Uploaded to MoviePilot on July 11th 2017
In 1980 the film Friday the 13th was unleashed into cinemas, pushing the horror genre into high gear and inspiring a legion of filmmakers to give the genre a try. Filmed in an actual summer camp on a $550,000 budget the film went on to make almost $60 million at the box office and started one of the most iconic franchises of all time. It’s spun off into comics, TV series, books, toys. It is the essential slasher franchise of its time and with the recent release of the Friday the 13th Video Game, I think it’s only right to go through this iconic series and throw up a few bits of trivia you may or may not know about this beloved series. Fair warning, a large amount of this comes from the recent documentary Crystal Lake Memories which is absolutely amazing, it’s also about 7 hours long. So think of this as me saving you 7 hours and giving you the most interesting tidbits
1. Friday The 13th Had Its Title Before The Script Was Started
This one might seem obvious but there’s a bit of a story behind it. Before the script was even started producer Sean Cunningham wanted to test out the title. He wanted to see if anyone else had used it and, more specifically, wanted to know if he was going to get sued. In order to test this, he took out the following full-page ad in Variety.
Missed that November 79 release date by about 6 months
You notice down the bottom of the page how it says “Currently in production”. That’s a lie, the movie didn’t even have a script at this point. At this point, the film had the title and… the title. Sean was using this, by his own admission, to get attention from investors and to see if anyone was going to sue him for copyright because he was so sure someone had to of used this title before. He didn’t end up getting sued for the title and eventually got his investors so the legacy began with a little bit of creative thinking on the part of the producer. He’s also very lucky because…
2. There Were At Least Seven Films With Friday The 13th As A Title Before 1980
Sean is lucky that Disney hadn’t gotten copyright law changed so dramatically when he made his movie because otherwise, he may have been in trouble thanks to multiple black and white short films in the early part of the 1900s that had the title Friday the 13th and a few other interesting properties. Here are just a few examples.
Jason is totally hiding under the table
This is a still image from the 1911 comedy Friday the 13th. According to a summary of the film it’s about a man called Mr Gayton who has tickets to see a show. In the rush to get himself ready he accidentally forgets to bring them and inevitable comedic chaos ensues as he tried to get back to his house in order to get the tickets.
There’s the 1916 drama Friday the 13th telling the tale of the daughter of a judge who was ruined by a Wall Street Millionaire and her attempt to get revenge but ending up falling in love with the son of that same millionaire.
Then there is a glorious 1953 Terrytoons cartoon called Friday the 13th starring a character called Little Roquefort the Mouse who is being tormented by Percy the Cat who ends up breaking a mirror, causing himself to have the worst luck.
These are just the ones I could find images of or a synopsis, there’s at least 4 others floating around on IMDB that were made in 1908, 1921, 1923 and 1957. All of these films had the title before Sean, but Sean was the one to turn it into an iconic franchise that would end up starring…
3. Jason Was Originally Named Josh
In all the original scripts of the movie, Jason went by the name Josh which is objectively a silly name for a serial killer to have. Apparently, Victor Miller didn’t like the name much either and so he decided to change it to Jason after one of his school bullies. Also, Victor would very much like you to know that in his movie, Jason is dead and the image of Jason leaping out of the water is just a dream. He has, on videotape, claimed no responsibility for the character that became a franchise… except in the lawsuit he’s currently a part of where he is trying to convince a judge that he absolutely owns that character and the franchise in general.
4. The First Movie Rips Off Two Classic Horror Movies
In 1978, John Carpenter’s Halloween was released to the public and really started the slasher genre. It was a smash hit that took the world by storm and according to Victor Miller that was enough for Sean Cunningham to want to jump on the bandwagon. To quote Victor “Sean called me and said Halloween is doing good business, let’s rip it off”, and while John Carpenter may have started the slasher genre, the rip off blasted it into the stratosphere
The other moment that’s lifted from another movie is the end sequence so before we begin, SPOILERS… for a pair of 30 year old movies.
Who put the headstone on the rubble of the Carrie White house?
The 1976 film Carrie has possibly one of the best jump scare endings of all time. It’s a calm tranquil scene where Sue is seen calmly walking to the remains of Carrie’s home to plant roses on her grave. Just as she places the roses down, a hand shoots up from the rubble and grabs her hand. Tom Savini saw this and suggested that they do something similar for their movie. That ended up leading to the final scene of Friday the 13th where Alice is seen in a boat looking as peaceful as could be, the music is lush and intentionally designed to trick you into thinking everything’ll be OK. Just when you think it’s going to be fine and she’s going to be safe is when Jason leaps from the water to drag her down.
This was so effective a jump scare that Sean would apparently go to cinemas and watch the audience and when they jumped he would bounce around saying “I got ’em, I got ’em all”
5. The House From Part III Burned Down In 2006
Newcomers to the franchise who have only played the video game will be very well acquainted with the inside of the Packanack Lodge, the main home for many of the victims in Friday the 13th: Part III. Well, sadly that’s the only way you’re ever going to get inside because in 2006 a fan accidentally set the building on fire.
Ruled an accident by the police, the fire was started in the fireplace and soon engulfed the building. The fireplace, by the way, was artificial and there purely for aesthetics but a simple mistake led to a blaze that destroyed a piece of horror history. In the article linked earlier, there’s even a photo that the accidental arsonist took as they left, showing the start of the fire that claimed Packanack once and for all.
6. Part V Almost Had Corey Feldman In More Of It
Corey Feldman had been the star of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and holds the distinct title of being the only person who can say he actually killed Jason (Part six is Zombie Jason, so he’s technically dead at the end of the fourth). The film ends with Corey’s character, Tommy Jarvis, running in to hug his sister and giving a very creepy look at the camera.
This is the look of someone who wants to show you their dead cat collection
When discussion of a sequel started happening shortly after the movie was released one idea, according to the documentary Crystal Lake Memories, would have involved Tommy being the new evil of Crystal Lake and leaving Jason dead and they would’ve gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky Spielberg.
Yeah, turns out that when Steven Spielberg calls to tell you that he want’s to put you in a movie he’s producing for Richard Donner based on a script by Chris Columbus that you’ll end up picking that movie over Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. This is why, in the movie, Corey appears in one scene at the start of the movie that was shot in his backyard. They have that one scene of him walking about, scream, cut to older Tommy Jarvis and the movie continues. In the original plan, it would’ve been Tommy as the killer instead of Roy. We could’ve had 12-year-old Tommy Jarvis running about killing people and instead we had to have the immortal classic The Goonies instead… damn it all.
7. Part VI Almost Had Jason’s Father
Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI is notable for many reasons. It was the return of Jason after the fifth film notably replaced him with an ambulance driver. It had a song written by Alice Cooper specially made for it. It was the first film to embrace comedy, including multiple lines said to camera and images that look like they should be in a Scary Movie sequel.
This is a real image that’s in the actual movie
It’s possibly one of the most well thought out movies in the franchise. The only thing it’s missing is Jason’s father who was originally a part of the movie. Tom McCloughlin wanted to have a scene in the movie where we would see Jason’s father tending to his son’s grave and handing the groundskeeper money so that he would keep the secret. It was axed by the studio because they knew it’d bring in more questions than anything else and they didn’t want that responsibility. The character was put in the novelization of the movie (Yes, there are novelizations of the Friday movies) and his name is Elias. He was also going to potentially appear in the reboot that was planned for last year but that got cancelled and took Elias with it.
8. The Friday The 13th TV Series Was Never Meant To Connect To The Film Series
I’m sure some of you right now are going “Wait, there was a TV series?” and yes, yes there was. It was about Micki Foster (Played by Louise Robey) and Ryan Dallion (Played by John D. Lemay) who are cousins that run an antique store that is full of cursed antiques. They sell them before being Jack Marshak (played by Chris Wiggins) get’s them to stop and they end up spending the rest of the series hunting them down.
From the jump this show was not related to the Friday the 13th movies, it was even called The 13th Hour originally before Frank Mancuso Jr decided that calling it Friday the 13th would draw in more viewers. It was a naked ploy to use the name of a popular series to promote a new show and to Frank’s credit, it worked. The series gained a cult audience and lasted for 3 seasons, all of which are available on DVD.
Out of all the actors involved in the series, the only major overlap is John D. LeMay who holds the distinction of being the only main cast member of both the TV series and a Friday the 13th film. He appeared in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday in the hero role of Steven Freeman.
9. Part VII Was Butchered By The MPAA
One thing we have yet to address was how much the MPAA hated these films. They were the worst enemy of the franchise because every single film had to get massive cuts in order to avoid an X rating which would render it impossible to get into a cinema. No film in the franchise felt the wrath of the MPAA harder than Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.
The film should be noted as being the first appearance of Kane Hodder as Jason who is regularly considered to be the definitive version of the character. What I’m noting it for is for being the film that the MPAA hacked into with a machete of their own. The most iconic death in the franchise involves a sleeping bag being slammed against the tree with the person inside. It’s one hit and they’re dead but in the original version, they were hit against the tree six times and the bag was covered in that good old red stuff.
Jason’s practical, less clean up if you keep them in the bag
There’s a scene where Jason slams a party horn into someone’s face, the MPAA demanded they make the horn squeak. Basically, the MPAA just took a lot of the intensity out of it. The part of this that hurts the most though is that sadly we will never get a proper directors cut of the movie. All the footage that the MPAA demanded be cut out was stored in a very stupid manner… fire. They burned it, all of the footage was set on fire and destroyed so now all that’s left is insanely grainy footage that may be on the end of a VHS somewhere.
10. Part VIII Really Upset New York
Specifically, it upset the New York State Department of Economic Development with this…
They took one look at this poster, a poster that is objectively awesome, and demanded that Paramount pull it from circulation immediately. It’s probably for the best they did anyway since this poster gives the impression that the film actually spends a lot of time in New York instead of the 15-30 minutes of movie that actually takes place in New York.
11. Jason Goes To Hell Director Was Told To Get The Damn Hockey Mask Out Of The Movie
When planning Jason Goes To Hell (Under a new name because the rights to the Friday the 13th title didn’t come with everything else when they moved from Paramount to New Line) there was exactly one demand from Sean Cunningham, according to director Adam Marcus.
“I want that damn hockey mask out of the movie. So, whatever you come up with [without the mask], let’s make that movie”
In his vain attempt to keep the franchise alive long enough that he could make Freddy vs. Jason happen, Sean wanted to try and do something radically different which is how we wind up with body swapping Jason in Jason Goes To Hell. Apparently, no one knew if the film was even going to make sense while making it and if you watch the movie… good luck.
12. Jason X Was Leaked Before Release
Jason X is the space Jason movie that you know you wanted. Set in the future to avoid potentially causing conflicts with Freddy vs. Jason, the film already had a lot to deal with considering that it had to have entire sequences rewritten/reshot to fit the tone of horror films in a post-Scream world. Once all that was done though, things didn’t get easier.
At New Line, there was a man named Michael De Luca who was basically the biggest champion of the franchise. When he left, Jason X lost all hope of being released. It sat on a shelf for 18 months just being ignored, except by someone who got a print and put it online. For months Jason X was doing the rounds on pirate websites while the studio just let it ferment in their vault. They did eventually release it in 2002 and made their budget back but it isn’t hard to imagine that such a long delay combined with the leaked workprint lead to them losing a substantial amount of money. That and the fact that it’s Jason in space!
13. Friday The 13th: The Musical Exists!
This is not an official production, let me make that clear. This is a staged reading of a workshop version of the show which may never make it to stage but this is something I have to share. Written by Andrew Marco and directed by Alex Marz and Grant Jacoby this is a loving riff on Friday the 13th in musical form. The staged reading of this play is amazing, especially Jason who appears to just be wearing a paper bag on his head with holes cut in it. You can find all 4 parts on fridaythe13thfranchise.com at the link I provided and you really should see it, it’s an incredible piece of work that really needs to just be given the chance to be put on stage. Come on guys, it’s been 5 years, I want my all singing all dancing hockey mask wearing slasher musical.
Crystal Lake Memories (DVD)
Fridaythe13thfranchise.com (Variety Ad) (House Burning) (Musical)
Friday the 13th Wiki (Elias Voorhees) (Part VII)