It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.
“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”
The good news is, I managed to get through the whole first season in time for Halloween. The bad news is the season finale, episode twenty-six, “Bottle of Dreams,” is a clip show. Freakin’ clip shows.
Micki, Ryan and Jack are throwing a little party for themselves inside the store to celebrate one year of successful evil antique hunting. A man dressed in robes enters, leaves an antique urn with our heroes, and leaves. Micki and Ryan take the urn into the vault, where smoke comes out of it and the door locks them in.
Jack calls upon his friend and fellow occultist Rashid for help. Rashid explains that the urn is making Micki and Ryan experience a “death dream,” in which they relive their most terrifying experiences, until they can’t stand it anymore and their hearts burst. This is a long-winded way of explaining the use of footage from previous episodes — “The Inheritance,” “Cupid’s Quiver,” “Scarecrow,” “Tattoo,” “Doctor Jack,” and “Tales of the Undead.”
Jack gets the idea of him and Rashid casting a spell that allows him to enter Micki and Ryan’s dream psychically and bring them out of it. Rashid warns against this, saying that Jack, of all people, shouldn’t do this. Jack insists. While they prepare the spell, the ghost of Uncle Lewis appears! He says he’s sick of Micki and Ryan interfering in his work. Jack swears to send Lewis back to Hell.
In the dream world, Lewis taunts Jack with the image of a young boy in a coma. Turns out this is Peter, Jack’s son! Peter was a powerful psychic whose spirit left his body to explore this very dream world, but never returned. It’s all a trick, of course, and Jack turns his back on Peter to save Ryan and Micki. He finds them as they are reliving the episode “The Baron’s Bride,” which you’ll remember was the black-and-white one. As they reunite in the dream, Jack is in color while the other two are in black-and-white, with a fiery wall between them. Jack breaks through the wall, allowing Micki and Ryan to escape the dream and get out of the vault. Rashid warns our heroes that Lewis’s spirit is still out here… somewhere…
When the show is smart: I’m not a fan of clip shows, so I normally skip this one whenever I go through the series. Rewatching it this time, I was impressed to see so much time devoted to the show’s lore and to Jack’s backstory. I’m reminded of The Simpsons’ first clip show, “So It’s Come to This,” where, even though it’s a clip show, the creators still made an effort.
When the show is cheesy: The clips are mostly taken from previous episodes’ finales, but they cut off just before showing the audience how our heroes survived. If by any chance this is someone’s first time watching Friday the 13th, they’ll be frustrated with not knowing what happened.
Devilish dialogue: Uncle Lewis: “My niece and nephew are paying a price for interfering and it’ll keep on until they die. Then, the forces of darkness will take over this store and once again Satan’s toys will flow across this world like an unholy tide, sweeping everything before it.”
– This is the first of only two on-screen appearances of Jack’s friend Rashid, although Rashid is mentioned in several other episodes, usually providing pieces of exposition to Jack via a phone call.
– According to Alyse Wax’s excellent book Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series, it wasn’t budget that necessitated a clip show, but the writers’ strike of 1988. With the show’s regular writing staff on the picket lines, a non-union Canadian writer was brought in the bang out this script on the quick.
Back in the vault: I still dislike clip shows, but I must admit this one is better than I remembered. I guess it’s as good a season finale as any, summing up the best aspects of the show — cheesy horror that occasionally gets super dark and gory, but with genuine character development at its heart.
Happy Halloween, all.
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