July 15, 2012

In Search of Friday the 13th: A Location Visit (with Pictures!)

In the late 1970's Sean S. Cunningham was looking to make a movie to essentially save his company and hopefully make a little money. He, along with Victor Miller, Ron Kurz, and Steve Miner (among others), ended up changing the face of horror in the process, although the surely did not realize at the time. While movies like Black Christmas and Halloween helped set the formula (not to mention Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve), it was Friday the 13th and the backing of Paramount that took slasher cinema to the forefront. One of the things that helped the low budget feature work as well as it did was the location shooting, it certainly helped with feeling authenticity.

It was not that long ago when a friend and I realized that the locations used to film the original film were a mere few hours drive from where we live. So, we had to do something about that, right? We did a little research, gathered together all of the addresses, or nearest approximations we could find, picked a day, and set out on an adventure. The day seemed to be appropriate, Saturday the 14th of July. Well, perhaps not the month, but it was the closest to an actual Friday the 13th we could manage.

The movie was shot in New Jersey, in the towns of Blairstown, Hope, and Freehold. I believe their may be a few other locations, I was not able to quite find everything. If, after reading this, you are able to provide any further locations, I would love to go looking for them.

Anyway, our first stop was in Freehold. We figured we would start there, since it was the furthest away, start there and work our way back. The specific location is Turkey Swamp Park. The park was used for one scene, and it is a big one. If you haven't seen the movie, you will likely want to do that before going further. At the end of the movie, following Alice's (Adrienne King) grueling fight fight for survival, she floats out onto the lake only to be surprised by young Jason leaping from the water.

We arrived at the park and after studying the posted maps we found the direction to the lake. We walked a short trail and started looking at the tree lines. With the scene queued up on our phones, we were successful in recognizing the tree line. It is true! We were able to match up the actual location of the canoe in the lake. In addition, we believe we saw the place where the police car came down when she is discovered. This was a great way to start the day as we did not think we would find the right spot.

Our next stop was Camp No Be Bo Sco, a functioning Boy Scout camp since 1927. This stop gave us all manner of anxiety as we have read varying reports of the reception visitors have received. The reactions ranged from friendly conversation and an OK to take pictures to threats of calling the police. Well, we went anyway. We approached the first set of buildings, hearts racing, hoping to find a director to speak to. We saw a few cars, heard some AC running, but did not see anyone. There was no one to be found in the office. After a little looking we found a scout working in a maintenance shed and he was kind enough to take us to one of the directors. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to go down to the cabins as they had counselors there and were preparing for the net round of campers.

On a positive note, there did seem to a bit of hope that we could find a time when they would allow us in. So, that is being explored and hopefully we will be able to make a return trip.

The third stop was Millbrook Road. This was the road that we see Jack, Bill, and Brenda (Kevin Bacon,  Harry Crosby, and Laurie Bartram) drive on as they head toward the camp. There is one section of curved road that is pretty recognizable. We actually found it by accident as we were driving away from the camp. It is interesting to note that we traveled the same way the counselors did, away from the camp! This despite them actually heading towards it. Aaah, movie magic.

Following Millbrook Road we went for Blairstown. We actually passed through a bit of it on the way to the camp and if we had just looked to our left we would have seen the recognizable stretch of road! Much of the architecture remained intact. There were some changes and some of the buildings were different colors, but it was all immediately recognizable. In another bit of movie magic we watch Annie (Robbi Morgan) arrive in town, walk through the brick arches of the mill, say hi to a dog at an old gas station, and proceed to walk down the block to a coffee shop. The arches and the last block she walks on are the same road, but her actual direction would have her walking in opposite directions! Plus, the gas station is in a different town, as is the interior location of the coffee shop.

While, we visited the main drag of the Blairstown, we were unable to find the gas station or the inside of the shop. I fear the gas station may no longer exist. If anyone can point us to these locations, it would be appreciated.

The next stop on our adventure was the Moravian Cemetery. It is in front of this cemetery that the trucker who gave Annie a ride drops her off. She hopes out of the truck and continues walking to Camp Crystal Lake. Here, she is also heading in the wrong direction. The location as it stands now looks great. It is fantastic that the metal sign is still there.

The last stop of the day was the Blairstown Diner. In the movie this is where Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer) spends a rainy night while things start going down at Camp Blood. Unfortunately, the diner was closed. We are unsure why, there were no signs or anything and it did not appear to be a permanent closer. Perhaps we will get to visit again as I had been looking forward to eating there. We were able to take some pictures, so there is that.

And that concludes our adventure. It was a long day filled with lots of driving, the excitement of visiting the locations, the anxiety of trying to get on the camp, and the disappointment of not finding some places and the diner being closed. Oh yes, there was also the time my GPS freaked out and had us going in circles in a sparsely populated industry. It was all a lot of fun.

Now, this is what you have all been waiting for, the pictures! First is a series that I was able to match (somewhat) to scenes in the film and have paired them with screen caps in film order. You can see other photos here.

Entering Blairstown:

Entering the arches:

In the arches:

Exiting the arches:

Blairstown main drag:

Moravian Cemetery:

Millbrook Road approach:

Entering the camp. This is not an exact match, but it is close:

Diner, exterior:

Diner, interior:

Crystal Lake, in the canoe:

Police approach Crystal Lake:

Movie Diary:

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