31 Days of Wicked Watching [DAY 3]: This One Time at Death Camp

Arguably, I certainly could have and should have watched this movie yesterday since it was a Friday. As a benefit, I’m out of the woods when it comes to this month not having a 13th on a Friday, and thus no one can argue that cliche viewing (although I’m usually here for that and probably would have done it) needed to exist. Today’s movie, “Friday the 13th,” is an adventure that many never see coming.

What many people who have never seen this film don’t realize is that it inherently is a mystery. Unlike the hockey-mask wielding sequels (which the iconic mask actually doesn’t even enter the realm of the franchise until the third film), this first film utilizes editing and music, much like a Hitchcock film, to frame an aura of mystery and questioning. Yes, the same tropes that “Scream” explicated exist: teens, drugs, drinking, sex and murder. What is different from later slasher works, and very much like its predecessor in John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (spoiler: it is my 31st film; it is always my 31st film) is the consistent sentiment that the viewer is left in the dark about who and what is lurking.

Beyond the mystery, what always made this film scary to me is that it relies on an environment that many of us can connect with: summer camp. When school was out it meant a summer with our friends, and, for many of us, this lead to some time at camp. The making of arts and crafts, swimming in the lake and telling ghost stories were some of the most important pieces of my summer experience. Being in cabins in the woods seemed like a right of passage. Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” preys on that right of passage.

For me, today is a cozy and cold day, and that means apple cinnamon tea, a blanket and Mrs. Voorhees. Join me.

Published by Patrick R. Johnson

Patrick is a Ph.D. student and graduate instructor in the SJMC. He comes from nearly a decade of teaching high school journalism and English, and an adjunct professor of journalism and media studies at Marquette University (where he received both his bachelor's and master's degrees). He is a former Dow Jones Distinguished National Journalism Teacher of the Year. His research interests include the intersection of news literacy, journalism ethics, journalism studies, and professional boundary work. He also focuses his attention on issues of deviance within the media industry, particularly as it relates to issues of sex and issues resulting in paradigm repair. Patrick is also deeply passionate about teaching and the role of journalism schools in the professionalization of their students. He focuses a lot of his thinking on mass communication and journalism pedagogy and identifying ways for journalism courses to be both rewarding in content and enriching in skill. He currently teaches Journalistic Reporting and Writing in the SJMC and taught a number of courses at Marquette, including Media Ethics, Visual Communication, Magazine Design and Production, Digital Journalism 1-3, Strategic Communication Writing, and the Journalism Capstone course for the department. His work in curriculum, instruction, and educational leadership includes serving as the Journalism Education Association’s Mentor Program Chair, designing curriculum to accompany Pulitzer Prize winning content for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, reviewing the Praxis national journalism certification exam, and developing a number of courses at the high school and collegiate levels. Patrick served as a 2021 Public Humanities Intern through the Obermann Center where he worked specifically with University Special Collections to develop public-facing exhibits and curriculum materials related to the Tom Brokaw Collection.

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