On Saturday, October 3rd, 1988 I was sitting on the couch in my parent’s living room as my mom wisely chose to let me watch the first episode of what would become the cult classic Friday the 13th: The Series. Though not connected to the storyline of the unstoppable Jason Voorhees, the television series delivered on a good amount of horror and creepiness as it chronicles the adventures of a pair of cousins who are tasked with tracking down cursed objects once sold by their uncle. The series ran for three seasons, but it lived on with a cult status and forever changed the way horror was seen on the small screen.
Given that today is Friday the 13th, I decided to reach out to fellow journalist and author Alyse Wax. Her book, “Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series,” is the definitive go-to guide for fans of the show who are looking to know more about the adventures of Ryan, Micki, and Jack.
Can you tell us about your first experience with Friday the 13th: The Series?
I was about 10 years old, flipping channels one Saturday morning, looking for cartoons. Instead, I stumbled on what turned out to be the episode “Stick It In Your Ear,” and there was an intense FX scene of bubbling boils. I was immediately engrossed.
What is it about the series that inspired you to write the comprehensive book “Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series?”
I have been obsessed with the show since I was 10 years old. After becoming a professional writer, I realized I had the skill and the experience to write the book.
Was the research and tracking down cast/crew to talk to a difficult undertaking?
Nope. Most of the research was re-watching the show – not a difficult task! Most of the cast and crew I found through their agents or social media. One actor I found because he was listed on a church bulletin. I emailed the church, who passed on my info to him.
Who was your favorite member of the cast/crew to interview?
Not a fair question! Louise Robey was very special because she was my idol as a child. Frank Mancuso Jr. was special because he was the most difficult person to get in touch with, and I feared I wouldn’t have a book without him. Marc Scott Zicree was special because his “Twilight Zone” compendium was the book that made me realize you could write an entire book based on a TV show. Honestly, everyone was so nice, so eager to share what they could remember, there was not a single difficult interview!
Were there any revelations that you think would catch fans of the series off-guard?
Not really. The most interesting stories were some of the anecdotes the cast and crew shared with me. Check out the stories from “And Now the News,” “Pipe Dreams,” “A Cup of Time,” “The Voodoo Mambo,” “The Poison Pen,” “The Charnel Pit,” and “Mesmer’s Bauble” have some of my favorite anecdotes.
Would a rival of the series work with today’s audience, or was it something that could only work in that late ‘80s era of television?
Sorry, I don’t really understand the question. You mean, would the concept itself work on television today? Absolutely. Warehouse 13 from 2009 was a very similar concept, and it lasted five seasons.
Is there are particular episode that you’d consider the penultimate one a newcomer should watch?
The pilot, definitely. Some other important episodes: “Faith Healer,” “Heads I Live, Tails You Die,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “The Prophecies,” “The Charnel Pit.” Some personal favorites: “The Long Road Home,” “Wedding in Black,” “And Now the News.”
Can you expand upon the importance that this series had on TV landscape going into the ‘90s?
It was the first genuine American/Canadian co-production. Without F13, we may not see as many “runaway productions.” Whether you see that as a positive or negative is up for debate. It was one of the few shows where you didn’t have to worry about the “will they/won’t they” sleep together trope. The leads were cousins. I don’t know if anyone else felt this, but on a personal note, Micki was a hugely important character for me growing up.
What is the most rewarding takeaway you had after publishing “Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series.”
A childhood obsession can lead to a viable career option!