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The Many Faces of Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees

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Watch Friday the 13th movies on IFC every Friday this month at 11/10c, and back-to-back Jason movies every Sunday night.

By Matt Caracappa of DinosaurDracula.com. Article originally posted on X-Entertainment.

I recently picked up the Friday The 13th DVD set, which was more of a fanboy formality since I owned all but one or two of the films already. In an effort to make the purchase justified, I’ve spent the past week locked in a giant tank with nothing but the movies and a television. Seeing them in sequence teaches you a few things about the series, but the most glaring thing is how much Jason changed over the years. It’s pretty common knowledge that he didn’t grab a mask until Part 3-D, but the evolution runs a lot deeper than that. From the bumbling backwoods freak on display in Part 2 to the gothic monster of Part 7, the only thread that truly connects all of the Jasons is their penchant for killing.

I thought it’d be an interesting experiment to run through how Jason appeared in each of his movies; more specifically, how Jason looked during the truly defining moment of any F13 flick worth its hype: the unmasking scene. In almost every Friday the 13th film, the big moment came when one of Jason’s would-be victims managed to slap the mask off of his face. If you’re more familiar with the grotesque demon Jason was portrayed as in the later sequels, you may be surprised to learn just how human he was in the earlier films. Here’s a movie-by-movie look at the man behind the mask.


“Friday the 13th”

Okay, this one’s only here on a technicality. Jason appears in the final moment of the film, grabbing Hero Girl from her canoe and pulling her into the lake. Jason is still depicted as the young retarded boy who drowned all those years ago, weathered, water damaged and with a jawline too freaky to go to the prom with. Remarkably, traits shown in the seconds-long cameo have prevailed in most every Jason since. His mouth is always screwy, with one side of the face drooping lower than the other and looking scarred to all Hell.


“Friday the 13th: Part 2″

I’d really recommend checking this movie out. It’s probably my second favorite of the series, and easily the most underrated of ‘em all. Jason’s motives are similar, but his methods are not: witness Jason running around at top speed, wearing a simple bag over his head in the days before a mask would fall into his lap like a gift from above. Only appearing sans-mask in the final thirty seconds of the movie, it’s the big fake-out as the audience is led to believe the surviving characters are going to be a-okay until Jason busts through a window with more hair than a hippie who had to gets his arms amputated. More shocking is the fact that the other half of Jason’s face, not seen in this pic, looked normal for the most part. He had regular human features, a beard, the works. The look was more pitiable than shocking, and while certain nuances were kept for future chapters, Jason was noticeably beefed up and uglified in every movie since.


“Friday the 13th: Part 3-D”

Don’t assume that the lack of 3-D effects makes the third installment of the series a DVD miss. Again, it’s a good one, and it’s the chapter in which Jason really found his identity. The mask was lifted from “Shelly,” one of Jason’s fatter victims, and in the climax, Jason’s mask comes halfway off as he’s trying to free himself from a noose. A more imposing sight than audiences had previously been exposed to, Jason was now bald, with an impossibly large head marred by genetics, battle scars and the effects of having nothing to eat for two decades but bugs. A later dream sequence (OR WAS IT?!) gave us an even better look at Jason without the mask, and it’s here where he got the trademark head wound that most producers retained in the future films.


“Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter”

My personal favorite Jason from my personal favorite chapter in the series. I’ve already done a big ass article on The Final Chapter, but suffice to say, it delivered on pretty much every point a viewer could want from an F13 flick. Though not as animate as the unmasked Jason from Part 3-D, I’ve always pegged this version as the most creepy. Probably has something to do with the fact that, nearly five seconds after being unmasked, Jason’s head is impaled on his own machete, which digs deeper and deeper till the whole face splits into equal portions for thrifty lovebirds to share at Jack’s Bistro.


“Friday the 13th Part V”

A New Beginning: Nope, no Jason in this movie. The villain was revealed in the final moments to be a mere copycat killer, wearing a hockey mask and retard prosthetics to look more like the manbeast he idolized so. Many fans refuse to even count the film as a true chapter in the series, but just because you hate a movie doesn’t give you the right to do that. So stop. Aside from the questionable decision to replace Jason with anybody but Jason, the movie also has a distinctly different flavor than the rest of the earlier films. I don’t really mean this in a bad way, but Part V feels more like the direct-to-video special these franchises rely on to stay alive once ticket-buyers stop living up to their nickname. Many lessons were learned after the film was released and everyone shit on it, and by the time Part VI came out, most of the issues were rectified in a big way.

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