"Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now his niece Micki and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store ... and with it, the curse. Now they must get everything back, and the real terror begins."
So opened Friday the 13th: The Series, the syndicated TV series that premiered 30 years ago today. I first saw the show when I was 10 years old, channel-surfing on a Saturday morning. And so began an obsession that has endured through the decades. I love the show so much I even wrote and published a book about the series.
To celebrate this groundbreaking series, and introduce it to a new audience, here are 30 fun facts, quotes, and episodes to start your education on the show (or to remind you of what an amazing show it was).
The show had nothing to do with the Friday the 13th movies.
This upset some fans of the Jason Voorhees movies who were expecting the masked maniac to show up. Paramount Studios had success with their syndicated show Star Trek: The Next Generation and wanted to use another franchise they owned to create a new hit show.
Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. was given full reign over the show.
His father, who was president of the studio at the time, told his son he could make any show he wanted, as long as it was scary and kept the title Friday the 13th.
In Canada, the show had a different title.
Most people up north know it as Friday's Curse.
It was one of the first American/Canadian co-productions.
Now it is commonplace, but when they made F13, it was still novel - and caused a fair amount of headaches for production.
One of Atom Egoyan's first directing job was on the show.
The Canadian filmmaker is best known for films like Exotica (for which he won an Adult Video News award and was nominated for a Cannes Palme d'Or) and The Sweet Hereafter (for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards). But one of his first directing jobs was on an episode of F13, called "Cupid's Quiver."
The first few episodes were shot out-of-order.
The third episode to air, "Cupid's Quiver," was actually the first episode shot; the 'pilot' episode, "The Inheritance" was shot third or fourth (memories vary). This was to give the cast the chance to gel before the all-important first episode aired.
"Cupid's Quiver" also has one of my favorite exchanges of dialogue in the show.
Micki: “I can’t believe anybody lives like this.”
Ryan: “Dracula lives like this.”
Micki: “I meant someone real.”
Ryan: “Are you suggesting Dracula isn’t real?”
Channing Tatum was terrified of the show.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, he admits that the doll in the first episode, "The Inheritance," scared the hell out of him.
Micki starts the series as a spoiled brat with a wealthy fiance.
Over the course of the first season, she grows out of her selfish ways and dumps her fiance, Lloyd, in "Root of All Evil."
Enrico Colantoni appeared in an episode.
You probably recognize Enrico Colantoni from his roles on Persons of Interest and iZombie. But one of Colantoni's first-ever roles was in the episode "Root of All Evil," where he played a gardener who killed people by feeding them into his cursed mulcher. Back then, he went by Rico Colantoni.
David Cronenberg directed an episode.
Cronenberg was a major name in the industry, with The Fly, Scanners and Videodrome to his resume before he came on to direct an episode of F13. Unsurprisingly, his episode, "Faith Healer," fits well into Cronenberg's "body horror" canon. A faith healer uses a cursed glove to heal the sick, but then he must transfer the "sickness" to someone else or succumb to it himself.
"The Quilt of Hathor" occasionally played as a two-hour movie.
The first time I ever saw this episode, it was on a Sunday afternoon, playing as a two-hour movie, when the local station would traditionally put on forgettable flicks that they could play cheaply. Director Tim Bond told me that shooting these two episodes was more like shooting a film.
Micki and Ryan were made cousins so there wouldn't be any hanky-panky.
The producers didn't want the show to turn into a "will they or won't they?" situation like Moonlighting, so they made them blood relations so that wouldn't be an issue.
But no one knows how they were related.
In the first episode, Micki and Ryan have never met; they don't even know each other's names, and had never heard of an Uncle Lewis. In a later episode, Ryan refers to Micki as "cousin Katherine's daughter;" and in Season 2, there are intimations that the two knew each other as children and were familiar with the name Uncle Lewis. I asked several of the producers; no one had an answer. They never really thought about the specifics.
The show ran a "clip show" after only 25 episodes.
"Bottle of Dreams," the first season finale, was little more than a clip show with wrap-around segments about a cursed bottle. This was purely practical: the Writer's Guild of America was on strike at the time, and more than half the show's writers were WGA. They ended up finishing the episode with a Canadian writer. The one upside to this episode was that it introduced audiences to Rashid.
Rashid was a very popular character on the series, yet he was only in two episodes.
Rashid, played by Elias Zarou, was Jack's treasure-hunting friend. He is one of the most popular characters on the show; every fan knows him. Yet he only appeared in two episodes: "Bottle of Dreams" and "Doorway to Hell." Zarou was asked to come back for a later episode, but he was unavailable, so producers renamed the character and that was the end of Rashid.
There was a ventriloquist's dummy in an episode - but that wasn't the cursed object.
In "Read My Lips," a ventriloquist's dummy has a mind of its own, comes to life, and starts killing people. But the ventriloquist's dummy wasn't the cursed object - it was a silk flower pinned to his lapel.
"Better Off Dead" may have been the first TV show to run a "viewer discretion" warning at the top.
Records of this particular "achievement" are spotty, but director Armand Mastroianni maintains that his first episode for F13 was the first show to carry a "viewer discretion advised" warning. The episode was about a doctor whose work involved searching for a cure for "hyperviolence" syndrome. When his daughter accidentally infects herself, he uses a cursed syringe to extract a serum out of the brains of prostitutes to temporarily cure his daughter.
Johnny first appeared in "Wedding Bell Blues."
In the episode, Johnny helped Micki hunt for a cursed pool stick while the boys are out of town. Actor Steve Monarque was only hired for the one episode with the potential of recurring. He joined the cast officially at the start of the third season.
"The Butcher" was based very loosely on a real-life Nazi officer.
Historians believe Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, was personally responsible for the deaths of 4,000 people - many with his own hands. Writer/director Francis Delia loosely based his Nazi general Rausch on Klaus Barbie.
Colm Feore appeared in two episodes.
With over 100 roles to his credit, Colm Feore has appeared in a number of genre movies, most notably The Chronicles of Riddick, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Thor, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Early in his career, he appeared in two episodes of F13, in two separate roles. In "The Maestro," he played a dance choreographer who worked his dancers to death. In "Mightier Than the Sword," he played a true crime writer who created the crimes he wrote about.
Micki was given supernatural powers - for exactly one episode.
In the witchcraft episode "Coven of Darkness," Micki discovers she has supernatural powers that she uses to protect Ryan, who is in danger. It wasn't a well-received character development, and was quickly abandoned.
Ryan left the show at the end of Season 2.
Actor John LeMay regrets the decision. The production let him out of his contract if he would return for a two-part "farewell" episode, "The Prophecies." Writer/director Tom McLoughlin wanted to do a "religious exorcist" episode, and used it to get rid of Ryan - by turning him into a child.
"The Prophecies" sent the cast to "France."
In actuality, they shot in Quebec, and were the first production allowed to shoot at the Ursuline Convent, the oldest convent in North America.
Jennifer Lynch wrote an episode called "Repetition."
Jennifer Lynch is David Lynch's daughter, but has made a name for herself as a writer-director in her own right, with films like Boxing Helena and Hisss to her name. Most recently, she has found success directing episodic television like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead. But her first project (not including production assistant work on her dad's films) was writing the script for a third season episode of F13.
"The Long Road Home" is known for having a Texas Chain Saw Massacre-vibe...
...but director Allan Kroeker has never seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
"The Charnal Pit" was one of my favorite episodes.
The episode sees Micki falling into a double-sided painting, sending her back in time to the Marquis de Sade's dungeon. I loved how lush and decadent the episode felt, and I loved the extravagant costumes.
The final episode was not supposed to be the final episode.
"The Charnal Pit" was not supposed to be the last one, but when the show was canceled suddenly, director Armand Mastroianni wanted to go out with a splash and production put a ton of money into the episode.
It was often a joke among fans that anyone who dates one of the main characters would die.
There were at least seven significant others throughout the run of the series that only lasted one episode. All died, and most of those were Ryan's girlfriends.
F13 was referenced on an episode of Rick & Morty.
In "Something Ricked This Way Comes," Mr. Needful opens a shop in town that "sells" items that you "don't pay for... with money." In other words, the items are all cursed. Rick comes in and informs Mr. Needful that he has created a device that "collects and catalogues all your Ray Bradbury, Twilight Zone, Friday the 13th: The Series voodoo crap magic" so that he can remove it. Also, Mr. Needful's shop was designed after Curious Goods.
Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series
This is a shameless plug for my book, Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series. If you enjoyed this list, or loved the show, check it out for more fantastic behind-the-scenes stories and photos straight from the actors, writers, directors, and producers behind the show.