Inspiring Scares (Day 20): FX Artist Shiva Rodriguez on FRIDAY THE 13TH

As part of Inspiring Scares, Slasher Studios has taken a look at the work of various horror writers and filmmakers but we have for you a rare Slasher Studios first today. We are taking a look at the Inspiring Scare from FX Artist Shiva Rodriguez (because what is a horror movie without some great special effects?) and the horror movie that changed Shiva’s life forever…

The first thing I remember about Friday the 13th was that I wasn’t allowed to see it. I was about ten years old when it came out on cable, and despite the fact that I had already been exposed to a great deal of theatrical blood by then, my mother was very skeptical about letting me see this notorious film. Like any responsible parent would, she sent my brother and I to stay at our grandmother’s house for the night while she exercised “parental discretion” and watched the film herself. Of course, I was calling home every ten minutes to see if she’d let me watch it. After the first hour, I was told that I could not see it under any circumstances.

Fast-forward a few months later when my father presented his children with this new-fangled device known as a VCR and then proceeded to indulge his daughter in renting whatever films her heart desired. So at long-last, I got to watch Friday the 13th. Any fears that my mother harbored about how the film might affect my dreams certainly came true, but not quite in the way she’d anticipated. For the first time I got to see death scenes that looked very realistic when compared to the stage tricks I grew up with. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of doing practical FX. From that day forward, makeup artist Tom Savini became my hero and my kid brother became my guinea pig. Although it came out long after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, Friday the 13th is often credited for ushering in the slasher film genre. I’m guessing that’s because the 1980s gave birth to a swarm of killer-on-the-loose films that all tried to out-do each other with how many different ways they could knock off a cast of teenagers.

We start off with the obligatory first pair of victims before the opening credits, then on to meeting the team of counselors who are fixing up an old, run-down camp for its grand re-opening and presumably hoping that everyone has forgotten about the Voorhees kid who drowned and the two counselors who were murdered there in the not-so-distant past. Very shortly thereafter, the cast gets depleted down to a single survivor and a very angry killer. The film utilizes a beautiful blend of all things terrifying. An isolated setting, characters put into very vulnerable positions, showing us horrible ways to be murdered with whatever objects happen to be laying around, and of course, it all takes place during a dark and stormy night. There’s no doubt that this film was cleverly engineered to give its audience nightmares.

Of course, what I loved the most about it were the realistic and gory FX which really raised the bar to the point that many of the other films that followed its path simply couldn’t compare. We get to watch a girl get hit in the face with an axe. We get to view a gory decapitation in the POV of the character wielding the machete. We even get to see Kevin Bacon get skewered through his throat by an arrow. (By the way, that image really stuck with me a couple years later while watching Footloose.) The film paved the way for a long string of sequels by resurfacing the drowned child (Jason), and things eventually became a bit goofy as the numbers got higher and the writers started running out of plausible places to send Mr. Voorhees. Recently a re-make of the original film was done and I was very glad to see that Jason found his way back home to good old Camp Crystal Lake.