As young teenagers, my buddy Jeff and I loved getting scared by scary movies and scary videogames. One of the first horror-related videogames either of us owned was Friday the 13th for the Commodore 64. The goal of the game is to search Camp Crystal Lake and stop Jason before he murders all ten of your innocent little camping buddies. Often, Jason will disguise himself as one of your friends – when this happens, the quickest way to flush him out is to attack all your friends to determine if they are really Jason in disguise. Kind of a brutal tactic, but it works. All of these violent acts are carried out using only weapons that the average teenage camp counselor could get his or her hands on: chainsaws, tridents, axes, throwing daggers, and so on.
While most of Friday the 13th’s gameplay wasn’t very scary, there was one aspect of the game that genuinely frightened us. At random points throughout the game, pictures of decapitated heads and skulls would flash up on the screen, accompanied by a blood-curdling digitized scream. These flashes of horror generally appeared during the cut scenes between rooms, which were normally black and silent. The screams caught us off guard and made us jump every single time.
To make the game seem even scarier, Jeff and I began playing the game only late at night and with all the lights turned off, huddled close to his computer monitor. To make his room seem even darker, the two of us began draping a blanket over our heads and the computer’s monitor, so that all we could see was the game itself.
At some point along the way I guess Jeff’s dad caught on to what we were doing. A fan of practical jokes, one night he snuck into Jeff’s room and gave Jeff and I the scare of a lifetime. The two of us, sitting at Jeff’s computer desk with our heads under a blanket, had just begun playing Friday the 13th. A few moments later, we saw the flash of skulls and heard that computerized scream that always made us jump. Jeff’s dad, seeing his opportunity, then bonked our heads together, Three Stooges style.
It was a scare (and throbbing pain) I’ll never forget. After that incident, we decided to only play Friday the 13th at my house.