Film and TV

5 Fan Films for Friday the 13th

Jason has been kept alive for more than a decade by dedicated fans producing unofficial content.
Jason has been kept alive for more than a decade by dedicated fans producing unofficial content. Screencap from Never Hike in the Snow
It’s been 14 years since we had an official new entry in the Friday the 13th franchise. Jason Voorhees is one of the most recognized modern movie monsters, but legal wrangles have tied up his series for more than a decade.

Despite a major lawsuit on the subject being settled in 2021, the future is still uncertain. Original writer Victor Miller won the rights to the first film, but not to the hockey mask-wearing version of Jason that has become iconic. Meanwhile, original director Sean S. Cunningham has announced his own reboot.

With all that mess and no actual sign of true resolution, it’s hardly surprising that fans have stepped up to fill the gaps. Much like Doctor Who after the show was cancelled in 1989, fan interest has been instrumental in keeping Jason alive and in the public mind. Since we get a rare Friday the 13th during Halloween this year,  we’re going to look at some of the best and most interesting unofficial projects for people jonesing for a proper return to Crystal Lake.
Never Hike Series

Writer and director Vincente DiSanti is the gold standard for quality Friday the 13th fan films. His Never Hike series has consistently turned out engaging and terrifying entries. Never Hike Alone followed an online influencer and extreme hiker (Andrew Leighty) who stumbles across what remains of Camp Crystal Lake, still covered in bloodstains and police tape. After getting injured in an encounter with Jason (played by DiSanti), the hiker has to play a white-knuckle cat-and-mouse game to escape.

The prequel, Never Hike in the Snow, is shorter but far more technically impressive. Jason once again focuses on a single victim, but we also get a compelling scene where he hallucinates his mother (Lennon Hobson). The official films offer so few chances to see Jason alone outside the massacre that the added bit of character development is most welcome.

Three more sequels are in the works, including a chance for Jason’s nemesis Tommy Jarvis (played by Thom Matthews from Jason Lives!) to have a final showdown with the killer. So far, DiSanti has been an incredible helmsman for the series in exile.

Rose Blood

Right off the bat, you should know that Rose Blood is not a very good horror film. Nothing even remotely scary happens for 51 minutes. Until then, the movie is mostly a mediocre military drama and a character study for the psychic final girl Tina Shephard (original actress Lar Park Lincoln in the framing story, Jessica Hottman in the rest of the film) from The New Blood. There is just. So much. Talking.

That said, the movie is worth watching because it does put forth some interesting ideas. After Tina defeats Jason using her abilities, she becomes a government lab rat who the military thinks they can use to resurrect Jason and turn him into a bioweapon. This leads directly into the beginning of Jason X, and actually serves to link the New Line era films together better than the canon ones do.

Hottman does wonders as Tina. Her vulnerability and justifiable rage at being a pawn overshadow the lackluster script. The film toys with the idea that Tina can actually conjure Jason like a vengeful spirit. It would have been nice to see her stalked by a wraith version of Jason she couldn’t control for most of the movie until the real deal shows up. Rose Blood is a slog, but it’s also the movie I wish Hollywood would look to when they decide to do something truly different with Jason.

Jason vs. Michael: Evil Emerges

There are lots of fan projects that pit Jason against other horror movie icons, but the best of these is director Luke Pedder’s Jason vs. Michael: Evil Emerges. It’s short, and the plot is almost non-existent. Some military goons are transporting Michael Myers (John Pedder) for execution when the Haddonfield killer breaks free. As poor luck would have it, he does so near Jason’s (Joshua Pedder) stomping grounds.

The fight is titanic, full of gore and believable strikes that will make you forget the time Freddy Kreuger used karate on Jason. It’s a brutal test of wills between the most indestructible slashers of all time, and just a joy to watch. There’s nothing new here, but it’s done well.

Voorhees: Born on a Friday

Jason’s mother Pamela has always been a favorite subject for spin-off media. Director Chris R. Notarile’s tackles Pamela’s (Monica Dinatale) first revenge murder for the death of her son. It’s a short film, but it packs a lot of heart and terror into its runtime.

Dinatale absolutely dominates the screen as a woman unhinged by tragedy, torturing her victim on the dock where Jason drowned. This is intercut with scenes of Pamela crying over Jason’s uneaten birthday cake. Moments like these add more to her story and the lore overall, while never dropping the tension of the carnage on screen.

13 Fanboy

Whether 13 Fanboy technically counts as a fan film is open to interpretation, but it’s undoubtedly a worthy addition to the Friday the 13th series that doesn’t fall under the main franchise. This is a meta story of horror actors being stalked by obsessive fans. Unfortunately, this happened in real life to Adrienne King, who played the first woman to escape a Crystal Lake massacre. Thankfully, King was unharmed, but she left performing for three decades over the ordeal. Side note: she narrates the audiobook for Grady Hendrix’s Final Girl Support Group and every slasher fan should get it.

Directed by Deborah Voorhees (Tina from A New Beginning), the movie is brimming with bloody murders and cameos from the entire franchise. Kane Hodder, known for playing Jason in multiple films, gets a rare chance to do some acting without a mask on and nails it. Corey Feldman drops in a creepy producer which, hey, play to your strengths.

While it’s nowhere as good as the Freddy Kreuger meta-film New Nightmare, Voorhees is a hell of a director who knows how to make a damn fine horror movie. Hayley Greenbauer is marvelous as Kelsie Voorhees, Deborah’s granddaughter who is trying to stop the deranged fan at a horror convention. There’s a lot of heart and love in 13 Fanboy, which are the hallmarks of an excellent fan film.
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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner