Reviewed by Henry Bernice for TheHumbleHeckler.com.
(Editor’s note: Film critic/historian Henry Bernice has been struck by lightning seven times. Keep this in mind when reading the following article.)
Friday the 13th is one of the more polarizing horror films of the ’80s. Legions of horror fans see something in the film that legions of film critics simply do not. But, love it hate it, the film has made an indelible impact on the industry, one that continues to this day. More than four decades after that first fateful trip to Camp Crystal Lake, generations of Friday fans continue to spend their hard-earned dollars and their precious time pouring over the minutia of the film’s most trivial tidbits, wearing their knowledge of the film(s) on their sleeves like a merit badge from Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. And yet I have come up with five juicy little factoids that even the most ardent Friday fan couldn’t possibly know. So … here we go.
(1) Most Friday enthusiasts know that the film was originally titled A Long Night at Camp Blood. But only a privileged few have heard the actual working title: Friday July 13th, Around Seven O’clock P.M. Can you imagine such an awful title being seriously considered? But that’s nothing compared to the title proposed by Paramount Pictures bigshot producer Colin Bretherton, who wanted the film called: Camp Necky Stabby in honor of the film’s most notorious murder (you know, the scene where Kevin Bacon gets it right through the neck). Other prominent title suggestions include: The Horny Teen Massacre, Kind of Halloween, but not really, and Friday in New Jersey.
(2) The film had to be completed on a budget of $550,000. To cut costs, all of the cabins seen in the film were made completely out of fudge and Rice Krispie treats. “We thought it was a good idea,” said Sean S. Cunningham (the film’s producer/director) in a 1982 interview with Film Monsters Magazine. “But, boy, were we ever wrong. Those cabins attracted every hungry animal withing ten miles of the set. By the second week, we were up to our cornholes in rat bites and bear attacks.”
(3) Mrs. Voorhees was not supposed to be the killer. Believe it or not, the original script called for Crazy Ralph (“You’re all doomed!”) played by Walt Gorney to be revealed as the Camp Crystal Lake killer in the film’s final moments. Unfortunately, Mr. Gorney fell ill and had to be hospitalized before the film was finished shooting his scenes. “It was the damnedest thing,” Cunningham told an interviewer for Haute Couture Magazine in 1981. “One day we came to the set and found him [Walt] eating his weight in fudge and Rice Krispie treats. I mean, that guy was chewing right through the walls of one of the cabins. It was crazy.” Years later at a horror convention, when asked about the lost opportunity to play one of horror cinema’s all-time great villains, Walt Gorney said, “Worth it.” Then he threw a half-finished Bahama Mama-flavored Slush Puppie at Betsy Palmer.
(4) Queen Elizabeth is a big fan. That’s right, QE2 loves the Voorheeses and all of their gory misadventures. She was overheard talking about the Friday films at the snack bar while appearing for an official Audience with Pope Francis in 2015. “I can watch all of the Paramount Fridays, but that first one is hella scary,” she said. There is also an unconfirmed rumor stating that QE2 collects Jason masks. “Oh hell yeah, she loves her Jason masks. She even paints them and gives them customized machete gashes,” said Sarah, Duchess of York, in an off-the-record 2019 chat with journalist Chelsea Taunton from the magazine Modern Root Beer Enthusiast. “I think she’s even got a withered Pamela head tucked away in a closet at Balmoral.”
(5) Kevin Bacon was almost fired. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when Kevin Bacon was difficult to work with on set. Screenwriter Victor Miller recalled some of the not-so-fond memories of shooting with Bacon in an interview with Immoral Dentistry Magazine in 1990. “Kevin was in a strange place at that time. He wanted to do the role as a Polish transfer student, and no matter how much we pleaded with him, he refused to acquiesce. So he spoke with a Polish accent for the entire production.” The situation became so dire that Cunningham had to bring in an actor dub all of Bacon’s lines. “We couldn’t afford a top-tier voice actor,” Miller said. “So we had to bring in an unknown named Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, like, shockingly, he totally nailed it. Too bad he went uncredited.”
So, there ya’ have it, Friday fans. Five more things you can use at parties to impress other … um … trivia enthusiasts, maybe? Yeah, let’s go with trivia enthusiasts. Bye!