“FRIDAY THE 13th” Turns 40 Years Old in 2020

My wife thinks I’m crazy: Nestled amongst our much vaunted Blu-ray and DVD collection that includes the likes of Citizen Kane, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Godfather, Boogie Nights and My Own Private Idaho is the behemoth, the Mount Everest of all Blu-ray box-sets. No, not the collected Upstairs, Downstairs or the Criterion Collection of Linklater’s Before films. Instead, I am referring to my 2013 uber-collection of the entire Friday the 13th film series. All. Twelve. Movies. In one bright and shiny package that made it all but impossible for this onetime fan of 1980s slasher flicks to pass by in favor of Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder or Akira Kurosawa. Never mind that I had, as a teenager, faithfully recorded onto cheap VHS the earliest entries of this cornucopia of blood and guts and – more importantly for me as an adolescent – scantily clad women. And disregard the salient fact that I had amassed the entire series of films onto DVD not once but twice (the second time being when Paramount released the first eight films onto a DVD box set back in 2009). Nope, these other editions meant nothing to me as I gazed at and then affectionately fondled aforementioned Blu-ray Epic Box-Set in the aisle of a Texas Best Buy. This newly reframed look at an inexplicable childhood fascination mesmerized me and egged me on with the promise of fresh and crisp new digital transfers, bukoos of audio commentaries from the master thespians who had written, directed and produced my beloved embarrassments as well as enough special behind the scenes making of features to fell even a hockey masked, machete wielding psychopath named Jason Voorhees. All of the above being now a matter of public record, there was no way that I was not going to have this assemblage of terror in my collection. Walking out of the store with my newfound goodies securely concealed in a plain brown paper bag as a line of perspiration gathered around my balding head, I licked my lips and cackled a laugh of the just and the right. My wife thinks I’m crazy and, looking back at these hastily thrown together memories that I relish like a late night binge eating session at the local Taco Bell, I think she may just be right.

 The Friday the 13th film series came out of the gates swinging on May 9, 1980, just a few days shy of my seventh birthday (Happy Birthday from Paramount Studios to Yours Truly) and, over the course of twelve films and nearly thirty years, the one-time burlap sack wearing cautionary tale known the world over as simply Jason hacked and slashed his way through mall cineplexes and drive-in theaters and left an indelible mark on most kids who can claim the 1980s as their own peculiar sort of Valhalla. For those weaned strictly on Merchant Ivory fare and the more reputable scares of Rosemary’s Baby and the Robert Wise rendition of The Haunting often comes this question: “But what are the Friday films about?” That question sort of misses the point entirely about this Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller creation. The story wasn’t really the thing with Friday movies. Instead it was about good looking teens getting it on and then getting respective body parts taking off over the course of the ninety minute running time. Adolescent-wise, I hit my zenith by the time the seventh installment – romantically sub- titled The New Blood – came around and the series became a de facto sex education class for me as I came for the cheap scares but stayed for the promise of strategically placed female flesh even as I struggled with fitting the seven entries into some sort of logical chronological order (Typical Geek Questions I pondered: “Just how much time had passed between Part 5 and Part 6 of the series?”). The series was never intended to be high art, although I do recall the first time I ever saw someone smoke a joint was during opening night of a New York showing of Friday the 13th Part 9 – Jason Goes to Hell. Conversely, Friday the 13th introduced me not only to sheer carnality, but also to the delights of good ol’ Indian hay, too. How could I not help but have the most ardent love affair with this schlock fest?

 Although the series has hit a legal stumbling block preventing new entries from being filmed for the immediate future – and I’m convinced that I’m the only one in the world that cares about such things, so sei la vie – new efforts are being put forth to celebrate and recognize the 40th anniversary of these slasher flicks. To wit, Flicks for Fans is hosting a 40th anniversary showing of the original Friday film which is being touted as an immersive experience for fans. “Wha’ the wha’?” I hear you card carrying members of the Tom Savini/ Friday the 13th fan club exclaiming with glee. This two night extravaganza will be held over March 13 (a Friday, natch!) and 14th at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. What does this all entail? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…a nameless representative for Flicks for Fans who will explain all the gory details to your ever-loving ears. AHEM.

 “Friday night will be ‘Camp Crystal Lake Night’ on a double bill with Sleepaway Camp and Saturday night will be ‘Ladies Night’ (though everyone is welcome!) paired with The Final Girls…Other 40th Anniversary extras for both nights include a Friday the 13th inspired Immersive Experience featuring the special effects work of make-up effects maven Brittany Fontaine, graduate of the Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects Program, a Kevin Bacon “Kill Cabin” Photo Op, Camp Décor, Early Prizes and Giveaways and horror themed merchandise for sale in the lobby during the event – it’s going to be two amazing nights to remember.”

 Tickets are a very reasonable 27 dollars for each evening and can – through the magical devices of the so-called Hyperlink (although I personally think “Hyperlink” is simply another word for “The Matrix”) be purchased on the theatre’s website. Tell ‘em Corey Feldman sent you!

 This eulogy now concluded about one of my wayward youthful romances of cinema, I leave you with the immortal words of one Mr. Crispin Glover (Yes, that Crispin Glover) from Friday the 13th Part 4: “Hey, Ted, where’s…where’s that, uh, that corkscrew? That fancy corkscrew for the wine bottle? Ted? Hey! Ted! Ted! Hey, Ted, where the hell is the corkscrew?”

 Hmm, you know maybe I am crazy after all!

About Ryan Vandergriff

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