Kids, if you've ever wondered why it's a bad idea to have sex at your picturesque lakeside summer camp, look no further.
While it didn't invent the idea of punishing teenagers for getting rowdy with an over-the-top death, the Friday the 13th film franchise—which first littered a campsite with bodies in 1980—certainly hammered (and stabbed, and sawed, and impaled) the point home.
Hailed as a fresh take on the stalker-killer trope with its twist ending, the first movie in what so far is a 12-film franchise (counting Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 reboot) is an unequivocal horror classic that has inspired numerous imitators, modern reinventions (AHS: 1984, anybody?) and more than a few nightmares. As for what came after the identity of the first homicidal maniac was revealed...
Well, that's up for critics to roll their eyes at, but the series has made more than $821 million at the box office (adjusted for 2018 inflation), enough to make it the sixth-highest-grossing horror franchise of all time, according to Forbes (so long as you count the No. 1 Alien movies as horror, not sci-fi).
In honor of today's date, the namesake of the original fright fest, we've compiled some chilling behind-the-scenes secrets. Before you head into those woods, beware that there will be spoilers and a few disturbing images (though unlike the franchise's many directors, we managed to rein it in):
And so here were are, and the makers of Friday the 13th aren't going to stop at... 12 movies, are they?
Enter the modern-day twist: A dispute over the rights to the original story.
Creator Sean Cunningham maintained that Victor Miller wrote the original script as an employee of his production company and therefore didn't own the copyright, but Miller won in court in 2018. Cunningham appealed and, as of April 2019, that's where their legal battle stood. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a hearing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals took place on Feb. 13, 2020, but as of September no ruling had been made. (Ironically, the very real nightmare that is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could be what's prolonging the saga at this point.)
Meanwhile...look out behind you! In 2018, LeBron James' Springhill Entertainment expressed interest in producing the next Friday the 13th movie, and there are supposedly at least two Jason scripts out there from different writers: one, a prequel called Friday the 13th: The Beginning; and, the other, Jason Never Dies—described as a direct sequel to 1986's Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives that would do away with anything that had happened onscreen in the interim.
"It's not an unusual situation," Cunningham told Famous Monsters TV. "There has to be a solution. I mean, there just has to be a solution. So I'm very optimistic, and I would say, we're going to make another theatrical movie, first chance we get."
Because you can only keep a good villain down at the bottom of a lake for so long.
(Originally published May 9, 2020, at 7 a.m. PT)