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The Women of Crystal Lake Part 1
Fangoria #63
By Marc Shapiro

King Kong started it all, with the words Carl Denham uttered over the brute's lifeless form after the big ape took his dive off the Empire State Building: "It was beauty killed the beast."

Beauty killed the beast/slasher/alien/other bad dude remains a genre staple. If a comely lass with a supple body and half a brain appears anywhere from the opening credits until five minutes before the fade, it's even money this wench will have something to do with the main nasty getting his.

And nowhere has this formula been adhered to more strictly than in the Friday the 13th films. Valentino's got nothing on Voorhees' bevy of babes. Sure, Jason's victims are invariably bimbettes, but those who have lived to fight another day have been made of sterner stuff.

Nobody has ever won a trip to Camp Crystal Lake for coming in first in an ugly contest, but far from being all flesh, the Friday sisters have clocked in as fairly resourceful (if a bit naive), spunky, good screamers and quick learners in their use of slasher weaponry. For my money, the biggest turn-on in an otherwise forgettable Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning was the sight of Melanie Kinnaman cutting loose with her Black and Decker. Now, that's entertainment.

Each Friday the 13th fraulein has also, to a greater or lesser degree, managed to parlay her Jason job into some semblance of a career (which is more than you can say for the majority of actors who have played Jason.) 

Go Ask Adrienne

Recently, Adrienne King was hard at work in the offices of the film production company she runs with her husband when a young filmmaker burst through the door with a great idea. "He wanted to make a horror film," recalls King. "Eventually, he got around to asking if I would be interested in starring in it. I thought to myself, 'This is never going to die.'"

This is King's claim to fame, the first of what has become a long line of female warriors: Alice in the groundbreaking Friday the 13th, a role King auditioned for only after the original filmmakers gave up trying to land Sally Field.

"Well, it wasn't that radiculous," she chuckles. "Originally, they were looking real hard for a name actress to play Alice. They finally realized that even if they could find somebody like that who was willing to do it, they wouldn't be able to afford her, so they decided to go with new talent instead."

The nascent actress auditioned along with what she describes as "hundreds and hundreds of other girls." She got the customary callbacks and finally the coveted role. At this point, the realist in King sensed the film was not going to be Gone With The Wind. "But what I liked about the script was that my character was not the typical horror bimbo," she decides. "Alice was strong and tough and had brains. It was also attractive in that I was going to end up being the film's only survivor.

King, a bunch of unknowns and one unknown about to become known (Kevin Bacon) were spirited away to what the actress jokingly calls "Motel 96 somewhere in Connecticut." "It was terrible," she remembers. "The place had no bathtubs. Still, it was a great working situation. From the beginning everybody, cast and crew, sensed that we were onto something and a special kind of chemistry began to develop. Everybody worked real hard." King, in particular, earned her spurs on Friday the 13th by doing all her own stunts. "I walked away from those scenes on the beach with all kinds of bruises."

Also embedded deep in King's memory bank is the fake ending scene in which Alice encounters Jason under watery circumstances. "It took us three months to shoot that scene," winces King. "The first time we shot it was in September then October and finally in November. The first two times something went wrong. Even thought it was supposed to be in the spring, it was 28 degrees. Snow was falling by the time we were getting ready to shoot it the third time."

"[Director] Sean Cunningham was very apologetic about the screw-ups. He promised, 'This is the last time I'm going to ask you to do this.' We finally got the scene, but the water was so cold and I was wearing so little that I came down with a bad cold and was out of commission for two weeks."

The film also held a distinct advantage in being the first Friday the 13th. "We really got away with that decapitation scene," King nods. "The way it was done in slow motion was almost like a ballet. I know it's bizarre to look at a decapitation scene that way, but I think everybody involved in that first Friday probably looks back on it a little differently. There had not been too many slasher films made at that time, so there was a real sense of innocence involved in making that one. After the first one, the filmmakers went for the bottom line. They discovered how much violence and sex it took to make money and did it to the max. During the filming, nobody involved was thinking in terms of a sequel.

While she looks back with pride at the fact that she was the lone survivor in the original Friday the 13th, King also concedes that doing the film probably played havoc with her budding acting career. "The only thing that movie did for my career was type me forever as an actress in Friday, the only roles I was offered were horror films. It finally got so bad that I had to go to England just to get a nonhorror offer."

King spent the next year studying at the London Royal Academy, "doing my Shakespeare thing." She returned to the States for her cameo death scene in Friday the 13th Part 2 stint, "the door was open so that I could come back and do another one if I changed my mind. Even as recently as The Final Chapter, I had a discussion with director Joseph Zito, who said that he would love me in the film if I was interested."

She wasn't, and even today she barely bats an eye when informed tat Friday the 13th, Part VIII is casting about for a female lead.

"I'm open to anything, if the script charms me," shrugs King. "I might even do Friday VIII if they'd guarantee me the foreign sales rights."

Amy Draw Real Blood

On day, after a particularly hectic evening of filming on Friday the 13th, Part 2, director Steven Miner invites Amy Steel to go for a ride in the country. A little horror hanky-panky? Is this the real untold story? No, Steel describes Miner as the perfect gentleman: "We were driving down the road, and Steve was saying things like, 'Aren't the trees beautiful in the fall?' When I was feeling real relaxed, he said, 'Oh, by the way, we have to shoot that scene again.'"

That scene - in which Jason crashes through the window and grabs Ginny (Steel's alter ego) off the bed - was one of many the actress endured during two months of night filming on the first Friday the 13th sequel. "I remember seeing the first film and thinking, 'What a funny hatchet job this is,'" says Steel, who was basically a babe in the acting woods when she auditioned for the role in New York. "When I got the part, I just laughed. I said, 'It's sequel time!'"

A pragmatist with a good sense of humor, Steel changed her mind once filming began.

"Working for two months at night on a film like this eventually gave me the heebie-jeebies," declares Steel. "Constantly having dirt and water thrown on you, and watching these actors you're working with killed and blood pouring out of them - you know it's not real, but at a certain point, it all becomes a very tense experience."

Number one on Steel's tense hit parade was the aforementioned Jason crash and grab sequence. "I didn't care for that scene at all," she grimaces. "Something would always go wrong, and we ended up having to shoot it three times. Because it required me to be emotionally involved and believably scared I got a little crazed by the time the third take came around. The worst part was sitting on the bed and hearing that high-speed camera make that whirring sound. All of a sudden this monster would come crashing through the window."

In another scene, the heroine got even with Jason in a bloody and (unfortunately for stunt Jason Steve Daskawisz) real accident. "It was the scene where I put on the sweater, pretending I'm Mrs. Voorhees," Steel specifies. "I lift up the machete and bring it down on Jason. I got a little carried away and really put the machete through his finger! We had to stop shooting while they took him to the hospital to get his finger sewn up. I felt bad, because I really drew blood."

When Steel wasn't chopping up the crew, she did what all of Friday's damsels in distress are noted for: lots of running, screaming, and just plain acting frightened. "Being scared is a relatively easy emotion to reach for," Steel assesses. "I didn't really have to prepare for Ginny because the role was not that complex. I was basically a prop,. It's not that hard to imagine somebody coming after you with a knife."

Steel didn't dive for cover when she saw Friday 2 for the first time. "I was happy, and I got fairly good reviews even though all the critics hated the film," she clarifies. "I'm not a big star right now, so doing the film couldn't have done too much for my career, but I do remember going to parties and having agents come up to compliment me on my work in the film. I did go on to do April Fools Day, and I have worked since Friday the 13th so, if nothing else, that film served the purpose of getting me through the next door."

In fact, career prospects were looking so up for Steel in 1982 that she turned down the chance to return in Friday the 13th, Part 3. "My agents said, 'No, you're moving on to bigger and better things,'" explains Steel. "If I had to do it all over again, I think I would do the third one - for more money of course."

The acting community being what it is, Steel occasionally encounters fellow thespians who have labored in a Friday the 13th sequel. "And it's funny, because when you do, you just kind of stare at each other for a few seconds and then bust up laughing," Steel grins. "It's like a secret society of actors who did 'one of those movies.'"
 

Jason's Prude Danish

Dana Kimmell, Chris in Friday the 13th, Part 3-D, is nothing if not honest. "I was being mercenary," admits Kimmell as to why she took the plunge in Friday the 13th's second sequel. "It was a matter of a paycheck."

Kimmell, whose credits include Lone Wolf McQuade and a good deal of episodic television, gets downright ugly honest as she chronicles the reasons why she should have been the last choice to star in a Jason hackathon.

"I'm not a big fan of R-rated movies," she says. "I believe movies should be doing a better job of standing up for good values and morals. I'm also not too fond of onscreen sex."

So how does somebody just this side of a convent get a Friday the 13th gig? "I had just completed the movie Sweet 16," she recounts. "Somebody involved with the Friday film saw that and loved my performance. I was called in, did one interview and got the role."

"When I got the script, there were some things that I was not wild about," the actress goes on. "I was not too thrilled with the gore and the sexual stuff, so I talked to [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. and a lot of those elements were curbed or eliminated. I still had some inner struggles as to whether or not I should do the film. Because of the way I felt about Friday the 13th films in general, I felt funny the whole time I was making the movie."

Kimmell is rather short on production anecdotes, but she does remember how the 3-D aspect necessitated some extra-long nights. "The hardest thing was just waiting the extra time for scenes to be shot," she frowns. "Because of the 3-D process, the camera angles and lighting had to be a certain way."

In retrospect, Kimmell gives the film's opening night premier high marks but is quick to say never again. "I would never do another Friday the 13th film," she asserts. "It was a good acting experience, but I'm looking for better roles in better films. I think audiences should, too."

Following her Friday outing and the previously mentioned Chuck Norris chop-chop, Kimmell shifted her career to low-profile, concentrating mainly on TV guest shots and dealing with "less emotional turmoil." In her current state, the turmoil is nearly nonexistent.

"Right now, I'm six months pregnant," chuckles Kimmell. "You'd be surprised how few calls come in for pregnant actresses."

 

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