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Photo: Sean M. Peters

Friday 13 and Friday the 13th Part III will play at the Esquire Theater on May 13 – the only Friday that falls on the 13th in 2022.

Attention campers: It’s time to celebrate the only Friday that falls on the 13th in 2022, and there’s only one proper way to do it.

Friday 13 plays at 9 p.m. on May 13 at the Esquire Theater, which is already a treat. But right after the screening of the first film in the series, brave moviegoers can stick around for a screening of Friday the 13th Part IIIwhich begins at 10:50 p.m. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the third part of the Friday 13 series.

If you are new to these movies, Friday 13 begins at the seemingly innocuous Camp Crystal Lake, a children’s summer camp overseen by teenage counselors. There, a boy named Jason Voorhees, who suffered from hydrocephalus, a buildup of extra fluid in his brain, drowned in the lake alone. The death is blamed in part on the negligence of two sturdy counselors who shirk their responsibilities to get frisky in a barn instead of keeping an eye on the camper. Their murder results in the closure of the camp for years, as unsolved murders are a lingering reminder that a killer is on the loose.

Years later, a new group of counselors (including a young Kevin Bacon) attempt to reopen the camp after more than a decade of dormancy, despite cryptic warnings from a deranged old man caught prowling the grounds of camping. Unfortunately for them, the murders begin again on Friday, June 13 (Jason’s birthday), resulting in a series of murders graphically depicted on screen. The effects were so shocking, so compelling, that the film largely benefited from the controversy over the “anatomically correct gore” performed by the film’s special makeup and special effects artist, Tom Savini.

Revolutionary Gore

If you’ve ever been put off by convincingly violent makeup or special effects in a horror movie, it’s probably Savini’s fault. The 75-year-old filmmaker is a legend in his field, and Friday 13 is a golden horror series whose franchise is still incredibly influential (and profitable) today. Savini was in Cincinnati in March as a celebrity guest at the Sharonville Convention Center for HorrorHound Weekend, a show featuring horror film-centric filmmakers, artists and salespeople.

Some of the harshest critics of early slasher films would have you believe that the films’ depraved content is indicative of the downfall of Western civilization. Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert equated Friday 13 being the cinematic equivalent of getting out of your car just to watch dead bodies in a car crash. They went so far as to produce a 1980 series special titled Women at risk who specifically called out Savini and other filmmakers for showing sadistic tendencies, usually towards women. Slasher movies were dismissed as F-grade sleazes that simply allowed disturbed audiences to live vicariously through the movie killer’s perspective. Fundamentalist religious groups have boycotted many slasher movies or even picketed theaters that were showing particularly controversial movies — movies like Silent Night Deadly Night invoked strong objections from appalled Christian groups to the idea of ​​a film about an ax murderer dressed as Santa Claus as he spreads Christmas mayhem.

“People are afraid of me”, says Savini CityBeat. “There’s so many times where a guy walks up and his girlfriend is about 50 feet away, ‘She’s scared to come talk to you. Do you want to say anything to her? I just have this face. People are just scared, and I’m really the most sensitive kind of kitty, if they knew. Sometimes people are just scared of me because they think I’m a gore dealer and I love killing people It’s just a job, I just did my job well, that’s all.

This slasher genre solidified in the mid-1970s and exploded into pop culture in the 1980s. As with other notable slasher film series like Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and freddie, Friday 13depicts a gruesome serial killer who murders his victims with a sharp melee weapon. This component of the story format is so vital that it literally defines the genre: slasher films depict victims being slashed to death. This has certainly been the case in Savini’s work, which is essential viewing in the slasher cinematic landscape.

“I’m afraid of blades,” says Savini. “I mean, if you attack me, I’m afraid of two things: spiders and razor blades. If you come at me with a razor blade, I’ll hurt myself. A razor blade is so deadly. You know, a cut on your neck and you bleed. You have finished. So I’m really afraid of blades, hatchets, machetes and things like that. It’s one thing to be killed quickly by a gun, but to be cut into pieces…it’s scarier.

Savini walked away from the show for a few years after the first Friday 13 film, but the spirit of his violent artistic vision prevails in Friday the 13th Part III. The first film was so popular that a sequel was immediately put into production, as distributors wanted to strike while the proverbial iron was still hot (an interesting turn of phrase, considering Jason Voorhees kills one of his victims with a red-hot poker in the third film).

Part III, which hit theaters in 1982, was originally projected in 3D, a gimmick used to make the on-screen action seem to jump straight to the audience – apparently perfect for slashers. At its anniversary screening, Esquire Theater will show the traditional cinematic experience in 2D, but that’s not a bad thing. Many 3D effects in Part III are silly, uninspired gags that look more like test footage than a reason to wear blue and red glasses for 95 minutes.

The power of Friday the 13th Part III

Do you like slashers enough to study them? Bryce Bullins, a professor at the University of Cincinnati, teaches horror media — including a course on slasher movies — for the English department. Bullins also focuses on the works of novelist Stephen King, and as a literal horror movie expert, it’s a happy coincidence that Part III is his favorite entry in the Friday 13 series.

“I really appreciate Part III a lot because that’s where Jason gets his iconic hockey mask and becomes a force of pure evil,” Bullins says. “In Part II there is an argument to be made that Jason is tortured, troubled and deranged – not that that excuses his murder, of course – but in Part IIIany pretense of complexity is abandoned in favor of creative murder and establishes it as an unstoppable, unkillable force.

It’s not a complete tragedy that Part II won’t be included in Esquire’s double feature, though the film is a fan favorite. The first minutes of Part III give a good recap of its predecessor’s climactic third act, in which we see Voorhees, clad in a burlap sack before becoming synonymous with the menacing hockey mask. He also attacks the film’s heroine with a pickaxe as she defends herself with her own signature machete. Part III resumes immediately after the events of Part II and, in many ways, the third film is largely a remake of First partFor the best or for the worst.

“Critics call the movie formulaic, but I’d say that’s the point. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ says Bullins.”Part III was made on a budget of $2.2 million and earned $36.7 million at the box office. It’s not hard to see why studio execs and even filmmakers weren’t keen on changing the formula too much.

The last s(l)ay

For decades, the slasher formula hasn’t strayed from its gory roots. While Friday 13 wasn’t the first slasher, it certainly won’t be the last. The genre is predominant in theaters and streaming services today thanks to the recent Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Scream, Child’s play and evil Dead sequels and reboots.

Savini has some thoughts on why audiences are still so enthralled by slasher movies.

“When I was a combat photographer in Vietnam, I saw horrible violence. So my brain is full of all that. But the average person, you know, living a docile life and working a nine-to-five, they don’t aren’t aware of stuff like that,” Savini says. “For them, it’s something they’ve never seen before.”

“If you look at a Friday 13 movie – not necessarily the first, but definitely a few that came after – I’m sure you sat there and said, ‘Please kill that asshole. In the next 10 minutes, please kill him. I think that’s part of it, you know,” Savini continues. “And then you’re put in the position of having the killer’s point of view and that was really exciting for people. It’s exciting. My answer in two words: it’s exciting.”

In addition to his film career, Savini now directs Tom Savini’s makeup special effects program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, Pennsylvania. There, he educated future makeup artists and effects artists in his craft, shaping a new generation of shocking filmmakers. To learn more about this program, visit dec.edu/ts.

Friday the 13th, Parts I and III, $10.25 per ticket per movie, 9 p.m., May 13. Esquire Theater, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, esquiretheatre.com.

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