Survival of the Outcasts

As Friday the 13th gets a reboot on the big screen, out film critic and Friday the 13th expert Peter M. Bracke takes a look back on Jason Voorhees.




How many people did you interview for the book? Over 200. I went overboard [laughs]. Some
people were really fun; the best were the actors and
actresses who had a sense of humor about it -- and
really embraced it. You know, “I did this crazy
movie when I was 18 and it’s bewildering to me that
fans care, but I’m glad they care.”
There are always a few people who are like, "That was
beneath me and I don’t want to talk about it." 

Horror has proved a fertile launching ground for
some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including
Kevin Bacon, who romped around in a Speedo in the
first Friday the 13th. But most of the
actors in the series have more or less
disappeared. For example, what happened to Adrienne
King, who played the spunky heroine Alice in the
first movie?
Well, Adrienne King is an interesting story. She
was a theater actress and dancer when she got the
part. Like everyone else involved in the making of it,
she didn’t think Friday would play
outside the drive-in. So when it proved to be a hit, it was
thrilling for her. But then she had (and she’s talked
about this openly) a stalker for, like, two years, and
that kind of sent her away from acting in high-profile
movies. She came back briefly for Friday the 13th Part
, but, um, she pretty much left the business and
now she paints and does a lot of other things. 

Yikes. Well, we wish her well. What about Amy
Steel, the tomboyish survivor of Part 2?
Amy Steel is more like everyone else, in the
sense that she got some other parts and was in other
movies. But it’s a hard business. You know,
1.1% of actors out there work, let alone become big stars.
Anyway, now she’s a therapist. 

Probably tending to people like us who like these
movies! Anyway, in a horror series, is the best part the
one with the best death scenes?
Well, that’s the thing about Friday
the 13th
that’s interesting. Unlike
Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street, the
first one isn’t really looked at as the best in
the canon. Everyone I talk to, fans and myself, think
there are little bits and pieces in all of them that you
like and really cool deaths in all of them. Jason’s
not even in the first one. 

Yeah, the original plays a bit like a low-rent
Agatha Christie murder mystery in which Jason’s
mother is revealed to be the killer at the very
end. Can you talk a little bit about the decision
to make Jason the killer in the subsequent films?
Sean Cunningham (the director of Friday
the 13th
) and Victor Miller (the first film's
screenwriter) didn’t like the idea of having
Jason be the killer in Part 2. They thought it
was silly; you know…he drowned! Sean
Cunningham’s idea was to make each new Friday
film a stand-alone with a different idea, you know,
like an anthology. But the backers, these guys based in
Boston, and Paramount were both like, "No, people want to
see a body count," so they hired a writer named Ron
Kurz, who talked with Steve Miner (the director
of Friday the 13th Part 2), and they
decided to say Jason didn’t really die. Basically,
that way they could repeat the same movie, but with
Jason as the killer. 

Tags: film