Disqus for Friday The 13th: The Film Franchise

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Remembering Betsy Palmer's Pamela Voorhees in 1980's Friday The 13th

Recently, I watched 1980's Friday The 13th again and this time I paid more attention to Betsy Palmer's portrayal of Pamela Voorhees (mother of Jason). I remember the very first time I saw this film, the narrative started becoming stale with the mysterious killings and bouts of suspense moving on and on until Pamela came into the film comforting a very scared Alice (Adrienne King).

Actress Betsy Palmer during her younger days.

"I'm not afraid," Pamela told Alice in the film.

Then a short time later, Jason's mom saw the cabin (where Alice came from) and began telling her that Camp Crystal Lake has a dark history of death and that particular day was her son's birthday. With music adding to the fear and suspense, Pamela revealed how her son "died" all because the camp counselors did not pay any attention to him back in the late 1950s.



From this point on Pamela's rage got stronger and she started to go after Alice in an act of revenge for her son (even though Alice herself had nothing to do with the drowning of Jason) and the rest was cinematic horror history.

As an artist, Palmer brought to Friday the 13th almost 30 years of acting experience and you can tell that she played the revenge-seeking mother convincingly. As Palmer spoke her lines recalling Jason's death, her pain and anger can be easily felt.

Apart from the emotion and the spoken lines, Pamela Voorhees somewhat resembles a man with her short hair and rough-looking face (versus Alice's beautiful face) which effectively adds to the fear and tension of the film. At the same time, Pamela's man-like look makes you want to root more for Alice to survive. Just watch this short clip.



To say the least, Pamela Voorhees's entry is arguably the game changer of the film and even by today's standards, I find her revelation as the movie's killer quite surprising. Really, I was very surprised to realize Jason's mom as the antagonist the first time I saw the film.

Thinking about how Betsy Palmer first got involved in Friday The 13th, because she needed to buy a new car decades ago, I felt that what happened was destiny for her and the film franchise. Her artistry as the mother who wanted all out revenge for the "death" of her iconic son will never fade away.

Thank you so much Betsy Palmer. Your artistic contribution to not only the Friday The 13th film franchise but horror cinema is forever essential.

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