When I was in high school I worked at Pizza Hut, back when it was still good. On Friday nights I’d get home around 11 pm with my Meat Lovers Personal Pan pizza, grab a Mountain Dew and plop down on the couch to watch TV. Most of the time I’d watch a movie or sometimes turn on my MTV. One fall night I was flipping the channels and discovered a ghoulish show with a familiar name…Friday the 13th: The Series.
Friday the 13th: The Series was nothing like the movies. The only thing in common with the movie franchise was the name. The creator, Frank Mancuso Jr. was a producer on Friday the 13th movie sequels and leveraged the name to help gain an audience for the show. Jason and his iconic hockey mask never make an appearance and he’s never mentioned throughout the series.
The show centers around Lewis Vendredi’s antique shop. Lewis dies mysteriously in the first episode and his niece Micki (Louise Robey) and nephew Ryan (John D. LeMay), who are distant cousins and have never met, inherit their Uncles’ antique shop. The pair find out Uncle Lewis made a pact with the Devil to sell cursed antiques in exchange for wealth and immortality. Uncle Lewis broke the pact and the devil claimed his soul as payment.
Friday the 13th: The Series Opening Sequence
Determined to correct their Uncle’s mistake, Micki and Ryan set off to recover the cursed antiques and lock them away so they can’t cause any more harm. Each episode focuses on a specific cursed item ranging from dolls, amulets, baby cradles, and even a comic book. As with all shows, some episodes work better than others but overall it is a great series that still holds up well.
Coming out a few years before Tales from the Crypt or X-Files, and long before Warehouse 13, Friday the 13th: The Series helped set the stage for many successful shows; Buffy, Charmed, and Angel to name a few. Tales from the Crypt has a similar opening sequence and you could argue that Warehouse 13 was a direct copy of Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th pushed the boundaries of acceptable TV in the late ‘80s. The episodes contain blood and gore and strong sexual content that you would expect on HBO or in movies but not on regular TV. Watching it today, it doesn’t seem very gory compared to other shows but in the late 1980s, it was on the cutting edge.
Friday the 13th was my go-to show every Friday after work for over two years. Then in mid-1990, the show was unexpectedly canceled in the middle of Season 3. The concept was still good, it was still pushing TV boundaries and it was darker than most of the newer shows coming out. No reason was ever given for canceling the show.
If you’ve never seen the show, here are a few episodes to watch this Halloween season. If you have seen the show, watch them again and enjoy the terror.
(Full Episode, Includes some great 80s commercials too!)
The one that started it all. In the beginning, we see a brief hint of what’s to come with cursed antiques. While Uncle Lewis puts his antiques in a vault he’s interrupted by a strange force and killed. Enter Micki and Ryan, who inherit the antique store and all its cursed items. After selling off items in the store they learn of Uncle Lewis’ deal with the Devil and vow to recover all the cursed items. The first antique is a creepy killer doll sold to a young girl. They recover the doll and the quest begins…
Horror movies with dolls are my downfall. Dolls or ventriloquist dummies that come to life give me the creeps! Maybe it’s their dead eyes or the weird way their mouth moves when they talk; it’s disturbing.
Crippled InsideWhile running from a gang of boys intent on assaulting her, Rachel is hit by a car and crippled. She receives a cursed wheelchair from a stranger which gives her the ability to walk again. Using the power of the wheelchair she exacts her revenge on the ones who caused her accident. This episode has an ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ vibe to it. Which was a good revenge horror flick from the late ’70s.
The Barons Bride
A cursed cape with a built-in time-traveling clasp. Ms. Simmons rents out her room to Frank and turns him into a vampire! After fighting off the evil vampiress, Micki and Ryan are teleported back to 19th century London along with the new vampire Frank. While trapped in time they must find Frank, recover the cursed cape and return to 1988. I’m a big fan of the Vampire genre and this one fits the bill nicely.
The PropheciesThe beginning of season 3 deals with Lucifer’s Bible and the evil prophecies to usher in the Antichrist. Micki and Ryan travel to France to try and stop a fallen angel from fulfilling the prophecies. Lucifer’s Bible wasn’t one of Uncle Lewis’ antiques but it is certainly evil. Tom McLoughlin wrote and directed this episode, he would go on to direct Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
ScarecrowWhen people start dying during the harvest season Micki and Ryan travel to a small farming community to investigate. They discover a cursed scarecrow that kills to guarantee a successful crop. The owner of the scarecrow doesn’t want to let it go and Micki becomes a target.
Scarecrows freak me out as much as dolls! Growing up in the Midwest, full of corn and bean fields I had an unnatural fear of scarecrows coming to life and chasing me through the fields. Watching shows like this didn’t help!
Unfortunately Friday the 13th: The Series isn’t available on a streaming service and is hard to find online. You can buy the DVD box set on Amazon…or maybe check your library for the box set. However you get it, be sure to make it a part of your Halloween season.