|40 years of Friday The 13th And The Birth of Jason
By William H. Pratt
It all began 40 years ago with one little movie that became an entire
franchise of 12 films in a much-beloved series. In 1980 the world was intro-
duced to Jason Voorhees, the horror movie icon who starred in 11 of the
12 movies as the masked killer. Although Jason was not the killer of the
original film but his own mother, Jason would pick up where mother
Voorhees left off and start killing teens and young adults who stayed in or
near Camp Crystal Lake.
Jason himself was introduced in the first film as a child when bursting
out of the lake to drag down the “last girl” who in the end beheaded his mother. Seeing what the girl did to
mom, Jason goes on an never-ending killing spree starting with her and doesn’t slow down his mission to
kill not even after his own death in the 4th film. Not even a little thing like dying stops Jason as in Part 6…..
Jason in fact lives again as an undead, undying indestructible killing machine. Even going to Hell itself
didn’t stop the masked killer from returning and facing off with another beloved horror icon that of Freddy
But before Jason would murder oh so many teens, go to Hell, go to space and even battle Freddy,
there was the original movie in 1980. Friday The 13th was the brainchild of producer and director Sean S.
Cunningham who saw the hit that Halloween had become only two years earlier and wanted to capture that
same magic. Halloween may have kick started the slasher film era, but it was Friday The 13th that blasted
it into the stratosphere.
Launching right at the beginning of 1980’s slasher craze, Friday The 13th could have been just another
fast cash grab like so many of the slasher films that followed. However right from the start, Friday The 13th
had staying power from the strong screenplay written by Victor Miller to the make-up gore effects by Tom
Savini, and direction from Sean S. Cunningham who was also the film producer.
The story of Friday The 13th was that of a simple one. As a new camp season gets ready to open and
the counselors show up before the children to get things ready. But one by one they start falling prey
to an unseen killer who dispatches them in various and painful ways. In the end, it is revealed that the killer
is the mother of a boy who was killed in the lake when the counselors who were supposed to watch him
and the other children were off messing around when the child supposedly died. However, in the follow-up
movie, we learn that this child named Jason was not, in fact, dead but very much alive now an adult and is
now hunting people and killing anyone who comes to the camp.
Like Halloween’s Michael Myers Jason never speaks and remains hidden under a mask. In the
second film where Jason takes the killing front and center from his mother, he has a burlap sack over this
head before taking on his true iconic look in the third film with his all too familiar hockey mask.
Jason was killed in the 4th film with the subtitle “The Fimal Chapter”, but again returned in the 6th film
Friday The 13th: Jason Lives where the masked killer is brought back by a lighting strike that turns him into
a zombie unstoppable killing machine. The series from there gets a little silly but since the films don’t
really take themselves all that too seriously anyway, it gets away with it even when Jason is going into
space and meeting and fighting Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. And we fucking love it!
Child actor Ari Lehman played the very first Jason on screen as the boy who jumps out of the lake at
the end of the film. Also much like Halloween started the acting careers of Jamie Lee Curtis and A
Nightmare on Elm Street with Johnny Depp, actor Kevin Bacon only had 3 movie roles before starring in
the first Friday The 13th before he becomes the star he would become.
For 40 years and 12 films Jason, his mother, and his bloody exploits have become horror movie icons
that have become household names. Of all the horror/ slasher films out there, only three truly stand out and
Friday The 13th sits right between Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. And that’s a good place to