WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), PLEASE DO SO BEFORE READING. IT’S FREE ON YOUTUBE.
In honor of it being Friday the 13th weekend, and so close to Halloween, I decided to estimate the IQs of every single character in Friday the 13th (1980). I knowing this is boring nonsense to some readers, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and now is perfect timing.
I began by counting how many biologically normal characters there were in the film and in a creepy coincidence, there were exactly thirteen!
Why do I separate the 13 biologically normal characters from the one pathological one (Jason)? Because IQ tests have traditionally been normed on the biologically normal and typically (white) American or British population from which a normal bell curve is derived. This is for statistical convenience but also reflects the view that one’s IQ reflects a great many genetic and environmental variants, which like the flip of a thousands coins, randomly determine whether you accumulate good or bad luck in the cognitive lottery; but since the effect of any one variant is so tiny, most people will be in the middle and only a tiny percent will have an excess of good or bad brain luck.
However people like Jason have genetic disorders that so override the normal sources of polygenetic and environmental variation that they skew the bell curve, and are thus excluded from the norms of IQ tests.
Now assuming the 13 biologically normal characters in the film are a roughly representative sample of biologically normal white America, the next question is what would be their expected IQ distribution? Since by definition, the IQs of biologically normal (white) American have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, a random sample of 13 such people might have something like the following IQs:
Now the fun part! Assigning each of the above 13 IQs to each of the 13 biologically normal characters.
In order from highest to lowest:
BIOLOGICALLY NORMAL CHARACTERS
Alice IQ 126 (Superior intelligence)
I assigned the highest IQ to the heroine Alice because she was the only camp counsellor with the alertness and quick thinking to beat the killer at her own game. We also learn early in the film that she’s a talented sketch artist, suggesting she would do well on the Draw a Person IQ test. And while her wide eyed innocence may seem naïve, this is a common trait in high IQ people who have the luxury and integrity of staying innocent longer, yet the fact that she adapted so quickly to unfolding horrors despite her charmed life, suggests high IQ.
Enos IQ 116 (Bright Normal)
Although truck drivers aren’t known for their high intelligence, Enos strikes me as the second brightest character in the film simply because he had the long-term memory to rattle off the camp’s dark history off the cuff: boy drowning in 1957, two counselors killed in 1958, bad water in 1962. Most people can’t recall local history with such precision and speed.
Pamela Voorhees IQ 111 (Bright Normal)
One of the smartest killers in the history of slasher films. Her ability to lure her victims to their death by correctly predicting they would take the bait is unsurpassed in the genre. Also impressive was her ability to find Alice anywhere she hid in the camp, even though Alice was running, and always had a head start, and Pam was merely walking.
However whenever the two women would physically battle, Alice always won, even though Pam had the physical advantage in size, strength and height, though not in speed, suggesting Pam wasn’t smart enough to exploit her advantage.
Nonetheless, Pam’s creative use of lights and weapons, knowledge of the camp’s emergency generator, and ability to communicate effectively (“I can’t help you if you don’t calm down”) all point to high IQ. I would even credit her with great acting skills, given how well she feigned innocence when Alice first met her, except I don’t think she was acting. I think Pam was so detached from reality that she would sometimes forget she was the killer and act like a normal woman. Such psychosis reveals a malfunctioning brain, and puts a ceiling on her likely IQ, as does the sheer irrationality of killing camp counselors for allowing your son to drown, even though most of them were not even born at the time.
Ned Rubenstein IQ 109 (Average intelligence)
This guy reminds of the typical dorky goofball you knew in high school, who everyone thinks is dumb until he helps you with your math homework; the kind of guy who feigns stupidity to get a cheap laugh. And yet Ned doesn’t really show intelligence unless being good at archery is a sign of smarts, but the fact that his idea of flirting is nearly shooting a girl’s head off with a bow and arrow, shows reckless stupidity. Also showing stupidity was his inability to defend himself against female killer, despite not really being caught by surprise.
Nonetheless, he’s Ashkenazi Jewish, and these are thought to have genes associated with high IQ. For that reason alone, he might be in the upper end of the average range.
Marcie Cunningham/Stanler IQ 107 (Average intelligence)
When a snake that was terrorizing a cabin was chopped by a machete (I hope a real snake wasn’t killed for this movie), she delivered the funniest line of the film: “At least we know what’s for dinner”. Such quick wit may imply a triple digit IQ, at least before the axe to the brain.
Barry Jackson IQ 100 (Average intelligence)
When asked by his girlfriend whether she kissed as well as another girl they knew, he replied “how would I know?” which was the perfect answer to an awkward question and worked like a charm. This may imply an IQ above 100.
However given that he was likely one of the original camp counselors who made love instead of saving Jason from drowning, and thus was indirectly responsible for decades of mass murder, indicate a level of criminal negligence so extreme he’s likely not above 100.
Bill Brown IQ 99 (Average intelligence)
Bill is likely very close to triple digit IQ because he showed two signs of intelligence: 1) he’s one of the few who learned how to use the camp’s emergency generator, and 2) he successfully killed the snake that was terrorizing one of the cabins.
Claudette Hayes IQ 97 (Average intelligence)
Like her lover Barry Jackson, she can’t be too smart if she was making love when she should have been saving Jason from “drowning”. On the other hand, the fact that she’s the only character who displays musical talent (playing the guitar) suggests she’s not too dumb either.
Brenda Jones IQ 96 (Average intelligence)
She showed some intelligence in suggesting a fun game the others counselors enjoyed (strip monopoly) and knowing the rules, and the fact that she was ethical enough to go out into a thunderstorm to respond to cries for help, may indirectly imply she’s not dumb (since high IQ people tend to develop better character), even though it was a deadly trick she fell for.
Steve Christy IQ 88 (Dull normal)
The fact that he wastes his life trying to save a camp that is doomed, indicates low IQ. Also the fact that he never figures out who the killer was, despite the fact that she is a family “friend” and is the only person with an obvious motive, also implies Dull Normal IQ.
On the other hand, the mere fact that he was born into a family rich enough to own a camp implies some high IQ genes. Also fixing the camp keeps him in shape and lets him cunningly placate his perversion for very young women, so he’s at the upper end of Dull Normal.
Jack Burrell/Marand IQ 87 (Dull Normal)
The fact that he’s one of the few characters who knows how to use the camp’s emergency generator implies he’s not completely dumb. However the fact that he has sex on the bottom bunk of bunk beds, when a dead body lies on the top bunk, and he’s too dumb to notice (despite being taller than the top bunk) implies Dull-Normal IQ.
Annie Phillips IQ 84 (Dull Normal)
Annie is completely adorable in a way that only dumb women are.
Crazy Ralph IQ 81 (Dull Normal)
The fact that he’s known as the town lunatic indicates low IQ, though ironically, his crazy ramblings are proven true. Also, the fact that he rides a bike all the way to the camp suggests he’s either not smart enough to drive, or not smart enough to get the money for a car, and not wearing a helmet (or normal biking attire) also shows low IQ, though was probably a common mistake in the 1980s. Though in Ralph’s defence, biking is good exercise and good for the environment.
BIOLOGICALLY ABNORMAL CHARACTER
Jason IQ 50 (Trainable (moderate) Retardation)
Because Jason was a hydrocephalic, he’s not part of the biologically normal population, and thus his IQ can not be guessed from the normal distribution of scores. Nonetheless, as I wrote in 2014:
In the very first Friday the 13th movie (1980) (one of the best horror films ever) it was very subtly hinted by his mother that Jason was a special needs child when she used the euphemism “he wasn’t a very good swimmer”, and indeed the makeup artist who created Jason’s appearance described him as “hydrocephalic, mongoloid pinhead”. In Friday the 13th part 2, the main character mentions that Jason never went to school as a child. According to IQ expert Arthur Jensen, the minimum IQ needed to attend a regular school was 50 though Jason can’t be much lower than that because he manages to survive on his own in the woods from age the age of 11 to 34 and at age 34, kill a platoon of teenagers using a wide variety of weapons.
But Jason’s low IQ is revealed by his extreme gullibility. In Friday the 13th part 2, a college psychology major manages to trick Jason into thinking she is Jason’s mother simply by putting on his mother’s sweater, even though Jason personally witnessed his mother being beheaded and the college girl is more than a decade younger than Jason and thus can’t be his mother. In Friday the 13th part 4, Jason is tricked by a little boy who shaves his head and pretends to be young Jason himself, only to hack Jason to death. The fact that Jason was outsmarted and killed by a little kid half his size shows Jason was not too bright. Despite being killed at age 34 (short life span is another sign of low IQ, though a weak one) Jason returned in part 6 as a zombie.