You’re All Doomed: Growing Up with ‘Friday the 13th’ (Films 7–9)

By Michael Crosby

TRIGGER WARNING

The following journal contains accounts of abuse and other disturbing content. Caution is advised.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD

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Between 1986 and 1988, everything and nothing had changed for me. I went from 13 to 17 during that time: an eternity in teenage years. My junior high experiences were also a nightmare, considering I moved to Woburn, the rival of my former Winchester team. I was always scared and always afraid, but life was moving. As I grew older, I realized just how much I loved what I loved, who I was, and what I was worth. My skin thickened. More and more I was envisioning a future where I wasn’t fat, where I wasn’t tortured.

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The entrance to Woburn, Massachusetts. Credit: J. Mulkerin Realty

From 7th grade through 9th grade, I was relentlessly bullied and told what a fat, worthless piece of shit I was, that I would never, ever be better. I was spit on, kicked in the face, had a soccer ball thrown at my head at 60 mph…all because I was fat and different. At some point during that time, it became enough for me that I refused to be the victim anymore. I was sick and tired of running from one end of the school to the other. Sick of teachers threatening me. Sick of it all.

The 1980s saw only two years where a Friday the 13th film wasn’t released: 1983 and 1987. The eight months or so between the release of Jason Lives and the late John Buechler’s The New Blood proved to be an interesting time in both the Friday series and my own life.

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The Alice Cooper avatar.

With Jason Lives, I had discovered my avatar, the imagery I felt most in touch with was Alice Cooper. I grew my hair. I had a Cooper t-shirt back when Large was the biggest size. I had a black leather jacket. I was slowly coming into my own. The rest is really meant for a story about Alice.

As far as Friday goes, 1987 was most notable for Paramount licensing the novelization rights to Signet and enlisting the services of Simon Hawke, who had previously written the novelization for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) in a handsome paperback. Hawke was given a 3-book contract to concoct the novelizations for the original Friday the 13th, Part 2, and Part III. All of them ended up being a pale imitation of Michael Avallone’s original tie-in.

Also, 1987 was a bad summer for movies, theatrically. I made the gigantic mistake of seeing both Jaws: The Revenge and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace as a double-features since both were released on the same day. Not a good day at the movies.

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Flyer for an Alice Cooper and Guns N’ Roses concert in 1988.

I was ahead of the curve on several fronts. The landscape was brightening. Alice Cooper’s comeback had happened as previously mentioned, and he was selling out large arenas. His appearance in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) turned out to be a classic and one of the best songs on his album, Raise Your Fist and Yell (1987). I had pretty much worked out my place in the world. I devoted every second I could to music, singing, and Alice Cooper (I ended up seeing him three times live in concert). One of my first best friends, a kid named Sam, turned me on to some other amazing music too. He had a friend in Los Angeles he would visit occasionally and always brought back great music. Sam introduced me to Guns N’ Roses when they were nobody. I heard their song “Live Like a Suicide” back then, but no one was pushing it because Bon Jovi was the biggest thing going at the time. Sam also introduced me to King Diamond, Living Colour, and many other bands before anyone really knew who they were. Turns out Gun N’ Roses’s first tour was with Alice Cooper later in 1988. I have tons of stories about that tour.

At the same time, I was always a disciplinary problem at school, not because I did aggressive shit like fighting, breaking stuff, or threatening — nothing like that. I was perpetually under “house suspension” because I was always late, skipped class, argued with teachers, etc. Shortly after seeing Alice at the Garden, I was given an in-house suspension at school for skipping classes (“in-house suspension” basically meant instead of being suspended and sent home, where you could presumably get stoned and watch Flintstones cartoons and chill, you were sentenced to 1, 3, or 5 days in whatever the crappiest classroom was in your school with a teacher. No one could stand, including faculty. You had to sit at a desk and suffer. I served many of those in high school.

My first was the most interesting. To this day, I will never forget the incident that happened to me. I had just seen Alice Cooper in concert at the Boston Gardens a couple of days before in November of 1987. I was a 15-year-old sophomore in high school, in a new school, because my junior high ran through 9th grade, so 10th grade was my first in high school. At this suspension, exactly 2 kids were wearing black leather, concert t-shirts, and both had long hair: myself and a senior I knew only by his reputation as a bad motherfucker.

I spent the time, as I always did in suspension, reading, writing, and especially drawing. The senior was coming back from the bathroom or something and happened to see me drawing Alice. He stopped and said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Did you see that show? I was there.” We proceeded to talk about the concert we had both seen. He was very nice to me, gentle, and this guy was considered the biggest fuckup in the system. The teachers hated him. All the kids were watching us talk.

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A similar setting for an “in-house/school suspension.” | Credit: Monica Herndon / Tampa Bay Times

Finally, the bell rings, and we’re free. All of us are bottlenecking at the classroom door, eager to leave. Some older jock and his friends see me and start making fun of me. “Fat fuck killed a cow for his jacket!” I remember the jock said. The senior, who had been nice and talking to me, heard this and got in the jock’s face. Time stood still because, as I said, the senior had a reputation as a bad motherfucker. Everyone was watching. I’ll never forget it. He gets in the jock’s face, looks at me, looks at him, and says (I’m paraphrasing here, but this is 80% accurate), “What makes you think that he gives a fuck what you think?”

Everybody is quiet.

Finally, the senior turns to me, says “see you around” and leaves.

I had problems after that, no doubt, but not as bad as I had before. By the end of 1987, I had finally decided that I had enough. I made a decision. No one was going to hurt me again. I was wrong in that, but I was also right. I got hurt plenty. In no way, shape, or form am I proud of that decision. It was and still is, simply a necessity. I was scared to be hurt, scared to get into fights. I was terrified and already experiencing daily PTSD.

Slowly, my headspace began turning around, so, by May of 1988, when Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood debuted, I had been bullied enough. No more.

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The now-famous “sleeping bag kill” in ‘Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.’ Credit: Paramount Pictures
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The “Jason vs. Carrie” fight (Kane Hodder as Jason and Lar Park Lincoln as Tina). Credit: Paramount Pictures

The New Blood premiered to relatively little fanfare on May 13, 1988, compared to the enthusiastic marketing push given to Jason Lives. The tired “Jason Vs. Carrie” storyline was supplemented somewhat by Kane Hodder’s performance as Jason Voorhees (Hodder’s first appearance as the iconic figure) and the over-the-top FX sequences that were obviously heavily edited and cut. Hodder’s abilities kept Jason alive for me. Hodder’s performance as Jason was a revelation for me. His posture. His breathing. His predatory instincts. I loved it. I utilized it.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN

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When I came back to school in the fall of 1988 as a junior, I was still a target for being fat, long-haired, and dressed in black leather. But I made a statement this time. I had no choice.

The first incident involved a kid who constantly bullied me in art class. Ironically, he wasn’t half my size. I’ve never been a physically aggressive person, but this kid pushed every button every day. One day, I had enough. I left class when the bell rang and waited out in the hall for him. When he came out, I grabbed him by the neck and slammed him into the lockers. Then I lifted him a good 6 inches off the ground and told him never to fuck with me again. This is actually an easy trick if you have the strength and leverage. Pretty much anyone can do it, and it looks kickass.

Another time when I was alone and trying to go to lunch (I had been in the bathroom when the bell rang, and I was late, the corridors nearly empty), two jock-type seniors were the only ones around. They saw me and my get-up. Remember, I was fat with long hair and all-black leather. They started ragging on me, and I snapped. I don’t remember what I said to them, but it was pretty profane and evil if my memory serves correctly. They were kind of shocked that my fat ass dared to fight. We were very close to what we called the Old Café at Woburn High. The old school building had been renovated, and there was the New Café and the Old Café. The only way to access the Old Café was to descend a long staircase to the bottom level where a swinging set of diner doors led the way inside. Well, as stated, I had had enough by this point. I saw black. I wasn’t going to be bullied anymore. I marched up to the one jock; the other had disappeared. The jock was clearly shocked, which helped my cause because it was obvious he was startled and not believing that my fat, pathetic ass would fight. I grabbed him by the shoulders and tossed him over the staircase railing with every bit of adrenaline-fueled strength I had. He crashed to the floor below, rolling through the café doors and causing a bit of a ruckus. I took off. It was scary, but it felt great.

I had to be who I was.

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An alternative film poster for ‘Jason Takes Manhattan.’

By the time Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan came around in the summer of 1989, things were changing. I was changing them.

Jason Takes Manhattan proved to be Paramount’s swan song to the series. Gifted with a higher budget than any other Friday film, it slashed its way into theaters during what proved to be a terrible time for the horror genre. By then, audiences were tired of slasher icons: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child were both box-office disappointments, and the genre as a whole took a beating that year.

The summer of 1989 was in between my junior and senior years at high school. I was poorer than ever before, but I was lucky enough to raise the ten bucks I needed to go see Jason Takes Manhattan. It was an odd time. The film had enough money behind it to give a strong showing in terms of advertising in papers — and that trailer! Still, horror was dying as a theatrical commodity by 1989. It was indicative of a sea-change in the tastes of both theatergoers and music fans. Hair metal died its last breath over the next 2 years; horror was simply the first sacrifice.

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Jason (Kane Hodder) stays on a boat for most of the film…
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…rather than inside the Big Apple during ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.’ Credit: Paramount Pictures

Part VIII was notable for being the first time I went to a Friday premiere with a best friend, and despite how awful the film was, we still had a good time. And yes, Julian’s head being punched into the dumpster got a great pop. However, we were all tired of watching a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan turn into “Jason Takes the Love Boat.” By the time the ending arrived, fans had had enough. Jason being slimed with toxic waste and then turned into his child's appearance garnered a chorus of boos in the theater that day. Never mind how completely terrible the makeup FX were, even the hockey mask was off, the face reveal was inept, the concepts terrible, let alone the execution. Luckily, Kane Hodder was re-hired to portray Jason in this installment since he’s a welcome constant in a series that always seems in flux. Less important to me, at this point, was the success of Jason Takes Manhattan. It was a carbon-copy with little merit. In my personal life, however, things were happening, some of them attributable directly to the Friday series.

By October 1989, I was a 289-lb, 17-year-old white kid, high school senior, with LONG hair, a cut-up black leather jacket, and a love for heavy metal and horror.

JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY

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Four years passed. It was only a brief 4 years, but in terms of both the horror film landscape and my own life, it was an eternity.

The same four years passed between Paramount Picture’s swan song Jason Takes Manhattan and New Line Cinema’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Following the terrible returns for Part VIII and numerous other horror offerings in 1989, Paramount mothballed the series, and the film industry as a whole turned away from the horror genre. It was a disappointing, depressing time to be a horror fan. This was when I would get my new Fangoria magazine and films like The Addams Family (1991) and Batman Returns (1992) were on the cover. Not to say there wasn’t good product coming out independently, direct-to-video, or in fiction, comics, etc. — there was — but theatrical horror took a big hit. So yeah, those 4 years felt more like 12 years.

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Fangoria V1 #109 and #114 both reflected the early 90s downturn of the horror genre.

They were far more enormous years in my own life, however. By the time August of 1993 arrived, I was 20 going on 21 years old and a lot had changed for the better since the last Friday was on the screen. By the end of my first year out of high school, I had gotten deadly serious about three things: losing weight/getting a girlfriend, performing music, and writing.

Between the fall of 1990 and the summer of 1991, I lost somewhere around 110 pounds. I’ll never forget turning around one day, catching myself in a mirror, and truly seeing a thin, good-looking guy. I was lucky enough to have friends in bands, and one day I picked up a bass guitar and that was when I found my calling for music. I ended up starting bands and playing any gigs possible, including pretty much every major club in the Boston area. I’ll never forget the first time I could play an entire Alice Cooper concert on bass and sing perfectly, even the choreography was perfect. Nor will I ever forget finishing a first (admittedly wretched) novel. Or hearing a girl tell me she loved me. I started adhering to a writing-playing-and-exercise schedule. I made friends, lost friends, had the best times and the worst.

I really can’t emphasize enough the growth and change that happened in both myself and the genre in that short amount of time. Personally, I had kind of given up on horror and Fangoria by 1993. As I mentioned, the genre was at a low point and nothing really noteworthy was going on and there were not enough hours in the day for me at that point, but when I found out Jason Goes to Hell was coming out, no way was I going fuck with tradition and miss it.

My home life, on the other hand, was a living hell. Once I turned 18, my mother started threatening to throw me out of the house daily. I could get thrown out over spilling a drink or looking the wrong way or just by existing. I was working, making minimum wage ($5 an hour at the time), and might earn $180 a week. One of her many scams was taking most of my check for rent. Still, I asked a friend to borrow his car so I could take her to see the movie.

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Jason (Kane Hodder) goes out with a bang (depending on who you ask) in ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.’ Credit: New Line Cinema

I was, for better or worse, pretty entertained by Jason Goes to Hell. It was different and a breath of fresh air, which the series desperately needed. It belied a very low budget (barely $3 million) to feature a surprisingly adult cast with some excellent character actors like Steven Williams, Billy Green Bush, and especially Erin Gray. It had solid technical credits — the photography by Bill Dill and Al Magliochetti were both produced for peanuts — and some neat kills and moments, such as the ending which set-up for the long-delayed Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) film.

Let’s also be honest though. There were major problems here, some inherent in the series, some a result of possible misguided creative choices. In true Friday fashion, the timeline and continuity are complete nonsense. The plot is so overwrought and convoluted, filled with numbing contrivances and over-the-top dialogue, that I’m pretty sure the average audience member checked out after about twenty minutes. K.N.B.’s FX look dime store to me with one of the weaker Jason concepts. Harry Manfredini’s score sounds really cheap and obviously created entirely on a synthesizer. Again, a byproduct of the low budget. New Line tried to get behind it (the P&A money spent was decent), but even Friday the 13th and Jason couldn’t change the prevailing horror tides, making a little bit more than Jason Takes Manhattan but never claiming the #1 spot at the box-office.

I also lost my goddamn glasses at that flick, somehow.

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The last shot in ‘Jason Goes to Hell’ sets up a battle that was years in the making. Credit: New Line Cinema

If anything truly sticks with me about Jason Goes to Hell, it’s being a 20-year-old kid, living a whirlwind life I had never known before, and reading in Fangoria that the director, Adam Marcus, was the same age as me. I couldn’t fathom directing a sequel to one of the biggest franchises in film history at that age, but Adam, a type-A extrovert, thrived on the pressure and did it. Years later, around 2010, I was lucky enough to interview him and tell him so. Adam came into my life during a particularly dark period and reached out to me, a stranger, in a way I’m still in awe of. I’m very lucky to call Adam Marcus a friend. He’s one hell of a person.

To be continued…

Section 4: You’re All Doomed: Growing Up with ‘Friday the 13th’ (Films 10–12)

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About the Author

Michael Crosby was a contributing writer for Manor Vellum. He passed away on December 5, 2020. We miss him dearly. His articles remain on this site in his honor.

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A membrane of texts about the human condition within the horror genre. A MANOR feature.

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