Sunday, February 28, 2010

Female Villains in Horror: Pamela Voorhees

Camp cook extraordinaire, beloved mother of Jason, knife-wielding nut-job.

Ah, Pamela Voorhees.
Is there a more recognizable female villain in all of horror?

You thought I forgot about her, right?
No - I was just saving my favorite female villain for last.

The first time I saw Friday the 13th (and we're talking many moons ago, here), I was pleasantly shocked when the killer turned out to be Mrs. Voorhees. I was so expecting Jason to somehow be alive and to have hacked through all those camp counselors. And though he did turn out to be alive (can we call it that?), the primary installment in this now (in my opinion) washed up series threw me for a loop, having Jason's mom all hell bent for leather. What a cool ending!

All she wanted was revenge for her dead son.

Those naughty, over-sexed twenty-somethings! The nerve of them enjoying themselves while her son drowned helplessly in Crystal Lake! Hedonists! Well, she'd just show them!

And you have to admire her creativity. When we consider all the deaths in the movie, and all the various ways she went about it (ax to the head, a couple of slit throats, multiple stabbings, arrow through the neck and one to the eye, etc...) you simply have to be impressed with her lethal prowess! Likewise, when she's standing there in front of Alice, looking off into space and whispering to herself in Jason's voice - "kill her mommy, kill her" - you can't help but recoil in anxious dread, knowing her delusional ranting doesn't bode well for poor Alice.

While certainly not the most brilliant or compelling movie, Friday the 13th still holds a special place in my own heart simply because it is the first movie I saw as a kid where there were gory deaths and brazen sex scenes... and when you're around twelve, you're all about that.

Besides all that, we really must take into consideration how incredibly strong and athletic Mrs. Voorhees was. Wow.
Running through the woods catching up with people, brandishing an ax with enough brute strength to chop into the skull, impaling a grown man into a door with nothing but arrows...she's practically Olympic-worthy. Let alone the impressive feat of her hiding and rigging all the bodies for Alice to find. I mean, come on - she managed to have a dead guy fall out of a tree (at the perfect opportune time, of course!) for pete's sake.

Betsy Palmer was a revelation in that role. Not that she did anything truly memorable, it's just the attitude. "Look what you DID to him!"

I'd have browned my trou if she'd have been yelling at me like that while pulling a machete off her hip. Alice was one brave MF, that's for sure. And it really doesn't stop there. Mrs. Voorhees literally kicks the shit out of Alice, even banging her head against the ground and rubbing it into the dirt in one rather hilarious moment. But girl Alice manages to gain the upper hand.

Thus, Mrs. Voorhees met a nasty end, but all the better for part two - when Amy Steel pulls that ratty old sweater over her head and sits in front of the disembodied head to distract Jason, you have to admit it was unquestionably savvy.

But the most crackerjack moment of Part 1 has to be the beheading - and the fingers...reaching out...opening and closing in a "where's my head?"motion.

Buy it here.

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Scare Sarah said...

She is so darn freaky, right? Look at that face!

Pax Romano said...

Not since Grendel's mother rose from the swamp, has one mother been so hell bent on revenge!

William Malmborg said...

One of my all time favorite villains, one that I thought would be kind of crummy when I first learned who the original killer was during the Q and A scene in Scream before actually seeing any of the Friday the 13th movies -- my mind thinking that without Jason the movie was probably pretty lame even though I had never seen any of them yet. Needless to say my opinion changed completely a year later when I finally saw the movie.

forestofthedead said...

Excellent character! Excellent series of posts!

B-Sol said...

Met her once at a screening of Friday the 13th. What a sweet, kind woman. Plus, she held me wayyy too close when we took a picture together. Dirty old lady.