Chasing After Jason

October 13, 2023 —
My eldest had been asking me to do it for a long time. “Can we watch all the Friday the 13th movies?” She had gotten into slashers ever since she saw Scream (and that was the first series that we watched from beginning to end together, with her watching them all for the first time and me rewatching them all for the nth time until we arrived at a mutual first viewing of Scream VI this year). But I have no idea why she was focused on that movie series specifically. Maybe it was because her father shared a name with the killer. Maybe Jason Voorhees, with his hockey mask and camp setting, is the most iconic of the slashers. Doesn’t matter. And while it was a messy time for us for much of this year, we were finally able to marathon all twelve in August. At least, that’s what we called it in my day. People call it binging now. Binging sounds way less healthy than marathoning. So I guess that’s maybe more accurate.

Now this was a movie-watching event. No mere popcorn and lights out on the couch would do. First, we had to prepare the room. And we did that by building our own Jason. I had a mask of his lying around, so we took a tailor’s dummy that I bought to display a coat owned by Ray Bradbury, topped it by a plastic pumpkin wrapped in a black shirt, stuck the mask on it, dressed it in one of my coats, and then gave him a bloody machete from one of my daughter’s previous Halloween costumes.

We just needed the blue fairy to make it a real boy.

We then lit the room with red LEDs. In hindsight, Jason is probably more a blue or green light guy (for water or forest, respectively), but you can’t go wrong with red for a slasher. And, after we put a couple of Jason action figures on the shelf beneath the TV, it was time for us campers to go back to 1980 and visit Camp Crystal Lake.

We watched the first four movies in one sitting. I don’t remember the last time I watched four movies in a row like that. Heck, I don’t remember the last time that I didn’t fall asleep at the beginning of Act 3 in a single movie. But it was a lot of fun. And it reminded me of the early days when I first got into horror movies. I’ve written about that before, but, in summary, I was late to that Halloween party and then marathoned/binged everything during the summer breaks of my college days until I earned multiple PhDs in horror.

At one point I told my daughter the same thing, that I used to watch all my horror movies this way. All I needed was Cherry 7UP, UTZ rippled barbeque potato chips, and gummy peach rings for it to mirror the conditions.

“Let’s go get some!” she immediately said. So we did.

For the next leg of our marathon a day or two later, we picked those snacks up. In the red light, the Cherry 7UP looked clear instead of pink and the peach rings white instead of yellow, as did the yellow and orange UTZ bag. And it was a real moment for me. I mean, here I was in 2023, my family in shambles and my oldest daughter at my side, shotgunning Friday the 13th movies while eating the same snacks I did when I was 20 and single and in the attic of my parent’s house in the middle of a cornfield shotgunning Friday the 13th movies. It was like two markers in a timeline, a rare and mystical moment of sync, like the pages of my life were transparent and overlayed, and it allowed for a little bit of bitter reflection. But also some wonder.

I enjoyed watching her go through all the revelations of the series for the first time. “It was his mother? I totally forgot Scream spoiled that for me.” “Oh, here’s when he finally gets his hockey mask.” “Wait, I thought this took place in Manhattan.” “He’s going to space?” “Was that Freddy Krueger’s glove? And, of course, she didn’t have to wait a decade for that latter scene to get paid off in 2003’s Freddy versus Jason.

We ended up finishing the series upstairs at another TV—which I’d forgotten until I looked at the collage of title screens that my daughter had made. Unsure why we did that. I think sometimes you just need to come up for air from a basement, as cozy as it is and even with a hockey goalie-masked serial killer staring at you as you watch his greatest kills (“Dude, that goalie was pissed about something.”).

We both agreed on liking VI the best (which was where I stood before this marathon), with Part 2 being the runner up for me, I think. My daughter went crazy while we were watching the remake because it starred one of her favorite actors, Jared Padalecki, of Supernatural fame.

I think my personal revelations on this rewatch were that the 2009 remake wasn’t as bland as I remembered it, and, honestly, its Jason might be my favorite of all the designs and actors. Also, I really love that Jason Takes Manhattan turned Jason into a sea monster. He was drenched that entire movie as he ravaged that fog-shrouded boat. They should have strung seaweed all over him.

But the biggest revelation of all was how much fun it was to watch all twelve movies. It didn’t turn into a slog even once and I didn’t catnap a single time (that I remember). It was just a blast. But that might have had nothing to do with the movies.