The Final Chapter Was the Best Jason Voorhees

On October 14 actor and stuntman ted white died at the age of 96. White may not have been a household name, but he had a long and fascinating career. He was a Marine in his early life before taking up stunts and a minor uncredited acting role in the 1949s Sands of Iwo Jima. There he befriended the legendary John Wayne and became his stunt double. His career would also see him for big names like Double Clark Gable and Fess Parkerwhile also continuing to play small acting roles in popular films and television series such as First League and The Andy Griffith Show. In 1984, Ted White got his biggest role as masked hockey serial killer Jason Voorhees Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.


Considered by many fans to be the best entry in the twelve film franchise, The last chapter does everything a basic slasher should do, but also offers a few surprises. One of those surprises would be the performance of a 12-year-old Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis, a character who worked so well that it made Feldman the star of the ’80s and made Tommy Jarvis a recurring part of the next few episodes. Another surprise was the addition of Ted White as the film’s masked villain.

Jason Voorhees is notoriously not in the first Friday the 13thbut in the first two sequels, Voorhees was played by Warrington Gillette, Steve Dashand Richard Bacher. For the fourth film, director Joseph Zito offered White the role of Jason due to his size. At 6ft 4in, Ted White would be the tallest man to play Jason at this point. Although Ted White might have been of the right size to play Jason, it’s still a bit of a surprise that he landed the role, considering he was 58 when the film was released. For comparison, Richard Brooker was only 28 when he donned the mask and is a fan favorite Kane Hodder was 32. Amazingly, Ted White was a quarter of a century older than anyone who came before or after him. It’s not so strange these days to have an older man under the mask of a horror icon. James Jude Courtneywho played Michael Myers in the last three Halloween Movies, is 65, but it makes sense since he’s also the same age as the character he’s playing. In 1984, Jason Voorhees is said to be 38 years old, a full two decades younger than Ted White.

Casting an older actor to play Jason was a bold decision, but you’d never know a man in his 60s could be under a hockey mask. Ted White’s movements were quick and graceful while being powerful at the same time. in the Friday the 13th Part 2 and Friday the 13th Part 3 Jason is portrayed as more of a backwoods hillbilly. He slouches, he rumbles and he limp. He almost looks silly when he walks. White’s performance was different. It’s a bit by the grace of Nick Castleis Michael Myers in the original Halloween combined with the power of Gunnar Hansen‘s Leatherface in the first The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Together they created a Jason we’d never seen before, one more menacing and seemingly unstoppable.

While the second and third films hide Jason for most of the runtime until the big final girl showdown, Ted White’s Jason is more open. We immediately get a good look at him as he wakes up in the morgue and sends in a horny coroner and nurse. We see it all go down as Jason emerges from Crystal Lake at night and kills a female victim by stabbing her under her raft. The first two sequels made Jason spooky by keeping him in the shadows or filming him from the chest down. Director Joseph Zito realized he had a Jason who was scarier to look at; Ted White’s presence was so strong.

RELATED: From Annie Wilkes to Pamela Voorhees: Why we need more female horror villains

So much for the success of Jason Voorhees in The last chapter goes into how he wrote. The latter is not afraid to take care of children as he spends much of the finale trying to kill young Tommy Jarvis and fails. No other Jason has tried to kill a child. Another part of his success is the result of the killer. Makeup effects guru Tom Saviniwho first created young Jason’s deformed look Friday the 13th‘s jump scare dream finale, came back to recreate the design in the most terrifying way possible, allowing Jason’s ultimate face to reveal the scariest of the series.

However, most of what makes Jason Voorhees so memorable in this entry is down to Ted White. Even if we don’t see his disfigured face until the end, we can still feel Jason’s anger. Though Jason never speaks, White gives him a sinister grunt. Kane Hodder expressed Jason’s anger by taking a deep breath. White conveys it with his body language, which is evident in the speed with which he turns and slams through a door, or the force with which he runs. His Jason would be the last one running until the 2009 reboot as Jason would die at the end of that film and resume his life as a fast running zombie in later sequels.

Which brings us to Jason’s big death scene. The last chapter was originally supposed to be just that, and Jason really dies at the climax. Ted White is creepy as hell when he meets young Tommy and his teenage sister Trish (Kimberly Beck). He towers over his prey. Equally impressive, however, is the moment when Tommy, who has shaved his head and dressed up as a young Jason to confuse the killer, makes Jason stop. You can’t see Ted White’s face through the mask, but you can feel Jason’s confusion in that quiet moment as he comes face to face with who he once was. White plays Jason as a vengeful beast throughout the film, but in this scene he becomes his most human. There’s a sense of longing as Jason slowly moves towards Tommy, his neck tilted up, a hesitant arm outstretched. For a few seconds, Jason Voorhees is just a boy who wants his old life back. Then, with a swipe of a machete and more memorable practical effects from Savini, Jason is dead.

Jason Voorhees was so scary in this movie that when the series continued in 1985 Friday the 13th: A new beginningHer fans were outraged by the copycat killer storyline. They wanted Jason. In the second film we first meet an adult Jason with a burlap sack on his head. In the third film, Jason picks up his hockey mask for the first time near the end of the film. in the Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason Voorhees becomes the fully developed character we all know thanks to the performance of Ted White. His performance would be so memorable that it would become the template for every actor who went on to play Jason. He wouldn’t be a clumsy, silly hillbilly anymore. Now he was the personification of unbeatable terror. Ted White created this. Everyone else was just trying to replicate it. The Final Chapter Was the Best Jason Voorhees

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