Friday the 13th would launch its first salvo on May 9, 1980. There could be no denying that it was pinning its hopes on the success of Halloween. Like any decent imitator, it would not only honor its predecessor, but add its own mark.
While this franchise has an identifiable and recurrent antagonist, it began differently. Friday the 13th introduced the ultimate deranged soccer mom: Mrs. Voorhees. This non-descript, middle-aged woman was out to avenge the death of her son Jason. Her anguishes centered on the fact that her son drowned in Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the camp counselors.
Friday the 13th”s “greatest” contribution to the genre would-be the double ending. Until this franchise, a film’s particular “nasty” could not be considered dispatched until the sun had risen and mellow orchestral music played in the background of the soundtrack. After Mrs. Voorhees” nasty decapitations, the vestal heroine pushes out onto the serene waters of Crystal Lake. The dawn comes, police arrive...cue music. Then, in a cinematic heart stopping milestone, a young Jason erupts from the water and grabs said heroine. (Authors note: some may argue that Stephen King’s Carrie did the same, but it was a dream sequence, and therefore, not the same.)
Jason would make his return in the sequels. He would be imbued with the same indestructibility as Michael Meyers. However, Jason would not establish trademarked hockey mask identity until the fourth installment of the franchise. But, his body count would be much greater.
Jason would quickly surpass Michael in sequels as well as “creative” violence. It was no longer okay to just impale or slit a throat. The promiscuous teen population was now in dire jeopardy.
So called horror films were leaving behind the monsters. Instead, it was now the creepy kid that everyone teased...Columbine High School..., the reclusive outcast at the end of the street...Wesley Allen Dodd; the quiet family man next door...the Green River Killer. Monsters were being killed off by something far more lethal than silver, or sunlight, or wooden stakes. They were being dethroned by one of nature’s most vile denizen’s: man.
Behind it all, something lurked in the shadows. Its infectious bite was incurable and spreading. Much like its Caribbean namesake, it was being ignored by the general population...and it was growing stronger.