The Friday the 13th franchise was as much a part of my childhood as Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles and Nintendo. In every Sunday newspaper, we got a copy of the TV Weekly, which had a listing in the back of every movie playing that week. And every week, I’d go through the listing with a highlighter, searching for horror movies; particularly Friday the 13th installments (there were only 8, at the time, but there are 12, now).
I was as passionate about horror movies as I was cartoons, and perhaps even moreso, as watching horror movies required a certain test of skill and endurance for an elementary schooler. The best ones played at the wee hours on cable (Friday the 13th was a recurring theme for USA’s Up All Night), and the best-BEST ones played at the weeeee hours on HBO. Staying up late was the test of endurance, but the test of skill came in keeping a trained ear for parental footsteps and a fast finger on the remote to change the channel before they could catch me watching something I shouldn’t be.
But of all the horror flicks I digested in my youth, Friday the 13th was my favorite franchise. I’m one of those weirdos that has always enjoyed the films for the story, believe it or not, and in those early years where everything was a brand new discovery, I thrilled to the exploits of Jason Voorhees. I loved the continuity of the films and looked to Jason as the hero (because really, who watches a slasher film and roots for the teenagers?). I was hooked on his increasingly bizarre adventures.
And one of my favorite staples of each installment was the dramatic unmasking. While not every film in the series followed the formula, you could typically look forward to seeing Jason lose his mask somewhere during the climax and catch a glimpse at just how jacked-up his face has gotten between installments. There was never any rhyme or reason to his look and each makeup artist employed their own unique vision to his vile visage. “Just what is Jason gonna look like THIS time?” was something I pondered as I began each flick and I happily forced myself to stay up past 2am with as much Coke and Pixie Sticks as I could handle just to learn the answer.
So let’s take a look at Jason’s numerous faces, from the good to the bad to the ugly (okay, so they’re all ugly).