This piece originally appeared at Anything horror, April 2011.
There once was a 7-year-old boy named Jason Voorhees whose mother, Pamela, loved him very much. Pamela was an older mom, almost approaching 60, and because of her late pregnancy her child was born with certain challenges that not everyone was as quick to support as she was. One summer, after begging and begging, Jason finally convinced his doting mother to let him attend the 2-week program at Camp Crystal Lake, just down the street from their own house.
Jason wasn’t a very good swimmer. The camp counsellors were nowhere near as attentive as they should’ve been. Jason drowned in the lake. The counsellors couldn’t hear his screams over their own cries of passion. After Jason’s death, the two camp counsellors who should have been watching him were hacked to death. Nobody ever caught their killer.
Camp Crystal Lake stayed closed for two years, a sufficient amount of time for the owners to let the news of Jason’s death by negligence and the brutal murders fade into the ether. The new group of counsellors, a handsome and fecund bunch, arrive to get everything ready for the soon-to-arrive children.
One by one the new counsellors are stalked and murdered by someone who watches from vantage points in the woods. The last remaining counsellor, Alice, discovers that the person who had been stalking and murdering her friends and lover was in fact Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mother. After a fight to the death, Alice decapitates the deranged Mrs. Voorhees.
What Alice didn’t know was that Jason had survived and was living in the woods. He loved his mother, but she was too stifling. He wanted to be on his own, so in the woods he stayed, living in an abandoned cabin, fending for himself, but checking in on his mother from time to time. Jason witnessed his mother’s murder and vowed revenge.
For the next few years, while Jason Voorhees slaughters anyone who sets foot on Camp Crystal Lake, the legend of Jason grows to the point where the reality of his presence becomes shrouded in myth. During this time, Jason dons the hockey mask for which he will forever be known. That is until a little boy named Tommy Jarvis, the same age as Jason when he first went into the water, moves to Crystal Lake. After another rampage that takes the lives of everyone except Tommy and his sister, little Tommy Jarvis puts an end to the physically and emotionally damaged monster known as Jason Voorhees: Tommy shaves his head and pretends to be Jason as a child, which gives Jason enough pause for Tommy to put a machete through his head. Again and again. During their violent clash Jason’s hockey mask goes flying and we see his deformed face, scarred and bulbous, for the very first time.
Killing another human being at such a young age profoundly affects Tommy. His fits of rage, the violence simmering under his surface, the nightmares and hallucinations of Jason Voorhees takes its toll on Tommy and finally his sister sends him to an asylum out in the country. While there, Tommy witnesses the brutal hatchet murder of one of the patients by another. Suddenly, Jason-like murders begin again. One by one the patients at the clinic and their support staff are picked off one by one. Tommy thinks he’s really lost his mind this time but survives, along with two others, only to discover that the long-lost father of the boy murdered at the clinic has adopted Jason’s modus operandi to avenge his son’s death.
But Tommy is still not okay. He is obsessed with Jason. The nightmares continue. He is convinced that Jason will arise. He escapes from his current sanitarium drives to Jason’s grave, digs it up, with the mind to burn Jason’s remains. In a fit of rage, Tommy impales Jason’s dead body with a metal spike. He realizes how silly he’s being, but before he can burn the body, a bolt of lightning hits the metal spike, effectively bringing Jason Voorhees back to life.
This is Jason’s subtle commentary on the issue of sex-before-marriage!!
Another murderous rampage later, one which the town officials believe has been caused by the unhinged Tommy Jarvis, Tommy not only saves the camp full of children from Jason, but he chains him to the bottom of Crystal Lake where Jason drowns. Again.
And there Jason stays for years, rotting in his watery grave.
One day, many moons later, a girl named Tina moves into a house on Crystal Lake. Her father is a drunk, and a mean one at that, who enjoys slapping Tina’s mother around. Tina, furious at him, gets on a boat and rides out into Crystal Lake. “I wish you would die!” She screams at her father. The water starts to bubble, the pier rocks and then collapses, taking her father with it. Years later, Tina, her mother and her therapist Dr. Cruz, return to this childhood home to confront Tina’s feelings of guilt about the death of her father. Dr. Cruz has ulterior motives: His goal is to stress Tina to the breaking point so he can better study her psychic and telekinetic abilities. After a failed session, an upset Tina goes to the lake and feels a presence inside. “Daddy?!” She focuses her great psychic powers to bring her father back to life, but instead of Daddy, Jason Voorhees arises from Crystal Lake.
Jason’s newest rampage takes dozens of new lives until a standoff with the talented Tina, who stops him over and over again. She burns the house and Jason into the ground, but Jason, now a demonic being, lives and comes after Tina. Using the last remaining psychic energy she has left after an exhausting night, Tina manages to summon her father’s spirit and it is he who takes Jason back to the bottom of Crystal Lake.
More years pass as Jason rots away underwater. The town never forgets about Jason, but he exists more in myth and legend than in reality. Until, that is, the power lines that feed Camp Crystal Lake short circuit and re-enliven Jason. Again. He steals aboard a cruise ship bearing Crystal Lake’s graduating class to New York and one by one dispatches almost all of them. The survivors get on a lifeboat and miraculously make it to the Big Apple with, you guessed it, Jason in tow. Mayhem ensues and for once Jason is not killed.
Crystal Lake is his home, so he works his way back there from New York City, not knowing that the US army has set up a trap to catch and kill him once and for all. They effectively blow him to smithereens. They think he is dead, but his heart still beats. Back at the hospital, the coroner feels compelled to bite into Jason Voorhees still-beating heart and becomes Jason, although you wouldn’t know it unless you saw the coroner’s reflection. Jason jumps from body to body, his newest rampage with the mind to kill his long-lost sister, niece and her baby, or be reborn through them, as the legend goes. A bounty hunter, Duke, well-versed in the Jason mythology, has brought with him a special knife that will be the only weapon to kill Jason once and for all, but only if wielded by a blood relative.
As in the history of badass women killers in Jason’s life, she successfully stabs him and Hell rises to bring Jason down. The clawed hand of Freddy Krueger, along with his cruel laugh, make sure even his hockey mask is brought into the eternal furnace.
A bizarre offshoot of Jason’s tale finds him In a parallel universe, out in deep space, where his body is being prepared to be cryogenically frozen in order for scientists to study his incredible healing ability. Before the process can happen, Jason breaks free and, surprise surprise, kills everybody and finds himself back in Crystal Lake.
Back in reality, in Hell, Freddy Krueger is bloody pissed that children don’t remember him. “How can I make them afraid?!” He fumes, and finds his solution in the unbreakable Jason Voorhees. Freddy reincorporates Jason and sends him to Elm Street in order to stalk the children there, strike the fear of Freddy into them so that he can come back to haunt them in person. What Freddy the Pervert doesn’t take into account is, in spite of what everyone believes about Jason, our hockey-masked killer does have a mind and slashing urge of his own.
The children of Elm Street realize that Jason is their only ally against Freddy Krueger’s cruel nature. Thus begins an epic battle between Evil and Eviler. Who will prevail? The burn-scarred child molester or the unbeatable Jason monster? Or both?
Crystal Lake. The present. Jason encounters a woman who looks like his mother and, after killing all of her friends in some of his most memorable past ways (sleeping bag, machete through the head), chains her up in his basement as a living memorial. Two weeks after her disappearance the young woman’s estranged brother rides through Crystal Lake on a purr-worthy motorcycle trying to find her. He meets an entitled bunch of brats in town to spend the weekend in a lavish cabin, from where Jason picks them off one by one. Brother finds sister and they escape, only not far enough. I guess they didn’t know Jason always lives.
And that, my friends, is the end. Or is it?
The lessons we can learn from the sad and monstrous tale of Jason Voorhees are many-fold:
1) If you hadn’t learned the lesson from Blair Witch Project then it bears repeating: The woods may be lovely, dark and deep, but they are also dangerous, creepy and haunted. Stay the hell in the city. Unless it’s Manhattan.
2) Don’t mess with Mama.
3) If you’re taking a shower and the lights go out, put your clothes on BEFORE you leave the bathroom. Seems logical to me, but you’d be surprised how many women don’t seem to know this. Probably the same ones who think that leggings and tights can be worn as trousers.
4) Forget about everything the Scream films taught you. If a psycho-killer is on the loose, anyone and everyone is a target. Virgin, slut, nerd, mother, married, unmarried, celibate, smart, stupid, creative, strong, everyone is a potential victim. Act accordingly.
5) If your daughter is telekinetic, for God’s sake don’t beat your wife.
6) Always go to the bathroom in pairs, especially if you’re out in the middle of nowhere. See Lesson 1. And that includes men. Dude, get over yourself and your masculinity.
Oh good one Tommy Jarvis!!
7) The past belongs in the past. Twice Jason was resurrected because of people’s unresolved traumas. You need to sort that shit out and move forward. Filmmakers take note: A musical score can carry an entire film. Many of Jason’s stories were not good. At all. But in spite of what should have been an inherent weakness, I was still on the edge of my seat. BECAUSE of Harry Manfredini, Genius. His music carried films 1-7. If Manfredini had been involved in 8 & 9, oh I can only imagine how much better they would have been.
9) When you’re approaching menopause it’s probably not the best idea to breed. I’d recommend adoption. Or the simple coming to terms with the end of your youth. See Lesson 6 regarding masculinity.
10) Nobody should ever say “I’ll be right back” without at least a tinge of sarcasm. Without is surely a kiss of death. Just saying.
11) Don’t live in a town with an unkillable serial killer. You’d save yourself a whole lot of grief that way.
11a) Don’t move to a town if you know about said unkillable serial killer. I mean, really. What were you thinking? Ease off on the crack-smoking. Idiot.
13) Do not cannibalise another human being. Compulsion or not, I don’t care. You fight that urge with everything you got. You leave the room! You scream! You have an epileptic fit! Do. Not. Eat. Other. Humans!
14) Hauntings are real and must be respected.
15) The more power you give a fear-mongering legend the stronger the monster gets. I’m talking to you, American Government with your anti-anyone brown rhetoric.
16) Unprotected sex can kill.
17) Therapists really cannot be trusted to have your best interests in mind. Mostly they just want to sell you medicine. Or want to cut you up into pieces to study how your special bits work. Take heed.
18) In America these murderous rampages happen often. You can’t ever be fully prepared.
19) Adrenaline is potent stuff. You’ve got to fight the urge to run upstairs and instead run out the door. Get outside! Not upstairs!
20) Lady Gaga rocks. HA! Just wanted to see if you’re still reading! GOTCHA! BOO!
21) Don’t study mass murderers. Do not cryogenically freeze them. Do not lock them up. Shut the fuckers down. See 11a. Idiot.
22) Lakes may be idyllic, but who knows what monsters lurk underneath. Remember Lake Placid? Wasn’t so placid in the end, was it now? In fact, open bodies of water in general are good to avoid.
23) Abandoned buildings should stay that way. Respect signs that say “KEEP OUT!” Especially if you are drunk. Or stoned. Or on mushrooms. Whatever.
24) It’s really obvious if you’ve had a boob job. Nope, no such thing as natural-looking sillicone in your breasts. Just sayin’.
What would you add to this list?