Jason was almost named Josh.
In the pantheon of movie killers, he's achieved a status like Bono, Madonna, Sting, or Tupac. Like his onscreen nemesis Freddy, the killer of the Friday the 13th franchise has a first name that is so identifiable with the character that it often isn't even necessary to use his last name in conversation. Think about it: Freddy! Jason! Now imagine if Jason Voorhees had been named... Josh. Josh Voorhees. Screenwriter Victor Miller recognized this initial name for the bad idea that it was and chose to name Mr. Voorhees after a kid who'd bullied him at school. Take that, school bullies!
The original title was A Long Night at Camp Blood.
The version of the script with the name "Josh" had yet to be titled Friday the 13th. Victor Miller's script was called A Long Night at Camp Blood. But director Sean S. Cunningham floated the title Friday the 13th with a logo, an advertisement in Hollywood trade publication Variety, and a slogan, "the most terrifying film ever made!" Before a finished draft of A Long Night at Camp Blood was in his hands.
Jason was never supposed to be the star.
It's evident just a few minutes in to movies like Jason Lives and Jason X that Mr. Voorhees is the star of the show. Horror audiences aren't so much rooting for the generally unlikable victims to survive as they are looking for increasingly thrilling and inventive kills. It's a very specific type of cinematic escapism, to be sure. But originally, Friday the 13th was intended to be an anthology series. Each movie would have taken place, presumably, on Friday the 13th. But not only did Jason become the series star after his terrifying reemergence at the end of the first film, but the date in the title became something of a moot point. The first two movies take place on Friday the 13th, but Part III takes place the following day, Saturday the 14th (not to be confused with the 1981 horror comedy.) Part IV takes place on Sunday and Monday. After that, it seems like the series' producers mostly abandoned the device. We did ultimately get a Friday the 13th anthology series on television. Unlike the anthology series Freddy's Nightmares, which featured Freddy as host and occasional star, 1987's Friday the 13th: The Series was Jason free. I mean the dude doesn't talk.
Wait, Jason speaks? OK, he actually did talk. Once. And it was really stupid. Hop onto Google and type "did Jason ever..." and the search suggestion most likely to appear will be "talk." In Jason Goes to Hell, the otherwise silent killer did speak. As much as we wish he'd said something cool like "Puny Human," his line was just, "Freeze! Get the hell away from her, Ed!" See, in Jason Goes to Hell, a mortician eats Jason's heart, which allows Jason to possess his body. After that, Jason jumps from host to host, taking the form of a slug and crawling into people's mouths. Toward the end of the movie, the girl with the magic dagger that can kill Jason once and for all is trying to figure out which of these two cops is possessed by Jason. And Jason fools her. By speaking. In the DVD commentary, the film's writer and director both admit they knew they were breaking a pretty serious Jason rule. To be fair, Jason speaking in Jason Goes to Hell is by no means the dopiest part of this movie.
What happened to the first Jason?
Before he was a slug, before he went to hell, and before he went to Manhattan, Jason was a tragic little kid, thought to be dead until he came splashing up for the first movie's final kill. Horror convention fans have had plenty of chances to meet Kane Hodder, but super fans know there's always a chance to meet Ari Lehman, the child actor who played Jason in the 1980 original. Apparently the most important question at the audition was: "can you swim?" Anyway, the first Jason is actually the frontman for a horror themed punk/metal band and that band is called... First Jason.
There's a Friday the 13th Nintendo game.
Almost 30 years before Friday the 13th: The Game, which is available for many platforms, there was a Friday the 13th game made available for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES game arrived in 1989. It was developed by the company Atlus and published by LGN, who were responsible for games based on A Nightmare on Elm Street, Back to the Future, and The Karate Kid. The game isn't very good, but its graphics hold a certain kind of kitschy nostalgic cool. In 2017, the company behind Friday the 13th: The Game released a "retro Jason" skin based on the 1989 game as a way to reward fans for their patience with some launch issues.
They almost turned Jason into Rambo.
Jason confronts a group of paint ballers in Jason Lives. Originally these victims were going to be hunters, instead. Killing them would have armed Jason with a bunch of guns, including an Uzi, and more bullet belts than a 1980s teenaged thrasher. Luckily, somebody realized Jason toting guns was wrong for the character. It would have been even worse than the zombie with a machine gun in Land of the Dead. While Jason was never turned into Rambo, the movie did turn him into James Bond, at least for a few seconds. Honestly, we love that Jason Lives intro.
Jason's Dad was almost in Part 6.
Audiences came close to meeting Elias Voorhees in the series sixth installment. This scene would have fixed a continuity error created by A New Beginning, where it was said that Jason was cremated. In this proposed retcon, audiences would learn that Jason's body was secretly buried under the direction of his father, Elias Voorhees, who would have been seen in the cemetery standing over Jason and Pamela's graves. This scene was scrapped, as was the idea to have Kane Hodder play Elias Voorhees in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday and Freddy vs. Jason. Jason's father did appear in the novelization of Jason Lives as well as in comic books. Elias Voorhees made it into Jason vs. Leatherface and Friday the 13th: Pamela's Tale.
Jason's mom was almost in Jaxon X.
Speaking of Pamela, she nearly returned in Jason X. In perhaps the movie's best scene, the futuristic astronauts who are terrorized by Jason in what's essentially "Jason Goes to Space" are given a brief reprieve when a holographic simulation distracts Jason. In the finished film, there are just the two teenagers Jason smashes together in zipped up sleeping bags. But originally, producers approached Betsy Palmer about reprising her role as Jason's mom for the virtual reality scene. Screenwriter Todd Farmer told The Movie Crypt in 2017 that Palmer's salary demand was too high for the production. Sadly, Betsy Palmer passed away in 2015.
The truth behind 'Kill, kill kill, mom, mom, mom'.
There's no denying that link between Voorhees mother and son, however. "Chi, chi, chi; ha, ha, ha?" Composer Harry Manfredini revealed that the famous refrain is actually, "Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma," or "kill, kill, kill; mom, mom, mom," which is meant to represent the voice of Jason in his mother's head as she embarks on her rampage.
There's a Freddy Vs. Jason sequel.
Of course, none of these ten facts really answer the biggest question, as eloquently posed by comedic actor Jason Mantzoukas in the Jason X episode of the brilliant How Did This Get Made podcast: "What is Jason?" The sequel to Freddy vs. Jason may have come close to answering this. In what began as a treatment for a movie but became a comic instead, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash could offer some grander explanation for Jason's various resurrections and superpowers by bringing him into the Evil Dead universe. It's even been suggested that the Voorhees family is descended from some powerful warlocks. Maybe the Necronomicon plays a role. Ok, we'll admit it, we still can't really answer the big question: "What is Jason?" But it has recently come to light that he may, in fact, be a Deadite.