About a month ago (April 30th), FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 was celebrating its 40th anniversary. While singing its praises I nearly stated that Jason Voorhees, as presented in that film (with a THE ELEPHANT MAN-type sack on his head), is at his scariest (because generally he is) but something stopped me in my tracks from doing so. If I was being completely honest, the most frightening I ever found Jason Voorhees was at the end of the next film in the series FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3.
Come to think of it, I was hardly a child at the time and at that point, had watched the first two films multiple times (to say the least). At the point of the film I’m referring to, most of the film’s killing, violence and bloodshed had already occurred and I had devoured it all handily.
But his was the sort of scare that hit me on a purely visual level. It felt like one of my nightmares; I was shook as they say.
Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) had endured a rough night but it appeared that she had finally defeated her hockey-masked assailant and exhausted, fell asleep in a boat on a shallow portion of Crystal Lake. She is awoken by a screeching bird and is clearly (and rightfully) still in hyper-survival mode. She looks about and sees only her familiar farm. After a panicked jolt when the boat hits a floating branch (!) and a jump scare provided by an obnoxious duck loudly flying by her head (!), she comes to accept that the nightmare may indeed be over and that she is finally safe. But that’s when she sees him in the window…
A fleshy, almost pig-faced, mask-less Jason in all his deformed glory, covered in blood and somehow audibly groaning! He begins to scratch and claw at the windows glass in a frenzied manor (I don’t know why figures behind glass get to me (SALEM’S LOT?) but they always do). He finally gives up on his nonsensical attempts to reach Chris through the window and disappears while Chris finds the boat she’s trying to row away in stuck on another damned branch. Jason CRASHES through the door (!) and we get an even better look at his almost smiling (?) heavily breathing visage. He starts to run for Chris (and directly toward camera) but then suddenly disappears (along with the merciless, cow-prod score).
It’s OK! Chris has just lost her mind! The window is empty. The lake is at peace. Of course this is all just to distract us from what’s coming out of the water (an iffy, worm-enhanced homage to the first film). Hey, it works. I’m not sure why it worked so well on me but it did and I have to admit, it still does. Something about the brazen early morning clarity is truly jolting and even though the series was already notorious for such last minute trickery, I continue to fall for it hook line and sinker.