I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason. Well, one of them. Come to think of it, the path may be more meandering than straight but we’ll get there, just stick with me.
To many, Kane Hodder is the definitive Jason Voorhees. From his spine-tingling introduction from the icy depths of Crystal Lake to his heaving breaths to what Robert Englund described as “his bulk,” Hodder incomprehensibly set the standard for a character that had already existed for six films when he first donned the hock in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988).
Which was why Friday fans simply could not fathom that Hodder wasn’t asked to return opposite Englund for what had been the most highly anticipated film of the franchise, FREDDY VS. JASON (2003). After playing the masked maniac for 4 installments, the Kane era unceremoniously (and inexplicably) came to a close.
What’s worse, the Tommy Jarvis trilogy wrapped just before Hodder assumed the role, which meant that despite four takes, what many felt had been the finest portrayal of Jason never got to square off with his chief rival.
But that’s where a kinda-sorta Friday the 13th gift entered the fray.
Five years after JASON X (2001), an upstart filmmaker from Holliston, Massachusetts offered Hodder the role of another woods-roaming, crazed killer–and Victor Crowley was born.
While Adam Green had a trilogy in mind when production began on HATCHET (2006), he couldn’t have known that the villain he’d conjured at the age of eight (from stories about a hatchet-faced killer told by, ironically enough, camp counselors) would achieve icon status, no more than he was unaware that one of his original casting decisions would become what he has come to describe as his “secret weapon.”
Enter Parry Shen.
A consummate professional and on-set leader, Shen would go on to appear in a pair of Green’s Halloween shorts [THE TIVO (2008) and FAIRY TALE POLICE (2009)], and an episode of HOLLISTON, to say nothing of his roles in each installment of the HATCHET series, where Green has identified Shen as the true final girl of Honey Island Swamp.
Like Hodder in the Friday franchise, Shen has appeared in four HATCHET flicks, though it’s been more Shemping-but-not-really, because I, Survivor has played three different characters: Shawn, the hustling faux-boat tour guide in the original, his brother Justin in the sequel, and finally Andrew Yong, the paramedic turned wanna-be author in HATCHET III (2013) and VICTORY CROWLEY (2017), respectively.
Nestled betwixt the gore and the giggles, however, is the gift. See, with three characters over four films Shen is not the final girl of the series, but rather its Tommy Jarvis.
Let’s break it down. Hodder never got to square off with Jason’s nemesis, so Green gave him one. Just because the intent didn’t necessarily exist doesn’t make it any less true. In fact, on numerous occasions, Kane has commented that Shen is someone he just can’t kill off for good. Why does that sound familiar? To steal one from ROUNDERS’ Teddy KGB, “kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.” I mean, Louisiana. Swamps. Gators. It works, just let it be.
Look, three different actors played Jason’s frequent foe, so who cares if one actor has played three characters that Crowley just can’t dispose of?
I get it, Jarvis never died. But he did suffer a couple of wounds in A NEW BEGINNING (1985), and Jason did kinda-sorta drown him in JASON LIVES (1986), So, while Shen’s Shawn and Justin were both, shall we say, dispatched in the first two HATCHET pictures, with Yong, Shen now has a character who has narrowly escaped (twice) and like Jarvis been overwhelmed with trauma and fear.
It wouldn’t be surprising for Yong to be approaching Thom Mathews levels of vengeful should we get a fifth chapter of HATCHET because at some point you just have to assume that he believes Crowley belongs in hell and wants to see that he gets there. But then there’s that whole issue with Shen’s character being a bit of frightened bunny coupled with the mid-end credits glimpse of Marybeth Dustan (Danielle Harris) waiting in the wings.
Yong wasn’t the one who resurrected Crowley, but he was dragged back to the swamp against his will, so Jarvis-like similarities aren’t really a reach. Perhaps we’ll see a pair of final girls team to take down the Bayou Butcher, but the Honey Island version of Mathews and Jennifer Cooke just sounds better, doesn’t it?
Regardless, it’s sure to be a hell of a ride.
Ted White had Corey Feldman, Tom Morga was blessed with John Shepherd, and C.J. Graham battled Mathews, but Hodder never got his shot.
Until he wandered from a lake to a swamp. And found Parry Shen.