It’s Friday the 13th! So let’s talk about something really scary. The price of this book! Amazon has this book at $125. That’s a cheap copy. A more expensive copy goes for $570. When I say the prices are out of control on the Black Flame New Line horror books I mean it.
A key reason you won’t see reprints is of course rights issues. The short version is the rights to Friday the 13th are a mess. There’s lawsuit after lawsuit here. All over a simple concept. So these books are going to stay out of reach.
Or will they? I’ll review the book and we’ll pick up after.
Friday the 13th: Church of the Divine Psychopath by Scott Phillips has a blissfully simple premise. A church has Jason’s body and plans to resurrect him as a method of unleashing the wrath of god. At the same time a black ops team is sent to get Jason’s body. What results is Aliens smashed into the Branch Davidians with a strong dose of sleaze covering everything.
I noted I wasn’t a Jason fan last time I reviewed one of these but damn if I’m not on round two of utterly loving one of these. I think that’s because Jason’s a device. He’s going to just be an unstoppable killing machine. You can’t write that wrong. What matters is what you put around him. Last time it was a wall of franchise lore and sleaze. This time it’s two genius plots that coexist beautifully.
Let’s look at the two plots individually. The black ops stuff is a blast. You’ve got a lot of stereotypes here but that’s perfect. This is a fully aware riff on the tropes and it’s fantastically executed. The team is hard as nails, brutal, and engagingly horny. You believe they’re a threat to Jason even as you know his machete will decimate them. They’re entertaining grist for his mill.
But the cult stuff is what sings. It’s obvious writer Phillips really wanted to do a cult horror novel and Jason was the perfect license to slap on for it. The idea of a cult seeking to unleash a weapon that backfires and destroys them is a classic horror concept. Phillips executes it brilliantly with a strong dose of Bush II era toxic Evangelical Christianity. Frighteningly this cult, located in a storefront church, is all too plausible.
The two plots merge harmoniously and I credit that to using the Branch Davidians as his obvious source of reference. Like David Koresh, the leader is a charming rogue using sexuality for his twisted means. There’s a lot of references to Jonestown too and as both situations ended in violence, it’s an all too fitting premise to drop Jason into. The military siege can’t help but evoke the horrifying ending in Waco and Ruby Ridge.
I also admire that Phillips isn’t afraid to make us uncomfortable. One of the main plots in the book is a 17 year old lesbian in love with an older woman in the church who faces the predatory advances of a grotesque old man. None of the violence touches the horror of a man aggressively trying to assault a woman. And I think that’s deliberate. Jason’s horror isn’t real but the ways old men prey on young women in cults is real and that’s a nightmare that elevates this book.
But all that said, is this a good Friday the 13th story or is it a good story with Jason in it? I think it’s the former. The book plays on the idea that Jason would develop a cult. After all he’s died and been resurrected often. He supposedly kills people who sin but often actually kills innocents. The idea of who Jason is and that he’s actually a mindless killing force is perfectly executed here. This is a fantastic book in his series.
Now as for the cost… here’s a link.
Yes at long last the Black Flame books are joining the internet age thanks to fans preserving them and getting them up. In fact as of today all of the Friday the 13th books are available here. This is an ongoing effort with A Nightmare on Elm Street coming next. These are first rate preservations of classic tie-ins and I’m eager to get these promoted. In fact in October, I’m FINALLY giving y’all the month of horror tie-in novels I promised. I’m going to cover books in the Jason X, Friday the 13th, Final Destination, and A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Fingers crossed I’ll have links for every one! (I have physical copies of all the books I’m covering.)
But until then let’s celebrate the day. I dug this book. Y’all can read it too.