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The Truth About Friday The 13th's Creepy Theme

With Halloween right around the corner, it's time to revisit some holiday classics to get into the spirit of the season; and by holiday classics, we mean brutal slasher horror flicks like "Friday the 13th". An iconic staple of the horror genre, "Friday the 13th" launched in 1980 to massive success, spawning a franchise that spans a dozen films and cemented Jason Voorhees forever as a part of film history. We've seen Jason in plenty of strange situations over the years. He's gone toe-to-toe with Freddy Krueger, rumbled through Manhattan on one of his more adventurous killing sprees, and even gone to space, but there's one part of his film presence that lasts throughout all of his appearances: the iconic theme music backing each film. 

With its strange whispered chant and ominous backing score, the "Friday the 13th" theme is almost as recognizable as Michael Myers' telltale piano track, and both are certain to send fear racing through their audience's hearts. However, what many fans might not realize is that the theme music actually serves a larger, more significant purpose, especially in the franchise's inaugural film.

Building a character we can't see

The theme, which in itself references one of the series' biggest twists, has a role in the film beyond simply drawing out an audience's fears. In an interview with Gun Media, composer Harry Manfredini explains that "the dramatic problem with Friday the 13th was that you never saw the killer until reel 9", a problem his iconic theme easily solved.

"I wanted to create a presence for the killer in the movie," Manfredini says. "We wanted the audience to know 'what we're seeing now is the killer in the movie, and not just the cameraman.'" His solution was using the franchises' iconic theme to signal whenever the killer entered the story. Previously, the audience spends a huge portion of the movie never even getting a glimpse of the main villain, but now, that villain was ever-present: always around the corner, always one note away from reappearing. As such, the theme became a character in itself, and persists in every film in the franchise always holding firm to its roots and evoking the presence of the masked killer whenever it appears.