12 Things You May Or May Not Have Known About Friday the 13th!


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?

Sally Field.

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!

 

Creature Double Feature 5: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (AIP 1964) and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (AIP 1965)


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Boston’s WLVI-TV 56 ran it’s ‘Creature Double Feature’ series from 1972 to 1983. Though fans remember it mostly for those fabulous giant monster movies starring Godzilla and friends, CDF occasionally featured some monsters of a different kind… 

Roger Corman and Vincent Price had teamed to make five successful Edgar Allan Poe adaptations for American-International Pictures, beginning with 1960’s HOUSE OF USHER (there was a sixth, THE PREMATURE BURIAL, that starred Ray Milland rather than Price). Studio execs James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff, always on the lookout for ways to cut costs, joined forces with Britain’s Anglo-Amalgamated Productions (makers of the CARRY ON comedies) and shipped Corman and company to jolly ol’ England for the final two, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA. Both turned out to be high points in the Corman/Price/Poe series.

1964’s MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a sadistic, psychedelic nightmare of…

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SUNSET BOULEVARD (Paramount 1950): Film Noir or Hollywood Horror Story?


“Sunset Boulevard” airs tonight on TCM at 8:00pm EST

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“I AM big. It’s the pictures that got small”

  • -Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD

I hadn’t seen Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BOULEVARD for quite some time until a recent rewatching. I’ve told you before how much I love a good Hollywood behind-the-scenes movie, and this one is no exception. But as I watched the tale unfold, I began to see the film in a different light. SUNSET BOULEVARD is always called a film noir classic, but this go-round found me viewing it through a lens of horror.

It’s certainly got all the elements of film noir. There’s protagonist William Holden, trapped in a bottomless downward spiral. Gloria Swanson is the femme fatale who ensnares Holden and pulls him into her dark web. The cinematography of John F. Seitz portrays a shadow-world of despair. And we’ve got Billy Wilder directing, the man behind noir masterpiece DOUBLE INDEMNITY, working…

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Bats in the Belfry: MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (MGM 1935)


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Tod Browning’s 1931 DRACULA is a masterpiece of terror, the film that launched the Golden Age of Horror and made Bela Lugosi a star. Four years later, Bela and Browning teamed again for MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, loaded with horrific atmosphere but staked through the heart by two fatal blows – too much comic relief and an ending that’s a trick, rather than a treat, for horror buffs.

Lugosi and his “daughter”, Carroll Borland

The shadow of vampirism is terrorizing a small European village, as Sir Karel Borotyn is found murdered, drained of his blood! Inspector Neumann investigates, not believing in such supernatural hokum and suspecting everyone. Lovely young Irena Borotyn, engaged to handsome young Fedor, stands to inherit her father’s estate, with family friend Baron Otto serving as her guardian. When a peasant is found also drained of blood, the villagers suspect the evil Count Mora and his daughter…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Oscar Winning Horror!


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking. There’s a lot of buzz about horror themed movies GET OUT and THE SHAPE OF WATER winning Oscars tonight, but there have been a handful of horror movies nominated in the past, some even taking home the coveted statuette! Here are 4 Shots from some Academy Award winning tales of terror!:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Paramount 1931; Best Actor Fredric March)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (MGM 1945; Best Cinematography, Harry Strandling Sr)

Rosemary’s Baby (Paramount 1968; Best Supporting Actress Ruth Gordon)

The Exorcist (Warner Brothers 1973; Best Adapted Screenplay William Peter Blatty, Best Sound Mixing Robert Knudson & Chris Newman)

 

Update: The Lullaby movie theatrical release cities


This is an update to my The Lullaby Preview and Review.

Poster

Confirmations of cities offering the limited release for the new supernatural horror film The Lullaby from South African filmmaker Darrel James Roodt (“Sarafina!“), opens March 2, 2018 in the following theaters:

LA – Laemmle Music Hall
NY – Cinema Village
Atlanta – Plaza Theater
Cleveland – Tower City Cinemas
San Francisco – The Roxie
Miami – Cinema Paradiso
Chicago – Facets Cinema
Boston – Apple Cinemas
Dallas – AMC Grapevine 30
Phoenix – AMC Arizona Center 24

The Lullaby also will be available on the same day, March 2, 2018, on VOD.

Credits:

Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Phoenix Film with Valhalla Productions Directed by Darrell James Roodt

You can check out the trailer here:

An Olympic Horror Film Review: Fatal Games (dir by Michael Elliot)


Like all good people, I am currently obsessed with the Winter Olympics!  As a result, over the past two weeks, I’ve been watching and reviewing a lot of Olympic-themed films.  Today, I watched the 1984 slasher film, Fatal Games!

If you look at the poster above, you’ll see that Fatal Games was advertised as being a film about “America’s Olympic hopefuls … competing in the Fatal Games!”  That’s kind of true.  The Olympics are frequently mentioned throughout Fatal Games but technically, no one in the movie is actually a member of the Olympic team.  At least not yet.  Instead, they’re all students at a special athletic academy.  Apparently, it’s supposed to be a high school, though we don’t ever see anyone taking a math test or attending English class or anything like that.  Instead, it appears that everyone at the school spends all day practicing gymnastics, swimming, or running.  In fact, it appears that there’s only 20 students at the school and, at most, 5 members of the faculty.  Maybe it’s meant to be like that school that all of the clones attended in Never Let Me Go.  Either that or it’s just an indication that Fatal Games was an extremely low-budget film.

Anyway, seven of the students have just won some sort of regional competition and now they’re getting ready for nationals!  And, if they win at nationals, they’ll get to go to the Olympics.  However, they might not even make it to nationals.  Someone is stalking the blandly likable athletes and using a javelin to pick them off, one-by-one.

Interestingly, it takes people a while to notice that the number of potential Olympians is steadily dwindling.  Instead, people say stuff like, “Hey, have you seen Nancy?”  “Not for a few days.”  “Hey, have you seen Sue Ellen?”  “Didn’t she got to San Francisco to see her boyfriend?”

Well, I guess it’s understandable.  It’s not like anyone in the film is going to school to develop their critical thinking skills.  They’re athletes.  Who cares about all of the people mysteriously disappearing?  They have athletic stuff to worry about!

Fatal Games is pretty much a typical mid-80s slasher.  Interestingly enough, it’s structured like a giallo.  The murderer dresses in black and we get all of the required close-ups of the killer’s gloved hands.  The film introduces several potential suspects but doesn’t reveal the killer’s identity until the final ten minutes.

Is it the overly critical track coach?

Is it the creepy doctor?

Is it the nurse who is worried that the athletes are being injected with too many hormones?  (Obviously, she’s seen Goldengirl.)

Is it the swim coach?

Or is it her girlfriend, the swimmer who didn’t qualify for nationals?

Is it the gymnast whose grades are slipping?

Could it be the other gymnast who is always telling jokes?

Or the runner who has father issues?

Or is it Joe, the token weird guy?

They’re all given a scene or two to establish that they have a potential motive for wanting the seven aspiring Olympians dead.  When the killer and the killer’s motive is finally revealed, it’s so over-the-top and stupid that you can’t help but admire the film for actually going there.  The filmmakers obviously said, “Forget trying to make sense.  WE’RE GOING FOR IT!”

Anyway, the main problem with Fatal Games is that the murderer uses a javelin and, as a result, there’s a lot of scenes of the killer running through narrow school hallways, carrying this goofy-looking javelin.  Don’t get me wrong.  Javelins are sharp and scary and I wouldn’t want one thrown at me.  But still, when someone spends more than five minutes running down a narrow hallway while carrying a javelin, it just looks silly.  Let’s not even think about the logistics of using a javelin to kill someone in broad daylight without anyone else noticing.

That said, as silly and predictable as Fatal Games may have been, there were a few moments of inspired lunacy.  I already mentioned the ending, which is so over-the-top and silly that you can’t help but admire it.  But there’s also a few shots that are genuinely effective.  A scene where the killer suddenly appears in a doorway was handled well.  There’s also an oddly dream-like sequence in which a swimmer practices in the pool, little realizing that the killer is floating underneath her.  How did the killer get in the pool, with the javelin, without anyone noticing?  Who knows?  It’s still an effective scene.

Finally, I have to mention that Fatal Games opens with a song called “Take It All The Way,” which is so generically 80s that it’s oddly brilliant.  It’s almost as good as Graduation Day‘s “The Winner.”

Fatal Games is currently available for viewing on YouTube.