The second Friday the 13th of this year makes a nice October pitstop on our way to Halloween.
I decided to mark this occasion by watching a movie that wasn’t part of the Friday the 13th horror franchise. If I’m honest, though, I have the sixth film, Jason Lives, playing in the background right now. It’s not like it will distract me.
After all, there’s plenty of horror to chose from and, while I’ve seen most of them, I haven’t seen every horror movie ever made. I was thinking about slasher movies. The forerunners of Friday the 13th going all the way back to silent films like The Bat (which also has a keen 1959 remake with Vincent Price); mid-century efforts like Homicidal, The Scarlett Claw, The Spiral Staircase, and House of Wax; or even something like The House That Screamed. All (and plenty more) influenced the genre in some way, including masks, point-of-view shots, jump scares and heroines (helpless and not).
While I was dithering about on IMDb; however, I got caught looking for every horror movie with the number 13 in the title. Why wouldn’t that happen? It’s like having to count mustard seeds.
That’s a hefty bunch of films. Some good films (I watched Dementia 13 last year). There’s some real manure as well. I’m talking to you 13th Child. Surely the Jersey Devil can do better than that. This is why it’s so pissed off all the time. No respect, I tell ya.
Wonder of wonders, there is a 1979 movie entitled Friday the 13th: The Orphan. Or just The Orphan. They splashed a calendar page on the poster that has nothing to do with the movie, but I’ll take it.
I watched it last night. I took copious notes. Being Friday the 13th and all, WordPress didn’t save anything. Not even a midpoint draft. For a minute, I thought I dreamed the whole thing, but I can’t forget typing out “shitty music, again” repeatedly and my dreams are usually way more interesting than note taking while drinking a Caipirinha.
No matter, I can sum that shit up in long story (not so) short form. I probably wasn’t going to read any of those notes anyway.
It’s the 1920s or thereabouts. A creepy kid’s parents die. The movie opens with the kid narrating a funeral in such a way as to sound insane. No, you didn’t miss anything, that’s just the cold intro into the mind of David, a deranged little orphan.
His aunt comes to take care of him and she won’t let him have any toast because he might cough. Yes, really. Aunt Martha’s got issues.
The maid; the live-in African gentleman (seriously, he’s just the dead father’s buddy/business partner from Africa who has extended-stay guest privileges, gives the boy an elephant gun pistol (I take this from the movie, don’t get picky) and smokes him up hooka style); and the neighborly, letch, ginger Uncle Pennybags-looking Billy variously pledge to help the boy. They’re all selfish and full of shit.
Naturally, the boy takes to praying to a stuffed chimp on an altar, wearing no shirt and generally goes Tarzan Backyard Edition. Lots of flashbacks go into just how shitty the parents actually were. Akin, the African man, kills the boy’s chicken, Apple Betty, at the behest of Aunt Martha and rolls out smoking a cigar in his new car, courtesy of a juicy Aunt Martha payoff check. See ya, Akin. Enjoy your vacation.
The boy hears some voices, gets agitated, and Aunt Martha kills his dog by slamming it in a door accidentally. The boy has had enough of reality and lying liars and then people die. The boy finally has some toast, with raspberry jam, cooked on the end of a fireplace poker in the family fireplace. All’s well that ends well!
I have to tell you, I thought this movie was shit. Then a funny thing happened. It got weird. Really weird. Weird is right in my wheelhouse. The shitty music became perfect. The annoying flashbacks became artistically surreal. There was a stuffed chimp and a pet chicken. The annoying child became my hero. They all got what was coming to them.
Despite what you see in the trailer, Charlie the Chimp is never alive and the Friday the 13th date is never mentioned (to my knowledge).
There are three songs listed in the credits. “I Need to Live Alone Again” by Janis Ian, “Don’t Make Me Laugh” and “Did You Ever Dream” written by Teo Macero and Carl Sigman – performed by Judy Roberts.
Janis seems like a fine artist, but when you put that song with this movie, what you get is saccharine insanity. Saccharinsanity.
It’s the perfect song to play alongside Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.