Friday the 13th gave the audience their first look at Jason Voorhees, though not as the famous slasher killer with a hockey mask everyone now knows, and instead showed him as his young version as he died when he was a kid. Jason’s deformed appearance became unforgettable, but in the original plan for Friday the 13th, he looked very different. The 1980s was the peak of the horror genre, which saw a lot of slasher movies that made way for some of the most popular franchises in the genre, among those Friday the 13th.

The Friday the 13th franchise is formed by 12 movies, including a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street in Freddy vs Jason, and it all began in 1980. Friday the 13th took viewers to Camp Crystal Lake, where in 1957, a young boy drowned and a series of murders the following year got the camp closed for decades. In 1980, a new group of counselors arrived to get the place ready to reopen, but they were brutally killed one by one, and they believed the one behind the murders was the kid who drowned, Jason Voorhees. However, in a now-iconic twist, the real killer was Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), but the legend of Jason was confirmed to be real at the end of the movie, where he jumped out of the lake to attack Alice (Adrienne King), the only survivor.


The final jump scare in Friday the 13th has become one of the most iconic scenes in the horror genre and with good reason, as the audience had just learned Pamela was the real killer only to be surprised by the reveal of the legend of Jason being real. Although the audience had already seen young Jason in flashbacks, the canoe scene offered a brief look at the decomposing body of young Jason, which enhanced the nightmarish tone of the scene. However, Jason was originally a normal-looking boy, but that changed while developing the character with screenwriter Ron Kurz and make-up and special effects artist Tom Savini.

According to many authors, including Peter Bracke in Crystal Lake Memories, Victor Miller originally wrote Jason as a normal-looking child who drowned at Crystal Lake, though he did write him as a “mentally disabled young boy”. The idea to make Jason Voorhees a deformed kid with a “hydrocephalic, mongoloid” look was Savini’s, though Kurz has claimed it was actually his idea to turn Jason into the deformed kid everyone now knows and have him jump out of the lake at the end. Miller would later comment on these changes, agreeing that it wouldn’t have looked good to have a normal-looking boy that looked like “Betsy Palmer at eight years old” jumping out. Jason’s final design was disturbing and met Miller and crew’s goal of shocking the audience, and made sure that they would never forget what young Jason Voorhees looked like.

However, Jason’s look without the hockey mask has changed a lot through the years, and each time he has appeared unmasked he has looked different, though almost always deformed. Jason Voorhees ended up being best known for wearing a hockey mask at all times, but that unexpected look at the end of Friday the 13th is very difficult to forget, and it worked a lot better than if he had looked like a “normal” child.

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