13 Fun Facts About The 'Friday the 13th' Franchise
Friday the 13th has arrived once again, and we’re dishing out fun facts like Jason Voorhees slashes through camp counselors!
The original film was being advertised before it had any funding.
In hopes of gaining publicity, Sean Cunningham, the producer/director of the original film, took out an ad in the July 4, 1979 edition of Variety. The advert featured the film’s now-iconic logo bursting through glass and proclaimed Friday The 13th "The Most Terrifying Film Ever Made". At the time the ad was published, only the general structure of the film was in place; nothing had yet to be filmed and a crew had yet to even be assembled.
“I loved the title, but the question was, could we use [it]?” Cunningham told Uproxx. “And really, what I wanted to see was if some lawyer was going to write me a letter saying, ‘You can’t do that, we own the title.’ And nobody did. In fact, the only correspondences I got were from distributors who were interested in buying it.”
So, I suppose we can thank this one ad for jump-starting the journey to making Crystal Lake a reality.
The camp is still functional.
Camp Crystal Lake is actually Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, a fully operational Boy Scout camp that the cast and crew were granted access to after campers left for the summer in 1979. It’s still in use today, and you can even find a souvenir shop with Friday the 13th merch on-site, including framed pieces of wood from the dock used in the film, and bottles of water “drawn from the lake where the Friday the 13th legend was born.” Sometimes, the camp even hosts Friday the 13th-themed tours that attract die-hard fans from all over the globe.
Lou Reed entertained the original film’s crew.
Because Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco was situated in the deep New Jersey woods and closed during the production, the cast and crew didn’t see much of the outside world. However, they did have a rock and roll legend living nextdoor. If you haven’t put it together already, that man was Lou Reed, and he owned a farm nearby the camp. Naturally, he caught wind of some hip action and strolled down to hang about the set.
“We got to watch Lou Reed play for free, right in front of us, while we were making the film,” soundman Richard Murphy said. “He came by the set and we hung around with each other and he was just a really great guy.”
Kevin Bacon’s death scene took hours to film and almost didn’t work.
When it comes to the original film, the most iconic death would probably be Jack, played by Kevin Bacon, who gets an arrow shoved through his throat from underneath the bed. With effects from the maverick Tom Savini, the moment is nothing short of brilliant and beautiful. It just so happened to also be the most complex death scene in the entire film.
In order to make it work, Bacon had to crouch under the bed and put his head through a hole in the mattress. A latex neck and chest was then attached to give the appearance that he was actually lying down. Getting everything set up correctly took hours apparently, and Bacon had to stay in an uncomfortable position the entire time. For the bloody climax, Savini (who also under the bed) would plunge the arrow up and through the fake neck, while his assistant, Taso Stavrakis (also under the bed), operated a pump that would make the fake blood flow up through the appliance.
After hours of set up, it was finally time to shoot the scene, but when the moment of truth came, the hose for the blood pump disconnected. Thinking swiftly, Stavrakis grabbed the hose and forcefully blew, causing a geyser of blood to jet out, saving the scene.
“I had to think quick, so I just grabbed the hose and blew like crazy which, thankfully, caused a serendipitous arterial blood spray,” Stavrakis said. “The blood didn’t taste that bad either.”
It’s a good thing he acted as quickly as he did because a second take would have meant another latex rig to be set up, which is too much to ask of Mr. Bacon.
Only three films in the franchise are set on Friday the 13th…
In the entire franchise, only Part I (1980), Part II (1981), and the Friday the 13th remake (2009) mention that the occurrences in the film take place on Friday the 13th. Part III takes place on Saturday, the 14th, for instance. Part IV takes place on Sunday and Monday. After that, it seems like the series' producers mostly abandoned the device.
…but five films had Friday the 13th release dates.
They were Part III (1982), The Final Chapter (1984), Part VII (1988), The Final Friday (1993), and the Friday the 13th remake (2009).
The horror icon almost went by a different name.
The name Jason is synonymous with Friday the 13th, but it wasn’t always supposed to be the character’s name. Nope, screenwriter Victor Miller’s first choice was a bit more vanila. To think, we almost had a hulking mass-murderer under the name of… Josh Voorhees… Thankfully, Miller wasn’t in love with the name either and changed it to the name we all know and love — or fear may be a better word — today.
Bonus bits: The name "Jason" is actually a combination of "Josh" and "Ian", which are the names of Miller's two sons. Also, “Jason” brings the full name to 13 characters coincidentally:
Jason wasn’t originally conceived as the franchise’s star…
Just like Halloween — which was what originally inspired Sean Cunningham to create this horror cash cow — Friday the 13th was originally intended to be an anthology series, with each subsequent film taking place on the titular superstitious date. However, as soon as Jason reemerged from the water of the original film to deliver the film’s final scare, he became the series focal point.
While the films abandoned the anthology structure, we did eventually get a Friday the 13th anthology series for TV — although, it was completely Jason-free.
…but he still holds the title as the most prolific horror movie murderer of all time.
Not only does Jason physically tower over other horror film icons, but according to Rotten Tomatoes he’s also the most prolific murderer out of the lot, with an estimated 146 kills to his name. It’s a staggeringly high body count, which is really only rivaled by Halloween’s Michael Myers, who trails behind with roughly 107 kills. Jason’s high volume mayhem also includes a lot of BRUTAL kills as well, such as spearing a couple together and chopping a body from the crotch down.
Jason has been portrayed by more than 10 actors.
Out of 12 Friday the 13th films, more than 10 actors have played Jason. A different actor played Jason in each of the first six movies, while Kane Hodder was Jason for four films (Part VII through Jason X). Part III’s Richard Brook and The Final Chapter’s Ted White are two of the most popular actors to play the machete-wielding hockey-mask murderer, but Kane Hodder is arguably the fan favorite.
In addition to playing Jason in the most films, Hodder also plays one of Jason’s victims. In Jason Goes to Hell, Hodder is Security Guard #2.
Jason wasn’t always deformed.
The horror icon we know and love is all thanks to practical effects wizard Tom Savini. Victor Miller initially wrote Jason as a normal-looking child, but the crew behind the film decided he needed to be deformed. Miller explained Jason was not meant to be a creature from the "Black Lagoon" in his script, and scripted Jason as a mentally disabled young boy; it was Savini who made Jason deformed, and his design was inspired by someone he knew as a child whose eyes and ears did not line up straight.
The original design called for Jason to have hair, but Savini and his crew opted to make him bald, so he would look like a "hydrocephalic, mongoloid pinhead", with a dome-shaped head. Savini created a plaster mold of actor Ari Lehman's head and used that to create prosthetics for his face. Lehman personally placed mud—from the bottom of the lake—all over his body to make himself appear "really slimy."
MTV gave Jason a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1992, despite not appearing on camera since 1988 when he “took” Manhattan in Friday The 13th Part VIII, the MTV Movie Awards presented Jason Voorhees with a Lifetime Achievement Award for — as host Dennis Miller phrased it — having a lasting “impact on the artform” of cinema. He was the first of only three completely fictional characters to be presented the award; Godzilla (1996) and Chewbacca (1997) are the others. Oddly enough, he was wearing a tuxedo and the guy behind the mask was Jon Lovtiz…
Jason’s got a thing for blondes.
There’s an odd pattern in the franchise, nearly every “final girl” has been blonde or some deviation of a blonde.
Friday The 13th – Alice Hardy (dirty blonde)
Friday The 13th Part II – Ginny Field
Friday The 13th Part III – Chris Higgins (dirty blonde)
Friday The 13th Part IV – Trish Jarvis
Friday The 13th Part V – Pam Roberts
Friday The 13th Part VI – Megan Garris
Friday The 13th Part VII – Tina Shepard
Friday The 13th Part IX – Jessica Kimble
Friday The 13th Part XI – Lori Campbell
Surviving one film doesn’t guarantee safety though. The surviving Alice Hardy (played by Adrienne King) from original film meets her demise immediately in the second film’s opening. Whether in Hell or in space, no one is safe from Jason’s wrath — but if you’re blonde you’ve got a better chance of getting away!
What do you think? Did we leave out your favorite fun fact? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!