It’s common knowledge that Jason Voorhees evolves over time. In each flick, he’s significantly different, though retaining certain characteristics of previous ventures. However, the movie that most established Jason as we know him today is Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part III. In part 1, Jason was just a boy whose death led his mother, Pam (Betsy Palmer), going on a killing spree in his honor. Why did the counselors let that poor boy drown? They were busy “making love,” of course! See, that’s why, among all of these slasher movies, the Friday the 13th franchise at least has a clear motive behind the killer’s disdain for sex.
Beyond these basic motives, the earlier films established Jason as a deformed miscreant. The idea was originated by Tom Savini, and it’s no doubt an additional source of anger for Mr. Voorhees. This was someone who had no hope of leading a normal life, although it’s likely Jason would have been psychotic even without his mother’s decaptation and physical appearance. In part 2, Jason hid his deformities behind a large sack rather than the iconic hockey mask.
In other words, it took 3 full movies for them to truly establish Jason Voorhees in his most recognizable form: The tall, nearly invincible killer. In fact, prior to Friday the 13th Part III, Jason didn’t seem nearly as invincible. Frankly, he seemed considerably more human. In fact, he was thwarted largely due to his psychology, which the third film largely abandons (though Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter does get into his psychology again).
The Beginnings of Near-Invincible Zombie Jason
The invincible slasher villain wasn’t always a cliché. In fact, other than Halloween’s Michael Myers, hardly any invincible slasher villains seem to have existed when this movie arrived. So, in an odd way, “Part III” can be seen as somewhat innovative. In fact, it also has one of the best “final girl” confrontations of any slasher movie out there, with Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) battling Jason is in a fairly believable combination of luck and skill. However, as they fight, one thing gradually becomes apparent: Jason Voorhees (Richard Brooker) is very hard to kill, or even slow down. Stab a knife in his knee, he can basically still run…and yes, Jason runs in this movie. He gets noticeably pissed off and runs after Chris. He also grunts when he gets harmed, indicating some vestigial sense of pain.
While those are human traits, we know by this point that Jason is…well, more human than human. It further establishes the question of what the hell Jason Voorhees even is. Is he undead even in Part 2? Is he the recipent of magical powers? Is he part of some greater curse over Camp Crystal Lake — what Crazy Ralph (Walter J. Gorney) called a “death curse”? It’s hard to say. In fact, it’s regularly debated whether enough the bastard truly even drowned! What we do know, however, is that Jason Voorhees is built Ford tough and ready to kill (though, of course, he often likes to wait around and watch his eventual victism first, just to learn about ’em and draw out the movie’s run time).
As all fans know, Jason first gets his mask from prankster Shelly Finkelstein (Larry Zerner). However, there is one lingering question: Why would Jason develop such an affinity with the mask? It’s actually a bit weird if you think about it. Why would he wear it through so many different, epic, counselor-killing adventures over the years? The most obvious answer is that, by this point, a hockey maskless Jason would be rejected by franchise fans.
Still, I’d personally like to think that, inside the bizarre universe of Camp Blood, Jason has come to depend on it almost as a close pal. While it’s doubtful that he cares about his murder of Shelly, it is possible that something about the mask simply grips him, never lets him go. He was evil before donning that mask, but he’s become ever more evil, and ever more invinciple since putting it on. At the very least, it must give him a sense of confidence to put it on, and help him get out there to kickc camper butt!
What are your thoughts on Friday the 13th Part III and its many unique questions? Let us know in the comments!