*Ch Ch Ch, Ah Ah Ah*
Hear that? No, that’s not hockey-masked slasher Jason Voorhees rapidly approaching—it’s Halloween! With the spookiest of holidays right around the corner, it’s eerily serendipitous that today is Friday the 13th, no?
Not that we needed an excuse to examine why another horror flick is actually a queer classic (we’re truly doing it all the time), but we couldn’t let the occasion go by without digging up an old favorite.
In this case, that’s popular slasher franchise Friday The 13th‘s seventh entry, 1988’s Part VII: The New Blood, which has come to be known as “FriGay The 13th.” But how did it earn that nickname? Well, let’s get into it…
First things first, Friday The 13th is a film series very much a product of its time. That is to say, the original run of movies are, on their surface, incredibly hetero, with brooding male heroes, damsels in distress, frequent slut-shaming (killing off characters who aren’t virgins)—they’re all-around not very progressive.
But even still, gay fans have found a lot to love in these movies, not least of which is the generous amounts of beefcake eye candy. Notably, the 1981 sequel even features the franchise’s first openly gay actor Tom McBride (who tragically passed from AIDS in ’95) as a hunky, wheelchair-bound camper.
However, Part 2 has nothing on Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood…
Set some time after its predecessor, The New Blood follows protagonist Tina (Lar Park Lincoln), a teenager who happens to live on Crystal Lake, the very spot where serial killer Jason Voorhees terrorized young campers all those years ago.
20 years later, do we still care that Kelly Rowland called Freddy a “f*ggot in a Christmas sweater”?
Is it an offensive relic of a different time? Or has it become an iconic moment in queer cinema history?
Tina also happens to have burgeoning telekinetic powers, which lead to the accidental death of her father. Overcome with grief, she eventually tries to use her supernatural abilities to resurrect him, but accidentally brings back Jason instead, once again out for blood.
Conveniently, Tina lives next to a house where a bunch of teens are gathering for a birthday party and, well, you might guess where this is headed… most of them are about to become fodder for another killing spree.
Textually, there’s not much here you could call queer, sure. We suppose a telekinetic teen girl is quite the slay, and her rival—the snobby socialite Melissa (Susan Jennifer Sullivan)—is one of the b*tchiest and funniest characters to ever grace the franchise, so that’s a win, too.
But the gayest part about The New Blood is what went down behind the scenes.
As revealed to gay author Peter Bracke for his 2006 book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History Of Friday The 13th, a majority of the movie’s cast actually was queer, thus earning the nickname “FriGay The 13th,” a moniker which has since been adopted by LGBTQ+ fans of the slasher series.
“We were kind of aware a large number of the male members, and some females, of the cast were gay.” producer Ian Paterson told Bracke in the book, which states that Jeff Bennett, Susan Blu, William Butler, Craig Thomas, and Kevin Spirtas were all out at the time of filming.
This is especially notable in the case of Spirtas, who played The New Blood‘s male lead and Tina’s romantic interest (sporting short-shorts for half the movie, we should add!). A gay actor starring as the straight heartthrob? That’s something you barely even see these days, let alone the late ’80s.
Unfortunately, the movie didn’t get the best reviews, a number of which cited the lack of spark between Spirtas and Park-Lincoln. Some have blamed the fact that the actor was gay—because “how could he believably conjure up chemistry with a leading lady,” right?—but we’re not in love with that logic; we know queer stars can and should be able to play straight roles.
The more likely reason? The two just didn’t get along! Per Crystal Lake Memories, Spirtas preferred to spend his time going out to the gay clubs and partying with his queer co-stars instead of bonding with Park-Lincoln, which drove a noticeable rift between the two. (There’s a happy ending though: the book says they later reconciled and became close friends.)
In other words, Friday The 13th—excuse us, FriGay The 13th—Part VII: The New Blood is intrinsically queer, becoming a cult favorite among gay horror fans all these years later.
And, hey, you might think it hasn’t aged all that well 35 years on, but you know what has? Kevin Spirtas—talk about a silver fox! Once a horror hunk, always a horror hunk.
Don’t pick up the phone, don’t answer the door, and—whatever you do—don’t turn off the TV… because there are plenty of queer slasher movies to watch!