In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t like the idea of the thirteenth day in the month falling on a Friday are just being silly. It’s one of my favourite days of the year, maybe because I love slasher films and, for me and many others, it means one thing. What better way to celebrate but by cracking out the Friday the 13th film series and having a marathon? Yes. Please.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that my favourite cinema in London, The Prince Charles, was hosting a Friday the 13th all-nighter marathon to celebrate the masked killer that is Jason Voorhees. Granted it was only Parts 1-8, affectionately known as ‘The Paramount Years’, but that still meant eight films, one iconic killer and a whole load of blood shed. You dig? I certainly did, as did a big group of others, including one guy who even dressed for the occasion as Jason himself. Now I’m slightly biased as I frequent The PCC a lot for casual film watching and their events, and this one didn’t disappoint. The crowd were great, the staff were as lovely as ever and some of the films were even 35mm prints (always something that melts my heart).
Friday the 13th is an iconic and classic slasher film. Made in the wake of the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th is one of the most profitable slasher films of all time and spawned a franchise which is the longest running in slasher film history. Full of POV shots of the killer getting nasty and a bunch of teenagers getting up to things they shouldn’t, the film went on to secure some of the conventions and clichés that later slasher films would mock in post-modernist irony (teenagers being punished for having sex, saying ‘I’ll be back!’ when you clearly won’t…). Having never seen it on a big screen, I was really impressed. Yes, it may seem a little dated but this is a slasher classic and what a way to experience it then with a big crowd? What stood out most of all, aside from Kevin Bacon’s tight blue speedos, was Harry Manfredini’s score. Iconic, loud and incredibly ominous, it may be a little obvious with its musical cues but it was fantastic to hear it the way you were meant to.
For me, the film series itself has two great women in slasher history, Mrs Pamela Voorhees and Ginny Field, the star and Final Girl of the sequel Friday the 13th Part 2. Pamela Voorhees is one of my most loved mothers in cinematic history (alongside Mama T-Rex, Etheline Tenenbaum and the Alien Queen), a woman completely devoted to her child and his memory but so bad-ass and horrible she’ll resort to murderous methods, so much so that I even included her in a recent list I did of my Top Dangerous Women In Film. Ginny Field on the other hand is the lead protagonist in the titular films sequel, the Final Girl that uses her psychology degree to outwit the killer, which from this film onwards is Jason himself, and kill him (for that moment anyway, and I am also aware that the Final Girl debate surrounding Ginny is a complex one, I still love her).
From Part 2 we went on to Friday the 13th Part III, although sadly not in 3-D. Not that that stopped the audience from having any fun whatsoever, constantly doing loud ‘ooooo’s’ and gasps at the incredibly obvious scenes that utilised the 3-D effect (well hello there washing pole…) and then cheering and getting on down to the disco remix of the films theme. Not to forget that this is the entry in which Jason’s iconic hockey mask look originates. My favourite part of the franchise is and will always be the wishful titled Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Starring Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis and featuring some great effects from Tom Savini, this is the film that owns my heart and the one that mostly went down well with the audience on the night. After that, things start to slowly go down hill…
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is to the franchise what Halloween 3: Season of The Witch is to the sequels of Carpenter’s classic, a Jason film without Jason. I won’t say anymore incase its one that you havent seen but it plays as a very anticlimactic movie, even with a returning Tommy Jarvis (although now played by a different actor) and some very, very bad dance moves. Which brings us on to Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and the return of Jason Voorhees himself, this time as a zombified killer compared to the immortal superhuman depicted as before. A fun entry but not on par with the earlier releases, this is a film that is meant to be played out for laughs and does so at times depending on your mood. This would have made a nice finishing moment for the marathon but it was still early morning and we had two more films to go…
Which saw me pretty much losing the will to live. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is effectively Jason VS Carrie and features some incredibly annoying characters that you can’t even love to hate and, sadly, is heavily cut. The only plus side to this feature is the introduction of Kane Hodder playing Jason, the person most probably identified with playing the iconic character. Originally meant to be a clash between Jason and Nightmare on Elm Street killer Freddy Krueger, the plans fell through when New Line and Paramount couldn’t reach an agreement over rights (flash forward fifteen years later…). The night, or should I say morning by the point, finished with Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan which I have some serious issues with. Pompous, boring and far too long are the polite end of it whilst the various different children they used as flashbacks for young Jason drove me up the wall (I saw the first film, he didn’t look anything like the kids they used if you know what I mean…). Being pretty much on the verge of walking out for the entire picture, I stayed until the end but not even the ridiculous boxing kill could save it for me. I needed bed and fast.
All in all though, well done to The PCC for putting on such a great night. It would have been nice to do the full works, I think people would have perked up a bit had the New Line sequels and spin-off also played as it wouldn’t have felt like the event ended on such a dragged out downer and the crowd would have been totally up for it. Then again, that’s another marathon for the next thirteenth day that falls on a Friday. Happy Friday Jason, here’s to the next one!