Two-part post alert – go big or go home! Ok, yeah, technically I’m breaking a minimum of two of my rules, but by the end of this post you’ll understand why. And if that doesn’t entice you to keep reading then nothing will. So without further adieu, on this, the 13th day of April, I present #13 on my list: my two favorite kills from the Friday the 13th franchise.
But first, some context 🙂
Dating back to the original film in 1980 there’s been a total of twelve entries in this slasher series, so you could say I’m going by the law of averages here. With that much material it seems only right to pick more than one, as anything less would be a disservice. Not only that, but Jason is nothing if not prolific, having amassed a body count of somewhere in the vicinity of 150 (a Google search yields different answers due to some technicalities). Picking one out of that many was not going to be feasible, and I aim for feasibility.
With so many movies and so many kills, it was hard to whittle it down to even two! Hell, it’s hard to even pick one favorite film from the lot. By narrowing it down to only two kills, I’m undoubtedly going to leave out some fan favorites, including one in particular.
But that’s part of the beauty of the franchise: the discourse. Fans have debated for years about which is the best film, the best kill, the best characters, the best Jason, etc., and they’ll continue to debate for years to come. It courses through the veins of the horror community, and this franchise is built to a variety of different tastes. Everyone has their favorite flavor.
Each film and each Jason has a different hue. Part II is semi-serious and Jason is more like a backwoods, crazed hillbilly. Part III is fun and a little lighter than the previous two
films, and Jason is a hulking stalker who plots and waits for his moment to attack. And Part IV is tinged with a sense of dread and a feeling of ubiquitous menace. This Jason is big and bad, and his kills are the very definition of brutality.
With all that being said, I’m going to sprint right into the fire: no, I did not include the sleeping bag kill from Part VII. Is it a great kill? Of course. Is it an iconic kill? Without question. Having come to these films by way of the later sequels you would think that kill would be one of the two I chose. If these are 13a and 13b, then the sleeping bag kill is probably 13c.
As I age I find my tastes changing. The later sequels (let’s call them the post-A New Beginning films) straddle the line of parody, with each film seemingly trying to up the
ante on what Jason is capable of. The earlier films tend to have a more serious tone to them and, therefore, there’s a larger degree of danger, which has come to suit my tastes. Zombie Jason is just fine, but I like my Jason to be a living being, albeit with some inhuman capabilities.
Which brings me to my first choice!
It hails from Part III, which is probably the most fun film in the series for me. In the scene, Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) and Debbie (Tracie Savage) just finished having sex in a hammock and Debbie is taking a shower. Andy has shown his ability to walk on his
hands multiple times in the film, so that’s how he’s chosen to navigate getting a beer. He “walks” in to ask Debbie if she wants one, she says “yes” and he exits the bathroom on his hands.
Quick note: this clip is NSFW!!
While Andy and Debbie are doing their thing, we see Jason (Richard Brooker) casually walking upstairs with his trusty machete. Andy heads to the room and we get a low-angle shot of him walking on his hands. Debbie sees that Andy left the door open so she steps out of the shower to close it.
Then we get that same low-angle shot as Andy is coming back towards the bathroom, but
in the left side of the frame we see Jason’s feet and the machete standing against the wall, waiting for Andy. He gets about halfway to the bathroom when he looks up and sees Jason standing right above him now. Jason raises that machete and with one powerful swipe chops Andy right in half like he was a piece of firewood.
The camera gives us one millisecond of a shot that appears to be beneath the floor and you can almost feel that machete slice right through an area of your body you don’t want to think about.
The cherry on top of this kill occurs after Debbie has gotten out of the shower. She lying in the hammock reading a Fangoria magazine, of all things, when suddenly she notices
some blood dripping on her. She looks up and sees the two halves of Andy stuffed up in the ceiling, and she starts to react but then we get a re-creation of the Kevin Bacon kill from Part 1. Jason grabs her head and plunges a knife right up through her back and out her chest.
The logistics of Andy’s kill are questionable, and I’m pretty sure there would be more than just a little drip of blood when his entire body has been chopped in half. But,
nonetheless, I love this kill for its visceral thrill. You know what’s coming when you see Jason standing off to the side, and then the camera really knows how to sell this kill with a couple nifty angles.
That’s what sets this apart from some of the other kills, such as the sleeping bag. The camera changes perspective multiple times in what amounts to be a very quick kill. It doesn’t just show Jason swinging the machete down, it makes you feel it.
Moving on to my next choice!
This one is my all-time favorite from this series. It’s legitimately terrifying and it scares
the shit out of me every time I watch it. This clip is poor Rob’s ghastly demise from Part IV.
Of note, this is the second entry on this list from from Director Joseph Zito and special effects legend Tom Savini. They were the pair responsible for this kill from The Prowler, which was #23 on my list.
Ok, here’s the set-up. Rob (Erich Anderson) is at Crystal Lake to avenge his sister’s death,
who was Sandra (Marta Kober) from Part II. I like the synergy in this narrative choice, it feels like a little universe. In his travels he’s come across the Jarvis family, namely Trish (Kimberly Beck) and, of course, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman).
In the clip, Rob and Trish are searching the house next to the Jarvis’ where our group of partying kids have already been dispatched by Jason (Ted White). Trish is searching upstairs while Rob is checking out the basement. Trish finds some of the carnage and she rushes downstairs to tell Rob that Jason is in the house.
Trish finds Rob in the basement and they start to bolt out of there, but Rob steps on a
broken part of the stairs and drops his knife. He gets his foot free and runs down to get the knife, and then Jason appears from the darkness.
Jason grabs a gardening tool and starts to tear Rob apart. As Jason is thrashing away at him, Rob cries out, “Oh God, he’s killing me. He’s killing me! Run, Trish! Run!” And if that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, I don’t know what will.
This kill works so well because of that reaction, because Rob is staring certain death in the face. It’s that helplessness and sudden realization that you are dying, and there’s nothing you can do about it. This kill is harrowing.
The craziest part of this kill is you can’t really see what Jason is doing to Rob, you just hear Rob screaming for dear life and telling Trish to get the hell out of there as he’s being killed. No gore needed. The effectiveness of this kill is deeper than blood and guts, it comes down to fear of mortality.
Ok, there you have it. Those are my two favorites from this storied franchise. I’m sure you have your own favorites, so feel free to comment if you want to discuss. And check back Thursday for #12 on my list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!