The Horror. The Horror. Round 1: Friday the 13th, Part 3 – in 3D!


Years ago I had this plan to fill my October with horror movies, then blog my thoughts. This turned out to be a stupid plan because a business trip to China ate up half the month. (Sadly, I was unable to sample the delights of Chinese horror, whatever those delights might have been, whilst over there.)

Anyway, the kind of people who believe in juice cleanses will also swear that your body/mind/soul reinvents itself every seven years and, well, it’s been seven years since I had that idea. With no trans-Pacific trips clogging up this October, I figured I’d give the whole “watch a bunch o’ horror, talk about said horror” scheme another go.

Five days into All Hallows Month, I’ve knocked out three flicks. Not bad! I only got to five last time before life intruded. Well, this October the only intrusion will be . . . DEATH.

Let’s start with a classic among classics:

Friday the 13th Part 3—in 3D!

friday the 13th part 3 3D. . . Because if it was the ‘80s and you got to the third movie in a franchise, that mother was going to be 3D. I imagine there had to be some bright young director back then who proposed making the second movie in a series 3D, only be brutally rebuffed by a producer who poked his head over a mountain of cocaine just long enough to dress this idiot down: “Part 3. 3D. Three. Three! What part of this do you not understand? You can’t have Part 2 in 3D. That’s two numbers in the title! That’ll confuse the hell out of people!”

As for the movie: I’ve always been fond of Jason. Whether impaling people with hooks or cinching them up in sleeping bags in order to bash their bodies against trees, he generally comports himself with a quiet dignity. But that’s the later, supernatural Jason, as I realized while watching Part 3. I’d forgotten about the goofy, everyman Jason who runs after people rather than maintaining a stately, murderous pace. The Jason who can be momentarily knocked out with a shovel but somehow not break his neck after being dropped out a hayloft with a noose around his throat.

And I have to say . . . I like vulnerable Jason. Every horror movie takes pains to ensure the victims are such assholes or morons you’ll be happy to see them die—all but the incongruously virtuous heroine. (And you wonder why she hangs with such d-bags.) But early Jason, intentionally or accidentally (I’m guessing the latter), flips the script. Because, really, we’re talking about the deformed, mentally-handicapped child of a psychotic mother.

Basically, Sloth from The Goonies. And who didn’t love Sloth? Take a look:

jason sloth

The resemblance is striking, no?

An aside: I’m thinking it’s no surprise that the ‘80s saw both an explosion in plastic surgery and a fascination with messed-up faces. Take a look at this guy from Conan the Destroyer!


What killer ever had the deck stacked against him more than Jason Voorhees? Not one. Would I be going too far in saying he represents the ultimate revenge of the homely, working class man against his beautiful, entitled oppressors? Absolutely. But do I still enjoy watching him squeeze a handsome asshole’s head so hard an eyeball pops out and comes flying at you in glorious 3D? A thousand times yes.

Speaking of: let’s talk about the 3D. Yes, there is a special edition Blu-Ray/DVD that comes with 3D glasses. And yes, the good old “red lens, blue lens” 3D is as headache-inducing as you might recall. And yes, it’s a blast watching all the ways the creators of this film came up with to justify the expense of filming in 3D.

“What if we had a guy playing with a yo-yo, and the yo-yo can be coming out at you?”

“What if Jason fires a spear gun he inexplicably found in a barn right at the camera?”

And so on.

I’m not fond of the modern force-feeding of 3D down our collective cinematic gullets, but when you can take something as beautiful as a Friday the 13th movie and add blurry 3D, it’s like deep frying sticks of butter: you scoff at the idea in polite company, but in the deep recesses of your spirit, you soar on cholesterol wings.

One last note: Crystal Lake is a dump. The enduring mystery to me of the Friday the 13th movies is why people think of this brackish, foggy, muddy, limb-and-weed infested body of water as a perfect spot for skinny dipping. Or think taking a walk in the creepy woods around the lake at night is a good idea.

Or maybe—maybe—I should return to my working-class theory. Maybe Crystal Lake, like Jason, stands in for the everyday person who can’t afford a mansion with a manicured lawn and artificial beach on a manmade lake.

Or maybe it’s just a shitty lake and the shitty people who go there deserve to die. In which case, viva la Jason!

A pro’s pro

Went to a reading by John Scalzi courtesy of Avid Bookshop, Athens’ own local bookery. The man is a pro. It’s always impressive to me to see an author–that is, a practitioner of one of the earth’s most necessarily solitary professions–excel at social functions. Not that I’m a wilting shut-in, but going from feverishly churning out pages to working a packed room must be a bit like walking out of your office (wherever and whatever that is) into the middle of a rugby scrum.

Where I’m From and Where I’m Going (From a Literary Perspective)

I like to write about delusional people. Because we all are—about ourselves, our motivations, the people we love and loathe and lust after, the things we misremember as triumphs or humiliations. All of us see ourselves as the single, bright, burning star in the universe—a universe filled with nothing but. Some people are just a bit more flagrantly delusional than others. And I love them for it. My novels and short stories explore those sometimes agonizing, sometimes humorous, but always excruciatingly uncomfortable moments people experience when confronted by their true selves. (See Tudlong, Joe, narrator of Now It Gets Interesting.)

OK, so that’s the philosophical blahdy-blah. What kind of book/stories do I actually write? Well . . . that’s complicated.

—Though I don’t think it is, not really. Or at least it shouldn’t be. But, short answer: if you walked into a bookstore stocked exclusively with my works (ah, the dream!), you’d probably find yourself wandering the aisles for Literary Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Just Plain Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy Fiction . . .

Which is to say, genre conventions are tyranny. They enforce a rigid mediocrity on our culture, forbidding ambitious writers from really getting into the meat of a story—any story, set in any time or place. Some break out—think of your Chabons and Murakamis. That’s what I’m trying to do, and I hope you’re interested in coming along with me on that journey as it unfolds.

I might be forced to categorize my novels on Amazon and whatnot, but I don’t have to like it. All I care about is the people infesting my fiction—and if that fiction happens to take place on a sofa bed in Florida, or an alternate history Prohibition-era New York, or a magical world sprung whole from my imagination, so be it. The characters tell me what world they inhabit and how they’re dealing with life in that particular setting. And then they basically leave me to clean up the mess.

They’re sort of bastards that way.