With the remake of the first film hitting theaters soon, what better time to take a look at the Friday the 13th franchise as a whole and the horror icon it spawned: Jason Voorhees. Considering that he barely appeared in the original Friday the 13th movie, Jason Voorhees has become synonymous with stupid teens cut to pieces. Across ten movies, a crossover movie, novels, comics, and now the remake, the character has earned his place as one of the most popular blood-shedding characters in the horror genre. His hockey-masked face stares at fans from DVD covers, action figures, statues, the print era, and more. But what is the attraction of this awkward, misshapen redneck? Probably the fact that it is absolutely relentless in pursuit of its prey. He shows no regrets, no mercy, and few weaknesses (heck, at the start of the ninth movie, Jason Goes to Hell, it took the US military to disarm him).
The first three films in the series essentially created a horror subgenre of their own. Those three movies are great examples of horror movies, and the first is a true original, as it doesn’t have many of the hallmarks that ruined the later sequels. Following in his bloody footsteps came a series of cheap imitations, all playing on the same formula of a group of teenagers in a forest / camp / rural area being torn to pieces by a madman. Apparently, the series ended with the fourth film in 1984. With the title Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter ‘, it ended the story of Jason and his murders in a certain style. Unfortunately, the franchise was resurrected just a year later with the fifth film, ‘A New Beginning’, and with the sixth, seventh and eighth films, the series became a shadow of what it was before, essentially parodying the previous films.
After the terrible ‘Friday the 13th part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan’, the series moved from Paramount Pictures (which made the first eight films) to its new home at New Line Cinema, the company that brought us Nightmare on Elm Street. series and later the epic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. This was a great move, as it meant that the franchise had a new group of creators to work on it. The first film in the series created by New Line was the really good ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’, which was not so much a swan song as a statement of intent. That movie ended with the shocking shot of Jason’s iconic hockey mask being dragged to the ground by Freddy Krueger’s clawed hand, from, yes, the Nightmare on Elm Street movies that New Line had garnered so much mileage from. That was in 1993. It took ten years for the movie ‘Freddy Vs Jason’ to finally come out, and before that there would be another movie in the series, namely ‘Jason X’, released in 2001.
That tenth movie was a fun game that mixed elements of horror and science fiction into a suitably ridiculous story that saw Jason defeated in the present and frozen, only to be woken up five hundred years in the future by accident. Jason finally got a makeover during that movie, where the nanobots rebuild him as a huge, murderous cyborg. The movie was ridiculous, but it was a lot of fun to watch. When ‘Freddy Vs Jason’ finally appeared in 2003, fans discovered a movie that had a lot of action and little plot or any semblance of a decent script. Years of rewrites will do that, you know. With that movie, which did have its fans, the characters of Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees finally lost the little threat they still had, becoming caricatures of the creepy villains they once were. After Freddy Vs Jason died, it became clear that the franchises had no place to go other than the remake route. Therefore, both Friday the 13th and A ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ had remakes in production. The first to be released is the remake of Friday the 13th, which, according to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween remakes, adds new material and elements that were not present in the originals.
For example, Jason Voorhees gives away the famous hockey mask in this new remake, and in the original series of films he didn’t get the mask until the third inning. However, such digressions from the source material can be forgiven, as the mask is what most current moviegoers will associate with the Friday the 13th franchise. A horror legend is being reborn, and if this initial remake proves popular, we may be at the start of a new series of films for Jason and the people of Camp Crystal Lake. With Jason and Friday the 13th being so popular for so long, and Jason Voorhees collectibles, action figures, statues, posters, calendars, and more flooded the market over the past decade, it looks like the future of the franchise has turned into a little more promising. The Friday the 13th remake may not have the impact that the original did, but it’s a welcome return to the screen for one of our most beloved movie maniacs. In total now: Ch-ch-ch Ah-ah-ah …