If it’s Halloween and Jason and Michael Myers are stalking a group of teens AND the film is scored with Beastie Boys songs and Rob Zombie songs AND several of the shots are straight out of Evil Dead 2 AND the video has the cool but confusing title Friday the 13th: Halloween Night, then you must be watching an Old School fanboy video. And I should know. Because I made a bunch of them myself. Never one that riffed on popular horror franchises like this one but I recognize the tropes.
In a wooded suburb in a town I can’t place, a bunch of dudes who make O.J. jokes and play Upwords ™ are stalked and killed by Jason and Michael. That’s about it. The whole shebang is 34 minutes long. In-jokes abound. People mumble important lines. One guy yells “Look at those pimples! What a fuck!” at Jason. There is a bedroom covered with Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser franchise movie posters. Someone wears a Dead Alive T-shirt. The editing ranges from very good to poor. The live sound is pretty bad. The specifics of this video are not my own but the overall enthusiastic, down-home feel of the whole enterprise is very familiar.
For me, it started with my Killer Bagels saga back in 1984. Our neighbors, the Kawahtis, had a video camera, a big backyard and some stale bagels. Soon the whole family was under attack. The editing was from camcorder to VCR. There were a lot of jokes that no one would have understood outside of the house. It went on and on way past the point of good cinematic taste. Over the years, I learned a little something about editing. Our videos in high school and the short films I made in in college got better and better. I did a lot of comedy. We did some action. I don’t think we ever actually did a horror film. I never quite felt like I hit on the right subject for horror. Apparently, Chris Seaver and his friends did, though. And they enter the home video world with gusto.
The killings in Friday the 13th: Halloween Night are gory. Cut throats, rake swipes and knives through heads abound. The characters are pretty indistinguishable. In fact, the guys playing the characters are pretty indistinguishable too. Some have glasses, some don’t. That’s one way to tell them apart. The guy who plays Jason does a good job. Michael looks exactly like someone’s friend dressed up as Michael Myers. There are a bunch of random scenes with guys getting killed. Most of them goof around while it’s happening. If you’ve ever videotaped a family celebration, you know the sort of goofing around I’m talking about. You watch the scene and think “Damn that Uncle Steve! He is always up to something!” If you don’t know Uncle Steve, you can do one of two things: 1) fast forward or 2) try and figure Uncle Steve out from the footage we have. That’s what I tried to do here. So, I watched this video three times. What did I learn?
These guys loved their horror films. They loved their gore. They loved their Beasties and their Rob Zombie. The credits list a song from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. That’s a college memory I’d hoped I’d lost. Due to mumbled dialog and bad audio, I never quite understood a plotline about one of the characters seeing a friend killed. And I never really caught their character’s names. Those mikes on the camcorders just weren’t as good as we thought they were. There is a long sequence where a character carves a pumpkin to the tune of Madness’s “Our House.” Why? I don’t know. But, wondering why is as fascinating to me as wondering about Dave “The Rock” Nelson’s life using what I’ve gleaned from his videos.
I love watching things like this, especially from this time period. It’s all very different now, obviously. Something like this would go up on YouTube now and be seen by many, many people. It would be slicker. It might have some of that in-joke charm gone to appeal to a wider crowd. I know one thing that would definitely be different. You may have noticed something missing from my descriptions of the movie. One hint: XX Chromosomes. There are no females in this video. Not one. Today, the film would be loaded with gals. Hell, it would have probably been made by a woman, rather than a pack of dudes. Back in the 80s and 90s, for some reason, it was tougher getting women to waste an afternoon doing this sort of thing. That’s some sort of odd defining factor in a lot of these. All Sausage, All the Time! It was a different era.