Victor Miller's Original 19 Page Treatment for Friday the 13th (1980): A Closer Look
For any Friday fan, Peter M. Bracke's Crystal Lake Memories book is a must have. The recent digital versions are an even bigger treat, especially the Enhanced Edition that takes the reader even further into the films and provides built in attachments, videos and behind the scenes looks that offer many never before seen treasures and details.
One of the biggest fan thrills have been the included drafts, snippets and excerpts from the various scripts and treatments for each film. Often discussed and requested amongst those is Victor Miller’s original 19 page treatment for the flick that started them all – 1980’s Friday the 13th, to be directed by Sean S. Cunningham, which is included in full form in the Enhanced Edition of Crystal Lake Memories!
Miller’s original treatment acts more as a run-through of events that we will see in the full script for the film, including the characters and their deaths to come. While the final draft sticks to the structure he lays down on these pages, some significant ideas were left behind that leave us pondering how they would have worked in the now classic film had they remained.
Most significantly is a character trait of the killer that builds upon the mystery of the killer’s identity while also providing a clue. In the proposed original opening, the young couple who sneak away for a private make out session only to be the film’s opening victims are in contrast quite brutally slain. But in doing so, the unseen killer is scripted to accidently sever one of their own fingers, which they collect before hurriedly making their get a way. This physical identifier will of course be the revealing factor in the climax of the narrative, when Alice encounters Mrs. Voorhees who at first provides comfort to her. As she strokes Alice’s hair to calm her the audience would see that she is missing a finger.
While the killer’s identity remained the same, there are some differences in execution of events beyond the missing digit. The treatment describes the point of view of the stalker while they not only watch the kids frolic in the lake (which did carry over to the film), but also as they make their way through the camp to sabotage and stage some frights such as placing the snake in Alice’s backpack, setting up a jump scare in the kitchen and preparing for the night of attacks. Included is a scene that was cut altogether where Bill and Jack examine the generator and Jack is slightly electrocuted by a puddle of water that was mysteriously made nearby it. The originally planned Mrs. Voorhees was also even more of a stager, as it is described that Alice comes across the bodies of the lot of her unfortunate friends and they have been placed together in a sexually suggestive manner.
This may be retribution for some original behaviour as well, as the kids were somewhat more sexualized in the original draft with Marcie deciding that she only swims in the buff and the other kids following her example, save for Alice and Bill of course who would remain our purer characters to root for. And while the characters did remain intact and mostly unchanged one could not help but notice that the iconic character of Crazy Ralph was not in this first plot and therefore not developed until later drafts.
And as discussed in depth in other topics, the original ending was also different. Jason’s jump revelation was no where to be found and of course as we know did not come into discussion until later in the creative process. While the epic battle between Alice and Pamela is described as such here, the actual result of it is quite different. While the two women tumble and struggle the scene seems to cut to the result, as officers arrive at Camp Blood and the audience would anticipate in wonder which had survived the clash. In a greatly alternative concept, our heroine Alice while still victorious over her antagonist is in a much different state as she appears to herself be crazed by the events she survived the previous evening. Alice is discovered stroking the severed head of Mrs. Voorhees and has collected the bodies of each of her camp colleagues and strung them up in a picturesque fashion. This would have been quite a disturbing image to close the film on, but of course we would have never had lil’ Jason jump out and wonder if his legacy would have begun as it did and continues to do throughout the franchise.
While the original treatment is both similar and different in what audiences were eventually exposed to in 1980, it is a real treat for fans to have a read through and ponder. The Crystal Lake Memories Enhanced Edition can and should be purchased in all available formats by going to the site's ebook centre here Crystal Lake ebook center
And of course, share your thoughts on the original treatment draft by dropping by the forum page for the original Friday the 13th here Friday the 13th forum page