Characters You HATED to see die!! Episode 2, Ms. Van Deusen
Ok, it’s no secret that the majority of Friday fans watch each chapter hoping to be shocked and awed by the extravagant and often explicit ways that each would be victim will be dispensed in. It could even be argued that some characters are set up just for the payoff of rooting for and enjoying their bloody ends - we’re looking at you Bad News Crews…
Having said that, every so often one of the films would present a demise that not only caught fans off guard, but we were actually sad to see them meet their maker.
While the first chapter of the discussion explored the gruesome end of our original heroine Alice Hardy, we are fast forwarding all the way to when Jason took Times Square; or at least walked around a bit in it. While Jason’s body count was one of his highest in this entry there was one that every viewer can’t help but let out an awwww when they meet their end. Of course we are talking about everyone’s favourite teacher and mentor Ms. Van Deusen, played by the loveable Barbara Bingham.
Collen Van Deusen was not only this misfit filled high school’s most influential English teacher, she also served as Mother figure to this chapter’s heroine to be Rennie Wickham played by Jensen Daggett. When we are first introduced to Rennie, she is with Ms. Van Deusen as they travel to the dock to board the doomed ship carrying the partying graduating class and of course stow-away Jason. Before you can say “Teacher’s Pet,” good ole Collen is even presenting Rennnie with a heart-warming gift; Stephen King’s old fountain pen, a touching sentiment as Rennie is an aspiring writer!
Throughout the film, Ms. Van Deusen not only acts as Rennie’s protector, but also doubles as the voice of reason. She keeps the group grounded and constantly uses her powers of redirection to calm the irrational anger from Rennie’s own Uncle Charles McCullough (Peter Mark Richman) who could tie with The New Blood’s Dr. Crews as a character we are just itching to see bite it in the worst way…and are not let down!
Having said that, it’s clear that Van Deusen will not make it to the end. The character’s use becomes limited and she clearly is not going to be the one standing up to the menacing force that is Voorhees at the climax. The question becomes more how will she go? Traditionally in the genre, these type of do-no-wrong but still expendable characters make their exit one of two ways. The first, an over the top violent and gruesome death! This device is commonly used to heighten the threat posed by the main villain, as a character the audience likes and does not expect to see so brutally disposed of is used by the antagonist as proof that no-one is safe. Think Danny Trejo in Rob Zombie’s Halloween or Paula in Jason Lives. The second fate is a subtle and usually off-screen demise, softening the blow of the character’s exit so that the audience doesn’t get too angry with the filmmakers.
Well Ms. Van Deusen’s sweet nature seemed to pay off in the end, as she is given the privilege of the latter. While our gang make their way through the back alleys of Vancouver…I mean New York City…they make off in a high speed police cruiser, only to have Rennie’s visions drive her (literally) into a wall. With McCullough’s continued arrogance, Van Deusen is left unconscious in the fire engulfed car which then explodes before she can be rescued. While her death was quick and off screen, it is not without merit to the story’s progression. The blow to Rennie leads to her fully realizing the visions that have been haunting her throughout the film, a memory of an early childhood encounter with Jason in Crystal Lake spurred by her Uncle’s sadistic lessons. RIP Ms. Van Deusen and thank you, for all your sacrifices and selflessness!For more on Barbara Bingham including photos and full resume, please visit her imdb page here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0082921/?ref_=nmmd_md_nm
For everything Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, please stop by the site's page dedicated to it here: http://www.fridaythe13thfranchise.com/2011/06/friday-13th-part-8-jason-takes.html