Friday, March 12, 2010

Stranded at the Movies

When I was 12 years old my friend Alan and I went to see Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
Now, most theaters used the MPAA rating system as a guideline more than a rule. In my experience it's never been difficult for a minor to get into an R-rated movie in America. Theaters are usually more interested in putting asses in the seats than in defending some nebulous moral code.
That wasn't the case when Alan and I tried to see Friday the 13th movie.
Even in 1984 I didn't know anybody who was dumb enough to believe this movies was really the end of the series. But suspension of disbelief is an important factor in most movies (especially horror) and this understanding extends offscreen, as well. Among the inanities you have to accept to really appreciate the so-called "last" F13 movie is that Paramount was as likely to kill off Jason Vorhees as they were James T. Kirk. It wasn't impossible, as history has shown with both characters ... it's just improbable.

Alan and I convinced his dad to drop us off at the movies one Friday night. When we got to the ticket booth we we're told we couldn't see the film because of our age. Alan's dad had left an inch of rummer on the pavement leaving the theater, so we were stranded. Left to our own devices we formed a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.

It was an amazingly bold and complicated plan, but I'll try to dumb it down for you: We paid to see Terms of Endearment and ducked into Friday the 13th. I'm sure we were the first people to ever do this, but the U.S. Patent Office refuses to acknowledge our ingenuity.

But evening's freakshow was just beginning ...

The audience was really into this movie. I mean, like Rocky Horror-level enthusiasm. Whenever someone died on screen they broke out in the kinds of laughter and applause usually seen at ... hell, I don't know that I'd ever seen that kind of behavior before. And it terrified me. In between trying to will myself into invisibility whenever an usher made an appearance I was also worried about getting murdered by the nuts in the audience.

So, the movie lets out ...

Alan's dad wasn't the most reliable guy in the world, but what happened next was alien territory for me. The man forgot he'd dropped his son off in downtown Trenton, N.J. (or wherever we were ... I forget) and went to bed. We stood around for two hours before the idiot finally showed up. And he thought it was funny.

The following year Paramount rushed out the fifth Friday the 13th movie and it sucked like an nuclear-powered sucking machine that really, really enjoyed its job. By this point in the series nobody especially cared about things like "logic" and "believability" and later brought Jason back to life (undeath?) with a bolt of lightning ... forgetting that they'd never offered an explanation for his Terminator-like abilities to resist damage in the first place.


Below is footage from the Commodore 64 video game of Friday the 13th, which wasn't great ... but was still kinda memorable. It would sporadically flash images of 8-bit carnage across across the screen during the game, which was surprisingly scary.

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