‘Friday the 13th’ inspires trends in horror films

“Friday the 13th” contributed, in more ways than one, to the growing number of superstitions and led to the creation of popular horror movie trends. Photo courtesy of IMDb

By Madalyn Watson | Contributor

Although John Carpenter’s success with his 1978 classic “Halloween” popularized the slasher film, “Friday the 13th” revolutionized the genre and amped up the level of gore.

The original “Friday the 13th” film debuted in 1980 and was only intended as a stand-alone film. In fact, one of the most famous serial killers in the world, Jason Voorhees, only had a few quick scenes in the film and by no means was the story’s greatest antagonist.

The story follows a group of young counselors being hunted down by a killer while they prepare for campers to the visit Camp Crystal Lake, where two murders happened 21 years before. The counselors are singled out and killed one by one, typically after having sex or using drugs. If you have seen any other horror film, this may sound cliché now, but that’s it all started with the original “Friday the 13th.”
The independent film was the 18th highest- grossing film of 1980 and led to 11 sequels, including a 2009 reboot and a 2003 crossover film with his nightmare-inducing counterpart from “Nightmare on Elm Street,” Freddy Kreuger in “Freddy vs. Jason.”

The number “13” and Friday were already unlucky before Sean S. Cunningham thought up the idea for the film.

One of the most popular theories behind the fear of the numeral is rooted in the Bible. Many believe that Judas — the disciple who betrayed Jesus — was the 13th person to sit at the table during the Last Supper. The crucifixion of Jesus was on a Friday, which was also known as hangman’s day in Europe. The fear of the number spread from Christian beliefs to other religious and spiritual beliefs, eventually becoming an unknown fear for forgotten reasons.

Several other dark events in history occurred when the baker’s dozen and the last weekday come together to make one of the most chilling days of the year. Geoffrey Chaucer considered Fridays unlucky when he wrote “and on a Friday fell all this mischance, in “The Canterbury Tales.”

The Apollo 13 space mission was cut short on April 13, 1970, when one of its oxygen tanks exploded — luckily, they had a safe return. Composer Arnold Schoenberg had triskaidekaphobia, an extreme fear of the number 13, and he died of anxiety on July 13, 1951, which just so happened to be also a Friday.

Even after the start of the “Friday the 13th” franchise, Dan Brown’s mystery thriller “The Da Vinci Code” popularized the belief that the Knights of Templar were arrested on Friday the 13th. However, the idea is only based on the popularity of Brown’s work as well as the superstition.

Like the film that inspired its creation, “Friday the 13th” has influenced pop culture so much that references can be found all throughout modern films and television shows.

Films like “Paranorman” and televisions shows such as “The Simpsons,” “South Park” and “Family Guy” allude to the Jason’s goalie mask that he debuted in “Friday the 13th Part III.” Although the hockey mask is one of the first aspects of the franchise most fans think of when they hear “Jason,” it wasn’t incorporated into his character until he takes it from one of his victims in order to conceal his face.

The iconic and rhythmic soundtrack of the film has become so recognizable that television shows like “NCIS” and films like “The Cable Guy” parody rhythmic ‘70s synth theme music.

The distinctive sound in the soundtrack that identifies when the killer is about to enter the scene — inspired by “Jaws” — is actually a distorted version of Harry Mandfredini, the composer, repeating parts of Mrs. Voorhees’ (Betsy Palmer) line in the film, “Kill her, Mommy!” He emphasizes two syllables, the “ki-” in “kill” and the “ma” sound in “mommy” to create the nerve-wracking score.

However, one of the most well-known references to “Friday the 13th” shocks Drew Barrymore’s short-lived character in the “Scream.” A strange voice harassing her on the phone while she is home alone dares her to play a game with him. Her only way out is to name the killer from “Friday the 13th” and after guessing Jason a bit too eagerly, the audience can only predict what will happen to her next.

“I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer,” the voice responded.