Today is Friday the 13th, so I thought I would blog about the 1980 film Friday the 13th, not to be confused with the vastly inferior remake by the same name released in 2009. Friday the 13th was arguabley the most influential horror film of the last half century. Not only did it spawn an entire franchise and the most iconic villain in horror history (Jason), but it popularized and revolutionized the slasher film genre. Some would say John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween was more influential, and indeed Halloween created the template and narrative structure that F13 would follow, but F13 took the genre to a whole new level of creative graphic violence.
Both Halloween and F13 benefited from being pioneers in their industry, and when you’re first, you get to pick the best. So of all the notable calendar days on which to set a slasher film, Halloween is the best. But while Halloween got the best chronological setting (Fall), F13 got the best location setting (the woods). The film oozes with atmosphere, with the camera occasionally showing the full moon in the sky.
What made the original F13 so incredibly brilliant was how organic it was. In a genre littered with contrived storylines, and ad hoc just-so plot devises, there was absolutely nothing contrived about this film. The killer’s motives flows naturally, logically from the setting. In other words, if you had to think logically about who would be motivated to kill off a bunch of camp counselors at a summer camp, you might imagine a killer like the one in this film.
Despite the killer being logical, there is fascinating irony in the killer’s identity, and then there’s a twist at the end that flows oh so naturally from the killer’s motive and the most brilliant segue to a sequel I have ever seen. And what a sequel it is. I strongly recommend watching both Friday the 13th (1980) and its direct sequel Friday the 13th part 2 (1981) in one evening. For in the sequel, the iconic Jason emerges as the killer, and remains the killer for virtually the rest of the franchise.
Jason is a mentally retarded man who lives in the woods. Some say he drowned as a child and came back from the dead. Others say he never really drowned at all, but survived as a kind of feral child grown up. This ambiguity is one of my favorite things about this franchise. For the first several F13 movies, it’s up to the viewer whether Jason is human or whether he’s a supernatural undead villain. Though by part 6, he clearly becomes the latter.
I actually think Jason’s much much scarier in the early films, when he’s arguably a real man. Some say a real person would not just live like an animal in the woods, it makes no sense, but that’s the point: He’s mentally retarded, so it makes perfect sense that his behavior would make no sense.
When I was a little kid (I’m now in my 30s), they would show the first two Friday the 13th movies on TV all the time on Friday the 13th late at night, and when I was about 9, I waited until my parents went to bed, snuck downstairs and watched the original F13. For my generation, these films have great nostalgic value, not just because they played a part in our childhood, but because they are throwbacks to a simpler time. Before the internet, before the “war on terror”, before NAFTA.
Sadly, these films also probably appeal to white nationalists because they are some of the last vestiges of white middle class America. Is there anything more white than summer camp or Jason’s iconic hockey mask (a sport with virtually no blacks)? Sadly, the original F13 did not have a single non-white character.
It thus seems symbolic that in various sequels, Jason has resembled both a hooded KKK member and a skin head (see pictures below). Indeed Jason had the same low IQ mentality in that just as a racist might hate all blacks because of bad experiences with a few blacks, Jason hates (and kills) all camp counselors because of the actions of just one. Such overgeneralization is a major sign of low IQ because the ability to correctly generalize is one of the most g loaded abilities, and it’s one of the reasons vocabulary is one of the most g loaded skills. If you overgeneralize, it’s hard to learn words because you might mistakenly think the word “father” refers to all men, or that the word “bird” refers to anything that can fly, including airplanes.