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.




The later entries in the series took Jason out of
his Crystal Lake element and thrust him into Manhattan
and outer space. Would you like to see Jason cut a
swath through any particular place? A Taliban
campground, perhaps?
Actually, no. I’m a traditionalist. I
like the camp setting. The early movies work so well
because that’s what’s fun -- seeing kids go
back to a campground with this legend and
they’re too stupid not to go. I feel like when
they take him out of Crystal Lake it gets kind of gimmicky.
Some people I’ve talked to want to see Jason in
the snow, like have a film set during winter time.
That might be interesting. 

Oh, I like that, a frozen Crystal Lake -- I
can already picture a death-by-ice-skates sequence.
Anyway, any thoughts on why the horror genre is critic-proof?
Horror is sort of like comedy. What makes you
laugh makes you laugh; what makes you scared makes you
scared. It doesn’t matter what any critic says.
If you like roller coasters or jumping out of airplanes, no
one can convince you otherwise. 

Horror movies are pretty primal. Basically, you get
to cheat death while watching others fail. Splat!
Slasher movies are, by their nature, for younger
people, not for 40-, 50-year-old critics. When
you’re 18, 19, the idea of untimely death is
scary. I think when you’re 50 and you have your own
kids and you’re dealing with aging and your own
parents dying, a guy in a hockey mask isn’t
really scary anymore. You have other things to fear and
worry about. 

Now, we know Jason likes to swing an ax. Any
theories on which way he swings it, if you know what I mean?
The interesting thing is, and some of the
series’ screenwriters and I have talked about
this: Jason doesn’t really have a sexual component.
He doesn’t rape. He’s almost like a kid,
an overgrown kid; he’s presexual. There was
actually a cut ending to Friday the 13th:The Final Chapter [the fourth film] in
which Jason is fighting with the heroine, Trish, and
gets sexually aroused and that distraction allows
Tommy Jarvis to kill him. But the producers didn’t
like that idea. They wanted to keep him asexual. 

I remember as an undergrad stumbling on this
super-esoteric book exploring the connection between gay
men and horror -- any thoughts on why gays love horror?
Slasher movies have a big gay following. I have
theories, which are always fun. You should listen to
the commentary I did for the Blu-ray and DVD of part
1. I talk about that. But yeah, as a gay kid, I grew up
relating to the main girl character. I didn’t care
about seeing big-breasted women naked and I
didn’t relate to Jason. For me, it was more
about the lead girl who was kind of different, kind of
boyish. She wasn’t out having sex and all that
kind of stuff. She was smarter, never part of the main
social group. The popular kids all got killed. It was
always the weird outcasts that survived, which was appealing
to me. Being different and being outside the group is
what gave you strength: That spoke to me. And it seems
like all the gay fans I meet, they remember Amy Steel
and Adrienne King -- that’s who they talk about. They
don’t care about Jason’s mask.

Tags: film