The Forgotten Origin Of Jason Voorhees

One of the undervalued elements of Friday The 13th (1980) is its allusions to larger stories. I believe the reason Sean Cunningham and other members of the part one brigade like Tom Savini were so flabbergasted that Jason’s franchise centricity spawned out of that little film is because Victor Miller’s script was deceptively simple. Just like Crystal Lake, there’s more lurking under the surface.

A prime example: towards the end of the film we briefly experience Jason struggling to stay afloat as flashback when his mama Pam Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) unfurls exposition upon Alice (Adrienne King). Its brevity gets the point across but is the initial seed for a viewer to see more of the lovable spud-head, and it’s a story angle that spins off some meaty questions, like were the counselors that let him drown Barry & Claudette? And if not, were they actually fucking, or was that Mrs Voorhees’ own opinion of events? Of course, many would scoff and roll their eyes at looking “too deep” into this movie, certainly a film so cheap and nasty, as those that made it describe it.

But it is the film itself that presents the questions.

Pamela’s flashback of Jason drowning is a possible falsity, as it was denoted in the script that it was to be portrayed as a fantasy version, with specific instructions for post-production to mix the audio of Jason’s please for help to sound “filtered, echoed and distant”. Again, to Miller’s credit.

Other films in the series have shown that coy sense of “don’t trust memories” subtext. I find it interesting that in Freddy Vs Jason (2003), writers Shannon & Swift chose to finally show the circumstances surrounding Jason’s drowning in full… but framed within his own nightmare. It was an admirable subtlety on their part that offers an automatic seamless retcon should future films want to canonically elaborate on the original concept, because it represents only Jason’s possibly exaggerated memory of that fateful day.

However just because that out-of-reality factor (nor our thoughts on the overall film), the scene shouldn’t be overlooked for what it was fundamentally designed to be: the origin of Jason Voorhees.

Freddy vs. Jason (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)

Starring: Ken Kirzinger, Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland
Rating: R (Restricted)

List Price: $5.98 USD
New From: $2.95 In Stock
Used from: $0.22 In Stock
Release date January 13, 2024.
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2 Responses to “ The Forgotten Origin Of Jason Voorhees ”

  1. I liked the expansion of Jason’s origin in Freddy vs Jason. Thought it held pretty true to what most people assumed, how his drowning played out. The major Jason gripe I have with that movie is his “fear of water”. Where the hell did that come from???

  2. I guess the idea behind the fear of water was that since Jason had first “died” by drowning, he would have some fear of that event. Of course, Jason never showed any fear of the water in any later movies, although he didn’t really jump back into the lake until part 4 (he wasn’t too afraid of the rain or puddles in the earlier flicks, of course). I choose to look at it as if Freddy was bringing back more the fear of drowning or Jason’s memory of drowning. He is definitely not afraid of water, puddles, or lakes (even in FvJ he doesn’t seem too bothered by the lake at the end), but perhaps that drowning memory was in a dark corner of Jason’s barely-there mind and Freddy was able to pull it out and use it against poor Jason (and that all of this was represented in a too vague or too symbolic way in the film itself as just Jason appearing paralyzed by a little waterfall).

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