Horror’s Icons: Jason Voorhees
In this series, Blog 4 Dat will go through the greatest horror villains in cinematic history. From Friday the 13th to Halloween and Puppet Master to Leprechaun, I will write on the icons that scared audiences worldwide and made these movies continue on through decades. Even if they didn’t scare anyone, we won’t discriminate. Horror movies are not for everyone, but for those that do enjoy a good scare, horror movies hold a special place in our hearts. And the madmen, serial killers, monsters, and demons that make these movies what they are will get their moment of glory here. So enjoy as we get into our first entry, Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film series.
The Camp Crystal Lake Killer
Jason Voorhees has been terrorizing the teenagers in America (and space!) since 1980. In the original film, Jason’s mother Pamela Voorhees began to kill the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake after her son drowned there while the counselors were not paying attention. One last survivor beheaded Pamela and then Jason, still a child, jumped out of the lake and attacked her. Well, sort of. The sequence was played out like a dream, but in Part 2, Jason was alive and well. And his infamous killing spree began. Jason brought his reign of terror (and his machete) to Camp Crystal Lake and picked up right where mommy left off. The first adult version of Jason that we see looks like a farmer wearing a burlap sack over his head. Not too frightening of a look but his relentlessness is what keeps you on the edge of your seat. It wasn’t until Friday the 13th Part III that Jason found his trademark hockey mask that has defined the character that we have come to know. Jason continued his rampage through Crystal Lake for a while and then was killed. But as horror fans know, you can never keep a good killer down.
After a Jason copycat took over the mask and machete in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, the original campground killer return from the dead in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. But Jason was a little different this time. He lost the normal color of his skin. He was brought back to life by lightening. Hell, Jason was basically a zombie. And that just meant that he would be harder to stop. So as the body count grew, and people tried to kill Jason repeatedly, it was apparent that true evil would never die.
After running out of victims at Camp Crystal Lake, Jason made a cameo in the Big Apple when he “took his talents” to Manhattan. The final installment by Paramount films, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, took Jason from his stomping grounds and onto a cruise ship headed for New York. After doing what he does best in New York, Jason disappeared from the screen for a while. Then, 4 years later, New Line Cinema unleashed Jason Voorhees again in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. This was supposed to be the end of our anti-hero, but once again, Jason would not stay down. Actually, instead, he came back and went further up. Jason was going to space. But did this change anything? No. Jason continued to massacre like it was going out of style. But, with this movie being set in the future, Jason was eventually blown apart by the new, high-tech weaponry that the crew of the spaceship had. But, in true horror movie fashion, he just so happened to land on a reanimation table and was brought back. The new “Uber” Jason looked meaner than ever. The rest of his original body was mixed with metal to create a new and improved, unstoppable killing machine.
But in the end, this movie was pushed aside as Jason was about to finally battle a screen nemesis that everyone had been waiting to see for too long. After killing teenagers for years, Jason was set to battle his toughest foe yet, Freddy Krueger, in 2003’s mash-up Freddy vs. Jason. This movie would see Jason bring his killing spree from Camp Crystal Lake to Elm Street, the home of Freddy. Man, those kids were so damn unlucky. But after this, Jason’s life on the big screen seemed to have died. There was nothing more. Until the idea of a reboot was made and Jason Voorhees was reborn for a whole new generation. In 2009, Friday the 13th was released as a clean reboot of the franchise and Jason was given a new life.
The Men Behind the Mask
Many men have played the role of Jason Voorhees. Ari Lehman was the first as he portrayed the child Jason in the original film. From Part 2 until Part VI, every new movie featured a new man playing Jason. Warrington Gillette, Steve Daskewisz, Richard Brooker, Ted White, Tom Morga, and CJ Graham all took their turns as the homicidal madman (in order). Even though Dick Wieand was credited as Roy/Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning it was actually Tom Morga that played Jason Voorhees in flashbacks and the imposter Jason that the character of Roy had become. It wasn’t until Kane Hodder took the role of Jason in the 7th installment of the series that someone wanted to play the character multiple times and took the character seriously. Hodder brought new life to Jason and, somehow, made Jason even more terrifying. Hodder donned the hockey mask for 4 straight movies until Freddy vs. Jason when those in charge wanted someone new in the iconic role. Despite wanting to return to the role that he helped define, Hodder was denied and Ken Kirzinger was cast as Jason in the mash-up movie. After this movie, the character remained dormant until the reboot of the franchise and when the time came, another new Jason was cast. For the reboot, Derek Mears was the new Jason and got to play the character as he was being “reborn” for a new audience to witness. Time can only tell if we will see someone new behind the mask if and when Jason returns.
Like I said, we can only wait and see if Jason will ever return. But until he does, we have plenty of Jason’s exploits to keep us busy. Besides the 12 films in the franchise, there is a great documentary titled His Name is Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, hosted by Tom Savini, the special effects master responsible for Jason’s look. There is also a great comprehensive book by Peter M. Bracke titled Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. The book goes through the franchise movie-by-movie and discusses everything imaginable. There is even a section for the Friday the 13th television series that was without the man in the hockey mask. Jason has also been present in many other fictional books with unique stories and comic books depicting his rampage in Crystal Lake.
Despite the lack of a new movie, Jason Voorhees has made his mark on the horror film landscape. No matter what happens, Jason will go down as one of the greatest horror icons in history. He definitely is my favorite boogeyman. In a time when a new slasher movie came out every month, Jason and the Friday the 13th franchise stood the test of time, being relevant for over 30 years. And while I do not know what the future holds for Jason, I for one hope to see the hockey mask on the big screen again.
Thanks for reading and next time I will get into the one killer that makes your wishes come true: The Djinn from The Wishmaster series.