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History, Legends & Myths & The T.V. Shows & Movies They Inspired : Friday the 13th

 Friday the 13th. A very auspicious day, unless of course you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia or triskaidekaphobia. The latter being fear of the number 13, and the former being fear of Friday the 13th in particular. The history of this fear is interesting and worthy of taking a look at.

Did you know fear of Friday the 13th cost Americans approximately 800 million dollars a year annually in lost work time, missed travel opportunities, and, loss in revenue because people will not get married on Friday the 13th.

Why are some people so distraught over the number 13 and Friday the 13th? To try and figure that out we have to go back into ancient history, around 3000 BCE, to the Sumerians. Back then Sumerians used base 60 mathematics called sexagesimal that had 12 factors. 12 thus became the perfect number in their vast empire of the ancient world. This became a numerical system based on 12. 2-12 hour periods in a 24 hour day, 12 months in their calendar (which we still use as a base for our modern calendar).  So, somehow 13 just became unlucky because it followed the perfect number 12. Kind of like the middle child syndrome of no one loves me. Of course, in mythology we do have the Norse legend of the miscreant god Loki, upsetting the apple cart by being the 13th  guest who was uninvited, to an otherwise perfectly balanced dinner party for 12 in Valhalla. We also mustn't forget that nasty Judas Iscariot, he was the 13th apostle to show up for the last supper, and we all know what he did. *Tsk *Tsk

Seriously though, What is all the fuss about?  Old legends, wives tales, silly superstition, perhaps
because Mr. Krabs told Sponge Bob there are 13 dirty words?

The truth is no one can really pinpoint the true reason, or precise time, although some researchers tend to agree that this "fear" became popular in the middle ages, and revolved around biblical mishaps.

As far as Friday being added to the mix, there is no written evidence before the 19th century, and still NO clear reason why this fear exists, and do not even get me started how black cats got glommed into the mess! Well, actually, I do know this. You see in the dark ages (dark being the key word), it was believed that witches covens had 13 members, and that witches were servants of Satan. These witches had familiars that came from Satan which were 9 times out of 10 cats, and these cats were black because black is the colour of night when evil lurks. Hence why idiots during the dark ages and middle ages thought black cats were cursed. And every year at least 10% of Americans FREAK OUT over superstitions concocted by generations of illiterates!

None the less, even if it is because people are a scared and superstitious lot, that doesn't change the fact we still don't really know the whole story about why Friday the 13th is considered cursed and evil. Of course, without it, we wouldn't have the pop culture craze of it all, and It's also fun to see all of the Jason Voorhees pics, memes, merchandise, and movie references that appear. Actually, there are even many memes of Jason for Thursday the 12th as well. It's crazy how a simple slasher flick from the 80's has embedded itself in popular culture. The Friday the 13th films are some of the few slasher type flicks I will watch. Perhaps, it's because it was one of the originals, and modern slasher flicks aren't really slasher flicks in my opinion. (we'll open that can of worms another day).

Of course, Friday the 13th isn't just about Jason. Oh no minions, it's spawned other cult favourites as
well. Such as Friday the 13th the series, which I love to watch at least once a year, usually in Autumn. Which some critics - who's names shall be withheld have remarked that it was misleadingly-titled. Obviously, for some reason these individuals feel that no one else is allowed to use Friday the 13th in a title? Maybe, they should read up on the lore of Friday the 13th, to understand the fear of the date came WELL BEFORE the Jason properties. ANYWAY, enough of my rant. 

The bottom line is this Friday the 13th the franchise, may have made the date a pop culture holiday, but no one owns the right to that date as far as making creepy good content, whether it be other movies, tv shows, books, comics, art, stories, music; you get the point. 

Friday the 13th is a rare yearly experience that means many things to many people, or maybe you don't give a toss about it. Whatever you think, I'd love to hear about it! 

Well, my twisted triskaidekaphobes, thus ends the lesson. and we can now move on to the Movie legend that is Friday the 13th and Jason Vorhees.

The movie franchise of Friday the 13th is remarkable. Not because the movies themselves are some of the best movies ever made, but because of the pop cultural inroads it helped to create for the horror genre - specifically for slasher films. The franchise alone has 12 total movies, a score of comics, novellas, video games, too much merchandise to even list and there were even a couple of documentaries made about it. Not bad for a franchise based on a movie that started its life as a bloodier, more violent "roller coaster ride" than the Halloween franchise it was trying to take on. The franchise also led to the creation of many copycat, cheesy, over-the-top slasher flicks, like Nightmare on Elm Street, Hatchet, Slumber Party Massacre, and Sleepaway Camp, just to name a few.

But its influence hasn't been limited to horror cinema. Friday the 13th movies have become so ingrained in our popular culture that the date Friday the 13th has become a pseudo-holiday. Seriously, minions, you can't go on social media on normal days without seeing some Jason reference, let alone on Friday the 13th. He's EVERYWHERE - and so are repeats of the movies on cable TV.

Let's face it: the movie franchise has not only made Jason Voorhees into a household name, but into a cinematic legend. For better or worse, Jason has become the ultimate supernatural killing machine, only surpassed in revenue by the Halloween franchise and Michael Myers. Though personally, I think Jason is more popular with fans than Michael. (I would love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments.) One reason I think I'm correct in saying this is that when you type "Jason" into Google, Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th movies come up on most of the first page. When you Google "Michael," Micahel Myers is NOWHERE to be found on the first page. Hmm, does that mean we are all on a first name basis with a supernatural serial killer? And if so is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I suppose it's all right as long as we aren't 20-somethings having sex in the woods, near a lake, at camp, in Manhattan, or in outer space.

Here's something else that was crossing my mind when I was thinking about Jason Voorhees (tell me what you think): I was thinking that Jason Voorhees is so stuck in our pop culture subconscious that even television writers have based characters loosely on him. Case in point: The Walking Dead's "Beta" character. He could be Jason's apocalyptic brother, minus the never-speaking and being supernatural. But can you see where I'm getting this idea?

Of course, there are so many other pop culture references, too many to list. Even the films' music has slipped into the popular consciousness.: We all know the music that plays when Jason appears in the films or is about to. I bet it just popped into your head. Ch Ch Ch Ah Ah Ah. But I've got news for you: that's incorrect. I know, I know. You're thinking I'm wrong, but I'm not. It's actually: ki ki ki ma ma ma. Henry Manfredini actually created this sound based on the phrase:  "Kill her, mommy" from a scene from the movie. He was inspired to create it by the music that was always played when Jaws showed up in a scene to build anticipation and anxiety.

If the Friday the 13th movie franchise is so incredibly popular you may be wondering why there haven't been more movies since 2009, especially now, since 2020 is the franchise's 40th anniversary. It's certainly NOT because the franchise doesn't turn a profit. Nope, it's strictly due to BS legal issues concerning the rights to the franchise. This legal battle is between Victor Miller, who wrote the screenplay for the original Jason film, and its producer, Sean S. Cunningham. Miller invoked a loophole of the U.S. copyright law that allows the original author of a written work the right to revoke a copyright agreement, even 35 years after it was originally agreed to. Cunningham argued that Miller's script was per a work-for-hire agreement and therefore belongs to Miller's employer, Cunningham's Horror, Inc. Miller won the case at one point, and, of course, Cunningham appealed.  Until we have a final decision, it looks like a landmark opportunity for a 40th anniversary movie is in the toilet. I guess we fans will just have to wait and see how things shake out.

In the meantime, we have 12 nudity filled, action-packed, blood-soaked, machete-laden Jason adventures we can binge anytime of the year.