Friday, March 13, 2015

The Sisters Of Friday the 13th


Like so many slasher powerhouses, the would-be icon is the star of the show and a resourceful final girl commonly outshines the numerous characters/victims that pass through sequel after sequel. There is absolutely no better example of this than Friday the 13th. Hardcore fans however, do have their standouts outside of those two archetypes along with their memorable lines. Here, I take great joy in highlighting buried Black (female) characters that are too easily overlooked. But I cannot fault an audience: they're not made to shine. But to me, they sparkle.

Gloria Charles as Fox in Friday the 13th Part III (1982)


Not someone you want to run into, Fox is all intimidation and swagger alongside her biker boyfriend Ali and their third wheel Loco. A nagging trio for prime Jason victims Shelley and Vera, who are just grabbing provisions from the General Store, we first see Fox give Vera a hard time just for being in the same space. Why the scene of her wagging a condom in Vera's face asking her if it was her rubber was looping in my imagination after watching this one recently, is a question best left for Freud. Charles' approach to Fox is nothing but an entertaining minor antagonist that, when the gang decides to follow them back to their camp to give 'em more hell, she succumbs to Jason's force with a pitchfork throat hanging. That swagger certainly cost her some breathing credits.

Jere Fields as Anita in Friday the 13th Part: A New Beginning (1985)


No, that isn't a young Janet Jackson. I had to do a freeze frame myself the first time I saw this. Anita is Demon's (Miguel Nunez) lovely girlfriend. She not only gets high in the back of his van while greeting his little brother, Reggie the Reckless and "his" girlfriend Pam, she serenades Demon with a diddy while he's on the crapper. Not surprising, she operates as a throwaway character: quickly introduced and quickly dismembered. At the very least, she's offered a few lines and is easily someone you kinda dig. She would've been the cool big sister to a Regina the Reckless.

Fun fact: Jere Fields is the sister to Kim and Alexis Fields. Kim you may know from both television series', The Facts Of Life as Tootie and Regine from Living Single.

Renee Jones as Sissy Baker in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)


Bubbly budding camp counselor Sissy took one look at the kids who finally do arrive at Camp Crystal Lake Forrest Green and declared, "I rather deal with 'ol Jason...". A modest attempt at adding diversity to a new pack of counselor potentials, Sissy was just another sidelined character for Jason's kill count in the Tommy Jarvis trilogy of this franchise. As a young one, my jaw dropped as I watched Jason twist her head off like a tight bottle cap. It was one of my favorite kills for a long time.

Diane Almeida as Kate in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)


In true token fashion, Kate maybe gets three lines and plays second fiddle to her even more marginalized boyfriend, Ben. If you're not paying attention, she's easy to miss. This predicament is bittersweet because The New Blood is riddled with some of the worst dialogue in film history and again, centers heavily around a cute blonde with a bad perm and psychic abilities. So instead of over the top caricatures, we get some mild-mannered, forgettable Black people that are twigs off the party tree.

*Honorable mention to the Black paramedic in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)


*Editors note: friend Phil Noble Jr. let me know that the actress is Frankie Hill.

I wish I knew exactly why this actress is not credited. A familiar 80's face that I cannot place, I've seen her make a mark on other television series and possibly films of the decade. The spooked paramedic who's not comfortable riding in the same van with a comatose Jason in the back at the beginning of the movie can't even get a credit. I've looked about everywhere, which is both driving me crazy and is a bit annoying.

For the brown skin ladies in the Jason Vorhees universe, well, I'm glad they were around but on the critical representation tip, it's rather atrocious. The Friday the 13th franchise produces some of the most memorable Black characters in arguably the lesser of the sequels such as Part 5 and Jason Goes To Hell, but really sticks to their guns on developing survivors with stories around their white female (and sometimes male) protagonists. For the fashion in which these films were created, it's understandable. But a Black final girl in this franchise would've been entertainingly revolutionary.
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