Continuity is a bitch. Even the best movies have a difficult time maintaining that ever -elusive “feel” of a series. As entertaining as some people found Live Free or Die Hard, it just didn’t feel like a Die Hard movie, did it? Or how about Lethal Weapon 4? Forget what you felt about these movies in terms of quality- did they feel like a part of the series?
Actually, for the two examples above, I blame hair. Bruce Willis should be receding, not stone bald. And what happened to Mel Gibson’s Michael Landon hair from the previous three entries?
But you get the point. One of the main things that needs to be maintained in an ongoing saga like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Friday the 13th is your timeline. Do characters age between films? Do the movies acknowledge what has happened in previous films in the series?
In the case of Friday the 13th, the answer is… sometimes. Lets take a look at how this all played out, shall we?
· 1957– The year it all begins, very plainly stated in Chapter I. This is the year that Jason drowned, setting forth the events of the rest of the series.
· 1958– Chapter I opens a year after Jason’s drowning. We see a couple counselors in the midst of hanky-panky, getting waxed.
· 1979– The rest of the events of Chapter I occur on a Friday the 13th during this year. Later, in Chapter IV, we see a tombstone for Pamela Voorhees with date of death being 1979.
· 1980-81– The heroine of Chapter I, Alice, is killed in her home in what can’t be more than a year after the events of the first one. Only problem- she is killed by Jason as a full-grown adult. What does this mean to the continuity? It means that the “boy” who pulled Alice into the water at the end of Chapter I must have been a hallucination. Unless Jason has that disease that Robin Williams had in Jack that makes him age really quickly.
· 1981-1984– Somewhere in these years, Chris (the heroine from Chapter III) is attacked by Jason in the woods near Higgins Haven. Jason is completely bald during this encounter, which means that he was bald, grew out his “hippie hair” for Chapter II, and then shaved it again for Chapter III.
· 1984– The events of Chapter II. Again on a Friday the 13th. Five years later, and some counselors have returned to a different camp. Jason goes to town. At this point, he is wearing a burlap sack over his head and overalls.
–The events of Chapter III. Takes place the day after Chapter II. It should be noted, that Chapter III occurs on Saturday the 14th.
-The events of Chapter IV. Again, since this chapter is concurrent with the previous two, so it takes place on Sunday the 15th and Monday the 16th. OK, here is our first real problem with continuity. There is a character named Rob Dyer who is chasing after Jason to avenge his little sister, Sandra. Sandra was a character killed by Jason in Chapter II, which according to the timeline, has only been killed two days earlier. That being said, Rob is a remarkably chipper and well-prepared guy for someone who has only been on the case for two days. He has a dossier on Jason, which begs the question: If he knew all this stuff, where the hell was he when the kids over at Higgins Haven (Chapter III) were being wiped out? I’m sure they would have appreciated his help.
· 1992- The events of Chapter V. Tommy is eight years older here, having spent some time in a mental institution. More importantly, this is the Chapter when the continuity (so fragile in Book I) really gets thrown out the window. Here are a couple problems with Chapter V occurring in 1992:
1. The police force is aware of Jason, and make several comments to the effect that his presence is still felt and is a bit raw for a lot of people. Yet this chapter doesn’t even necessarily take place on Crystal Lake- there is no water in this chapter at all.
2. Two of Imposter Jason’s victims are supposed to be rough and touch troublemaker types. Yet they are dressed like Lennie and Squiggy, or T-Birds from a road production of Grease.
3. The character of Demon wears a Jeri-curl. Didn’t see much of this in ’92.
4. The character of Violet, the trendy post-punk girl, has a poster for the Alan Parson’s Project on her wall. Was she being ironic? Also, her hair is crimped.
5. Not to mention, lots and lots of fairly careless sex in this one. In ’92, Magic Johnson was pretty big in the news.
· 1997- The events of Chapter VI. This is a conservative estimate, as Tommy is now around 25 or so. Crystal Lake is now called ‘Forest Green,’ which is a lot bigger than the Crystal Lake we saw in Chapter I. Nothing like a psychopath to boost tourism and commerce. Also this means that the real Jason has been dead for (gasp)… 13 years!
· ???- The events of Chaptet VII are confusing in terms of timeline. The chapter opens with a shot of Jason right where we left him at the end of Chapter VI, trapped at the bottom of the lake. Therefore, this must take place after the events of Chapter VI, right? Not so fast. The heroine of Chapter VII (Tina) is around 8 when she sends her abusive father down to Davy Jones’ Locker. Now, is Jason down there at this point? If so, the year Chapter VII opens must be around 1997 or so.
Then Chapter VII flash-forwards 10 years where the main story takes place. So is this now 2007? I think that’s what we’ll call it. If that is the case… the outfits, man. The outfits.
· 2008- The events of Chapter VIII occur right after Chapter VII. However, there is some dialogue by a character early on that says that Jason drowned 30 years earlier, which according to the logic of this timeline, would be 1987. Is this character just wrong, or did Jason take Manhattan in the interim between Chapters IV and VI? If so, did he then climb back into his coffin?
So you can see, after a while the continuity must have just grown tiresome for the creators of the series. One option, never explored, is that all of it (post-Chapter IV) was a fevered dream of an institutionalized Tommy. Who wouldn’t have loved it to have the series end with young Tommy waking up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette?