in THE BROOD (1979).
The Brood Nola Carveth
In this film, writer-director David Cronenberg turns the very act of motherhood into a miasma of horror. Nola is a psychotic undergoing treatment that allows her to manifest her inner demons somatically, which she does by giving birth to deformed children that act out her homicidal wishes. She claims only a few victims; the real horror is watching her birth one of her babies, biting open the external sack in which it grows and licking it clean. You won’t want to eat for a week.

Mother in ALIEN (1979).
Alien Mother computer
This Nostromo’s onboard computer does precious little to help the human crew against the marauding alien that has infiltrated the spaceship. Worse yet, after Ripley has reversed the ship’s self-destruct sequence, Mother refuses to acknowledge the override and insists on nuking the Nostromo anyway. Mother does not have enough personality to be a real character (she is no HAL 9000), but she seems to be one cold-hearted bitch.

Mrs. Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980).
Friday the 13th Mrs. Voorhees
Like Martha in DEEP RED, Mrs. Voorhees is revealed as the killer only in the final reel, so we have to retroactively credit her for the film’s high body count. She is one wacked-out woman, speaking in a childish voice that is supposed to represent her drowned son Jason. Speaking of retroactive reassessment, the revelation in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 – that Jason is alive – makes Mrs. Voorhees seem even nuttier: she kills off a bunch of camp counselors to avenge her son, but it turns out he survived. So, did she just imagine the drowning? Has she been psychologically blind to his existence since then? Whatever the case, this is another bad example of the poisonous effects of Mother Love.

Anna in POSSESSION (1981)
Possession Isabelle Adjani
This weird story of marital discord features a woman (Isabell Adjani) whose deteriorating relationship with her husband somehow leads to her giving birth to a slimy monster with tentacles. As if this were not bad enough, she has a sexual relationship with Junior, who eventually starts to resemble her husband. None of it makes sense on a literal plot level, but the film is interesting if you read its outre elements as externalizations of the characters’ inner turmoils.

Sil in SPECIES(1995)
Species Sil
Her appearance and actions (seducing and killing her male victims) seems to put her into the femme fatale category, but the true horror of Sil is that she is capable of mothering a new alien race capable of overrunning the world and wiping out humanity. To give her credit, we have to assume that, as malicious as she acts toward humanity, she probably would have made a good mother to her own children.

Grace Stewart in THE OTHERS (2001)
Grace appears to be the very definition of a protective, loving mother as this ghost story follows her attempts to shield her children from a supernatural force lurking in their isolated English mansion. However, a last-reel twist casts a new light on her behavior…

Kayako in JU-ON: THE GRUDE (2003).

Kayako is both victim and villain: murdered by her husband, she comes back as a malevolent ghost, along with her ghostly son Toshio, wrecking death and destruction for years afterwards. Over the course of six films, she tallies up an awesomely impressive kill count, but what is most memorable about her is not mere numbers; it is the spooky, inexplicable, and almost random way she manifests, following no clear rules that would allow potential victims to avoid her. The American remake, THE GRUDGE, makes it clear that Kayako’s husband killed both her and Toshio. The Japanese original shows Toshio escaping his father’s rampage, leaving it up to the audience to figure out how he died. The only possible conclusion is that he was the first victim of his mother’s vengeful spirit.

Mater Suspiriorum, Mater Tenebrarum, and Mater Lachrymarum in the “Three Mothers Trilogy:” SUSPIRIA (1977), INFERNO (1980), and THE MOTHER OF TEARS (2007)

Inspired by Thomas DeQuincey’s essay “Lavana and Our Ladies of Sorrow,” Dario Argento created this trio of witches whose names translate as Mother of Sighs, Mother of Darkness, and Mother of Tears. Despite their names, they are actually “wicked step-mothers, incapable of creating life, who rule the world with sorrow, tears, and darkness.” Collectively, they are responsible for some of the most brutal and graphic murders ever perpetrated on screen (although, technically, the killings are usually carried out by underlings).
In each of the first two films, the atrocities are centered mostly around an ancient dwelling place housing one of the witches; THE THIRD MOTHER ups the ante, with Mater Lachrymarum’s evil influence spreading throughout the streets of Rome with almost apocalyptic effects. Never has the power of Motherhood been so explicity alligned with supernatural – not psychological – evil, creating a disturbing sense of an innocent world at the mercy of forces so powerful they almost defy comprehension.

Friday the 13th reunion at Screamfest – with video

After launching with the West Coast premiere of George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD on Friday, Screamfest continued on Saturday with a series of short subjects, followed by a violent German murder-mystery titled DEAD IN 3 DAYS. The big event of the day did not arrive until late in the evening: two back-to-back 25th anniversary screenings of 1982’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III – in 3D! Thanks to the film’s 3D supervisor, Martin Jay Sadhoff, lucky patrons got to see the film in its original Sirius-Scope process, complete with the souvenir glasses with artwork designed to suggest Jason’s trademark hockey mask (which he wears for the first time in this film). Personally, I would have preferred a complete hockey mask with the polarized 3D lenses embedded in the eye sockets, but I guess you take what you can get.
I was never a big fan of Jason or FRIDAY THE 13TH. I think he ranks as the slasher movie equivalent of the Mummy; somehow he’s earned a reputation as a classic horror character, but he’s really just a big, ugly, slow-moving guy. In fact, PART III was the first film in the series that I bothered to see in a theatre, just because I was a 3D fan. I was not particulary impressed with the movie, but I did have to admit that it was sometimes effective (those sheets on the clothesline, ruffling in the wind, were really spooky thanks to the 3D enhancement, which had you expecting Jason’s appearance at any second).
Consequently, I had my doubts about the value of sitting through the movie again, but the lure of 3D won me over, and the the screening turned out to be a cult-audience experience not to be missed. The battered print (from the 1982 release) jumped and crackled like a trailer for GRINDHOUSE, and time has not been kind to the movie in other ways as well – the execrable dialogue and wooden performances are even more painfully obvious than they were back in the day. But the audience took it all in stride: they laughed at the contrived 3D tricks (which include antennas, baseball bats, and rattlesnakes aimed at your eyeballs); they moaned in mock sympathy whenever nerdy Shelly had another speech about how pathetic he was; and of course they applauded with wild enthusiasm for each of Jason’s kills. It wasn’t quite THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but it was close.
After the first screening, there was a question-and-answer session with select members from the cast and crew: Larry Zerner, who played Shelly; Tracie Savage, who played Debbie, the obligatory girl who has sex and dies; Paul Kratka, who played Rick, the male lead whose eye pops out in 3D; David Katims, who played the pot-smoking Chuck; Harry Manfredini, who composed the score; Martin Jay Sadhoff.
Unfortunately, time was short (the show was running late, and a crowd outside was waiting to see the second screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III), so each guest had time to answer only one question. You can view the video or read excerpts from a transcript.

The real story about how the hockey mask came about… I’m from Buffalo, New York, and [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. is my neighbor, and we’re hockey fanatics. The day of the makeup test, we didn’t really know what Jason should really look like, but we had to come up with some kind of makeup test in 3D. I had a hockey mask there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we put it on and see what it looks like?’I only wish I had registered the hockey mask [as a trademark] because every Halloween, that’s all I see!


I was standing on a street corner handing out tickets to THE ROAD WARRIOR, and these people came up to me and said, ‘Are you an actor?’ I was a struggling actor like everyone else in this town, so I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘We wrote this movie, and we think you’d be perfect for it.’ I auditioned and got the role. That was the beginning and end of my acting career. Now I’m an entertainment attorney.


I haven’t seen this movie in 25 years. I can’t imagine why I gave up my acting career! [heavy irony] I had so much potential! I come from a showbiz family and had done my first commercial at 2. My mom was my agent and said they were casting this movie. I said, “No, I’m done; I’m in college. Well, I went and I got it, and it was so much fun. It was really the last thing I did. I went to college, got a degree in broadcast journalism, and have been a journalist ever since.
[My death scene] was amazing. First they had to make a replica of my upper torso – that was bizarre! Because it was 3D it took hours to film that one little three-second shot – hours to set up the makeup and the lighting, because they didn’t want the seam to show where the fake torso joined my neck.


The night they were shooting the scene, I was very glad I was not a stunt man. My character had to be projected through the window, so they had this air ramp that would launch a person. They pulled the window out of the frame so it was open, but the guy kept hitting high, hitting low. They could not have paid me [to do that!] Whatever they paid that guy wasn’t enough!


This is pre-crack, so… I’m actually not a cigarette smoker. The first night, it was cigarettes I was really smoking. I couldn’t handle it, so I sent them over to a health food store and had them get barley. I smoked barley; that’s also what I ate!


Steve Miner told me absolutely nothing. He said, ‘Never come up to me and ask your motivation for the scene. You have no motivation. You are just a senseless killer. You are like Jaws. You have no feelings, no nothing. You just go out and kill people.’ Seriously, that’s what he told me. Studying acting most of my life, I didn’t necessarily buy that. I tried to put a meaning to the character. I honestly believe that you don’t have to talk to be an actor; you can walk and you can move. I think that’s what I brought to the role, and I think that’s what made Jason Jason. After all the episodes since then, people still come up to me and say, ‘FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III was the scariest ever!’ We’re sitting her 25 years later, so we must have done something right.


At the time Steve [Miner] called me, I was working on a musical that closed after two weeks and a day; otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here. This is actually the first time I’ve seen this movie. I saw the parts I scored, but I only had a couple of days so we used music from the old film. So I finally got to see the whole film tonight, and I thought the 3D was spectacular! I had a ball. So who came up with the disco idea? Back then that was really hot. A guy named Michael Zager, a good friend of mine who was really into this, said, ‘We should do this.’ So I went over to Michael Zager’s house and played him various pieces of the FRIDAY THE 13TH score. I told him, ‘You need to use these three chords and this tune.’ I said, ‘When you come to the right part, just call me. I’ll come in and go… [Manfredini whispers the famous Jason echo motif].

[NOTE: Before the panel departed, there was mention that there are extremely tentative plans for a revamped 3D release of the film.]