Oh, how I do loves the themed Flashback Friday post!
I actually meant to do this particular Flashback the last time we had a Friday the 13th, but I completely forgot. Please don’t take this as a negative reflection on the subject matter at hand, because this show, denizens, is money. Yes, I used a dated Swingers reference to describe an even more dated horror show based on an even more dated series of 80s slasher flicks. When we roll at the lair, we roll deep.
So, Friday the 13th: The Series. There was a trend in the 80s wherein horror-themed television became the hot item. I want to say that the reboot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone as well as the occasional scares from Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, all of which debuted in 1985, helped solidify this trend. However, I think perhaps 1984’s Tales from the Darkside, one of my personal favorites, kicked it off. Later on, HBO decided to get in on the fun with 1989’sTales From the Crypt.
Wow, there’s a great list of ideas for future Flashbacks!
Somewhere in between the beginning and the end of this 80s boom came two shows that greatly impacted my adolescent viewing habits: Freddy’s Nightmares and Friday the 13th: The Series. Both were vaguely tangential spinoffs of two of the most popular slasher series from this blood-soaked decade. All they would have needed to do was make a Michael Myers-based show and they could have had the triumvirate of slasher villains slicing and dicing their way through the airwaves each week.
Actually, though, this last statement is only partially true. Yes, Freddy Krueger actually appeared in each episode of Freddy’s Nightmares. He was the host of the show, playing a role somewhat akin to Rod Serling’s role in the original Twilight Zone series…only he chewed the scenery and camped the hell out of his role like a Serling on crack.
Jason Voorhees, however, never appeared in the Friday the 13th series…although something of his was supposed to appear as a way of tying everything together. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
The premise of the series was that once upon a time there was an owner of an antiques store. His name was Lewis Vendredi.
[Loba Tangent: Okay, already, I hope you Francophones are laughing as much as I did when I first realized the grand joke here. Vendredi is the French word for…Friday. BAHA!]
Anyway, Vendredi made a pact with the Devil in which he would sell cursed objects from his store in exchange for immortality. However, the deal fell through after a few years and Vendredi became Satan’s sack kitten. No, I have no idea what a “sack kitten” is. It just popped into my head and next thing I knew, my fingers were typing it.
So Vendredi had a will, which is a curious thing in itself since he was supposed to be immortal…but whatever. He left his shop to his niece, Micki Foster (Robey), and her cousin Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay). Together with Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins), Vendredi’s former antiques supplier who also had an oddly coincidental knowledge of occult information and rituals that always perfectly fit whatever curse they encountered during that week’s show, Micki and Ryan (and Micki’s hair, which at times seemed to grow to such heights that it really needed to have a guest star credit for some shows) take on the task of retrieving each of the cursed items that Vendredi sold.
And thus you have the show’s heroes and the show’s theme. But why was it called Friday the 13th? It didn’t take place near Camp Crystal Lake and no mention is ever made of anyone named Voorhees. The rumor that I remember reading regarding this is that the final cursed object our heroic trio would be tasked with retrieving would be…dundunDUN…a cursed hockey mask. Yes, that hockey mask.
[Insert ginormous “OH!” followed by even bigger groan at the sheer cheesiness of it all.]
Is this true? I really have no idea. I don’t even remember where I heard/read it. But it does make sense in the silliest of television show kind of ways. You know, like how talking cars, robotic sisters, and cat-eating aliens made sense. It was the 80s!
Regardless of the reasons for the show’s name, I loved Friday the 13th: The Series. Yeah, it went a little off the rails toward the end, but overall it was good, campalicious horror fun. The acting might not have been pitch-perfect all the time, but the stories were solid and some of the cursed items were just downright creepy, from demonic dolls, sinister scalpels, poisonous pens, mesmerizing mirrors…always shown with equal parts cheese and fright. To me, this is the perfect combination that epitomizes so much of the horror that I grew up loving.
If you’ve never seen this show, the good news is that CBS bought the rights to the series and has released all three seasons on DVD. Before you even ask, yes, I own all three seasons. I haven’t watched all three seasons yet; I made it most of the way through the first season before being distracted by some other show. But what I did make it through was surprisingly still good. So often, I will revisit shows from my youth only to discover that time has not been kind and sometimes happy memories are best left at that: memories. However, Micki, Ryan, and Jack are still fun company…just watch out for Micki’s hair and don’t touch anything in her antiques store. That’s definitely not a place where you want to test the “You Break It, You Bought It” rule…
Oh, and just because I stumbled upon this while looking for show clips, here’s a video for a song from the musical Chess called “One Night in Bangkok,” sung by none other than Micki Foster herself, Robey. It’s definitely something that needed to be shared. I’m not carrying all this WTFery around by myself, dammit.