Over the weekend, I picked up Friday the 13th on blu-ray. I’ve only recently fallen
into the blu-ray craze and let me tell you: whatever you heard is true. It is, by far, the best medium in which to
watch films. Needless to say, when I saw
the horror favorite staring at me at my local HMV, I couldn’t resist, so I
picked it up without hesitation.
As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I am a horror
hound. I grew up on the genre and it’s
the only one in which I, shamefully but admittedly, turn my head when facing
story crumbling leaps in logic (in other genres, such turn of events would be
the kiss of death). It’s the genre that
impacted my impressionable mind as a child, which is why it will always have a
special place in my heart.
Out of all of the post-Universal monsters, I am an unabashed
Freddy supporter. That’s not to say that
I don’t have a soft spot for Jason; it’s just that Freddy was much more
imaginative and frightening in both his execution and appearance. Personal preferences aside, Friday the 13th
was the first horror film I remember seeing from beginning to end when I was a
child. If memory serves me correctly, it
was back in 1991. Since then, I haven’t
seen the original (and arguably, the best)… until I picked up the blu-ray. Immediately after watching it, a few new
perspectives of the film, and the franchise in general, entered my mind.
First and foremost (and I may get slaughtered for saying
this), Pamela Voorhees is, hands down, THE monster of the 13th
franchise. Say what you will about
Jason, the burlap sack, the hockey mask or Kane Hodder… Jason is just a
passively entertaining brute of a demon, with no motivation. In the grand scheme of things, the character
of Jason (and almost every slasher since the original 13th) pays a very big debt to Mrs. Voorhees, the original and most frightening psycho this side of
While Mrs. Voorhees’ kills weren’t as inventive as Jason’s
would turn out to be in every subsequent 13th installment, she had
purpose and anger on her side; a demented sense of entitlement and justice that
very few characters would be able to use as any sort of motivation. This is due in part to the wonderful acting
of Betsy Palmer.
It’s no secret that Friday the 13th was built
around the gruesome make-up effects of Tom Savini. The actors who portray the camp councilors
prove this. To put it nicely… they’re
horrible. And that’s fine, it’s all part
of the fun of this series. But you can’t
tell me that your heart didn’t skip a beat when Palmer is first shown on screen
as Mrs. Voorhees. Her calm exterior that
masked the betrayed and vengeful mother was something that shocked me to the
core when I was a child and it had the same effect when I watched it on
blu-ray. It’s something that cannot be
replicated and is as chilling today as it was back in 1980.
For being a film that went into production just so the
filmmakers can make a quick buck on the success of Halloween, the original Friday the 13th is an undeniable classic of the genre. The mood (especially the growing and
unnerving sense of isolation) that it carries from the first frame to the last
is something that it isn’t given too much credit for. As fun as Jason is, the sequels quickly
sullied the horrific impact of Mrs. Voorhees.
She is sadly looked upon as a footnote when compared to her indestructible son, Jason. And while I’m not one to question
the filmic opinions of most moviegoers, I implore all you horror fans to watch Friday the 13th again. Look
past the cheesy fashion faux pas, the forced and stilted deliveries and revel
in Betsy Palmer’s masterful, if incredibly brief, portrayal of the First Woman
of the slasher film.
One thing is for sure, for this particular viewer, Marcus Nispel’s 13th remake has a difficult task.
I’m far more curious to see how he will update the character of Mrs.
Voorhees, as opposed to Jason. I’m sure
I’m not the only one who feels this way.