There can be quite a bit of irony placed on what I'm about to say, but sometimes we don't get places using the normal "A to B" type route. Sometimes an "A to D to F to C, but over to E, finally back to B" type route happens.
That happened with me, and it happened over a span of a few years. I'll never forget as a young little boy (I wanna say somewhere in the 5-6 range) some family members were watching a movie while I was supposed to be sleeping. I woke for some random "kids being kids" reason, and never forget examining the screen as I entered. A man in a mask was chasing a rather scantily clad young woman in the rain. They certainly didn't look like they were playing tag. I was asked to go back to bed, and I bartered to stay in the room (this is pre-DVR folks, so if they were in to the show, they needed to problem solve quickly if they didn't want to miss anything) so I got the plea bargain of "If you stay quiet you can stay and watch the movie, otherwise you have to go back to bed" - Deal. This bargain wasn't from some parenting genius mind you: It was one of my uncles who was only 9 years my senior. So, why would some teenager give a shit what some five year old was taking in?
The film was 'Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter' and it turns out that it was one of the first nights the film was on television. I was infatuated for so many reasons: why is the guy chasing her? Why is he wearing a mask? Where are her clothes? But, with my silence maintaining due to my voice embargo, I just had to take in the stuff I in no way should've been seeing. It turns out I was around for just about the last 15-20 minutes or so of the movie. Sure enough, a kid ends up saving the day (Corey Feldman ends up being the hero of the film) and that got me even more fired up. I couldn't have questions answered, but I had something to go on for future reference: The hockey mask. Whatever info I could build from always started with that mask. Again; pre internet folks, no googling "what is the hockey mask guy that chases almost naked girls with a knife?" As a young child I had to ask that same uncle for info on what it is we watched, but only when the grown ups weren't around - Nobody could know that I saw what I did, or it would all be over for sure. Long story short, through many different avenues and sneaky ways of finding the video: I got to the first film in the series.
As a young boy I couldn't stand the film because there was no "hockey mask guy" - and this time the only young boy featured was far from the hero of the movie. It would take quite a few different life experiences for me to appreciate the first 'Friday the 13th' film, and adolescence would certainly need to pass for me to truly respect the film, and the "Pamela" character.
Most true horror fans have some sort of life event they've gone through that draws them to the genre. A friend once told me that we look to horror films to remind us "hey, it's never THAT bad, you're not running from that guy!" So I guess that is why I am drawn to the 'Friday the 13th' series and the "Pamela" character. I've had a bumpy road with my mother, and have always felt that she has chosen things far less important that me over me. She is an addict, and I gave her the ultimatum of the drugs or me, and it really kind of stung hard when not only did she choose the drugs, she did so as if she was answering a question in a speed round of some game show. No thinking about the life lived of consequences, nothing. It was over just as fast as I asked the question.
It is after this life moment that I began to look at the Pamela Voorhies character with new eyes. Maybe even some sort of envy? Who knows.
Pamela Voorhees was a character who was so destroyed by what happened to her young son, that she would go on killing any person who tried to re-incorporate the camp where her son died. God forbid you somehow take part in the acts she considered to be those that were conducive in the ignorance of her son's death (mostly sex and drugs) on those grounds, then she would make you pay.
On one hand, she was protecting future parents of children from suffering the same horrible experience as her; learning your child has died at camp due to a lack of adult supervision.
On the other hand, she was the one providing that same fate to more parents.
The one thing that can be oddly admired (at least from this bizarre human being) is the fact that she was doing it all for her son.
The irony of it all is the superstar of horror (Jason Voorhees) is doing what he is doing to avenge his mother. That's some serious love folks. I want to know what the hell was going on in the Voorhees house that brought their bond so strong, and dammit I want that.
Everywhere you look when regarding horror films, the go-to image for the mainstream is the hockey masked killer. Like it or not, 'Friday the 13th' produced the McDonalds "M" of horror. But, without Pamela, we don't have our logo.
It all started with Pamela Voorhees. The actress was Betsy Palmer. The only reason she took the role was because her car broke down right before being offered the script. She thought the script sucked, figured nobody would see the movie, and she could get her new car.
Thank God her car broke down.
We lost perhaps the mother of modern horror this weekend, Betsy Palmer passed away at 88 years old...on a Friday.
Thank you Betsy for bringing to life (some of) the values people with not-so-great mothers yearn for. More importantly, thank you for so many hours of entertainment.
Remember where it started, she's more than a trivia question in 'Scream' - she started it all. Betsy Palmer is the mother of modern horror as we know it.