April 13, 2012
From Friday the 13th to All My Children
by Kevin Murphy
Happy Friday the 13th.
Did you know that Victor Miller, the man who wrote the screenplay for the first Friday the 13th movie is also a
Grammy Emmy award-winning soap opera writer?
And even though that sounds like a pretty sharp turn creatively (who goes from Crystal Lake to General Hospital?), if you think about it, soap operas and horror movies aren’t that far apart from one another — they both employ screeching plot turns, characters returning from the dead, plenty of sex, a shake of camp, and suspension of disbelief.
In Miller’s Friday the 13th, doe-faced counselors trying to reopen Camp Crystal Lake — a locale considered haunted by townies due to the long-ago death of Jason Voorhees — are terminated one by one, as illustrated in this fine trailer:
Unfortunately, Miller and his colleagues most likely were not permitted to behead characters on daytime television’s All My Children. They did, however, apply thick slabs of emotionally-driven misbehavior, which oftentimes culminated in a cold hard slap across the face.
See, not that different. One uses a hand where the other uses an axe.
Miller is certainly not the first scribe to jump from one genre to the next. But what’s striking about his case is he’s actually achieved success in both forms. Sure, many’s the novelist who for want of funds finds himself penning screenplays for Hollywood studios, but that number diminishes steeply when qualified by professional recognition across the board.
The good news is that Miller, like his work, doesn’t take himself too seriously. His site is brimming with nutty witticisms and an “insightful” FAQ page, with such back-and-forths as:
Q: Do you have to live things to write about them?
A: God, I hope not. I have never been a serial murderer, but I created Mrs. Vorhees anyway.
Q: How did you come up with the horrific deaths in Friday the 13th? Are you sick??
A: All the deaths in that film were borrowed liberally from my childhood nightmares. Until I was ten or eleven I checked under my bed to make sure nobody was hiding there. So, that’s why I had the killer in Friday stab Kevin Bacon from beneath the camp bed. Further, I was always afraid of being smashed in the face. That’s why I had the actress get axed in the face. In that way I managed to exorcise my childhood fears in what I feel was a very healthy way.
Happy Friday the 13th, Victor Miller, your childhood fears live on in all of us.