It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake. Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake. This month we tackle the horror classic, Friday the 13th.
Usually, I include Catie’s Homeade Summary that applies to both films. But this time, I tweaked it just a bit:
A group of young adults is terrorized by a killer at Crystal Lake and the nearby deserted summer camp.
Before I begin, let me first mention that I love Friday the 13th—not just the movie franchise—but the actual date itself. But when I think about it, maybe I love it when a Friday lands on the thirteenth of a month because I automatically associate the day as a scary day because of the horror movie and its subsequent sequels. Regardless, I’m a fan… When I see that a particular Friday actually falls on the thirteenth, I hit the television and search immediately for a Friday the 13th marathon. Sadly, not many stations actually take the opportunity to air an all-day and all-night marathon of Jason Voorhees movies; and if I ever run a TV station, this will be one of my first orders of business.
Friday the 13th is a classic and Catie said it best in her blog post discussing the original—if anyone considers themselves to be a horror buff and they have not seen this movie, shame on them. Because of this movie, there have been many instances in real life where I have felt uncomfortable—like when I stayed at a week-long Athletic Training Camp at Prude Ranch in high school; I heard noises outside my cabin… and I really didn’t want to shower out there—or anytime I go to a lake; one never knows what or who’s lurking in that dirty water—or when I camped overnight at Palo Duro Canyon in college; I heard noises in the dry, dead brush all around us the entire time. Thanks a lot, Jason.
One might ask, if the 1980 film is so great, why remake it? Well, I don’t feel Friday the 13th (2009) is an actual remake… it’s more a re-envisioning of the first few films in the franchise. The writers did a fantastic job creating somewhat of a new story all its own, while still incorporating many elements of the other films and the classic horror movie rules.
Let’s talk about the similarities—things that if were missing from the film would not make a Friday the 13th movie complete:
The Curse of Camp Crystal Lake:
It all started in 1980, when innocent camp counselors worked to open an old camp site; a camp that had been closed after a young boy, Jason Voorhees, drowned in the lake. How did Jason drown? Two camp counselors that were supposed to watch him decided to have sex instead. Devastated by her son’s death, Jason’s mother took matters into her own hands to ensure the camp didn’t open again—to protect other children from counselors who were more interested in their summer shenanigans than watching the children. One by one, she stalked the unaware teenagers, placing blame on each of them for her son’s death. Mrs. Voorhees managed to brutally murder each counselor—all except for one. Alice managed to escape Mrs. Voorhees’ murderous rampage and turned the tables on the crazed mother. In what began the true Friday the 13th style, Alice decapitated Mrs. Voorhees’ with a machete. Thus, we have the Curse of Camp Crystal Lake.
Jason, the mask, and the machete:
Jason Voorhees remains one of the most frightening characters today. He’s gigantic, has super strength, obtains supernatural abilities, and isn’t afraid to kill. He always has his machete, but he will also never shy away from bows and arrows, spears, pitchforks or chainsaws—anything that will cut right through his victims.
“Ki ki ki, ma ma ma” – The dreadful, eerie, creepy music. There have been many debates over what the actual sounds of the Jason music are. The ‘ki’ sound comes from the word ‘kill’ and the ‘ma’ sound from ’mommy’—a line in the original movie spoken by Mrs. Voorhees in her child’s voice: “Kill her mommy!”
Even the murders mirror classic Jason killings from a few of the earlier movies: a machete chop through the head; a machete stab through the chest and into a tree; an arrow through the head; a metal hook through the throat; a towel rack and an ax through the back; and a fireplace stoker through the eye. Okay; it’s been a while since I’ve seen all of the Jason movies, but all of these kills at least seemed familiar… next Friday the 13th, hopefully I’ll find a marathon so that I can confirm that all of these tactics have indeed previously taken the lives of a few other teenagers in Jason’s way.
The re-envisioning also incorporates a few of the franchise’s key moments: a shrine to Jason’s mother with her decapitated head as the centerpiece, showing his love and dedication to her, and also Jason’s finding an old hockey mask to cover his disfigured face. We also see the classic horror elements Catie listed in her post: the prior “evil” events at Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, and the fact that help is not coming.
Next, let’s go over the horror movie rules present in Friday the 13th (2009) just in case someone isn’t quite familiar:
- Don’t show your breasts. Show your breasts, and die.
- Don’t have sex. Everyone knows that the second a couple fornicates, they die.
- Don’t drink or do drugs. Intoxicate yourself in any way, and die.
Now, let’s switch gears and discuss cast and characterization.
Catie mentioned that the cast of the original was primarily a group of relatively unknown actors. One of Jason’s victims back in 1980 may not have been well known then, but he’s a huge Hollywood star today—Kevin Bacon. How many times have we seen someone’s starring in a slasher film actually launch their career? But I digress…
Unlike the original, the 2009 version stars many familiar faces: Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), Danielle Panabaker (Shark), Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist), Travis Van Winkle (Transformers), and Willa Ford (ex-wife to hockey super-star, Mike Modano and former Dancing with the Stars contestant). Each of these actors and actresses can be described as easy on the eyes, or eye candy—a feature that doesn’t hurt when deciding which movie to go see…
And where the casting can affect whether or not I’m interested in seeing the movie, the characterization determines whether or not I enjoy the movie—usually. In the case of horror films and slashers, I usually can’t empathize with many of the characters. In other words, I don’t mind the fact that I know each and every one of them are about to be hacked into pieces. However, I can list four characters in Friday the 13th (2009) that I actually liked:
- Clay, the hero—the good guy on a mission to find his missing sister and protect as many as he can in the meantime.
- Jenna, the nice girl—the girl with substance, unlike her partying friends, who wants to help others and not only protect herself.
- Whitney, the damsel—the girl that even though held captive, plays her captor like a fiddle to prolong her survival.
- Jason, the killer—the poor, lost soul who wants to follow his mother’s orders (“Kill for mother.”), protect his land (“They must be punished, Jason.”), and be left alone (“We just want to be left alone, and so does he.”). He may be a serial killer, but viewers see a side of Jason we’ve never seen before… more of a “why” he does what he does.
As usual, Michael Bay’s production does not disappoint. That’s right—Michael Bay. Many associate his name with major motion picture action and drama masterpieces (Transformers, Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, etc…), but he also co-owns the production house responsible for so many of our favorite remakes (A Nightmare on Elm Street, and last month’s feature, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Mr. Bay may be one of my favorite producers in Hollywood now simply for this reason.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of the crazed, movie-goers that attended the premiere of Friday the 13th on Friday, February 13, 2009. How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to see a Friday the 13th film on Friday the 13th? I couldn’t… so I coaxed my guy into taking me by playing the Valentine/birthday card. While he tolerated it (he’s not into slashers and horror like I am), the film didn’t disappoint this Friday fan. I enjoyed all of the classic elements of the older versions, as mentioned above, but especially and most recognizably the ending—Jason’s resurrection after being buried in the water, from which he rises and grabs a survivor before the screen fades to black… Did you jump? I sure did! Now that’s my kind of ending…
What do you think? Have you seen either the original or the “remake” of Friday the 13th? If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why? If you haven’t, do you want to? I’d love to hear from you!
Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.