It began in the summer of 1979 when Sean Cunningham called a screenwriter friend and said: “Halloween is making a lot of money – why don’t we rip it off?”
A sometime porn director who’d produced Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left, Cunningham’s last three films had all flopped at the box office. He needed a hit to stay afloat, and ripping off one of the most successful independent movies of the decade seemed like a good idea.
Instructing writer Victor Miller to model a story after Halloween, the pair came up with a movie whose title, opening sequence, basic premise and shock ending all owed a debt to John Carpenter’s film. The most original idea was the inclusion of a 10 year-old boy named Jason Voorhees who drowned in 1957, giving his mother sufficient motive for a killing spree.
Intended to be a plot point and nothing more, Jason mysteriously rose from the dead when Friday The 13th grossed over $100 million worldwide and Paramount Pictures, eager to compete with the Halloween franchise, demanded a sequel. Promoted to lead villain, Jason became so popular that when an imposter took his place in Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning, fans demanded the return of the “real” Jason.
The twelve (so far) Friday The 13th movies have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, helped along by one of the most recognisable characters in popular culture, which prompts the question: Is there anything we don’t know about Jason Voorhees?