As we all know, with one notable exception, the majority of the cast of the original Friday the 13th didn’t exactly go on to greater heights of stardom. The movie may have made a lot of money but it didn’t lead to bigger roles for Laurie Bartram and Mark Nelson. When the movie was released in 1980, Betsy Palmer was the best known member of the cast and, according to the book Crystal Lake Memories, the cast of Friday the 13th Part 2 used to joke that maybe the cast of the first film actually had been murdered in the woods because no one ever saw them again.
Of course, today, no one can watch Friday the 13th without saying, “Oh my God, Kevin Bacon’s wearing a speedo!” but, at the time he was cast as doomed Jack, he was just another struggling actor. However, if things had gone as originally planned, today Bacon would not be the only respected actor with Friday the 13th on his resume. When the film was in pre-production, director Sean Cunningham originally tried to get a star to play the role of Alice, the only camp counselor to make it out of Camp Crystal Lake alive.
Who was that star?
The future multiple Oscar-winner was seriously pursued for the role of Alice. She did not, as some sources claim, audition for the role. Instead, she merely turned it down and went on to win her first Oscar for Norma Rae. Once it became obvious that Field had no interest in going to Camp Crystal Lake, Cunningham decided to go with a cast of unknowns and Adrienne King was given the role of Alice.
Personally, I think that worked out for the best. Not only was Adrienne King perfect for the role but the use of unknowns undoubtedly made the film more effective when it was released. After all, everyone knows that a star is going to survive. (That’s one reason why, when seen today, it’s still jarring to see Kevin Bacon get dispatched.)
Here’s a few more bits of trivia to make your Friday the 13th a good one:
2. After the success of Friday the 13th, Adrienne King was stalked by an obsessed fan and, when she was asked to return for 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2, she requested that her role be as small as possible. As a result, Alice showed up just long enough to be killed off. Amy Steel replaced King as the film’s heroine. Steel would later go on to star in another classic slasher film, April Fool’s Day.
3. Originally, 1982’s Friday the 13th Part 3 was envisioned with Steel returning to play Ginny. However, Steel turned down the chance to return, leading to the filmmakers instead simply remaking the first film (in 3D!). After being cast in the lead role, Dana Kimmel requested that the sex and drugs featured in the original script be toned down. That’s just one of many reasons why many consider Friday the 13th Part 3 to be the worst film in the series.
4. Even if she didn’t return for Part 3, Amy Steel was instrumental in convincing her friend, actor Peter Barton, to appear in 1984’s Friday the 13th — The Final Chapter. Barton’s likable performance as the handsome but definitely doomed Doug was a highlight of the film. Another highlight was Ted White’s performance as Jason. As opposed to the character he played, White once threatened to quit the film because he didn’t like the way the director was treating the film’s cast.
5. The working title for 1985’s Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was Repitition. Having killed Jason at the end of The Final Chapter, Corey Feldman returned for a cameo that he shot at the same time that he was filming The Goonies for Richard Donner. Along with the first film, this is the only one to not feature Jason Voorhees committing any murders (unless you count the ones that he committed in Tommy’s nightmare) and the film’s ending was specifically set up so that Tommy could take over Jason’s murderous ways. However, the film’s disappointing box office reception led to Jason returning as a zombie in the next film.
6. With its intentional comedy and its emphasis on action over blood, 1986’s Friday the 13th: Jason’s Lives is a rarity in that it was a Friday the 13th film that actually got somewhat good reviews. John Shepherd, who played Tommy in a New Beginning, was offered a chance to return to the role but turned it down, saying that the film’s went against his religious beliefs. As a result, Thom Matthews was cast as Tommy. Matthews also played the lead in another horror comedy, Return of the Living Dead.
7. 1988’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood was originally envisioned as being a cross-over with A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, when Paramount (who held the rights to Jason) and New Line Cinema (who held the rights to Freddy) could not come to an agreement, the project was temporarily abandoned. According to Crystal Lake Memories, the film’s executive producer, Barbara Sachs, wanted Friday the 13th Part VII to be the first Friday the 13th to win an Academy Award and came with an extremely ambitious storyline that she envisioned being directed by none other than Federico Fellini. Cooler heads prevailed and, instead, The New Blood found Jason battling a young woman with psychic powers.
8. The initial working script for 1989’s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was entitled “Ashes to Ashes.” The film’s anemic box office convinced Paramount to sell the franchise to New Line Cinema.
9. After New Line purchased the franchise, the first film’s director, Sean S. Cunningham, returned to produce 1993’s Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. Much like The New Blood, this was originally envisioned as being a Freddy vs. Jason film but that plan was, again, abandoned. Freddy Krueger does make one brief appearance, when his clawed hand appears and drags Jason’s hockey mask to Hell. Director Adam Marcus also included a shot of a book that was meant to be the Necronomicon as an attempt to link Jason to the Evil Dead universe as well. Because New Line did not own the rights to Evil Dead, Marcus did not tell them what he was planning to do and instead asked Sam Raimi if he could borrow the prop. Raimi thought it was a great idea. Less amused was Tom Sullivan, the man who actually created the prop and who received no money for its use in Jason Goes To Hell.
10. The 8 year gap between the release of Jason Goes To Hell and 2001’s Jason X was a result of Freddy vs. Jason being stuck in development Hell. Jason X was largely produced to keep audiences from forgetting about Jason. Screenwriter Todd Farmer appeared in Jason X, playing a character named Dallas (a nod to the original Alien).
11. After spending two decades in development, 2003’s Freddy vs Jason finally brought the two infamous serial killers together. Kane Hodder, who had played Jason in every film since New Blood, was not asked to return for Freddy vs. Jason, supposedly because the film’s director wanted Jason to tower over Freddy and it was felt that Hodder was not tall enough. At one point, Freddy vs. Jason was envisioned as ending with Pinhead appearing and defeating both of them but New Line could not secure the rights to the Hellraiser character.
12. 2009’s Friday the 13th was meant to reboot the series. Perhaps the less said about it, the better. Plans for a sequel to the reboot are currently trapped in the same development Hell that once imprisoned Freddy vs. Jason.
Happy Friday the 13th!