Look at the date! It’s Friday the 13th once again! Please allow me to present to you my 13 most favorite things in the Friday the 13th series…
# 13: THE GALLOWS HUMOR (PART 6) “What were you going to be when you grew up?” Look, I know precocious children are borderline intolerable but something about these kids being so blasé about the impending eradication of all their future plans really cracks me up.
# 12: THE JUST DESSERTS (PART 7) Bringing a whole new kind of camp to the series, THE NEW BLOOD offers not one but two highly satisfying love-to-hate-you character deaths. It helps that shady doctors and spoiled snobs rank high on my own personal hit list. Dr. Crews goes from pesky to deplorable when he throws Tina’s mom under the Voorhees bus to save his own skin and bitchy Melissa makes her clobbering all the more delicious by delivering some choice lines right before meeting her fate.
# 11: LEARNING TO SWIM (PART 8) I’m not such a big fan of this entry these days but this flashback scene involving young Rennie’s evil Uncle teaching her how to swim by throwing her overboard seconds after telling her the Jason Legend is just way too kindertraumatic to ignore.
# 10: THE HERO TAKES A FALL (PART 4) Although hunky do-gooders rarely fare well in the series, something about Rob seeking to avenge his sister’s death and his clear awareness of Jason makes you think he may have the chops to survive. Not going to happen. Rob is clearly shocked by not being invited to the final round as well, screaming “He’s killing me!” as Jason grants him a bitch-slap of a poorly lit undignified death.
# 9: THE LIGHTENING FLASH (PART 7) Yes, more love for NEW BLOOD! What can I say; I’ve got to follow my heart. There’s a great moment in this entry that takes place in a completely dark room but then there’s a flash of lightening and you see ol’ Jason standing in the corner. I know it’s simple but I’m a simple person.
DANCE BREAK! (PART 4 & PART 5) This is me both pandering and desperately trying to find a way to include PART 5.
# 8: LIKE THE CORNERS OF MY MIND (PART 3) One way to quickly endear a new character to fright fans is to insist that they have been a part of the story for some time. Chris Higgins reveals she’s no scream newbie when she recalls her first encounter with the Legend of Crystal Lake via blurry double exposure flashback. Unlike Jason’s more typical precision takedowns, this rough and ragged confrontation gets dangerously close to resembling an actual assault. Jason’s identity mostly being hidden in shadow and Chris’s spotty incomplete recollection only add to the disturbing tone.
# 7: TIME FOR YOUR CLOSE UP (THE ORIGINAL) Look at poor Marcie with an axe in her skull! Has there ever been a more straight forward and (pardon the pun) in-your-face kill? Could this be accomplished any better today? Nope. Most kills these days look all rubbery and clean but damn, this is all gritty, messy and excuse the understatement, impolite.
# 6: THE CHANGE OF PLANS (PART 2) Mark’s death works for me simply because it is so incredibly cruel. Football jersey wearing Mark has got this All-American (actor TOM McBRIDE even appeared in Marlboro ads), can-do spirit about him. An accident requires that he use a wheelchair but he’s determined that someday he’ll walk again. A girl named Vicki totally throws herself at him and instead of being mortified by her desperation, he agrees to meet up with her later. That’s when Jason smacks a machete into his face and, it gets worse, his chair rolls down a flight of stairs! Who thought of this? They have mental problems. Kudos.
# 5: HELP ME! (THE ORIGINAL) Sometimes I think the eeriest scene in the entire series is when Brenda curls up with a paperback and begins to hear a high-pitched indistinct cry for help. Nobody wants to be the kind of dummy who walks into their own death but what kind of person wouldn’t investigate just in case? At this point we have no idea who the killer is and the ghostly voice lost in the storm adds a vague supernatural flavor to the brew.
# 4: A ROOM WITH A VIEW (PART 3) Monster faces fill my heart with joy so why is there a millisecond or so at the end of FRIDAY PART 3 when Jason appears in a window that to this day gives me hella heebie-jeebies? Who knows why but some of the most haunting images I’ve ever laid my eyes on involve just a figure in a window looking out. This may have them all beat because after a moment of static confusion Jason springs into destroy mode and begins pawing at the glass like a trapped ravenous beast. I don’t care that the rest of the movie is mostly a goofy 3-D lark; I go “yikes” here.
# 3: A DREAM OF BLOOD. (THE ORIGINAL) There’s a storm coming and Marcie’s senses are picking up something not quite right. She barely recalls having a dream where the rain turned to blood. Ack! How can this be any creepier? Is there anything worse than that foreboding feeling that somebody just walked over your grave? The simple idea of sensing your own approaching death as you unknowingly circle the drain freaks me out. Laugh if you want but this blink and you’ll miss it moment captures for me the exact same existential dread that curdled my soul in LAKE MUNGO.
# 2: THERAPY IN SESSION (PART 2) Alice who? Plucky final girls are a dime a dozen but our pal Ginny Fields takes girl- power to a higher level by throwing some emotional intelligence and empathy for the plight of “frightened retard(s)” into her survival kit. Standing before the shrine Jason built for his beloved mother, Ginny Freud illustrates the healing power of role-play and sweater transference therapy. It doesn’t entirely succeed but that’s what she gets for making the rookie error of attempting to cut the session short with a machete.
# 1: ALICE’S RUDE AWAKENING (THE ORIGINAL) I don’t care if it wasn’t in the script, whose idea it was, or if it was an abashed rip off of CARRIE. This is just one of the greatest moments in any movie horror or otherwise. With the picture perfect postcard setting and the chiming pre-TWIN PEAKS soap opera score, we’re lead to believe that all is well in the world and than BAM, a fucking rotting corpse basically rips right through the idyllic cornball landscape. What was once a relatively grounded murder mystery about tangible revenge instantly and permanently nosedives into the less graspable realm of the uncanny. They can say it’s a dream all they like, we know better. I can’t think of too many moments in film that capture so fully what horror is all about.
BONUS: MADDY’S MAKE OVER (PART 7) Is it wrong that I delight in the sad fact that Maddy re-invents herself only to be killed moments later? That’s what you get for changing yourself for a guy. If only THE BREAKFAST CLUB ended the same way.