Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday the 13th - Mother's Day

The Friday the 13th film franchise isn't a stranger to media tie-in fiction. Nicholas Valentin Yermakov, using the name Simon Hawke, authored four novelizations of film installments (Friday the 13th I, II, III, VI) and popular crime-fiction author Michael Avallone also authored a novelization, Friday the 13th III (using an alternate ending not filmed). Arguably, the film franchise “jumped the shark” long before 1993, but it was this year that the Jason Voorhees character ventured into an unusual area – Hell.

After seven films of Jason attacking camp counselors, the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, placed the hockey-masked murderer on a yacht and in Manhattan of all things. But, as odd as that film was, it would pale in comparison to the wildly outrageous Jason Goes to Hell

1993's Jason Goes to Hell re-positioned the unstoppable undead character into a more supernatural universe that incorporated other people performing as the Camp Crystal Lake killer. In this film, the long rumored idea of Camp Crystal Lake being haunted or cursed comes to fruition. Jason's heart is apparently affected by a supernatural power, so when a possessed coroner takes a bite out of Jason's heart, he becomes the killer. Through the course of the film, various people are “possessed” by Jason's curse. While some fans embraced the film, others felt it went a little far and distanced itself from what made the film franchise so successful – suspense, atmosphere, terror. Jason Goes to Hell also kick-started more unusual franchise additions like Jason X (Jason in space!) and Freddy vs Jason

If nothing else, Jason Goes to Hell does deserve some credit for thrusting the film franchise back into media tie-in fiction after a seven year absence. In 1994, Berkley published four young-adult novels that tie-in to the events that took place in Jason Goes to Hell. These four stand-alone novels, Mother's Day, Jason's Curse, The Carnival, and Road Trip. The books were all authored by William Pattison using the pseudonym Eric Morse. In 2011, Pattison released a fifth book, The Mask of Jason Voorhees, as a free PDF download. Being a fan of the film franchise, I decided to try the books out beginning with Mother's Day.

After numerous murders, Camp Crystal Lake now lies abandoned. Somewhere in the vicinity, a hunter named Joe Travers is stalking through the forest and stumbles on a white stone. Curious about the stone, Travers begins digging beneath it and discovers a rotted cardboard box containing Jason's deceased mother's head, which is somehow alive. The head begins to talk to Joe and gives him specific instructions to obtain construction equipment to dig up Jason's hockey mask. In doing so, Joe dons the mask and becomes possessed by the spirit of Jason Voorhees. 

In Newkirk, Massachusetts, the book's young protagonist, high-schooler Carly receives an invite from a high-school dropout named Boone. The plan is for Boone, Carly, and four other kids to take a weekend trip to Camp Cystal Lake to party. Carly, a shy virgin (the prerequisite for Final Girl material) agrees to go if her mother will consent. Later, Carly discovers that Boone called her mother and pretended to be a teacher to gain permission for the trip. So, these six kids head to the abandoned Camp Cystal Lake campground where Jason Voorhees is now alive and well through the body of Joe Travers. This should be fun.

Like the film series, the campers receive a warning when they stop for gas just outside the campground. A man named Ned warns the group “...there's evil in the air all around this lake. If you live here too long, it gets in your blood, it gets you thinking bad things.” Later, readers discover how true that statement is when it is disclosed that Ned lives in a house with his mother's dead body. Obviously, the campers ignore Ned's warning and embark on the camping trip.

Pattison's storytelling is fast-paced and surprisingly violent considering this is a young-adult novel. At just 114 pages, the body count begins to rise around page 80. With six potential victims for “Jason” to prey on, the action moves around the campground with familiar kills happening in the lake's water, around the cabins, and in the dense forest. As the body-count dwindles to just Carly (not a spoiler, anyone worth their salt should realize she is the survivor), the book encompasses that same frenzied feeling executed by the various films – final girl versus Jason. The chase scenes scurry around locked cars, wrecked motorcycles, open graves, and the hiking trails around the lake. 

It was obvious that Pattison really enjoys the Friday the 13th franchise, and his writing was top-notch even with the irritating teenage point-of-view (boy-chasing, social uneasiness). In terms of the violence I alluded to earlier, the book also presents some nightmarish sequences containing slimy grotesque worms. The combination of hack 'n slash and supernatural elements was excellent. If you enjoy the film franchise, then I highly recommend Mother's Day. It has everything you know and love about the films.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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