I honestly don’t remember when I found my love of horror movies. I do remember that one time when I was in about the 4th grade, my brother rented Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and I watched part of it and it scared the shit out of my. Around the same time, maybe a little before, my mom was visiting her friend Debbie and her sons were watching Silver Bullet and I was equally as freaked out. I had always been drawn to monsters – I loved Frankenstein’s monster and his bride, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, Dracula – but these golden age frights were pretty tame compared to what these 80s concoctions had to offer.
Even though I was scared, I wanted to see more; I argued with my mother when she rented Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou and didn’t want to let me watch it, afraid it would give me nightmares. I knew that it probably would, and I didn’t care. She let me watch it. I can’t remember if it lead to any bad dreams, but if it did I kept them to myself – I didn’t want to be left out of any future movie nights.
I also don’t remember when during this budding romance I discovered Camp Crystal Lake and Jason Voorhees, but once I did it was all over. I was hooked. There was something about that unstoppable terror with the hockey mask that was absolutely entrancing to me. Even though I enjoyed the increasingly flamboyant antics of Freddy Krueger and the equally silent rampages of Michael Myers, there was just something about Jason. To this day, the Friday the 13th series is my favorite of the “big three” horror franchises and features some of my favorite films of the slasher genre overall. In celebration of Halloween, I thought it might be fun to reminisce about my love of the series and show off some of my Friday the 13th collectibles.
I’m pretty sure the original Friday the 13th film wasn’t the first one I saw in the series; like so many others, whenever someone mentioned the films I immediately thought of Jason in his hockey mask. It was a pleasant shock when I finally saw the original and found out that it wasn’t Jason who murdered the first batch of counselors, but rather his mother, Pamela Voorhees (played perfectly by Betsy Palmer – rest in peace). This deepened the whole mythos for me. In fact, what I think often gets missed when people talk about these slasher franchises is that they attempted to build a world and a story and adhere to it as much as possible – there was always a reason for why the killer was stalking his victims, and not just because he wanted to punish those who were sexually active or liked to partake in alcohol and weed. You can’t justify Pamela Voorhees’ actions, but you can understand them: if the camp counselors had been doing their jobs and not messing around, Jason wouldn’t have drowned and she never would have had to take her bloody revenge. They say “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but the first wrong was against Mrs. Voorhees and her vulnerable son, not the nubile machete-fodder populating the cabins at Camp Crystal Lake.
It was also surprising to me when I realized that Jason doesn’t get his signature mask until the third film – in Friday the 13th Part 2, Jason is living like an animal in the woods with a burlap sack over his head. He also keeps his mother’s severed head and blood-stained sweater as souvenirs, so his life is pretty much working out great. The “final girl” of that movie, Ginny (Amy Steel), actually fools Jason by putting on the sweater and commanding him like his mother. He falls for it, sort of, and things work out for Ginny…for a while. Perhaps if he’d had his hockey mask, he could have been the ruthless, efficient killer that fans know him to be.
That vulnerability related to his mother was used in the 2009 reboot with Jason being played by Derek Mears with more emotional range than previous incarnations. Well, as much emotional range as you can get from someone whose features are covered by a mask and who never, ever speaks. Whitney (Amanda Righetti) looks like Jason’s mother and she is able to use that to stay alive; Jason keeps her prisoner, never killing her but never fully trusting her either. There is some conflict there that is surprisingly nuanced, again, for someone who has zero dialogue.
There are a ton of strange, violent, and even inventive kills throughout the series; 80s slashers were known for finding new and “interesting” ways to finish off their expendable teens. Here is a video that compiles a very subjective list of the “Top 13” kills from the series:
Another Friday the 13th hook for me growing up was the NES game by LJN. I’ve heard it described as a terrible game, and it was hard as fuck, but it was my second favorite NES game after Maniac Mansion. I was never able to beat it as a kid, even though I had mother’s sweater, I had the torch, and I even had the pitchfork. I made sure to preserve as much health as I could for both Mark and Chrissy – anyone who played the game for longer than 10 seconds knew that if you didn’t have one of those two you were fucked; all of the other counselors were way to slow to defeat Jason in the final round of combat. I has always thought that Chrissy was the better of the two, but that’s a question I leave to the philosophers. Laura was also a pretty good option, but the other three were generic cannon fodder. This game left me so obsessed that as an adult when Rock 30 Games opened in Grand Forks, I bought an FC Twin (a retro console that plays both NES and Super NES cartridges), a Game Genie, and a copy of the game so that I could finally see the ending. After nearly a quarter century, this is what I had missed:
Seriously. Twenty-five years I waited for that.
There has been a lot of excitement around the interwebs about a new Friday the 13th game that is coming soon, and some of the gameplay footage that has been released looks super brutal. It’s supposed to be a something like an 8 player game where 7 people player counselors trying to escape Jason’s reign of terror, and one plays the man himself (I think I read that the character who plays Jason is selected randomly when the scenario starts, but I could be wrong). You can check out the game’s official site HERE. I haven’t done a ton of digging into this yet, and nothing I’ve found really says what your objective is as the counselor players (except – duh – to stay alive), but I hope that there will be more substance to it than just a bunch of inventive ways of dispatching teen archetypes. But if you want a preview of all the ways to dispatch those teen archetypes, you can check out the following video:
Now that we’ve talked about the movies and the games – show me the merchandise!
First up are the cool threads. I’ve got two Friday the 13th shirts, one from my Horror Block subscription boxes and one from the utterly fabulous Atomic Cotton that I found when I attended Days of the Dead Indianapolis 2016. The Atomic Cotton shirt has a super fun neon 80s look to it and says TGIF across the bottom. I absolutely adore this one and I love to wear it to work for a fun take on “casual Friday.” The HB shirt is a little more plain, black shirt with a white design, but I like that it’s a different design and just sort of evokes the franchise without just giving the same promo look as so many other items. The hat is one that I don’t usually wear (I almost never wear hats of any kind) but I like the way they took the camp sign and put it in shades of gray, and under the brim features blood spatters which are a cool detail.
Next up I have three pillows that I found on a fun little site called Horror Decor. There are times where I wish I could just go all in and turn my house into a Halloween-themed haunted retreat all year long, and if I did this would be a great place to start. The first pillow is a recreation of the Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake sign in the original colors. I have the small version (11.5 x 11.5) but like a lot of their pillows there is a larger version available (16 x 16). The second pillow is an adorable recreation of the 8 bit NEW Jason from the game mentioned above. I love the sprite for this – the coloration is just so strange! Jason had a blue face/mask and a purple jumpsuit. Only in the 80s! Finall, there is a pillow of the infamous hockey mask, and of course there is a strap on the back just like a real mask…because, reasons.
Speaking of the 8-bit Jason, I have a great custom figure of that sprite that I picked up at DOTD from Mindbender Customs. I had to have this one not only because it recreated one of my favorite video games of all times, but because it did it in a way that also payed tribute to the G.I.Joe action figures I grew up with. Jason became a member of the deadly Cobra forces, complete with his own ID card printed on the back of the custom packaging. I remember carefully cutting those out and saving them every time I got a new action figure! This is one of my absolute favorite F13 items.
In addition to the custom action figure, I of course had to pick up the Jason Funko Pop – I absolutely adore these creepy little figures. In addition, I bought several of the Horror Classics mini vinyl figures (also from Funko) hoping to get a Jason figure (which I did my first time through – weee!). These two figures are different, but I like them both. There are so many different version of the character, I love having a wide range. I’m also hoping to get to DOTD in Atlanta is February where several of the actors who have played Jason will be there and can sign the figure (I have a Funko Pop Pinhead signed by Doug Bradley that needs some company!).
The next piece I have was handmade with lots of love by a wonderful woman that I met at DOTD Indy – Janet Jefferson. She was in a booth with her husband, author E. L. Jefferson who was selling copies of his horror collections alongside her handmade creations. I was trying to avoid buying any books at the con (I had paid for 2 checked bags and both were dangerously close to oversize even before my shopping spree!) but I picked up the adorable Jason doll and bookmarked E. L.’s Amazon page for later perusal!
I know I keep yammering on and on about my experience at Days of the Dead, but it really was a pretty special trip for me – I feel like I found my tribe at last! – and I found so many fun vendors and great collectible items. In addition to the toys and goodies, I also had the chance to meet Derek Mears who played Jason in the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th. I hadn’t seen the film when it came out (I read some fairly negative reviews and was in my pink-girly-Mean–Girls-chick-flick-type-movie phase when it came out) but when I saw that Derek was on the guest list for the con, I watched it and was really impressed with his performance – I felt like he really brought something new to it. This Jason was even more brutal and relentless than some of the previous versions, but also seemed to have more intricate reactions around the young woman who looked like his mother. I know, I’m repeating myself. But while I was at DOTD, I purchased a promo photo that I had signed as well as took a fabulous candid shot. I also got the chance to meet Derek’s amazing girlfriend and fabulous photog, Jenny Brezinski. They were both so sweet – and you know I love meeting a tall man whose face doesn’t end up right in the fake boobs!
Finally, my most recent acquisition came in the October 2016 Loot Crate: a Camp Crystal Lake pennant. I’m not much of a sportsball fan, so pennants have never been my thing, but when it’s a blood-splattered souvenir of everyone’s favorite summer camp nightmare, then play ball bitches!
I also have a couple of art prints from DOTD that seem to be “misfiled” – that is, I can’t figure out where the hell I put them in my house of eccentricities! If I track them down and can get good pictures I will definitely get them added. One is a head-and-shoulders of Jason with his bloody machete done in bright vivid colors and the other features slightly softer tones and features Elvira, Jason, and Michael Myers along with signature items from various horror films like the patterned carpet from the Overlook Hotel in The Shining and Pinhead’s puzzlebox from the Hellraiser series. All good movies, of course, but I bought the print for my main man Jason. Well, that and my obsession with Elvira. But mostly Jason.
Halloween has always been a time for me to break out my love of monsters and horror, but the last couple of years I’ve been letting my freak flag fly all year long! A good scare is good for the soul, and I love the movies that make us tingle, make us scream, and make us cheer for both the enigmatic monster and the spunky young lady who finally defeats him. And though I love a wide variety of horror films, in a range of both style and quality, I have a special fondness for slashers and some of my favorite feature that hockey-masked maniac from Crystal Lake.
(Honorable mention goes to my favorite standalone horror film – Sleepaway Camp. Well, it is part of a franchise as well, but everything from the first sequel onward really lost the spirit and the complexity of the original, so I love it mostly on its own merit. If you missed my blog about Sleepaway Camp star Felissa Rose, you can read that HERE. My other slasher favorite is the cheesy Cheerleader Camp starring porn actress Teri Weigel and former child hearthrob Leif Garrett. All camp horrors…maybe that Baptist Bible camp I went to as a child left a stronger impact than I thought!)
Tags: Atomic Cotton, Betsey Palmer, Betsy Palmer, Camp Crystal Lake, Champagne Dreams Productions, Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake Memories, Days of the Dead, Days of the Dead Indianapolis, Days of the Dead Indy, Derek Mears, DOTD, Doug Bradley, drag art, drag king, drag performance, drag queen, drag show, drag troupe, Dream Master, E L Jefferson, Elvira, Felissa Rose, Friday the 13th Game, Friday the 13th NES, Funko, Funko Pop, Halloween, Hellraiser, Horror Block, Horror Decor, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Janet Jefferson, Jason Voorhees, Jenny Brezinski, Kane Hodder, Loot Crate, Mindbender Customs, Miss Jaye, Nerd Block, NES, NIghtmare on Elm Street, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, NOES, Pamela Voorhees, Pinhead, Prom Night 2, Prom Night 2 Hello Mary Lou, Silver Bullet, Sleepaway Camp, The Shining, World of Champagne