Friday, April 13, 2012

True Stories of John: Friday the 13th


You don’t know me if you don’t know that I love Friday the 13th. It is one of the few series in human history that is great without being good. It's marred by an undue reputation, for it's not a conservative vengeance trip. At its face-burning, bed-impaling best, it is the id eating itself, reveling in the things it punishes, and it stars the hardest working man in show business. I never imagined a hockey mask could so define Horror, and yet it has, doing for my generation what horns and a pitchfork did for the Medieval world.

So when Michael Bay said his Platinum Dunes would remake Friday the 13th, I was excited. He couldn’t screw it up worse; it was already bombastic, prurient and downright dumb in every way his stuff was, only lacking the budget. He could just paste together the fun parts from a few of the movies and have a winner. Give me the hockey mask, machete and teens who should know better, and you’ll get this liberal pacifist’s money every time.

They set to release it on Friday the 13th, 2009.  I looked forward to it throughout January, with such intensity that even friends who hated Horror were excited for me. Yet it was a rough period in my household, and the closer we got to that Friday, the less I thought I could justify the price of a ticket. As the sky grew orange and the shades of the trees around my house swelled, I resigned my dream. I’d just stay home and polish some short stories.

I was opening Microsoft Word when the power went out. My desk faced the windows; down the street and around the lake, every house had gone dark. My battery back-up beeped in protest as I stared outside. Dusk rushed in, turning the surrounding forest into a silhouette.

I saved everything on the computer, shut down and gathered candles. This was obnoxious, but hardly fate. I could sketch plots in my notebook and maybe finish reading the Poe’s Children anthology before bed. I was carrying the books down the stairs in search of a flashlight when I witnessed perhaps the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Light flickered through my front windows. I peered through the curtains and found headlights. Actually, I found a figure in those headlights. It was a large, stocky man in washed out coveralls, carrying an axe over his head. He was in the street, and I swear he was looking right at me.

It took me a few moments to realize it was a neighbor home from construction work. Ironically, I only realized this when he unpacked the chainsaw from his pickup truck.

But that was enough for me. I told God and Michael Bay that they had won, I told my family goodbye, and got in the damned car. I’d go to the stupid movie instead of sitting in the dark all night. I was laughing to myself when the radio buzzed on. The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” was playing.

I drove very fast.




32 comments:

  1. That this is a true story only makes it more delicious!

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    1. And I love that life contains absurdity like this. Everybody's met Jason, right? Right?

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  2. Ha ha sometimes the movie just wants you to see it! I hope you enjoyed it. I don't think I've ever watched that movie - strange for me 'cause I love horror.

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    1. Not everyone enjoys the Slasher sub-genre. I don't begrudge anyone avoiding Friday the 13th, even if it apparently begrudges me avoiding it.

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  3. Same with me when the power goes off. Use it as an excuse to read. Nice story and glad you got to see the movie in the end. Was it worth the wait?

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    1. It was! The theatre was packed with teens who screamed for everything, and we all seemed to have a good time.

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  4. Well they do always say that truth is stranger than fiction.

    Did you like the remake after all that?

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    1. You know, I enjoyed it a lot! It was no more flawed than the average entry into the series, and the fan service was acceptable. The theatre was packed with teenagers who lost their minds for every potential scare, which made the entire drive worthwhile.

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  5. Ah hah... this is the power outage you mentioned. The chainsaw would have done it for me too.

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    1. Yup! It was actually your post on superstitions that led me to write this story up at feature length.

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  6. Okay, that definitely generated goosebumps. I'd have to climb down off the walls after seeing the guy with the axe!

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    1. I admit more incredulity in the moment I saw him than terror. It felt more like this was too much, too heavyhanded, even though it was real life.

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  7. The most shocking thing is that you'd try to do work in your notebook by candlelight. Cripes, you're dedicated!

    That is a funny story. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. When I have the inspiration to write, I'll go to whatever required lengths, my man. I do tend to turn to scribbles by candlelight, though.

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  8. Love this story, John, thanks for sharing. If you'd made this up, no one would believe it--truth really is stranger than fiction, eh?

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    1. Yeah, in terms of fiction it'd be pretty blase.

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  9. Y'know John, I think fate definitely wanted you to go see that movie.

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    1. It feels that way some times. Have you ever had comparable experiences?

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    2. Not that I can recall John, and I'm pretty sure I would remember something that impacted on me like that.

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  10. I enjoy the way you capture this. As if God and Michael Bay are going to put the show on for you regardless of whether you attend in the theater.

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    1. In which case, I'm quite glad I went out.

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  11. Fate, or do I mean fatalism, captured beautifully. Thanks.

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  12. it strikes me that there is likely to be a very different quality to American horror and European horror. I can picture exactly what you pitch with hockey masks, axes and chainsaws, but it is far removed from our European superstitions about the 13th.

    Also wry smile raised on my face when you comment that there were certain economic pressures making you think twice about forking out for a cinema ticket and resolving to polish some short stories instead- no link between the two there then :-)

    marc nash

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  13. If you hadn't explicitly said this was true, I would have thought this was another perfectly told fiction. Awesome. You gotta love when the universe not only sends you a sign, but beats you over the head with it.

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  14. Wish you had a photo of the look on your face at the moment you saw the guy with the axe.

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  15. I love your fiction but I love your blog best when you talk about the things going on in your life. You take all that talent you have for writing and you tell your daily life with fabulous abandon.

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  16. Brilliant - we've all done this and a power cut last week proved to me that shadwos can play tricks - excellent pace to this one too John

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  17. I guess it's a good thing the plot of the movie didn't involve a brick wall falling on the protagonist. You might not have survived long enough to make it to the theater.

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  18. lol that would have scared anyone!

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