Time to go all “English Teacher” on the series and take a look at some of the various Literary Devices you can find (if you look) in the Friday the 13th series. Maybe looking beyond the surface of a Friday the 13th entry is a ridiculous notion, as each chapter is based entirely on surface level thrills and viscera. Still, as I stated when I began this unbelievably lengthy treatise, if the creators put the effort forth, the least I can do is see if there is any ‘there’ there.
The weather plays an important role in the Friday series. I noticed that with few exceptions, a typical Friday the 13th entry begins with beautiful weather, sunny and perfect, only to later make way for the worst fucking weather imaginable. Torrential rain and hurricane gusts of wind are not uncommon for Camp Crystal Lake evenings, making things even scarier for our protagonists. Do psychos enjoy awful weather? Is it easier to work?
Another of the recurring motifs in each chapter is that of a full moon. In fact, the very first image we see in the entire series is that of a full moon, and has appeared throughout the series. As any fan of horror and/or the occult knows, a full moon comes charged with all sorts of meaning. People are said to “act strangely” on a full moon; in fact, a police officer that appears in Chapter I claims that there are more rapes and homicides on a full moon. Keep in mind, this is a Crystal Lake police officer- one whose jurisdiction is pretty much the woods. More rapes and homicides? How many are there on a normal day?
Of course, full moons are most famous for turning Lon Chaney, Michael Landon, Jack Nicholson, and David “I’m a Pepper” Naughton into a werewolves. I’ve never understood the connection between lycanthropy and the lunar cycle, since I thought the moon and the tides were connected. In any case, throughout film, literature, and song, one thing is clear: full moons are scary.
I’ve already mentioned the old coots that constantly tell the protagonists that they “are doomed!” as a form of (fairly blatant) foreshadowing. Add to that the songs that begin Chapters I and II. Both of these entries into the series open with camp songs about danger and monsters. Chapter I opens with a bunch of counselors sitting around a cabin singing “Tom Dooley,” a song about a Civil War veteran who killed his fiancé with a large knife and was later hanged for the crime. And Chapter II opens with an unseen child singing one of the creepiest children songs of all time: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” The message of this song is clear; you can climb up the “spout” all you want, but something larger than you (“the rain”) will knock you down every time. The protagonists in all the Friday entries could be considered the spider in this analogy, with Jason (or his mother in Chapter I) acting as the rain. I wish the rest of the chapters had kept going with the theme of a creepy song in the opening scenes- in Chapter III, scary disco music takes the place of the old standards, and the series never looked back.
Check this out (and 3D, no less):
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some Jason-isms and the role of drugs in the series.