Title: Friday The 13th (based on the 1980 Slasher Film)
Tagline: “The original and unequaled terror trip of them all!”
Release Date: September 1st, 1987 (Signet)
Novelization by: Simon Hawke
Book Synopsis: “It was going to be a fun summer at Camp Crystal. The young counselors were getting ready for it while they joked about the scary rumors attached to the isolated camp.
But evil was waiting in the shadows as the sun set. The laughter turned to screams…the easy living to agonized dying. For the light had gone and the wind was howling and it was–Friday the 13th. “
The 1980s was a flourishing era for popular movies being adapted into books, and It seems a bit shocking that the immortal Slasher classic Friday the 13th wasn’t novelized until 1987. This was a full seven years after the release of the Original film. By this time, the franchise had become a horror classic, generating seven films, inspiring a slew of other cheap slasher films with a campgrounds setting, and giving birth to one of Horror’s most recognizable villains in Jason Voorhees.
The previous year saw the novelization of the latest Friday the 13th film, part 6. It was Paramount’s revival project of the franchise that had been eclipsed by the popularity of Freddy Krueger. And with a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film set for release in 1986, Paramount became fixated on resurrecting franchise star Jason Voorhees.
That plan was executed with success as the farcical TCM 2 bombed at the box office with only an $8 million dollar score, while Part 6 took in over $19 million. Both films were released 30 years ago this month, in August 1986.
Simon Hawke, writer of several sci-fi books and two Battle Star Galactica novelizations, was commisioned to write the book for part six. Now I never read a glimmer of any of his other writings, but I for one have much praise for him due to his contributions to the Friday the 13th franchise. The following fall of 1987, Paramount launched a Voorheesless Friday the 13th TV series and signed on Hawke to release an adaptation of the original film, which was released only weeks before the debut of the TV series. I’m guessing that after the success of Jason’s comeback, they didn’t want to fuck it up with a shoddy TV show.
As of 2016, a Friday 13th part 6 paperback can be found on ebay for around $25 US. But it’s the adaptations of the first three films by Hawke that capture the most envy of collectors. The mystique of Jason’s origins beckon avid fans of the franchise to pay exorbitant prices for these out of print copies.
With the benefit of hindsight and the rare oppurtunity of having been able to watch the films, Simon Hawke excells at recapturing the evil suspense of the original trilogy. For the most part, he focuses on back story for the victims, intensifying the pulsating terror scenes, and explaining the psychology of character motivations. There aren’t many additional scenes, because these adaptions were done years after the films had already received their final cut. So adding other actions to the mixture could have muddled up the storyline. It makes for a unique adaptation knowing that the writer is crafting the story based on more substance. The characters and story felt richer than most novelizations for me.
Usually though, the fun part of Novelizations are discovering the lost scenes and differences only left preserved in the bleak recesses of the novelization. Most writers hired to adapt a film are working from a dated script from an earlier draft, and quite often the film isn’t even completed yet. And a big part of how the story is perceived is based on the editing and tone of the film. This inevitably leads to staggering polarities of Film versus Tie-in.
Hawke was able to accurately mimic the eerie tone of the film and flesh out the stronger traits of the characters’ mentalities. Most importantly, the death scenes are the incredible highlight of the book. Just like other novelizationist extraordinaire Dennis Etchison of Halloween fame, Hawke savors in the ghastly carnage of every kill, detailing each anatomical dismemberment.
Excerpt time: “The knife plunged deep into his stomach. He gasped with pain and shock, doubling over, his hands instinctively going to the wound. The room started to spin and he fell back, landing on a roll of chicken wire. Clutching his stomach, warm blood splurted out between his fingers and ran from the corner of his mouth as life ebbed quickly.” – Prologue – Barry’s death narrative.
A tidbit of extra knowledge is given about the fallout of these brutal slayings of 1958 from the prologue. We learn the girl who discovered the mutliated bodies ended up so traumatized that she was commited to an asylum. Or that’s at least what the Crysal Lake rumor mill was circulating. The townies fear the curse of camp Crystal Lake, and resent the Christy family for harboring such violence. Each attempt at reopening the camp has resulted in failure–Fires, tainted water, loss of financial investment. With the murders unsolved, the locals steer clear of the camp, which happens to be ten miles outside of town.
Steve Christy and his family ties to Camp Crystal lake is a key component to the story. It’s an aspect of Friday the 13th lore that is never really talked about among horror fans. Halloween has the Myers family. Texas Chainsaw Massacre has the Sawyers. Amityville has the Lutz family. And Friday the 13th has the hexed Christy family.
Steve had an inheried the camp and property after his Dad had failed to make profitable use of it. Some endowment that is. Hey, son, here’s a playground for the most brutal serial killer of all-time. But just don’t have sex or do drugs, or your ass will be sliced.
I’m surprised how the “Christy factor” has never resurfaced in any of the subsequent films, or at least to my knowledge they haven’t. With the new Friday the 13th reboot in development for 2017, It will be interesting to see if the Christy family returns to the franchise. It’s suppose to be set in the ’80s and will feature more of the Voorhees’ origins.
Heedlessly, Steve had dumped wads of cash into restoring the place. By the time the counselors arrive, he’s already mired in debt and stressed out about getting the camp functional. The ego driven madness made him an aloof, disfunctional lover. In the film, the relationship between him and the final girl, Alice, is only slightly hinted at. But in the book, we hear more of Alice’s thoughts on how the restoration project has ruined their relationship. He never told Alice about the camp’s deadly history. Because of Steve’s expensive investment and need to redeem the Christy name, it became a mad obsession for him to quell its cursed legacy. Ultimately, he would love to see it thrive just long enough sell it to some Real Estate developer so they could build condos on the lake front property. But Crystal lake is a dying small town in the rural New Jersey area.
Alice muses over her decision to follow her stubborn lover and desires to move back to California and pursue artistic endeavors. She also happens to have another guy who she may want to be with, but as you recall from the film, she gives Steve one more week before leaving his bullish ass for good.
As for the young counselors hired by Steve, they all are kept in the dark in regards to the camp’s bloody history. Steve deduces it’s been so long since the last accident that he has no obligation to inform them about it. I call this sheer assery.
Now, as great as the film is, I’ve always felt that these group of counselors are the weakest, lamest clan in any of the films. Especially the bland female characters. I mean, Ned is zany but not very funny. Perhaps on an elementary playground, he’d be the comical king, but it’s not my type of humor. He’s looking forward to a summer of beer, weed, and, of course, carnality! All before heading off to UCLA film school in the fall. He’s killed early on in the film, but his presence seems extensive in the book. Good riddance.
The most painful digression of the story is all the Jack and Marcie exposition. Inseperable throughout their senior year of high school, they both had signed up as counselors for the summer before heading to different colleges in the fall. Up until now, their relationship has been sexless. They had yet to consumate their “love” and Ned hassles Jack about it. After having unprotected sex later that night, they both go through a pregnancy panic. What if? What if? What if? Background on their relationship drags on annoyingly for awhile. This is by far the low-point of the adaptation, though seeing them finally getting hacked made it more special.
How about crazy Ralph? Would you be shocked to learn he has no friends except for the imaginary ones in his head? He goes around town preaching the gospel and warning those outlanders to stay away from Camp Blood. But nobody listens. Officer Dorf’s only delight is being able to arrest drunken Ralph from time to time. It was a symbiotic relationsip the two of them had. Arresting Ralph made him feel like a real cop. He has aspirations of moving to the big city and thwarting more crime. The remoteness of Crystal Lake stultifies this gung-ho cop, who views himself as a Rooster Cogburn type. His chief is always having to scold him, forcing him to tone down his over aggressiveness.
Enough with the vapid background. It’s time for the finale. The bodies begin to pile up. We’re reading gashing homicide after gashing homcide here, people. But the best has now arrived.
We’re down to our final Girl, Alice.
Now Simon Hawke isn’t the best writer at clever metaphors, and throughout the book he neglects to illustrate the lush environment enough to my liking. Despite these faults, he captures the rain storm and the ominous aura of the final terror magnificently. This is the caviar of the story and Hawke brings the crackers to compliment it.
As we all know, Mrs. Voorhees is revealed to be the mysterious slasher and Hawke capitalizes on the oppurtunity to relish in her insanity! There’s some fantastic prose in the final chapters.
After the accidental drowning of her son Jason back in ’57, Mrs. Voorhees is left severly unnerved and silently vengeful toward the camp and counselors. Out of pity, Mr. Christy had allowed her to stay on the kitchen staff; ignorant to her insidious intentions, her diabolical brooding, her gradual withdrawl, the edge of hysteria in her laughter, or the dark, foreboding in her silences.
Excerpt of Jason Voorhees flashback: “A small boy drowning, crying for help. A boy who had never cried before. A boy who had always been disturbingly silent. Never speaking, never laughing. A boy who lived in his own strange silent world, shunned by other children, always keeping to himself.”
Originally, Jason was intended to be nothing more than a mere wimpish victim. But by 1987, the traits of Jason Voorhees had been well outlined. Having this knowledge of definitive canon, Simon Hawke is able to amplify the vital moments of the storyline.
Being around the camp had only compounded the pain of losing her son. Her pain eventually turned to raging hatred for those that were responsible for Jason’s death. At night, she has dreams of Jason’s ridiculous death. The split personality of Mrs. Voorhees’s lunacy is the most chilling part of this ending, for me.
Overall Grade: A-
The Friday the 13th novelizations by Simon Hawke are some of the best movie tie-ins I’ve read. They capture the potent essence of what a classic ’80s slasher film feels like. These books are rare, and actually worth the expensive asking price. Before typing up this review, I read the book twice. Besides the death scenes, most of the exposition is boring upon rereading. But I did find It morbidly engrossing to read Hawke examine the Christy Family aspect of the series. The original film suffers from undeveloped characters and poor dialogue. Therefore, I don’t consider this to be the best of the four Hawke novelizations.
Stay tuned for more reviews on the Friday the 13th novelization series.