I want to warn everybody this column is going into overdrive. The next two months are going to be theme months for The Tie-Ins That Bind. May is licensed comic strip month with 8 pieces coming covering 28 strips. Then at long last, June is Black Flame/New Line Horror month. We’re going to finally dive deep into Freddy, Jason, Death, and Jason in Space. So get ready.
But before we can, we’re going to…actually look at Jason a bit early. We’re looking at a book today that falls in the gray area of the tie-in. What we are looking at is legally fan fiction. It was not published by a publisher. It’s actually only available in a PDF available here. As well as an audiobook by site friend Josh LaRue!Friday the 13th: The Mask of Jason Voorhees by William Pattison aka Eric Morse doesn’t technically fit my usual criteria. But it’s also one of the most interesting books I’ll ever cover.
So, time for a mountain of backstory. In the 90s, Morse* was tapped to write 4 novels inspired by Friday the 13th where Jason’s mask possesses people and makes them killers. It’s not a bad concept and in a rarity I’m linking to the first book easily online. Morse actually started with a first treatment that would’ve ended with Jason coming back to life and in a move I’m amazed a writer working at K-Mart had the stones for, he had the completely unrelated Friday the 13th tv show crossover. That treatment was rejected hard. Anyway, the four books didn’t sell but became beloved by fans. Eventually Morse ran a petition to get more books made, which led to June’s run. But that first treatment wasn’t done. Morse was persuaded by fans to write one last novel to tie up his cursed mask story. So the first treatment was revised and built into this.
But why stop there? Morse didn’t just opt to tie up his own idea. No, he opted to do something wild. A grand tying up of the canon. And I can’t stress enough how much the tv show and the movies ARE NOT CANON TO EACH OTHER. They are completely unrelated. Writing a book that revised them to be intricately linked is the act of a madman. And that’s what we have! A mad stab at canon welding.
Friday the 13th: The Mask of Jason Voorhees is set 18 years after Friday the 13th the Series ended and 3 years after Jason Goes to Hell. Please do not look up the real world dates or you will have a nosebleed figuring this out I beg you. Anyway the mask has done its thing passing along. Protagonist of the show Micki is now 50 and finds herself reunited with co-lead Ryan who in the show was deaged to 10 and his memory was erased. He’s been given a new name and it turns out he was also Jason Goes to Hell lead Steven. (Same actor of course.) They start investigating the murders and discover Jason has some ties to series villain Lewis Vendredi. What follows is the most ambitious ride ever in a largely unambitious series.
I’m seriously not going any deeper into this plot because I need y’all to experience this for yourself. Do you need to know the tv and movie series? 100% This book is meaningless without knowing the full history Morse is playing with. It bends over backwards to make everything work. It is an absurd, bold gamble. And every moment works! I can’t underestimate what a wild book this is. This is a book that could only happen with the licensor taking their hands off. It couldn’t possibly be approved.
But it should be because I loved every word of it.
I love how much fun Morse has here. You’ll read these books and they seem miserable that they exist. The writers obviously don’t like the series they’re playing in. Not true here. Morse obviously adores this world. That it’s wall to wall easter eggs is the fun of it. He is so happy to write the grand overarching Friday the 13th epic. The explanations he gives for things like child Jason in VIII are so good they’re now my canon.
One way I sensed his glee was in how trashy this book is. This isn’t an attempt to prove he was better than the sleaze of the slasher film. In fact, he was forced in the four published novels to omit references to the films and limit the gore. This is gleefully R rated and really beyond that. Morse gets extremely graphic and sleazy here. No word is off limits in this book, even THAT one. It is a pure grindhouse read.
It results in something all too rare in these. A book that doesn’t feel like one of the films but feels like the one you imagined. It’s that much fun. And it’s wild to me this exists only as a PDF while much worse ones have seen print. This is up there with A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamspawn. It’s that good.
I will observe that it does show places where an editor might have helped. I would LOVE a clearer timeline. There are the occasional places I might have fleshed a scene or two out. There’s an error or two. These are not deal breakers. That’s nitpicking.
This is a gem. The wild dream we hope for picking up a tie-in. It’s not official and can never be. But someone who had control of a section of canon got to tell this marvelous book. If you love Friday the 13th, this is the definitive story.
*Using the pen name because that’s how he’s best known,