The following journal contains accounts of rape, abuse, suicide, and other disturbing content. Caution is advised.
The time-lapse between Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Goes to Hell was significant, but much more so was the period between Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X — nine years. That was an eternity in dog years and in my years as well.
Between the premiere of Jason Goes to Hell in August 1993 and Jason X in April 2002, I had drifted, as so many creative people do, into working a decent steady job and maintaining anything approaching a normal existence. It happens. People have to pay their bills. Loved ones come first, family comes first, and you end up drifting. I drifted away from horror during a pretty brutal period for the genre in the early 1990s. A few projects would catch my interest, but by 1995, I was ready for the day job, moving out of my mother’s house, and moving in with my new girlfriend Maureen.
Then the genre exploded with the success of Scream (1996). The horror genre was revived, particularly the slasher film: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Scream 2 (1997), Bride of Chucky (1998), Urban Legend (1998), Halloween H20 (1998), and scores of others saw a resurgence of the genre. It was only logical that Friday the 13th creator Sean Cunningham would want in on this. Sean’s company, Crystal Lake Entertainment, owned the rights to the Jason Voorhees character but not the title Friday the 13th or certain characters from the franchise (Paramount Pictures retained those rights). Through his production company, he, his son Noel, and a fledgling writer named Todd Farmer entertained every possible approach of creating Jason films as sequels, remakes, in LA, in the snow, in space, etc.
The “in space” concept, as hokey as it sounds, is the one that got the attention of New Line executive Michael DeLuca. After a successful pitch meeting, Noel and Todd gave them a full first draft for Jason X. The project was greenlit with the largest budget ever granted a Friday film. The future was bright for Jason before the development hell that had overcome Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) hit this film as well.
The film was greenlit, cast, shot, and ready for release in 1999, but then DeLuca was ousted, a new regime was in power at New Line, and all of a sudden, Jason and the series had no friends left at the studio. Jason X was shelved for nearly 2 years before being unceremoniously dumped on theaters in April of 2002. Not surprisingly, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and The Scorpion King starring The Rock crushed Jason X at the box-office — it barely made back its $13 million budget and was generally considered a colossal failure (which is completely untrue). By the time it was finally released, Fangoria had a cover story about it and then proceeded to detail the behind-the-scenes crap that had impeded it.
Seeing it opening day was a let-down. The theater was barely a third full. Some stuff played well (the smashing of the girl’s cryo-frozen head) and some things fell apart (Jason’s jump through the window at the surviving kids). It seemed obvious, at least, to me, that neophyte director Jim Isaac had a clear vision, but New Line had another. Isaac and returning actor Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees took the brunt of the fallout, and it eventually led to Kane being frozen out of Freddy Vs. Jason as the iconic character.
Its poor performance notwithstanding, Maureen and I still got a kick out of Jason X. We finally had a stable environment including our own apartment, friends, car, pets, stable jobs, a nice neighborhood to live in…it was a fun time, a healthy time.
FREDDY VS. JASON
The wait for Freddy Vs. Jason had encompassed nearly 10 long years and many dollars later, including development, hiring and commission of scripts and writers, and costing New Line a bundle in terms of unrealized profits. Executive Michael DeLuca’s departure was a blow to the studio since he was one of the few New Line executives who supported and championed the concept. However, Sean Cunningham refused to allow the Jason character to lie fallow for too long and, frustrated by the inability of New Line to produce a Freddy Vs. Jason film moved aggressively forward with Jason X.
Although Jason X was a theatrical flop, Freddy Vs. Jason was greenlit afterward with production set to commence by September of 2002. This was due to the installation of new executive production staff at New Line with renewed enthusiasm in the project.
However, Jason X’s failure at the box-office did put the nail in a few things. As mentioned previously, Kane Hodder was out. The actor-stuntman who had come to embody Jason Voorhees over the course of four straight films was unceremoniously kicked to the curb. This didn’t sit right with the man himself, his numerous friends, or his supporters within the business. For much of the Friday fandom, myself included, that was a big mistake. An entire article could be written about that.
The majority of the reporting at the time, including Peter Bracke’s incredibly excellent Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2005), essentially stated that New Line executives made the decision not to use Hodder, and FVJ director Ronny Yu was largely considered blameless, that he didn’t really care one way or the other.
In 2013, I was lucky enough to create a horror page on social media that attracted some talent. Through sheer chutzpah and written articles, I conducted interviews with a number of genre legends and heavy metal legends. I’ve interviewed literally dozens of Friday alumni over the years, and I’m fairly certain I know what happened. One question I always asked was, “So, why do you think they got rid of Kane, really?”
I was there for every aspect of the Friday series. All of them, as you already know. When Kane came along in Part VII, he was a breath of fresh air. His performance reinvented the character. He became as iconic as Robert Englund’s Freddy, arguably. He even had an influence on me throughout my final years of high school. Knowing that Kane was very protective and supportive of the role, especially during the years where the character was barely mentioned, I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was director Ronny Yu who didn’t want Kane. Even studios have to recognize that the director is the boss. I always felt that Yu already had an actor locked in with Robert Englund. I don’t think Yu wanted a big name actor — one with a large personality was enough. One large personality was enough. Even though Kane was often referred to when it came to portraying Jason Voorhees, my feeling was that Yu just didn’t want the tension on set.
So, I asked every interviewee who would know if I was in the ballpark or not with my theory. The result was a confirmation of what I had thought from the beginning. Invariably, they not only said yes but enthusiastically so. Yet, no one would go on record. Take that for what you will.
Written by relative neophytes Damien Shannon and Mark Swift (who would go on to write the Friday the 13th remake in 2009), Freddy Vs. Jason was released in a hot summer where brownouts and blackouts were affecting a large portion of the country. The film landed at #1 for two weeks straight. The soundtrack album also did well. Things seemed bright, but a Freddy Vs. Jason sequel never materialized, and honestly, I wasn’t interested in the idea of throwing Ash from the Evil Dead series in the mix. Once again, the Friday franchise lay dormant for a number of years (six) until Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes put the rights together as they did for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street remakes.
Personally, Maureen and I were still living a safe life as we had during the previous film. We had our family, our cats, our apartment, our jobs, car, tv, DVD sound system, nice neighborhood, movies once every couple of weeks…we were doing ok. Living a very normal kind of middle-class life.
It wouldn’t last though. Everything would change.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)
Our small slice of normalcy was under fire by the time the Friday the 13th remake arrived in theaters.
By 2007, we had lived in our apartment, raised our cats, worked our jobs, enjoyed our friends, and led lower-middle-class suburban lives. Our apartment wasn’t the nicest place, but it was in a beautiful neighborhood in Woburn where I’d lived since I was 11 and right down the street from our jobs.
Then, everything began to change.
By the time the financial collapse happened in late 2008, Maureen and I were already in trouble. My lady lost her job and unemployment didn’t come close to covering it. My work was in jeopardy also because employees, up to and including the night crew chief, were using the dairy cooler to do serious drugs, and I didn’t want to be around that. Luckily, I was in a union, and even though my hours were cut, I maintained my position and benefits. Still, it wasn’t enough. Then came the “Gigantic Home Video Implosion of 2008.” ALL of my hardware died: TV, DVD player, sound system, PC, everything. I ended up watching TV on a small 19” monitor and getting my film news from a cheap cellphone.
The remake was not my cup of tea. It really wasn’t my thing from the beginning. Knowing Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes were seeking and then secured the rights to a redux wasn’t exactly welcoming news. The legal wrangling between Platinum Dunes, New Line Cinema, and Paramount Pictures wasn’t encouraging either. Yet, having Shannon and Swift return to write the remake was a plus on paper and so was hiring Marcus Nispel and cinematographer Daniel Pearl.
In my opinion about the remake, they just didn’t get it. Seemingly no one did, apart from the advertising department who modeled the remakes’ TV commercials in the vein of the 1980 original commercials. Derek Mears proved to be one of the better Jason Voorhees performers, and some of the set designs and staging were spot-on, but this Friday forgot where it came from. The original Friday the 13th gained its initial notoriety from its inventive kill scenes, and the kills in the remake are, for the most part, forgettable. These choices were the result of way too many cooks in the kitchen and ended in an ultimately toothless entry.
The Friday the 13th remake was one of the last horror films we saw on opening night, and it was soon lost in the onslaught of real-life problems, including homelessness.
A lot has happened since the Friday the 13th remake was released in 2009. Maureen and I lost everything. Only now are we barely beginning to survive again and that is solely because of you. I went from the heights of selling a spec script to both of us living outdoors, on and off, for nearly seven years.
My half-sister, Shirley, ended up divorcing Mark and raising dogs for money. She died from COPD on an oxygen tank. Just like I will.
My nephew, Gilbert, who was more like my brother, was found dead and partially decomposed with rat bites all over him in a garage in Medford, Massachusetts. He was homeless and on heroin.
My niece, Shannon, ended up having serious drug problems and to the best of my knowledge, is still fighting on the same streets I live on.
My half-brother, Billy, ran away from the family the first opportunity he had. He almost died from a collapsed lung at one time. I lost touch with him. When my mother died, and Maureen and I were already living on the street, he swooped in and took everything she had. I still don’t know him.
My stepfather, Mike, died from cancer, I believe. I saw him one last time in the local Walmart. He had a gigantic hematoma hanging from his face. He asked me to reconcile with my mother.
My friends are all gone. Whether it be attrition or different paths, they are all gone. Nothing ever lasted.
My mother sent a few overtures my way — all based on hate and lies. I cut her off for good in 2001. She died sometime in 2018, but I’m not sure of the year. I honestly don’t care. I’m glad she’s dead.
I have always said this, and I will always believe it: family is not blood. Family is who loves you. You have every right to be loved and not be threatened. Anyone who would threaten or hurt you is toxic — cut them out of your life.
You have a right to be free.
One thing I neglected to mention in this journal. I’m including it here because I think it’s deeply important to have honesty, and I apologize if this is triggering content, but I feel an obligation to tell this story. At some point in-between late 1991 and mid-1992 (the fact that I can’t point out a specific date shows you how deeply I’ve repressed it), I attempted suicide for the first time.
I had lost all the weight. I was now a decent-looking guy and in a band. You’d think the world would be my oyster at that point. But it wasn’t. Most of my friends celebrated my accomplishment of losing over 100 pounds and re-inventing myself, but I quickly discovered a very sad fact: people don’t see the person you’ve become — they still see who you were. It’s far too threatening and far too dangerous to admit that real change is possible. Case in point: after I lost the weight, a girl in my senior class invited me to a party. I told her no, I wouldn’t be coming. She asked why. I said, “Two years ago when I was three hundred pounds and everyone’s laughingstock, would you have invited me then?” She had no answer. I basically told her to fuck off after that.
The only reason I ever had girlfriends and relationships after I lost the weight was that people WHO DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW FAT MICHAEL now met the new guy. My first real girlfriend was an incredibly hot girl from a couple of towns over. She didn’t know my former fat self. Everyone who knew me was quick to congratulate my weight loss, but at the same time, they couldn’t see the new me. No one wants to let you change. I was flummoxed by that; I couldn’t understand it. So initially, nothing changed. I was still the fat kid even though I wasn’t. I think one of the most humiliating moments in my life was kindly treating a girl I liked, asking her out, and later finding out why she said no. Her reason? “What would my friends think?”
I went out with some friends who were all together in couples while I was alone. I remember wandering around a junior-high football field crying my eyes out and repeating to myself, like a mantra, “You’ll always be alone. You’ll never have anyone. You’ll die alone.” I went home that night, and thankfully my mother was asleep. I cried some more and finally gave up. I went to the kitchen sink and took a razor blade from the shelf. I was an idiot, or maybe it was just suicidal ideation, but I cut my wrist open horizontally, not vertically, and I’ll never forget what happened next. I cut deep enough that a wellspring of blood burst out, coating the sink. I remember being so horrified that the blood wasn’t red but nearly black. So thick. Vein blood. I didn’t even wrap the wound. I just left the house and wandered down the street, leaving a trail of blood all over the sidewalk.
My best friend at the time happened to drive by and pull over. He saw the blood and pulled me into the car. We didn’t call ambulances or cops back then. At that time, I had quit smoking weed, and I was completely straight in order to lose weight and not get kicked out of the house by my mother. He drove me home, immediately pulled out a joint, and said, “You’re smoking this.”
I did and thank God I did. It calmed me down. We talked for a couple of hours. That’s all it took. A bit of weed and a friend who cared.
The next morning, my mother saw the bandage on my wrist and asked what happened. I couldn’t tell her. If I told the truth I would be thrown out on the street. I started counseling but couldn’t continue with it. They put me on Prozac and Klonopin, and I couldn’t handle it. The Klonopin was nice (benzos always are), but the Prozac made me feel really weird, not like myself, so I quit both of them. Again, this is way before most doctors had a firm grip on mental health diagnoses and treatments.
I’ve felt that way many times since, but I’ve never acted on it. I personally don’t agree with the dogma that says suicide is a selfish and cowardly act. Not for me. I think it takes an immense amount of guts to cut that cord, to sever your ties without knowing what’s to come. Sometimes, we hurt so badly, and we suffer so bravely, that it seems not the only option, but the best one.
Anyway, I’m still here.
Writing this piece on the entire series has left me in a strange, simultaneously sad, and nostalgic place. The striking thing for me, what I’ve come away with, is the sheer impact an entire work of art (which the Friday films are — you, up there: stop laughing) can have on you. I went through everything with this series. I went from the age of 7 in May 1980 to the age of 36 in February 2009. I’ve had every experience imaginable within that time: my first sense of self, my love of horror, my writing, my music, my relationships, my dreams, my first kiss, my first love, my life.
Later, in 2013, I began a Facebook page called Horror Hell. I had it up to 20,000 likes, and I interviewed so many horror and heavy metal icons, I can’t remember them all. Here’s a list for anyone questioning my bona fides:
Tommy Mcloughlin (writer, director)
Adam Marcus (writer, director)
Tom Holland (writer, director)
John Carl Buechler (FX artist, writer, director)
Wes Craven (writer, director)
Chris Durand (stuntman, actor)
Adrienne King (actor).
Melanie Kinnamin (actor)
Felissa Rose (actor)
David Katims (actor)
John Dugan (actor)
Tommy Lee Wallace (writer, director)
Neal Smith (drummer)*
Ken K. Mary (drummer)*
Kip Winger (bassist, singer/songwriter)*
Kane Roberts (guitarist, singer/songwriter)*
Paul Taylor (keyboardist)*
Dick Wagner, shortly before his death (guitarist, songwriter)*
(*Worked with Alice Cooper and supported my work)
…and many more.
I’m not quite sure what happened then. I know a lot of horror fans were pissed off that I had access to these folks. I didn’t know and still don’t, what to say to them. The only reason that I made any headway as a horror journalist was that (A) I had the balls to reach out to them in the first place, and (B) enough of them enjoyed talking to me and reading the subsequent articles, so they trusted me. They knew I wasn’t going to expose them, and that I knew my shit when it came to their work. I don’t think horror fans were all that jealous when Maureen and I were sleeping at a local park or on the street. My interviewees — several of whom became my friends — were understanding and tried to help, some of whom I’m friends with on Twitter to this day. I can’t thank you all enough who have actually read my work or been interviewed. Validation counts for a lot, especially when you’re literally living on the street, being robbed, frightened out of your mind, and being rejected by the systems supposedly put in place to help you.
In the end, readers of this piece will want to know what it all means — and so do I. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a clear answer to that question. I was very, very lucky, in the sense that I had the opportunity to live every single Friday the 13th film in its present day. For better or worse, I knew what the times were like. It was only by chance that I had the upbringing I did with Fangoria, horror, and the films I was lucky enough to experience in theaters. I’m making what I feel may be a vain attempt to illustrate how the series affected my real life, but I don’t feel entirely successful. I probably never will.
What do you want to know? How it felt? How it felt to be raped as a child? How it felt to be beaten, spit on, ridiculed endlessly? How it felt to grow up loving horror, films, music, LIVING it all, and at the same time, losing any shred of dignity I had when the soccer ball was thrown directly at my head, or when I was pig-piled on, or when I was humiliated for every reason possible? The sickness of knowing your own mother not only didn’t love you in any conventional sense but actively hated you and saw you as an enemy? Knowing your own (half) siblings didn’t give much of a shit about you and very rarely protected you? Knowing you would never know your own father or the truth behind why he was gone? Loving people with no hope of love in return? Surviving anyway? Surviving, not because of them, but DESPITE them?
One of my hopes in writing this piece is that we can finally come to an understanding and an acceptance of mental illness. I was pretty much doomed from the beginning, given my upbringing, my mother, and other various circumstances. How I made it this far, still very relatively sane, is amazing to me. After all this time, after everything I’ve been through (and trust me, even now, you still don’t know the half of it), I still care, still have some love left in there, and still have something to give.
I’m hoping beyond hope that anyone else in a similar position will see this piece and relate it to their own life. Anyone. If you fell in love with horror and were subject to severe discrimination, for whatever reason, you know what I’m talking about. There’s so much more here you haven’t read, that you don’t know about, but if any of this is enough to encourage you to speak up, well, then, I’m happy with that.
Few of us get to be what we want to be. This piece is for all who would dare at least to try.
Michael Crosby — July 4th, 2020
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, please call 1–800–799-SAFE (7233). Help is available 24/7.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call 1-800–273–8255. Help is available 24/7.
Michael Crosby was a contributing writer for Manor Vellum. He passed away on December 5, 2020, and we miss him dearly. His articles remain on this site in his honor.