Friday the 13th’s main antagonist, Jason Voorhees, has a very distinctive mask, but why was he given a hockey mask, instead of a completely different and original design? The horror genre has seen a variety of villains and serial killers, but those from the slasher genre, especially during the late 1970s and the 1980s, are the most popular and memorable ones. Among those is Jason Voorhees, the evil lead of the Friday the 13th’s franchise, though he wasn’t always the bad guy to beat.
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller, Friday the 13th took viewers to Camp Crystal, which had been closed for years after the death of a kid but was ready to reopen. However, when the new group of counselors arrived, they were brutally killed one by one, and even though they knew of the legend of Jason Voorhees, the deformed kid who drowned at the lake, the killer turned out to be his mother, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer). Following Pamela’s death, Jason took over as the villain of the rest of the Friday the 13th movies, but it wasn’t until the third movie that he got his now-iconic full look, including the mask.
Each slasher has that one defining characteristic – for example, Michael Myers wears a one-of-a-kind mask (made from a William Shatner mask) and Freddy Krueger has his famous bladed leather glove – and in Jason’s case, it’s all about the hockey mask he wears all the time. Jason was born with hydrocephalus and mental disabilities, and in order to hide his deformed face, he covered it all the time before adopting the hockey mask he’s well-known for now. In Friday the 13th Part 2, now as the main antagonist, Jason wore a burlap bag with only one eyehole cut out, and in Part III he finally got his hands on a hockey mask that became his loyal ally, and while it’s a creative idea to have a serial killer wearing a hockey mask, it actually happened by mere coincidence.
After wearing a bag in Friday the 13th Part 2, the script for Part 3 called for Jason to wear a mask, but the crew didn’t really know what to do with that. One day, Steve Miner called for a lighting check, but no one wanted to apply make-up for the test, so they just put a mask on Richard Brooker (who played Jason in Friday the 13th Part III). As it turns out, 3D effects supervisor Martin Jay Sadoff happened to have a bag of hockey gear with him on the set that day, as he was a big hockey fan, so they used his Detroit Red Wings goaltender mask for the test. Miner liked the look, but the mask was too small, so it was enlarged and a new mold was made. Once the molds were done, Terry Ballard added the red triangles in order to give it a unique appearance, along with holes and altered markings to ensure it stood out.
Although Jason’s hockey mask has changed through the years, with different proportions or designs in almost every movie in the Friday the 13th franchise, the altered hockey mask continues to be one of the most iconic objects in the horror genre, which even though simple in design, it’s able to transmit fear to those who cross his way. Jason’s mask is proof that sometimes the best ideas are improvised and the solution might be where you least expect it, such as a bag of hockey gear.