The Slashed Script: Barry & Claudette

Posted 02 Jun 2024 in The Saga

In this new series of articles entitled The Slashed Script, I’m going to examine scripted scenes that didn’t make it to screen for whatever reason, or not in the way we ultimately saw them. It’s easy to belittle the Friday the 13ths for their dumber, less ambitious movies and moments, but quite often they weren’t planned that way, they were quite smarter on paper and got fucked up during the development or filming process – or in some cases, the other way around – written poorly and only enhanced and improved along the way.

I’m looking forward to getting into that, and while this won’t be chronological by film at all, it seems fitting to start at the very first torn out pages – I’m talking about the lost opening murders in Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th (1980).

Let’s set the scene: In the movie you saw, the then-unidentified Mrs Voorhees sneaks up on Crystal Lake Camp counselors – scrumptious Claudette (Debra S. Hayes) and amorous Barry (the appropriately-named Willie Adams) – during some early 80′s foreplay. Out comes the blade, the boy is jabbed under camera frame and falls whilst clutching his dribbling stomach, and off the girl’s slo-mo reaction the screen fades to white before segueing to credits. It’s a simple, understated opening – quite different then the gorefest to come, in that the opportunity for a double-murder was passed up for the decidedly more sophisticated story move of setting up the element of dread!

Originally the scene was just as red as the rest, and took place in the woods at daytime instead of inside the barn at night. Read for yourself, the scene from one of Victor Miller’s later screenplay drafts then come back below for some commentary.

Suddenly CLAUDETTE looks up into the CAMERA with terror.

A hatchet flashes into FRAME and CLAUDETTE goes down under the blow.

The CAMERA TURNS TO BARRY. The PROWLER’s powerful hand has him by the throat. He backpeddles, trying to get away.

ANOTHER ANGLE: as BARRY is stopped against a tree.

A hunting knife soars against the leafy sky. BARRY grabs the knife-hand at the wrist. The knife falls to the mossy floor of the clearing.

Two hands go for the free blade. BARRY’s hand has it.

There is a confused jumble of struggle.

Onto the bed of moss falls the little finger of the PROWLER.

REACTION SHOT: BARRY, horrified by the sight.

The PROWLER’s hand has the knife. It moves quickly forward. We can hear the blade strike.

BARRY stares up at the sky in a soundless shriek.

MCU the moss where the finger fell. The PROWLER reaches into FRAME, picks up the finger, and exits FRAME.

QUICK CUT TO: CHLOE, out searching for the missing Counselors. She stands at the edge of the clearing, her hands pressed on her temples, her throat filled with a scream of terror. The MUSIC has stopped abruptly.


It is completely SILENT.

Wait, what? Pamela was going to lose her finger? It be so, friends. A phased-out plot point, the hidden stalker throughout the film would be seen to be missing a digit which would connect the dots that it was the same assailant from the beginning. After seeing so many slashers, you would think that would be bloody obvious, eh? But in these formative days, the “formula” was still being prepared and tested – there were no rules so writer’s and directors would have to gage on gut alone how much information the audience needed to understand the mystery, no matter how simplistic.

Remember, Halloween‘s killer was known – Friday the 13th was installing a hidden identity angle to differentiate. And a certain amount of trial and error was par for the course. Obviously cooler heads prevailed come filming and Betsy Palmer and her hand double were spared the trouble of crimping their finger under a prosthetic stump for hours on end.

As for poor Claudette, as the lobby card up top shows, her intended on-screen icing got a little further than paper – okay, make that much further. Exactly how much, well no one can quite agree on that. This is one of the greater unresolved Paramount mysteries. The comprehensive Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete Friday the 13th is considered Jason’s bible – it certainly is in my home, okay? Although it contains an additional image of Claudette going under the hatchet, the text was unusually fleeting and somewhat elusive when it came to describing exactly what was shot.

Cunningham acknowledged that the scene underwent many changes, originally featuring a boathouse chase (excised by the time of the the script I’ve excerpted from), and several attempts to shoot it didn’t get far, first due to first snow then a generator failure. Tom Savini oddly didn’t even acknowledge Claudette’s fate being committed to film beyond it being a nixed plan – and he was the FX man. Yet we have multiple points of photographic proof that Claudette’s throat being opened by steel! So the money shot was filmed and trimmed just short of the fatal blow. Personally, I believe it would’ve made Annie’s FX moment redundant, so one of them had to go – a sacrificial lamb!

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