Today, the staff of Daily Grindhouse is celebrating Jason Voorhees’ birthday the only way we know how: by listing our favorite deaths in the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise.
Jimmy (Crispin Glover), FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER
“Hey Ted, where the hell is the corkscrew?” Not the best last words anyone has uttered, but still memorable as Crispin Glover’s Jimmy meets his grisly end. Flying high after bedding one the sexy twins, Jimmy is feeling good about disproving Ted’s “dead fuck” theory before he literally becomes a dead fuck in the kitchen. FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER is my favorite of the franchise, and this one-two punch of a kill is a great example of why: it’s a pretty funny moment with a very weird delivery from Glover only to quickly be met with gruesome gore. The F/X were handled by Tom Savini, who only did the first FRIDAY THE 13TH and this one, and they are flawless if old-hat designs. The gushing blood and cleaver to the face just makes this an unbelievably harsh death to a rather sympathetic character (so charming with his dancing!) that shows how no one is safe from Jason’s wrath.
Paul (Alan Hayes), FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER
Paul in FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER finds his girlfriend lying dead in a raft in the middle of Crystal Lake and swims madly back to shore — only to be stabbed in the crotch by a spear gun, then lifted into the air by that impalement, then as a final insult, Jason fires the spear gun quarrel further in. YOW!!!
— CRAIG EDWARDS.
Mark (Tom McBride), FRIDAY THE 13th, PART II
Mark’s death in PART II always disturbed me. The logistics of the death aside, (how in all the shots we’re shown, do we NOT see Jason sneaking up on the poor wheelchair-bound chap?), but just how offensive it seems. The death is maybe the most graphic in the film overall. The way the special effect LOOKS, though only a glimpse we see, is enough to create some fucked up feelings. A handicapped young man, machete to the face, his lifeless body careening down a flight of stairs just creeps me out, man. Add to that, the real life story of the actor who played Mark, Tom McBride, a young gay actor who died relatively young from HIV related complications, and you’ve got a death that saddens me just as much as it gives me the willies.
Doug (Peter Barton), FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER
The FRIDAY THE 13th films were never necessarily known for being progressive. Throughout the ’80s, Jason Voorhees was seen as an angel of death, punishing teenagers for their indiscretions and lurid behavior… particularly young ladies. Slasher films as a whole were seen as exploiting violence towards women, despite most of these films ending with a “final girl” who survives the night and emerges victorious (at least until the final scare.) Joseph Zito’s THE FINAL CHAPTER features some of the franchise’s most brutal deaths (no wonder 90% of this list comes from that film), and one of the most cringe inducing is the murder of pretty boy Doug. Zito subverts the concept of the “scream queen” by taking “the prettiest guy with the most chiseled face” and having Jason mercilessly crush it against the tile. Playing on the vulnerable woman in the shower trope perfected by Hitchcock twenty-four years prior, the violent offing of Doug is oddly transgressive.
VR Teen Girl #1 (Kaye Penaflor) and VR Teen Girl #2 (Tania Maro), JASON X (2001)
It’s not an entry that is hugely beloved by the fans (because any that aren’t strictly “Jason kills teens in the woods” tend to get hate, even though there’s plenty of those to watch if that’s what they want), but I’m gonna go with JASON X.
(Not the cryogenic-freeze face smash either, although there’s no question that’s pretty phenomenal.)I’d pick the holodeck scene, where in order to buy time, the remaining cast members cue up a virtual reality scenario to occupy Uber Jason as long as possible. The two topless girls giving the one-two dialogue punch of “Hey, you wanna have some premarital sex?” — “Yeah, or smoke some pot?” — just kills me every time I see it.
A quick, clever little nod to the tropes the previous entries had repeatedly established in such a humorous fashion — followed immediately by our perpetually pissed off boy Jay revisiting the “smash sleeping bag with person inside it against a tree” kill from THE NEW BLOOD — is simply irresistible to me. I proudly love JASON X precisely because of moments like this, and I don’t care who knows it.
There’s a lot to love about JASON LIVES. From Jason’s resurrection by way of lightning bolt a la FRANKENSTEIN to the climactic showdown at the end between Jason and a grown up Tommy Jarvis, it’s a fun ride rife with comedy and of course brutality as the now supernatural Jason wreaks havoc on a group of new counselors…as well as a business group out on a paintball retreat. Out of all the kills in this one, believe me this was a tough call, local girl Nikki’s death is memorable for being abrupt but also cartoonishly over the top. The ever crafty and stealthy Jason hides on an RV which counselor Carter brings Nikki to for some of the usual wholesome fun you expect in these films. While he’s having a blast cranking tunes and driving the RV like a madman, Jason makes his move and pulls Nikki into the bathroom where he takes her by the back of the head and drives her face into the wall. The camera cuts to the other side of the wall and you see a grim outline of Nikki’s face mid scream as her face is crushed against it! Horrifying, abrupt, but also like something out of a Looney Tunes short. Pretty sure I’ve never seen this happen to someone having a door slammed shut on them while running full speed.
Interesting fact! This scene was originally going to be extended by having Jason proceed to ram his machete through adding injury to more injury. Personally I think the death works fine without the machete and it would have taken away the swiftness and the efficiency of Jason’s kill.
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), FREDDY VS. JASON
I’m a bad fan, maybe. While I admire the devious creativity of slasher-film writers and the straight-up artistry of FX technicians, the truth is that I have little thirst for blood. I would be run right out of most gorehound circles for being too soft. I don’t watch horror movies wanting to see new and original ways of murder being perpetrated. I watch horror movies hoping to see all the potential victims survive, with very rare exceptions. Take HALLOWEEN as the most durable example. I don’t root for Michael Myers to ratchet up the body count. I root for Laurie Strode to survive. But okay, so does everybody. It’s easy to root for Laurie. She’s JLC, she’s great. But I’m also rooting for Annie and for Lynda. Sure, Annie is pretty damn annoying (“Lind-SEYYY!”) but that shouldn’t be a death sentence or else half the world qualifies, and I definitely don’t run with the puritanical line of thought that wants to see Lynda punished for having premarital sex – even if she chooses to do it with a doorknob like Bob. I just don’t enjoy seeing a hulking maniac going after young women who are unarmed and unprepared. That’s not just chivalry; it’s a hopelessly innate sense of fairness.
[Of course, I fucking love ultraviolent action movies. I’ll watch entire armies of dudes getting chopped up. Kung fu epics, Westerns, urban vigilante pictures, I’m there. Double-standard? Maybe. Go figure.]
All of that is to say I have to dodge the question – I don’t have a favorite kill in the FRIDAY THE 13TH series, at least not in the sense that I watch those movies in order to revel in the unfortunate fate of the victims of Jason Voorhees. Well, maybe there’s one…
In FREDDY VS. JASON, Jason ends up in battle with one of the few movie monsters who deserves dismemberment arguably more than he himself does – Freddy Krueger – and Jason provides exactly that. So that’s my answer. Freddy. Sorry if that’s a cheat. Fuck you, Fred!