“Fan of the 13th: A Small Compilation of Friday the 13th Fan Films”
By Adam Troutt
It’s that glorious, erratic, ever changing time of the year again: Friday the 13th! While for most of the country, the maligned and misunderstood holiday is a host for people’s dread and fear of mishaps and a 24 hour cornucopia of a relentless unlucky streak, for horror fans it brings a polar opposite effect. Just like Halloween, it becomes a day for merriment, celebration, and murder (fictitious….for the most part). Now, if you’re a ravenous horror aficionado, as myself, you spend your damned near religious holiday exclaiming with an incessant vexatious sense of glee “Happy Friday the 13th” to every passerby that crosses in your generalized direction, but also ingesting a healthy helping of the oeuvre of Friday the 13th films. Whether you’re the nitpicky or time constrained fan that pulls just a few choice selections that rank as your favorites to bookend(or jumpstart) your day, or you’re the gluttonous, masochist fanatic who tries to sate your hunger with the grueling task of trying to fit every last film in before the night comes to a close, and Saturday the 14th takes over, but that flick and its sequel is a whole other article. Having completed this feat multiple times, I can tell you it’s not for the faint of heart. Now, while I’d never be so blasphemous as to say that the franchise has reached a stalemate, let’s be real: with 10 films, a crossover flick, a remake, and a in name only T.V. show there’s plenty of blood soaked carnage to entertain you, I thought I could offer up an alternative, or a welcomed addition, to your holiday festivities. Which brings me to the subject of fan films.
Fan films, as I’m sure most of the are well versed in, are celluloid love letters to our cherished characters and creators of intellectual properties that have imprinted on our psyche and gassed us up to bring to life our wildest, out there theories, alternative storylines, and what ifs that dare to be. Ranging from kids ketchuping it in the backyard with a VHS camcorder to actual productions churning out a quality film that could easily mask as an addition to the already exhaustive parts that exist. Films, usually short in nature, that curb our hunger for more of the worlds that have engulfed our being.
Seeing as Friday the 13th remains a celebration of our fandom into a franchise of characters that we know and love as much as our own families, I thought I’d offer up a couple of these endearing films of fandom as another way to commemorate the franchise and our obsessive adoration for it.
1. Slash Up: Sarah Connor Vs. Jason Voorhees – Much of an explanation and plot synopsis of this tome is not really necessary from the title. I’ll have a go of it though. The year is 1988, and Ms. Connor is taking up to freelancing for Cyberdyne and I guess combing the country side and busting baddies. I’m assuming in this world that Skynet has been effectively defeated, or just not an issue yet(it’s been a while so I can’t recall the timeline exactly), and given her newly exposed penchant for badassery she decides to dump the diner and take up the philanthropic work of damning evil time and time again. After Sarah cozies up in the quiet New Jersey outskirts of Crystal Lake, she stumbles, with great agility, upon a group of raucous teens YOLOing it in a cabin of decadent sin. Her arrival proves a little too late as the hapless teens get effectively picked off with sanguined glee by the SkyNet like(Shit! Is that the connection?! Was Jason Voorhees just another T-800 created by Cyberdyne? But I digress, that’s another fan flick altogether) murder machine Jason Voorhees, and his life partner and best friend that I’m sure he lovingly referred to as “machete”. Now, with the body count diminished, superfluous characters canon foddered away, it’s up to Sarah Connor to save herself and whatever still functioning body parts are left of the teens, as Jason’s murderous rage laser focuses on her.
Working on what I assume was a basically nonexistent budget, and running at only about ten minutes long, this isn’t going to leave you frothing at the mouth for the next installment of the “Vs. Jason” spinoff series, but it is a fun spirited entry into the Jason mythos. Having seen many no budget atrocities in my days I’m pretty lenient on the production value of independent art. So, take it with a grain of a grain of salt when I say that I thought the look of the flick and the acting within were actually pretty good. The teens imitating the 80s predecessors pull it off in being satirical without venturing into the work becoming cheesy itself, or just plain obnoxious. While Nicole Marines isn’t going to nudge Linda Hamilton, or even Lena Headey, off her spot, she does a solid job of tussling with her undead adversary. I know what you’re saying: “Shut the fuck up about all this shit with the teens and Sarah, Adam! What about Jason?!”. To which I say: *crawls into corner and starts rocking while sobbing uncontrollably*. After that, I stand up super manly like and rest your weary soul by informing you that you have no worries. Derek Russo, as before, isn’t the hulking beast that is Kane motha fuckin’ Hodder, but he does possess enough of a threatening presence to get you to set aside the pitchforks and torches. Considering it’s a slasher film, or at least plays in that wheelhouse, I thought it a tad too lite on spilling the red stuff and assembling creative kills, though I imagine this was simply due to budgetary constraints, and seeing as this is more of a novelty to see these popular figures go head to head, it’s a small gripe. Really my only real complaint is that there is an unnecessary introduction to the short talking about making it and sizing up the opponents. Basically, preproduction stuff that could’ve easily been a bonus video or included at the end credits. Overall, it’s a fun, short but sweet flick not meant to be taken too seriously. So, if you’re strapped for time or just need a cap off, kill ten minutes and watch Sarah battling it out with Jason.
2. Camp Crystal Lake – Friday the 13th Fan Reimagining 2017 – Now, admittedly, this bite sized slasher isn’t sporting the catchiest of titles, but nevertheless don’t let that put you off of it. Camp Crystal Lake – Friday the 13th Fan Re-imagining 2017, or CCLFt13FR2017 for short, for the most part plays out like an omitted scene from one of the sequels. It’s not until the end that CCLFt….we’re just going to lovingly refer to it as “CCL” from now on. Anyways, it’s when the dust has settled and the blood coagulated that CCL becomes its own unique murderous mutant. The plot remains simple. Camp counselor Jack has slipped off to the woods to start toking up. Jack’s bogarting break is interrupted by his counselor peer, Marcy. Marcy brazenly hot boxes herself into his smoke break to partake in the fruits of the earth without so much as even offering to put five on it. Despite this egregious faux pas, the two hit it off swimmingly and take to the dense woods for a light stroll of toke and talk. Getting well acquainted doesn’t last too long for Marcy and Jack, seeing as the number one D.A.R.E. supporter comes along and helps them kick their habit.
I was actually really impressed with CCL. The photography, direction, and acting are all solid, and effectively builds tension once the threat becomes apparent. Even the script works, playing out like a Kevin Smith slasher short. The dialogue is essentially just pointless back and forth between developing characters that aren’t going to make it past the 10 minute mark(or will they?!) making it effective in holding your interest and sucking you into being a part of the movie instead of just an uninterested spectator. Upon first viewing you can’t help but get that knee jerk reaction of frustration whenever Jason shows up because the Jason in this short isn’t the Jason we are familiar with. Bear with me though, and press play with an open mind because without giving anything away, come the end we leave with all being forgiven and questions needing to be answered. Lucky for us, the ending credit scroll shows that this is just Chapter One of a series, and I personally look forward to Chapter Two.
3. Voorhees (Born On a Friday) – When compiling this list I knew I wanted to provide you with works that were entertaining, but to also give you a variety of different takes and voices. Cue Voorhees (Born on a Friday), gifted to us from blinky500. For the uninitiated, blinky500 is the YouTube channel of filmmaker, and Jack of all filmmaking trades, Chris R. Notarile. Mr. Notarile has spent the better part of a decade making cinematic art, from the full length narrative feature to the brief wonder of the short form concept trailer, and all that in between, specifically lots and lots of fan films. In all this time Chris has proven his prowess for creating compelling stories from already existing properties. In short, this dude is the god damn king when it comes to fan films! In this extensive list of fan films is Voorhees (Born On a Friday). What pulled my attention was that instead of watching Jason dispatch horny, unruly teens deep in the woods of Crystal Lake we follow the OG slasher herself, Pamela Voorhees. With the change of M.O. we get to step away from the titillation of mowing down nubile young tarts and brainless roided up jocks and explore the psychological torment of a broken character who can’t find a constructive way to deal with the pain, anger, and grief of losing someone you can’t live without.
Voorhees opens up on the saccharine scene of Pamela setting up a birthday party for Jason. As an upbeat doo wop from the 50s drowns out(pun!) any dialogue, a sheriff approaches and delivers news that while we don’t hear it it’s apparent it’s the crushing blow that her one and only son has died. We leave Pamela in a mess of tears and jump ahead a year to find Ms. Voorhees channeling that pain and rage in the best way she knows how: chasing down and murdering Crystal Lake camp counselors. We follow Pamela in the singular event that sets off the chain reaction that plagued the 80s as she approaches her very first victim. What I love so much about this short is the emotion that comes with traveling along with a character that to some degree we can all sympathize with. Even in a fit of manic rage and with bloodlust soaked into her fingertips you can’t help but feel sadness for her. Despite her actions, which in all reality are heinous and unconscionable, she lost the person she loved more than anything else in existence, including herself, because of an unjust, unfair, and unforgiving world. Beyond the toxic waste, the telekinesis, the dead fuck dances, the Ethels and Juniors. Beyond the late night skinny dips, post coitus impalings, hockey masks, and 3D gimmicks is a tragic story of a parent losing their child and finding a warped sense of justice in the only way their damaged mind can surmise. Voorhees does a great job of showing a version of Pamela that I imagine Betsy Palmer or herself would be proud of. Showing the audience not just a villain that hunts down premarital fornicators, but a fractured mind that has been hurt beyond repair. Admittedly, the acting is a bit dodgy here and there, with some lines of dialogue being delivered flawlessly with the weight of every word felt, while others turn out a bit flat. Given that this whole ten minute short was filmed in just about 3 hours, I can forgive those lost bits of dialogue and just chalk it up to the actors not being able to knock it out of the park without a few more takes to find the characters. Despite the weaknesses, Monica Dinatale does an impeccable job of bringing to life Ms. Voorhees. In such a short running time she impressively fleshes out Pamela into the terrifying but sympathetic character she is. While we all love Jason and he has always satisfied with the more impressive body count, Pamela was always a much more interesting and nuanced character. Voorhees does a solid job of exploring a part of the franchise that has been largely left behind and forgotten about.
4. Revenge – Revenge is easily the most ambitious of these fan films just by the simple fact that the run time is that of a full length feature. It clocks in at one hour and thirty minutes. Don’t let that put you off, Revenge does a valiant job of structuring its run time properly. The story is a simple one, and though it takes place within the franchise timeline after part eight beginning with Jason crawling from out of a sewer and instantaneously vomiting up toxic waste, it could easily be seen as a remake of the first Friday the 13th(except with Jason as the killer instead of Pamela Voorhees). Revenge follows a group of camp counselors as they, along with their hapless camp director, set out to ready the camp into fighting shape for the kids who will soon be showing up for a summer filled with fun and excitement. As we all well know, that summer will never come to fruition as Jason shows up to whittle down the intruders one by one. The characters parallel the assortment that lived in the franchise with the likes of the “crazy Ralphs” who will stop at nothing to shut down progress, the obligatory final girl, the sharp tongued jokester, the awkward shy guy, the hottie with loose morals, etc.
While set in modern day(at least modern to when it was filmed around 2004) it plays out like a flick from the 80s, mainly in part to the music and the camera set ups. Regardless of its production flaws from what had to be a meager budget, Revenge can easily be viewed as a long lost direct to video sequel that never surfaced before Jason Goes to Hell came out. The acting is a bit lackluster but then again the franchise has never been praised for the chops of its thespians. The kills, although a bit bloodless, remain creative enough to hold interest, and Jason is an impressive force that harkens back to the Jason Voorhees from parts two through four. I’m not going to speak too much more on Revenge as the flick speaks for itself as a slasher that fits in smoothly with the later sequels. Set its low budget aside and go in with the mindset of Paramount taking a last stab at the franchise before New Line could take over.
5. Friday the 13th: The Curse of Jason – I can say with relative ease and the utmost of confidence that this is one of my favorite shorts of this faniest of films list. Be not confused, you won’t find Hollywood quality or a moving painting of artistry beaming from the frames of The Curse of Jason. What you get is a frenzy of cheesy, bat shit anarchy. The flimsy plot revolves around poor Jimmy as his family and friends are mowed down erratically by the potato sack donned Jason Voorhees. 10 years later the traumatized Jimmy resurfaces along with Jason, eager to dismember and disembowel the new group of walking talking body bags. What’s so great about this love letter to the series is its constant references and nods to the franchise that it aspires to be. It plays out like a collage of scenes and concepts littered throughout the OG flicks and then assembled by the likes of Neveldine and Taylor. From the opening scene, Jason casually and nonchalantly strolls into frame and commences with the proverbial hack and slash that doesn’t really let up until the credits roll. The Curse of Jason easily has the highest body count of any of the other fan films, and what they lack in blood and tangible fear they make up for in hilariously awkward action choreography and bad acting. A taunt, intense horror masterpiece this is not. What it is though is twenty-six minutes of digital insanity that will warm your dark withered soul. When you lack a budget and means to produce an A list quality product, then this is how you make do with what you have. The Curse of Jason is an absolute blast that any Friday fan is going to gush over. Friday the 13th fandom at its very finest.
6. Never Hike Alone – If you’re a dead set stubborn bastard that will only end up venturing into the woods on one of these treats I’ve pointed you to make damned sure Never Hike Alone is the one you trek down. We’ve come to the end of the list and with our last hike we’re going to grab our survivalist knapsack, complete with tent, MREs, and sick ass bowie knife accented with serrated blade to really get interesting when 127 hoursing it up, and join YouTubemans Bear Grylls, Kyle McLeod. Kyle runs a popular(at least I assume it’s popular, I don’t know his life or his subscriber amount) camping/survivalist/hiking video blog. He travels around documenting himself as he makes his way through different forest terrains. During Kyle’s most recent excursion he stumbles upon an abandoned camp ground. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this. Nailed it! It’s Camp Crystal Lake. Now, defunct and dilapidated, Kyle sets out to explore his new-found ghost town, of sorts. Upon discovering just what camp he has nomadicly inhabited, he regales his audience with the legend of the camps past indiscretions. Of course like all the counselors before him, he writes the threat off as just another urban legend used to torture little tikes around crackling campfires. It doesn’t take long before the myth becomes all too real and Mr. McLeod is fighting for his life and having to implement those collective survival skills. Will Kyle be able to survive his way out of Crystal Lake or will Jason gain another sacrifice for mama’s murderous vengeance?
Well, shit, I’m not going to answer that for you. Watch and find out for yourself. Even though my vocal range is garbage, I can’t sing enough praise for this fan flick. The creative force behind Womp Stomp Films has created something masterful. A tight, aggressive horror force that rises above the standard generics of most slasher films. Never Hike Alone does what damn near none of the original franchise is capable of doing, assembling something that is knuckle white intense and at times truly fucking scary. Be forewarned, if you’re looking for creative gruesome fodder and nubile young women who have an allergic reaction to having clothes on, you won’t find that in Never Hike Alone. This is survivalist horror thrown into the middle of a slasher franchise. Given that this is a fan film I can’t imagine the budget being that high, but despite that, the movie looks like, well, a movie. The cinematography is beautiful, stark, and vivid. The acting is top notch, and action choreography directed flawlessly. Lack of budget wasn’t made to be a crutch for this crew, everyone brought their A game, firing on all of the cylinders. Fan films don’t really happen in this condition, a rarity of a gem. Should I mumble along some mention of Jason? This is the Jason I want to see portrayed in these fandom fests. He is terrifying. A vengeful, menacing force. The best performance I’ve seen in a fan film about the titular series. This is the sequel you need to see! I don’t want to discuss the ending too much, I’ve kept pretty spoiler free up to this point, no need to start mucking it up now. I’ll just mention that the ending sailed this bad boy right up to the Crystal Lake docks with a satisfying conclusion that added to the flawless climax that came before it with a mind blowing twist connecting it to the original series and revved up my excitement to compile this list. If you’re looking for something fresh that can compete and elevate the Friday the 13th series, Never Hike Alone is what you should be watching.
Time for me to shut the hell up and let you get to watching. I hope you’ve enjoyed my incoherent ramblings, and let me know what you thought of the flicks within this list. Also, if you got any suggestions, like Lundgren, I’m all ears. To all you Friday fans: Have a murderously safe and Happy Friday the 13th.
Adam Troutt is an obsessive horror cinephile. He aspires to one day be a filmmaker, but in the meantime he devours more horror films than is healthy for human consumption