The FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise has yielded 12 films, a (now-defunct) tv show, novelizations, comic books, a video game, and a treasure trove of merchandise. Jason Voorhees has skyrocketed to infamy while leaving behind a bloody trail of victims in his wake. He’s been hanged, hacked, stabbed, shot, impaled, and took a boat propeller to the face. The dude’s been ejected into space. The son of Pamela Voorhees isn’t the only hardy character in the series, however. Jason also has an ever-growing list of Final Girls That Got Away. Some were saved by the menfolk, others by sheer dumb luck, but there is one lady who put her wits against Jason’s brawn and came out of Crystal Lake intact. As we celebrate the first Friday the 13th of 2017, let’s give due praise to the greatest Horror Heroine of the franchise, Ginny “The Shrink” Field.
Ginny (played by a feisty Amy Steel), in second entry of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series, is a flipped trope right off the bat. She’s non-chaste, unconventionally athletic, and is not afraid to wield a weapon, be it a chainsaw, a pitchfork, or the killer’s own machete. Even without weapons, she manages to neutralize the threat (albeit temporarily) with a swift kick to the nards. It was a split-second decision on her part, but at the very least, the man who had just slaughtered a camp full of teenagers had take a minute to regroup. That moment alone skyrocketed Ginny to top-tier Final Girl status in my book. Lest you call her one-dimensional, she cowers under a bed and promptly urinates herself when simultaneously faced with a stalking Jason and scampering rodents. Not exactly a fearless ice queen, but humanized nonetheless.
Her keen perception makes her a formidable adversary for Jason. When she and Paul come back to camp after a nice evening of drinks and psychoanalysis, Ginny is the one whose situational awareness kicks in at the cabin, prompting her to scan the darkened room and alert her friend that something’s up. As Paul fumbles around blindly, Ginny reiterates her point with a bit more urgency with the now-classic line, “Paul, there’s someone in this fucking room!” Really, if drafthouse theaters were to screen this film at midnight ROCKY HORROR-style, that line would be the one that the audience gleefully shouts at the screen.
It’s also through her earlier psychoanalysis that she’s able to penetrate Jason’s psyche, and determine that he’s a mama’s boy who would listen only to his mother. When she saw Pamela Voorhees’ sweater sitting on the altar during her evasion of Voorhees, she didn’t hesitate. She pulled that moldy old rag over her head and got into character. At first, Jason continued advancing on the weary heroine, but she kept at it and put on her Mom voice. “Jason, Mother is talking to you!” He lowers his weapon and eyes her curiously, then complies, kneeling before her. Alas, before she can bring down her own blade, he catches a glimpse of Mother’s severed head and snaps back into reality, taking a chunk of Ginny’s leg for his troubles. Standing tall and keeping a clear head in the face of immediate danger, our girl Ginny earns her survival.
It is worth noting here that Ginny is saved by a man, and therefore doesn’t meet the standards of a feminist heroine. I was given a sound all-caps scolding by fellow female genre fans when I sung Ginny’s praises a year ago, for this very reason. It is true that Paul came to her rescue once in Jason’s shack, jumping on his back just after Voorhees put a nasty gash in her leg with his pickax. He presumably saved her again at the end after Jason plowed through a window and tried to drag her away (though, according to the F13 documentary CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES, whether or not this part was a dream was purposely ambiguous). To me, that’s nothing more than a lost side skirmish in a larger and much more empowering battle in this character’s portrayal. To the patriarchy-dismantling naysayers, I offer the reminder that some of our most revered Horror Heroines and Final Girls were rescued by men at the last moment: had it not been for Dr. Loomis and his trusty sidearm, Laurie Strode would’ve most certainly fallen victim to Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN; after destroying the queen’s eggs, Ellen Ripley and Newt of ALIENS would have both perished in the flames if Bishop wasn’t there to whisk them away in his craft.
Game over, man.
These gals are more than their final moments with the antagonist. The aid rendered to them doesn’t lessen their badassery in any way; they’re still considered some of our favorite examples of tough women who came out on top. When all is said and done, Ginny’s careful analysis and clever chutzpah more than made up for her damsel-in-distress turnabout during the film’s third act. Simply put, she fought hard for her survival and stands head and shoulders above any other heroine of the F13 franchise.
Ginny Field (hopefully Dr. Field by now), on this Friday the 13th of 2017, we in the horror community salute you.