Last week I laid out my vision for the direction of the Friday the 13th film franchise. This week it’s time to deliver. So for today’s article I’ll begin discussing, in detail, the first film in that proposed trilogy, Friday the 13th Part XIII: The Curse of Jason Voorhees.
First off let me explain the title. I’ve always seen Jason Voorhees’ entire existence as a curse, for him, his victims and the town of Crystal Lake. Crazy Ralph had it right in the first film, it’s a death curse. Jason, the camp, his mother, and the town are all surrounded by death. The curse binds them all together in a decades long dance with the most morbid of consequence. So for the opening of the film we will trace this curse all the way back to where it started. Elias Voorhees, the ultimate antagonist of the entire trilogy.
The film will start with a title card indicating a flashback to May of 1946. We open with the song “Prisoner of Love” by Perry Como, issuing from a small radio in a rustic looking kitchen. A young woman is washing dishes and dancing along to the romantic music. Suddenly she whirls around and is harshly smacked to the floor. Looming over her is Elias Voorhees and we see that the young woman, Pamela, is pregnant. He scowls at her and demands to know why his breakfast isn’t on the table. She hurriedly gets up from the floor and reaches into the oven to produce a plate she had warming for him. He brusquely sits down and proceeds to wolf down the food. Elias is a large, imposing man with shaggy red hair and an unkempt beard. He’s dressed in a dirty mechanic’s uniform and is preparing to leave for work. As Pamela finishes the dishes he gruffly gets up to leave, snatches the lunch pail she produces for him and leaves the house without a word.
Following him to the door Pamela watches him leave from the front porch and when his truck is out of sight she springs into action. She quickly makes her way to the front hallway and produces a keyring she has secreted away in a drawer. Nervously looking over her shoulder the entire time, she makes her way out the back and to the cellar doors outside. Fumbling nervously with the lock she is able to find the key to open it and then stops to take a few trembling breaths before heading down the stairs into the darkness.
At the bottom of the stairs she is able to find a chain that, when pulled, activates a dim bulb that illuminates a workbench and the wall behind it. The area is filled with arcane, demonic symbols and candles. She gasps and stares around in horror as we are given a look at everything until her vision, and ours, is ultimately focused on the object at the center of the chaotic display. The Necronomicon Ex Mortis. She hesitantly opens the book to a page that has been marked and scans the images that depict some kind of a ritual. Horrified, she turns to leave but hears a muffled cry from her left. Squinting she makes out a young lady that is bound and chained to the wall. The young lady, her eyes pleading, tries to say something to Pamela through a gag in her mouth. Pamela rushes to her side and finds the key to the lock and takes out the gag. The woman informs Pamela that Elias intended to sacrifice her and use her blood in a ritual. Pamela helps her up and the two quickly exit the basement. The girl leading the way gasps when she reaches the top of the stairs and is met by Elias who promptly guts her right in front of Pamela who begins to scream. He then grabs her by the hair of her head and drags her back into the house.
He throws her to the floor in a rage explaining that she is nothing more than a receptacle for the instrument of his ascension to godhood. He’s been kidnapping local girls and using their blood to empower the unborn child with their spiritual essences. When the child is born he intends to sacrifice it and transfer the gift to himself so that he can live forever. Upon hearing him say what he intends for her child Pamela flies into an animalistic rage and attacks him. Surprised by her ferocity Elias falls over backward as Pamela screams, claws and scratches him while telling him that he won’t have her baby. This exchange is interrupted by the sound of sirens outside.
Scrambling up to his feet, Elias goes from window to window to see that his house is being surrounded by police. Looking to Pamela in disbelief she smiles and informs him that she called them before he even woke up. She had long suspected him of being the person abducting the girls and only needed the proof, which she correctly guessed he had been keeping in the basement. Elias starts to advance on her again before the door is kicked in and several officers pour into the house and hold him at gunpoint.
Elias is handcuffed and led out the door to a police car all the while screaming at Pamela. He informs her that she and the “thing” inside her will be surrounded by death. That because the ritual wasn’t completed the baby will be cursed by it, consumed by it and their lives will be terrible. He then begins to curse both the town and it’s people. He promises that he’ll be back to claim what is his and that until he does they will all live in misery.
As he is forced into the car an officer covers Pamela’s shoulders with a blanket. He looks down on her and says, “Don’t worry Mrs. Voorhees, where he’s going he’s not going to hurt you or anyone else.” We push in on him patting her pregnant stomach. This is the first time any character is referred to by name. We then cut to the title sequence which is done in the same style, with the same music, as “The Final Chapter”.
This opening sets the stage for the overarching narrative that will play in the background of the trilogy. The story of the Voorhees family and the curse they brought to Crystal Lake. In order to assure that these articles are more palatable I’ll be breaking each film up into daily parts so you don’t feel like you’re reading a small book each time. So I’ll be back next time where we’ll meet our main characters and cover the first act.
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