‘Good twists and great villains’: Friday the 13th screened on campus

friday the 13th
Freshmen screen acting majors Jordan Cassel, Griffin Hamilton and Slade Monroe attended the University Program Board’s screening of “Friday the 13th.” Photo by Kali Hoffman, photo editor

Horror movie fans sat on the lawn in front of the Musco Center for the Arts to watch a screening of the 1980s horror film “Friday the 13th.”

On the evening of Sept. 13, freshmen screen acting majors Jordan Cassel, Griffin Hamilton and Slade Monroe discussed the merits of classic horror films under the ominous full moon, on one of the most superstitious days of the year.

“They have good narratives, good twists and great villains,” Cassel said. “You can turn your brain off and just have fun.”

With this past Friday landing on the 13th, superstitions were met with the fear of horror movie villains emerging from the shadows.

“People now think of less of ‘Friday the 13th’ as bad luck and more in terms of Jason,” said Tom McLoughlin, a professor at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. “You say ‘Friday the 13th’ and people think: ‘Jason’s going to get you.’”

friday the 13th
Screening of “Friday the 13th.” Photo by Kali Hoffman, photo editor

The day is now commonly associated with Jason the serial killer, who entered pop culture after the first movie hit theaters in 1980. Nearly 40 years later, members of the public are still met with ties to the horror film that McLoughlin played a part in writing and directing.

“I was told to basically take Jason, bring him up from the grave and make him unstoppable,” McLoughlin said about his 1986 work on the sixth installment, “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.”

“Jason had fallen under the category of a legendary, iconic monster that helped it become the type of movie you can watch again and again,” McLoughlin said.

While he is known for his award-winning work in the realm of horror, McLoughlin also teaches directing classes at Dodge. He believes young directors can get a start in their careers by exploring the horror genre — he made his debut with his 1983 feature film “One Dark Night.”

“I was going to make fun of the genre, but at the same time, try to make a well-structured horror film,” he said. “I went into it with a sense of humor.”

When working on “Part VI: Jason Lives,” McLoughlin said that he was eager to introduce comedy into the series, instead of simply creating another slasher film that celebrates death.

“Dark comedy makes the characters more likeable,” Hamilton said. “Even in the worst situations, people will still make jokes.”

Prior to Friday the 13th, McLoughlin receives fan mail and invitations to attend and speak at movie screenings. McLoughlin told The Panther that he flew out to Blairstown, New Jersey — where the first movie in the series takes place — on Thursday, Sept. 12 for the grand opening of a “Friday the 13th” installation at the Blairstown Museum.

Classic films “Child’s Play” and “Halloween” have been remade in recent years, in homage to their original films in the 1980s and 1970s. McLoughlin said that he wishes the same for the franchise he’s worked on.

“I’ve written a brand new movie and it would be part No. 13 if we can get it made,” he said. “It would be called ‘Jason Never Dies.’”

After watching the first three films, freshman screenwriting major Dimitri Keogh said that movies like “Friday the 13th” bring a new kind of energy to what horror is about, along with classics like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Shining.”

“It really reinvigorated the horror genre,” Keogh said. “It was definitely the most popular with its 10 or so sequels.”

Keogh said that the franchise popularized the phenomenon of multiple sequels; the first film in the franchise was released in 1980, followed by 11 sequels in addition to a television series “Friday the 13th: The Series” in 1989 that McLoughlin lent a hand in writing.

“The fact that after all these years, the movie is still looked upon as one of the favorites is huge,” McLoughlin said. “None of us ever predicted it.”