Seriously Though, This Is My Last FRIDAY THE 13TH Post of the Year

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This has been sort of a lost weekend for me. I’ve luxuriated in supremely cool weather while enjoying good food and the Friday the 13th Blu-ray box set. Inspiration has compelled me to unload a small treasure trove of F13 odds and ends while it’s still technically Sunday in this country. I’ll be going movie by movie.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Sean S. Cunningham knew he wanted to make a cheap knock-off of John Carpenter’s mega-smash Halloween in order to take care of his family and associates, but all he had was a prospective title. Good enough for the enterprising young filmmaker to take out a full page ad in Variety announcing the imminent start of production for the movie that he would be his greatest contribution to cinema history.

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Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

The Friday franchise had has its share of scenes cut from their final films, usually due to gore effects that couldn’t evade the self-appointed guardians of morality at the MPAA. Part II featured a scene where two rutting camp counselors make like a turkey club sandwich with Jason’s spear playing the role of the toothpick. That scene was ripped directly from Mario Bava’s classic giallo Bay of Blood, but in the version of Part II released theatrically and home video the double murder was heavily truncated. Still photos of the scene have surfaced over the years – one even made it to the back of the VHS box art – though it is widely believed the deleted footage is forever lost. I doubt it is any more chilling and gruesome than Bay of Blood, which is the better film anyway. Here is a behind-the-scenes image of Part II‘s version of the death scene being filmed.

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Friday the 13th Part III 3-D (1982)

The make-up for Jason (played here by the late Richard Brooker) was originally designed by long-departed visual effects genius Stan Winston (pictured at the top of this article). It was a simple pull-over mask that would have presented audiences with a less grotesque but much meaner-looking Mr. Voorhees than what was seen in the movie, but though it could be briefly glimpsed in a few shots the decision was made by the producers to go with a look that adhered to the continuity established by the first two Friday movies. This is one of the rare moments in the history of the series that a Friday the 13th sequel was concerned with the issue of continuity. Remember that Tommy Jarvis aged from a elementary school kid in The Final Chapter to a full-grown adult in Jason Lives….two films later.

The Winston-designed Jason was the one used for Part III‘s original ending, which had final girl Chris (Dana Kimmell) waking up in the morning after supposedly killing the masked maniac, going back to the farmhouse, and opening the door to find a still-alive Jason. He promptly grabs her by the hair and with one mighty machete whack takes her pretty little head clean off. That scene was replaced with an odd dream sequence that had Chris being pulled out of a canoe and into the lake by Jason’s mummified dead mother, her previously severed head mysteriously reattached. The cut footage looks likely to never be unearthed – never say never though – but stills from the alternate ending showing Winston’s unused contribution to the Friday the 13th series in all of its hideous splendor have made their way online over the years.

This alternate conception of Jason looks very interesting, more like a demonic warrior from an 1980’s role-playing game than a backwoods mongoloid psychopath.

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Another scene cut from Part III had Chris and Rick (Paul Kratka) having a run-in with crazy-eyed loon Abel (David Wiley). In defiance of yet another case of the footage being lost or destroyed still photos were assembled into a video flip book and posted to YouTube. Hard to say what the scene was about, but the character was such a poor imitation of Crazy Ralph from the first two movies that his lone appearance in the released movie was already one scene too many.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

The fourth installment of the series had some of the bloodiest kills to escape the wrath of the censors, but what ended up on screen were only mere milliseconds of the tireless effects work accomplished by Tom Savini and his talented crew (that included future Hollywood FX industry heavy-hitters like Alec Gillis and Kevin Yagher). The 2009 DVD and recent Blu-ray release of The Final Chapter feature a fifteen minute reel of silent outtakes from the filming of those death scenes, with commentary by director Joseph Zito.

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

This is a rare trailer for the infamous fifth entry that was long regarded as the black sheep of the Friday series until Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Goes to Hell came along. It was prepared for movie theater owners and executives at Paramount Pictures and features some dialogue not heard in the released film, as well as a strange use of music composed by James Horner for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Even more interesting, this trailer is edited to suggest the original intention of making Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) the successor to Jason’s violent legacy.

Might as well include Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s review of A New Beginning. D’ya think they liked it?

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

As initially conceived by writer-director Tom McLoughlin, the ending of Jason Lives would have introduced a new character in Jason’s father Elias. This was presumably a set-up for a future sequel story line and McLoughlin was looking forward to filming the scene, but Paramount nixed the concept. For the 2009 DVD and current Blu-ray releases storyboard artist Crash Cunningham created a series of drawings to present the unfilmed final scene as it would have appeared in the movie.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

The 2009 DVD and current Blu-ray releases both include a reel of deleted scenes introduced by director John Carl Buechler. These are mostly superfluous character beats, but the serious meat of the cut scenes comes in the form of some juicy gore effects footage that was removed from the final film at the risk of an “X” rating.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

To promote the movie actor/stuntman Kane Hodder appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show….in full Jason get-up. Proving that the character could be either scary or hilarious depending on the location and context, Hodder utters not a single word throughout the “interview”, preferring to let the host bounce countless quips off his unblinking person.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

The ending with Jason getting dragged to hell by a group of monstrous, oversized hands originally featured some noticeable stop-motion animation. This has never been seen on any video or DVD release and was taken from a bootleg workprint in circulation practically since the movie’s brief theatrical run.

I’m skipping Freddy Vs. Jason and the 2009 rebootquel since there isn’t much from the making and promotion of those movies that has been extensively documented over the years.

Until next time, “ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma”…..

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