Highlights of Friday the 13th

If you don’t follow John Kenneth Muir’s blog, you are doing yourself a disservice. In honor of today being Friday the 13th, he has a list of 13 reasons why he loves the venerable slasher franchise.

For my part, I do not “love” the Friday the 13th movies in the slightest, nor would it be entirely accurate to say I “like” them. It’s more that I recognize their cultural impact and importance.

Mr. Muir makes a couple of observations that stood out to me. After noting multiple instances of hidden, surprisingly brainy references, like a child reading Sartre’s No Exit during a throwaway scene in Part 6, he devotes a whole item of his list to Ginny Field from Part 2.


Ginny Field (played by the awesomely-named Amy Steel) was perhaps the only character to genuinely outsmart Jason—which shouldn’t be that hard, one might think, but whatever. A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Nancy probably owes her level-headed handling of Freddie Krueger to Ginny Field’s clever ruse against Jason.

I would hardly call the Friday the 13th series a triumph for women in film, and a few Ginny Field-type characters really don’t make up for the hordes of stupid these movies throw at the screen. It’s also unfortunate that Ginny Field stands out as one of the few heroines who doesn’t get killed in a sequel (like Alice from the first Friday the 13th or the aforementioned Nancy).

The other observation by Mr. Muir that jumped out at me was a novel take on the symbolism of Jason Voorhees. While the view of Jason as an enforcer of traditional sexual morality has itself become rather cliche, he posits a more naturalistic role for Jason:

Stated bluntly, it is implicit in the original films that Jason Voorhees — hockey mask, machete and all — is the natural (or supernatural…) result of a modern world in which there are no more predators for man.

Jason is therefore but a mechanism, a response from nature, to man’s invasion of a natural terrain (in this case, Camp Crystal Lake). Screening the Friday the 13th films together, it’s clear that the one factor in common is not Jason himself (who, technically, doesn’t appear in Part V: A New Beginning), but rather…a storm.

Yep, bad weather inevitably brings thunder, lightning., and evil, serial-killer predators (whether Mrs. Voorhees, Jason, or the Jason Impostor). The arrival of bad weather is important in the various Friday the 13th narratives for practical reasons, of course. Storms knock out power (and particularly lights…) plunging frightened teens into darkness, preventing telephone calls for aid, and making the youngsters ripe for the picking off.

But it’s more than that. It’s as if nature is rising up and rebelling against these aimless, decadent humans and Jason is the mechanism to destroy them. If Jason didn’t exist, Mother Nature would have to invent him.

Consider also that Jason is tied to nature in an interesting fashion: he is believed dead for years when in fact he is alive and “incubating” at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake. [Emphasis in original.]

In short, then, Jason Voorhees is a force of nature, like the shark in Jaws.

Or the trees in The Happening, to put us in a more appropriate shitty-movie paradigm.


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