There is only one actual Friday the 13th in the year of 2016 and it has long passed (May 13th of this year). Boo. Whenever the actual 13th day that lands on a Friday happens, I always want to binge watch horror flicks—of any kind. It has to be a marketing tool of some sort that has been engrained in me for years and years.
It is October. Already. Where did this year go? Since the spooky holiday season is quickly approaching, wouldn’t it be fun to dig deep into horror movies and find out fun facts about them? I tend to find these movies less haunting once I’ve read some behind the scenes facts; unless we are talking about Poltergeist (1982). I’m pretty sure we will get around to those films soon enough, so I won’t write any spoilers for that quite yet.
With that said, today’s focus is solely on Jason Voorhees, his crazy mother, and his revenge tactics. Although this was pre-Scream, I still know the “rules” of horror movies. We are only going to delve into the first four films for this article, even though there have been many, many, many remakes/sequels (a whopping 11 in fact) starring the hockey masked murderer.
We need to keep our movie count to a minimum.
Unlike Jason’s body count.
Warning: Possible spoilers below. Read at your own risk. Muahahaha….ha.
16. The Original Ending of the Film Has Been Restored
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – 1984
We will be working from the fourth film to the first in behind the scenes secrets, so let’s get started!
The ending of Final Chapter closes with a much deserving brutal death for the hockey masked terror; as his head slowly descends upon an upturned blade (gore at its finest, really). However, the general series tradition dictated they needed a fake-out dream sequence conclusion. One was filmed, but then scrapped; basically meaning the official version of Final Chapter never reveals what became of Trish and Tommy’s mother—whose death was implied but never portrayed.
Thanks to the recent efforts put forth of documentarian Daniel Farrands and Joseph Zito (director), the original ending has been restored as much as possible.
15. Actors Had to Perform Dangerous Stunts Due to Low Budget Costs
One would think that if a fourth film was being made, they had the budget to make it work, right? Apparently that it isn’t so. Because of the production’s low budget, several of the actors had to perform stunts themselves; some dangerous, some uncomfortable.
Judie Aronson (“Samantha” in the film) was required to stay submerged in a lake with near-freezing temperatures; and then there was Peter Barton (“Doug” in the film), who was actually slammed into the shower wall when Jason comes to attack him.
The unsung advocate for these youngsters on set was none other than the actor who portrayed Jason himself—Ted White. He requested that Barton be allowed to use at least a crash pad and threatened to quit when Joseph Zito (director) refused to let Aronson get out of the lake between takes. That was a total douchebag move, Zito. Clearly, he wasn’t with the anthem “safety first.”
Ultimately, Teddy boy and d-bag Zito developed a combative relationship on set (seriously, what other result could have come from this?), which led White to demand his name be removed from the credits. He ended up referring to the film as “a piece of shit.”
14. Corey Feldman Was Genuinely Terrified
Little Corey Feldman ended up becoming legit terrified during the window scene. In true series tradition, Jason was played by another stuntman (yet again) in The Final Chapter.
Ted White, a seasoned veteran of 40 years who had doubled for the likes John Wayne and Clark Gable (*sigh* Rhett Butler), did not favor Feldman, referring to him as the “meanest goddamn little kid” he’d ever had to deal with. As such, when it came time to film the famous scene, when Jason reaches through a broken window to pull Tommy out of a house, White got to genuinely act out his frustration.
Beforehand, they had worked out the timing sequence of when White would grab Feldman. However, when the scene came around to shoot, White waited a couple of beats. The pause, longer than rehearsed, caused Feldman to assume the stunt had gone wrong (insert mischievous laughter here). Just as Feldman he let his guard down, White grabbed him exactly as you see in the film, meaning little Corey’s screams of horror were completely authentic.
13. The Genius Behind the Iconic Hockey Mask
Friday the 13th: Part III – 1982
Part III of the franchise was the first of the Friday the 13th films to use the hockey mask we all know Jason Voorhees for today. Since this film, the mask has been in use for each subsequent Jason movie as well.
Martin Jay Sadoff (the 3-D effects supervisor) is the accidental genius behind Jason’s trademark hockey mask. Sadoff always kept a bag full of hockey gear with him on set because hockey was his jam. While testing potential masks to use for Jason, Sadoff pulled out a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask to test as well. Steve Miner (director) loved the look, made some modifications to the mask, and decided to use it in the film.
12. Some Scenes Were Reused From Previous Films
A number of scenes in Part III are either identical or similar to scenes from the original Friday the 13th (1980). Let’s check them out:
Debbie (Tracie Savage) sees drops of blood falling from above her; she looks up, and with no surprise at all, a machete goes straight through her chest. In comparison, this scene is much like Jack’s (Kevin Bacon) scene in the original.
After Chris (Dana Kimmell) thinks she has killed Jason (which, of course she didn’t), she goes to sleep in a canoe on the lake; just like Alice (Adrienne King) did in the original. When Chris awakens in said canoe, Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) comes out of the water and drags her under, much like what Jason did to Alice in the original.
11. Death Scenes Needed To Be Cut For An Approval Rating
I’m thinking that the approval ratings of the 80s were a little stricter in terms of blood and gore than the current ratings of the 21st century. Here’s why: several deaths in the film had to be cut to avoid an “X” rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). They were as follows:
Andy’s (Jeffrey Rogers) death: His leg was shown being cut off, and his stomach being ripped open. Stomach being ripped open? Think Steve from the original Scream (1996). I’m sure it couldn’t have been any worse than that…
Vera’s (Catherine Parks) death: Looked too real and too much gore. To be fair, she did get a spear to the eye, so maybe it could’ve been really gross. I have a comparison to this one, too, though. Paris Hilton’s death in House of Wax (2005) – **Spoiler Alert** she gets a pole through the head. And you guys, I’m not kidding when I tell you the entire sold out theatre I watched it in clapped and cheered when she died. Poor Paris.
Edna’s (Cheri Maugans) death: Cut. Excessive blood flow. I think of Hostel (2005) and Saw (2004); two of the goriest sets of films in my very humble opinion.
Chili’s (Rachel Howard) death: Impalement cut because of a shot showing steaming blood hitting the floor. Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) showed blood going down the drain (okay, yes “technically” it wasn’t steaming)! Come on, MPAA.
10. Adrienne King Almost Didn’t Reprise Her Role as Alice
Friday the 13th: Part II – 1981
I’m going to have to side with Adrienne King here on feeling really sketchy about reprising a role that led to having a stalker. After the first Friday, the filmmakers asked King if she wanted to reprise her role as Alice; her response had stipulations. She wanted minimal screen time due to an obsessive fan who was stalking her. This fan broke into her apartment, and obviously she feared for her life.
Since the situation escalated into a stalker case, she opted to avoid any further acting opportunities. Can you blame her? I remember reading somewhere something kind of similar about Janet Leigh from Psycho. If memory serves, she received death threats in regards to her shower scene from “amused” fans; as such, she was terrified of taking showers and decided on baths for a long time after. Don’t quote me though!
9. Holds One of the Longest Pre-Credit Sequences in History
So Part II has a sort of record; being one of the longest pre-credit sequences in cinematic history and all. It is nearly 15 minutes long in some versions. At that many minutes, I think I would forget that the credit sequence hadn’t start yet.
Story Time. I went to see the remake of Friday the 13th(2009) in movie theaters. Opening night was on February 13, 2009; which was… Friday, the thirteenth day of the month. I know, I know, it’s pretty cool right? But my point to this story is, the pre-credit sequence was insanely long, too. I remember being so into the camping teens and Jason going after them that when the title sequence started, it caught me and my friend by total surprise.
8. Adrienne King Received No Script
According to King, no script was given to her for her scene. This is why she didn’t know her character died. She came to set, found out Jason was going to off her and then found out that they needed her to improvise an entire phone conversation. This means everything Alice said while talking to her mom on the phone about struggling to move on with her (essentially) soon-to-end life was unscripted.
Although King did request that they leave her character’s fate open for her to return at a later date, they did no such thing. Given that we previously read that she hasn’t acted in movies since her stalker scare anyway, I don’t think her character Alice was really all that much of a loss in hindsight. We’re just glad she’s been able to get past having a stalker.
7. Steve Dash Had to go to the Emergency Room
Remember that climactic fight between Jason (Warrington Gillette) and Ginny (Amy Steel)? The one where Jason raises the mattock to block Ginny’s machete swing? Well, Steel said that on the first take, the timing was wrong and she accidentally got Steve Dash’s (Jason’s stunt double) finger; which caused him to have to go to the emergency room.
Dash has photos of him being taken care of in the ER in full costume with a fake machete still stuck through his shoulder. After he was all stitched up, he came back to set that night. Like the true professional he was, he insisted they complete the scene.
6. Hardcore Cast Members Stayed at the Actual Campsite
Friday the 13th – 1980
The majority of the cast and crew members stayed in local hotels during filming. However, the hardcore loyal cast and crew members stayed on site of the filming; as in the actual camp site.
A couple of these members include: Tom Savini, (credited as “Man The Knife Killer”) and Taso N. Stavrakis (stunts and special makeup for the film). These two used Savini’s Betamax VCR and two movies—Barbarella (1968) and Marathon Man (1976)—to pass the time. Each night was basically a slumber party in where they would watch one of these two films. Savini states, to this day, he can recite those movies by heart.
I don’t know about you, but I would not be a participant in staying at the actual campsite where I was filming a horror movie. In fact, there is a road around where I live called “Camp Crystal Lake Rd” with a lake spanning its length. I avoid driving on that road at night. I’m sure you can surmise why.
5. You’ve Been Saying the Film’s Score Wrong All These Years
The composer for this film, Harry Manfredini, has stated that contrary to popular belief, the famous: “Chi, chi, chi; ah, ah, ah” in the film’s score is actually: “Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma.” The purpose of this is to resemble Jason’s voice saying: “Kill, kill, kill; mom, mom, mom” in Mrs. Voorhees’s mind.
The inspiration for this was derived from the scene in which Pamela Voorhees suffers from schizophrenia and chants, “Get her, mommy! Kill her!” Manfredini created the effect by saying the syllables “ki” and “ma” into a microphone running through a delay effect.
4. Kevin Bacon’s Death Scene Was a Little Complicated
For Jack’s (Kevin Bacon) death scene, he had to crouch under the bed and insert his head through a hole in the mattress. A latex neck and chest appliance were then attached to give the appearance that he was actually lying down. To get this setup right, it took hours and Bacon had to stay put in that uncomfortable position the entire time.
For the gory final moment, Tom Savini (special effects)–under the bed with Bacon—would plunge the arrow up and through the fake neck, while his assistant—also under the bed—operated the pump that would make the fake blood flow up through the appliance. To make things even more complicated, the crew needed someone to stand in for the killer’s hand as it held Bacon’s head down. They settled on still photographer Richard Feury.
After hours of setup and latex building and planning, the time had finally come to shoot the scene, and when the moment of truth arrived, the hose for the blood pump disconnected. Knowing that he basically only had one take (otherwise they’d have to build a new latex appliance and set everything up again), Taso N. Stavrakis (special effects) grabbed the hose and blew into it until blood flowed out, thus saving the scene.
Stavrakis stated: “I had to think quick, so I just grabbed the hose and blew like crazy which, thankfully, caused a serendipitous arterial blood spray. The blood didn’t taste that bad either.”
I’m guessing compared to a death scene like that with today’s technology, this scene may not have been as complicated to complete. Although, it may have been fun to play with special effects instead of CG…
3. A Snake Was Killed in Real Time
So, these counselors have to kill a snake found in one of the cabins, right? The idea behind this scene was to show differences between this film and Halloween (1978). They figured by having an early “fake” scare turn out to be an actual legitimate scare would somehow establish the characters as capable of taking decisive action if need be.
However, there was no PETA around this film set. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this means they took an actual machete to a real, living snake. When this scene was filmed, the snake’s owner was standing off to the side and crying.
This brought the body count to 11–including the snake.
I have a couple of sentiments about this. Such as, did they never tell this snake’s owner they were going to kill it for real? Did he just assume they weren’t going to really kill it? Not that I am a fan of snakes in any capacity, but this is just plain cruel.
2. There Are Arguments Over Who Did The Final Scare
In the end, it is disputed as to who invented the scene where the deformed Jason Voorhees bursts out of the lake and grabs Alice (Adrienne King) from the canoe. The credit for the final scare’s birth is between Victor Miller (writer), Tom Savini (special effects makeup), and Ron Kurz (uncredited screenwriter) who all claim credit for it. Kurz because he claims to be the one who made Jason into a “creature,” and Savini because he claims the moment was inspired by a similar final scare in Carrie (1976). Whoever is telling the truth, it clearly left a lasting impression.
1. Betsy Palmer Was Not Happy
Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees) has stated that if it were not for the fact that she was in desperate need of a new car, she would never have taken the part of Pamela Voorhees.
In any case, Palmer, a method actor, gave Mrs. Voorhees a detailed backstory. She concocted that Mrs. Voorhees hated sexual transgression because she had Jason out of wedlock with a high school boyfriend, and her parents ultimately disowned her for her sins because that “isn’t something that good girls do.” Honestly, Palmer sounds like a gem, doesn’t she (I’m being completely serious, too)?
Oh, and something else fun to note: After she read the script she called the film “a piece of shit.”
Keep it classy, Betsy. *applause*