Friday the 13th: Top 13 WTF Moments
As much as I love it, the Friday the 13th series isn’t exactly bound by strong continuity. Jason’s look fluctuates like the weather, people flock to Camp Crystal Lake in droves, seemingly unaware that it never turns out well for those involved, and WHY does the camp look like it’s in a different state for every film (don’t answer that)?
That’s not to even begin trying to piece together a strict sense of passing time throughout the Paramount-era films. Ever try? Dating everything out, the best you can do is place Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood in the year 1999 or 2000 – which is amazingly problematic to say the least considering Kevin Blair runs around in denim the entire movie.
Along the way there have been many WTF moments. Characters disappear, others reappear. People stumble in out of nowhere just to be killed and then forgotten about. Having different creative teams behind each production often results in hilarious lapses in logic that cannot easily be explained while some stylistic choices are just plain bizarre. There’s obviously no way for a “top ten” (or top 13, as it were) to cover them all, but this list references both some obvious choices and some genuine oddities that never seem to come up in conversation. Their common ground? All of them, in their own special way, make the viewer say, ”What the fuck?”
13. Jason’s overnight growth spurt between 2 & 3.
Yep, we’re starting with an easy one. One that I couldn’t not include on this list because it’s just such a puzzling choice. In the span of one night, Mr. Voorhees springs up several inches, sheds his ginger locks and decides to kick his backwoods-y wardrobe for something a bit more … insidious?
So yeah, from this:
How? Why? Doesn’t matter. One assumes director Steve Miner wanted a bigger, more imposing presence for his second sequel, but hey, at least they cared enough to keep him in his overalls for the flashback attack on Chris later in the movie (more on that later).
12. Yeah, I’m afraid of water now… (Freddy vs. Jason)
There’s a lot wrong with Freddy vs. Jason, but the biggest WTF moment comes when it’s revealed that Jason is deathly afraid of water. Never mind all the movies we’ve seen where he willingly traipses into Crystal Lake in order to get a drop on his victims, FvJ stages an 11th hour retcon in a desperate attempt to make the character more “sympathetic.”
But Jason didn’t have these issues while seemingly waiting for a late-night skinny dipper in The Final Chapter, nor did he mind wading into fiery waters for a final confrontation with his nemesis Tommy Jarvis in Jason Lives. He spent a decade chained to a rock at the bottom of the lake and that didn’t seem to bother him either! Then he seemingly swam into whatever harbor the kids in Jason Takes Manhattan sailed out of. Maybe Mr. Voorhees started to get a bit timid in his old, undead age? It had to be something other than ”the filmmakers simply didn’t give a shit”, right?
11. Zombie Dad (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Apparently Jason wasn’t the only corpse rotting beneath Crystal Lake. John Shepard, the raging alcoholic who goes to his watery grave in the prologue, apparently was left there to rot after the collapsed dock was cleared away and then rebuit for the “present day” part of the film.
It does seem a bit unlikely that his corpse wasn’t simply tangled up in the wooden debris, though. And how deep is Crystal Lake where the body couldn’t have been recovered (this is true for Jason, too). Did the police even fucking LOOK? Knowing their success rate in the area, it’s probably safe to assume they did not (more on them later).
Of course, this doesn’t excuse how lame Shepard looks when he comes flying out of the water just in time to drag Jason back down into the raging shallows of Crystal Lake. I know director John Carl Buechler fought for a cooler-looking Shep zombie, but the idea was nixed by one of the producers.
Well, producer, I hope you’re happy that this is the impression your film leaves with us:
10. Odd radio announcer (Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)
I love Jason Takes Manhattan. Every second of it. And nothing sets this film in motion better than the incredibly baffling radio announcer at the beginning of the film.
Unfortunately, there is no YouTube video of it so I had to reproduce the incredibly awkward narration in text:
“It's like this... We live in claustrophobia, the land of steel & concrete. Trapped by dark waters. There is no escape. Nor do we want it. We've come to thrive on it and each other. You can't get the adrenaline pumpin' without the terror, good people... I love this town.”
What the hell is he talking about?
It gets even stranger when the movie transitions back to Crystal Lake, with our opening victims listening to him be all creepy / cryptic on the radio:
“This request has gone out to Crystal Lake, and the senior class of Lakeview High. They’ll be graduating on the 13th of this month. And we wish them the best of luck and success when they come to visit our seductive city. Our lure is a great one, young friends, but beware…the city of lights casts many shadows indeed.”
Why in the hell is this guy so ominous!? And why does a NYC DJ care that some rural New Jersey kids are taking a class trip into the city? It’s all in the first few minutes, but it sets up the rest of Jason Takes Manhattan oh so perfectly.
Having said that, it’s cool to note that Crystal Lake has a Lakeview High, right?.
9. That awkward time they changed Crystal Lake’s name… (Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives)
This isn’t so much a slight on Jason Lives as much as it is the rest of the films that followed. It’s somewhat understandable that a town marred by endless murder would seek to change their reputation. So Crystal Lake became Forest Green. But why in God’s name did the township decide, sometime after Friday 6, that it was time to change it back?
Surely it must not be cost-effective to go back to Crystal Lake, right? I mean you have to redesign the logos on all of the municipal vehicles again, for starters. It means slugging through a lot of bureaucracy to get it done, and for what gain? Wouldn’t it be better for the town of Forest Green to heal? To gradually forget that they birthed one of the most enduring mass murderers in history? Or did Crystal Lake become an all too lucrative tourist location? Chances are all future filmmakers just hoped we’d forget about this little detail.
8. ”He’s killing me!” (Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter)
Here’s an odd and polarizing moment in the franchise. Rob Dyer, vengeance-seeking Jason hunter, ventures into the basement of a neighboring house only to be attacked by the masked madman. Instead of fighting back, he resigns to his fate, screaming repeatedly, ”he’s killing me!”
And odd moment, to be sure, and one that seems to divide its audience in half. Some find it unintentionally hilarious while others find it deeply chilling. Supposedly, the moment was culled from a real-life news story in which a 911 call recorded a murder victim screaming out ”Please stop killing me!” The moment stuck with director Joseph Zito so much that he included it here.
It is the very last kill in the following video:
7. Mrs. Voorhees … You found your head! (Friday the 13th part III)
The end of Friday the 13th part III mirrors the finish of the original Friday. As such, the filmmakers saw fit to mimic the “Jason jump” that lifted audiences from their seats in the summer of 1980. But there was one problem: Jason was “dead” in the barn. Which meant the final jump scare needed to fall to the other murderous member of the Voorhees clan:
It’s a nice try, perhaps made a bit more baffling than it needs to be, considering Pamela suddenly has her head attached to her neck. And what in the holy hell is she doing at the bottom of the lake? One assumes her body (minus the head) was recovered at the end of the original film. Furthermore, the next film in the series reveals that she’s buried randomly on the side of some country road. Either way, she’s decidedly not rotting at the bottom of the Crystal Lake. WTF?
6. Vinnie & Pete, really? (Friday the 13th – A New Beginning)
This is something that seems stranger to me the older I get and the more I think about it. Two greasers, who look like they stumbled off the set of William Friedkin’s Cruising, breakdown on a desolate country road in Crystal Lake while en route to rendezvous with some ladies. At least that’s what the movie tells us.
But where are they going dressed like that? Why does Pete think it’s a good idea to shit in the woods before meeting up for a date? And what’s Roy Burns doing out there with a road flare at the ready? There’s plenty of moments in Friday 5 where people appear and are killed instantly, but everything about this scene just seems odd … and that’s exactly why I love it.
5. What in God’s name happened to these people? (Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)
Nearly 20 minutes into Jason Takes Manhattan, the ill-fated cruise ship, Lazarus, departs for New York City, revealing several shots of non-principal cast members lounging around and enjoying the luxuries of this ocean liner.
The problem? They’re never seen again. This means we can only assume a considerable amount of passengers aboard the Lazarus stayed in their cabins and refused to come out, even once the ship began taking on water. That they drowned, rather than escape. Every time our survivors abandon ship, I can’t help but think back to these earlier scenes and wonder why we never saw dozens of extras hopping overboard.
Of course, it also cements Jason’s status as the ultimate slasher. How many others could torpedo a friggin’ cruise ship? Badass.
4. It’s almost like you guys aren’t really trying … (All movies)
With the exception of Jason Lives, which saw pro-active and (largely) intelligent police, the rest of Crystal Lake’s finest seem to enforce the law with the least amount of effort possible.
From their refusal to ever check in on the kids in Friday 3 (despite there having been an unsolved killing spree a few miles away) and then again in Friday 4 (where now there have been two bloodbaths, and a missing killer) – their ineptitude is staggering. Perhaps none moreso than in Friday 5 where Sheriff Tucker suspects Jason Voorhees is behind the murders, but isn’t seen again until the post-climax epilogue.
How many lives could’ve been saved if he’d actually done enough detective work to actually connect Joey to Roy? I guess we’ll never find out.
3. The rape theory… (Friday the 13th part III)
One of the most interesting discussions to come out of the entire series is the rape theory around Friday 3. When Chris tells of her earlier encounter with Jason, she admits to blacking out while being dragged into the woods by the soon-to-be slasher. She doesn’t remember anything more.
So what happened? Was Jason somehow scared away by a search party? Did the “frightened retard” have his way with an early victim before deciding that he liked murder better? Why wouldn’t Chris’ parents talk about what happened? What are they hiding?
I honestly don’t know how I feel about this theory, but I appreciate that it exists. It gives Jason an extra dimension of creepiness and certainly makes for interesting conversation.
2. Who took that picture!? (Friday the 13th – A New Beginning)
In the ultimate example of someone just wasn’t thinking when they thought it would be a good idea, we have a semi-recent picture of Jason taken up close and personal. But how? WHY? Of the lucky few people to have survived one of Jason’s killing sprees, I don’t ever seem to recall someone taking his damn picture.
Maybe (and this is a HUGE maybe), you can rationalize this as somehow being security camera footage from the hospital but, considering the angle this picture is at, that doesn’t really work.
So what we have here is a massive head scratcher. A moment where the filmmakers (I love you, Danny Steinmann) tried to pull a fast one and hoped no one would notice. The end result? One of my favorite WTF moments in the entire franchise.
1. Toxic waste flood! (Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)
I know. This isn’t all that creative. I can remember begging my father to take me to see Jason Takes Manhattan in the theater when I was ten years old. He dragged his feet for a week or two and when he finally acquiesced it was too late. The damn thing was out of the theaters and I was completely crushed (he got his, however, when he had to later take me to Jason Goes to Hell instead).
Especially when I had to hear about it from a bunch of eighth graders who’d been able to sneak in on opening weekend. When I told my father that I heard it ended with Jason drowning in a flood of toxic waste in the NYC sewer system, he responded with, ”that sounds like a bunch of bullshit.”
And he was right.
But, c’mon, there’s an inimitable charm to that kind of ending. Something a modern film wouldn’t have the cajones to attempt for fear of crashing the Internet. If someone tweeted today that an upcoming horror sequel ended with the killer bested by a flood of toxic sludge that rockets through the sewers every night at midnight…well it wouldn’t be pretty…
It’s dumb, nonsensical (why in the hell is the city worker down there just prior to the flood? Is he a thrill-seeker?), and amazing all in one. And there’s no way it couldn’t take the number one spot on this list.
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