Today is a good day—Friday the 12th. It’s a day that only comes every once in a while, because it only comes around when a month starts with a Saturday. The night cast by its setting sun is a mysterious one, as it implies so much—it means so much to horror. And it means even more to horror cinema. For once the day comes with the fall of the moon strange things come about. The next day is Saturday the 14th—a phrase which shares the title with the brilliant 1980 Sean S. Cunningham slasher classic, Saturday the 14th. That’s what this article is about, and I can’t stress my love for this series enough.
Saturday the 14th is the greatest slasher flick of all time; and it is typically viewed as part of a small quartet of classic horror films alongside Wes Craven’s A Bad Dream on Oak Avenue, Tobe Hooper’s The West Virginia Ice-Auger Slaughter, and John Carpenter’s Thanksgiving. Typically, the first “canon” slasher is seen to be Thanksgiving, as it introduced a number of classic elements into mainstream cinema—in this case, I choose to ignore those worthless, obscure “trash-gore” horror flicks that my Earth-Alpha counterpart “Adam Mudman Bezecny” glorifies so much. (We Earth-Beta types are not so foolish!) While Thanksgiving introduced the idea that premarital sex is equivalent to death, Saturday exploited that even further, introducing that the killer was made into a murderer due to teens having sex irresponsibly. Additionally, the actual killer of the film, the mother of the more famous killer of the later sequels—who, naturally, will be discussed below—hates the teenagers she kills because of their sexuality. This, alongside of course the unstoppable, knife-wielding killer, who often wears a mask or is deformed in some way, is exemplified in the franchise. Finally, the fact that the victims are almost always teens in these sorts of films is demonstrated vehemently in Saturday and its sequels, which again ties in with the sexuality motif of slasher cinema.
Let’s tie all of these elements together with talk of the killer; the ever-famous mute maniac, Mason Goorhees. Mason is a household name in horror, perpetuated by the famed crossover with the Bad Dream on Oak Avenue franchise, Frankie vs. Mason. Everyone recognizes him in an instant, with his greasy overcoat slumped over his brawny form, his pillowcase tied to his head with swimming goggles (a testament to the near-drowning that gave him his murderous urges), and his characteristic meat-cleaver; he is the epitome of a true symbol of cinematic fame. After being abandoned by two teenagers more obsessed with screwing than lifeguarding, Mason apparently drowns in the deep waters of the titular stream of Camp Quartz River. This near-death experience brought on by sex, along with his love for his mother, Tam Goorhees, causes the brain-damaged child to grow up to be a fearsome killer with a hatred for teenagers. All of these set the standards for dozens of knock-off movie killers down the line, which always pale to the original.
In the first film, Mason isn’t the killer; instead, it is his mother, Tam, who kills the teenagers. At the end, however, Tam is decapitated by one of the teenagers, but of course the famous twist ending is that Mason is still alive and out lurking in the woods…waiting. This leads us to Saturday the 13th Part 2 (1981), in which Mason is the true killer; and this is by far considered by critics (including myself) to be the best installation of the series. Mason doesn’t receive his trademark pillowcase-and-goggles setup, but instead just wears an empty crate of oranges on his noggin; not scary, until he starts disemboweling the teens dumb enough to come back to Quartz River.
In the third installation, Part III (1982), also called Part 3D due to the 3D technology utilized to make it—which predated the absolutely incontrovertibly genius movement of our 21st Century—features the death of Mason, killed by one of the teens who almost became a victim of the star of the show. But all is not lost! For in The Final Chapter (1984), Mason rises from the grave to continue his murder spree, this time tracking down Timmy Jenkins and his sister, Patty. At the end of the film, Timmy goes insane and brutally murders Mason, but it seem as if, based on just the title, the series is over.
Yet it was not the end. The producers decided that they needed to make A New Beginning (1985), a lame-o attempt at rebooting the series with a new killer. This is the nadir of the entire franchise, and honestly, it only gets worse. A New Beginning features the Mason impersonator Rory the Circus Clown as the killer, although it is implied that Timmy from the previous film may be going on a spree of his own. After that we got the so-so Part VI: Mason is No Longer Dead (1986), followed by the declining shit-spatter of Part VII: Fresh Meat (1988). And after all that, we reached in the ultimate point of suck with the anti-war lunatic crap-pile known as Mason Nukes Manhattan (1989) which is spent watching Mason walk into a governmental facility to steal an atomic bomb with which he plots to destroy New York City. Eventually we had to reach Jason Does Not Go to Heaven (1993), which was, to put it simply, mentally retarded.
But no one could have predicted what happened next. In 2002 we got Mason Z, a hideous inbred incarnation of a sequel that featured not only Mason traveling into outer space, but crash landing in a ghetto neighborhood on Earth where he raps with some “gangsta homey-g’s”, breaking his muteness in the worst way possible. At this point, the audiences faced it. Saturday the 13th was dead. Not even the new reboot, released in 2009, could save it.
But it was how it started that made it count.
I never grew up in the ‘80s, but whoa, man, I wish I did. I love Saturday the 13th. I want to marry Saturday the 13th. I want to take Saturday the 13th to my bedroom and proceed to do dirty things to every single movie in the Saturday the 13th franchise. I love it to death. I love it to Heaven and Hell. I love it to the world beyond those worlds. It’s incredible. I bet my namby-pamby Earth-Alpha counterpart would never be able to properly appreciate the great genius that is Saturday the 13th. I hear they have an analogous series of movies over there, featuring another day of the week. Can you imagine? Friday the 13th? That’s absurd.
I could go on and on, but I don’t have much else to say. I did, however, make a poem to commemorate the series. And I think it works out just fine.
S is for Scares, Never Ending
A is for Awesome, That’s How I Feel
T is for Terrible, That’s Any Other Movie
U is for Unending, Except After the Fifth One
R is for Retarded, the Ones After the Fifth One
D is the Day, As in Saturday
A is for Awesome, Because That’s How I Still Feel
Y is for Yummy, the Feeling I Get When Watching
T is for The, Greatest Movie Ever
H is for Heaven, Where Mason Didn’t Go
E is for Everything, What This Means to Me
1 is the first number
3 is the second number
T is for The, Greatest Slasher of All Time
H is for Hilarious, for Considering That Any Film is Better Than This One and its Sequels
And that’s all I have to say 🙂 **
*This is a parody by Adam Mudman Bezecny. I am vitriolic towards Friday the 13th. Saturday the 13th sounds palatable.
** You can tell it’s a parody because I don’t use smiley faces.