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Early Roles That Friday The 13th Actors Would Like You To Forget About

Since 1980, the "Friday the 13th" horror franchise has given dozens, if not hundreds, of actors a chance to earn screen notoriety by dying a horrible death at the hands of its resident slasher, Jason Voorhees. For many "Friday the 13th" actors, their appearance in the ten original films produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. for Paramount, as well as the 2003 spin-off "Freddy vs. Jason" and the 2009 reboot by Marcus Nispel has marked the beginning of their careers as movie actors. For some, it would serve as a high point they continue to revisit for franchise devotees at conventions and in fanmade films; for others, it was a much-needed paycheck and credit at the time, and stepping stone ever since.

While the "Friday the 13th" movies have always earned their share of critical brickbats, Jason films aren't always the credit in an actor's filmography they would most like you to forget. For them, there's a title or two that ranks below their "Friday the 13th" appearance, tainted by terrible directing, ridiculous scripting, risible acting, or a combination of all three. For some "Friday the 13th" alumni, these movies are the real nightmares. 

Below is a spoiler-heavy list of movies "Friday the 13th" actors wish you'd forget.

OG Jason Ari Lehman was one of Manny's Orphans

Actor/musician Ari Lehman was the first screen incarnation of Jason Voorhees, appearing briefly beneath layers of Tom Savini's complex makeup to play the teenaged killer-in-training in two scenes from the original "Friday." The picture also marked a reunion of sorts with director Sean Cunningham, who had cast Lehman in a minor role in 1978's "Manny's Orphans." 

One of two sports comedies that Cunningham and "Friday" writer Victor Miller conceived prior to the release of "Friday" (the other being "Here Come the Tigers"), "Orphans" was a low-budget "Bad News Bears" carbon with TV actor Jim Baker as the coach of a misfit soccer team. Lehman had a minor role in the film as Roger, one of the team's players, throwing himself fully into the goofy pratfalls and bratty behavior required for such movies.

After appearing in "Friday," Lehman returned to music and formed several bands, including the metal act First Jason, which draws directly on his history with the horror franchise for its sound and lyrics. Lehman also composed the score for several independent horror features while maintaining cult favorite status as a guest star in countless independent and underground horror films like "Camp Killer" and "Leaf Blower Massacre 2."

Before Part 2, Amy Steel starred in the forgotten comedy Fat Chance

Amy Steel, who played psychology student Ginny Field in 1981's "Friday the 13th Part 2," remains one of the series' most resourceful and determined female characters ever, having used her wits and understanding of Jason's warped mindset to save herself by donning a disguise as his mother. Steel turned down the chance to reprise the role in "Part 3," and subsequently worked in made-for-TV features and episodic TV before taking an extended break from acting to become a therapist. In recent years, Steel has appeared in several independent horror films, including "Jason Rising," a 2021 fan film for which she reprised Ginny.

Before taking on Jason, Steel made her feature debut in 1981's "Fat Chance," a U.S.-Spanish production about which little information exists. Directed by Manuel Summers, an arthouse filmmaker who occasionally dabbled in comedies, and co-produced and co-written by Cuban-American filmmaker Leon Ichaso ("Crossover Dreams"), "Fat Chance" concerns a pair of plus-sized penpals whose negative self-image prompts them to send pictures of other people rather than photos of themselves to each other. Naturally, complications arise when the pair finally decide to meet.

As mentioned, little to no information exists about "Fat Chance" beyond a few scant mentions that describe the film as good-natured and optimistic but also "hokey" and "amateurish." Steel plays the slim, attractive woman in the photograph sent by shy January Stevens to penpal Farnham Scott. The lack of information also makes it impossible to say anything about the size or significance of her role, but given that so little has been written about "Fat Chance" in the last three-plus decades, it's also doubtful that it's a title on Steel's resume that deserves remembrance.

Corey Feldman kicked off his film career with Born Again

Corey Feldman has a number of films that he should be proud to include on his resume: "Stand By Me," "The Goonies," "The Lost Boys," "The 'Burbs," and even "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter," which cast him as monster-loving, Jason-slaying Tommy Jarvis. Of course, there are also plenty of movies that Feldman made to pay the bills and retain a foothold in the industry, like "Blown Away," "The Zombie King," "Bikini Bandits," and more. He has a few other endeavors on his resume that might fall into the category of "ill-conceived," but those are matters for a different story.

Most of Feldman's movie mistakes and triumphs are readily available for viewing on home video or streaming services, save for "Born Again," which appears to be only available on YouTube. This faith-based feature details the post-conviction life and religious conversion of Charles Colson, a former advisor to Richard Nixon who served prison time for his role in the Watergate scandal. Released to theaters by Avco Embassy in 1978, "Born Again" stars former Disney leading man Dean Jones as Colson, depicted as a reasonable family man caught up in bad dealings (and not Nixon's "hatchet man," as fellow White House staffers called him) who found religion behind bars.

Good luck finding Feldman in "Born Again"; he's seen on-screen and then gone in a blink as Boy Fisherman #1. That may actually be a good thing, since "Born Again" is as tepid and sanctimonious as the Afterschool Specials from the same time period.

Peter Barton first faced a slasher in Hell Night

Pity poor Doug, designated loverboy among the teens who decided to party at a house near Crystal Lake in "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter." Though most of the attendees die in unpleasant ways in the film, Doug (played by Peter Barton) has his skull crushed by Jason while in the shower. As bed buddy Trish later discovers, insult is added to injury when she finds Doug's body pinned to the tiled walls of the shower via a metal spike.

Barton's brief run as an '80s teen heartthrob was at its end by the time he appeared in "The Final Chapter." Barton rose to fame in 1982 as the title role in the CBS sci-fi series "The Powers of Matthew Star," as an exiled alien prince on Earth (whose girlfriend was Amy Steel). The show lasted a single season, and Barton maintained a lower profile in the 1990s as a regular on soaps like "The Young and the Restless" and "Sunset Beach." His appearance in "Final Chapter" wasn't his only foray into horror: three years prior to its release, Barton teamed with Linda Blair for the slasher film "Hell Night."

Directed by cult filmmaker Tom DeSimone and produced by Chuck Russell ("The Mask"), "Hell Night" is an uninspired, by-the-books stalk-and-kill pic that features endless scenes of Blair, as a fraternity pledge at a costume party, running through the same two tunnels to escape a pair of monstrous sibling killers. Barton, as Blair's nice guy romantic interest, spends most of his time limping after Blair or toting a pitchfork, which in a 2018 interview, he recalled as more exhausting than exciting.

Crispin Glover geeked out in My Tutor

Sure, Crispin Glover took the role of hapless nerd Jimmy in "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" to pay his bills. But did that hold him back from delivering one of the most out-there, unfettered turns in franchise history? Absolutely not. From his flailing dance number to his jittery conversations with Lawrence Monoson's Ted and his "computer," Glover did what he does best: a performance that lends offbeat energy to the film while also seeming to exist in a completely different universe.

Glover has offered up performances of this caliber in numerous popular films and TV series, ranging from "Back to the Future" and the 2000 "Charlie's Angels" to "Willard," "The Smiley Face Killers," and "American Gods." Before achieving fame with these projects, Glover toiled in guest shots on episodic TV ("Happy Days") and made his feature film debut in "My Tutor," a teen sex comedy from 1983. 

In "Tutor," Glover essentially plays a variation on his Jimmy role: a hormonally-charged geek who accompanies star Matt Lattanzi on his quest to lose his virginity. Glover's jittery performance is funny and certainly boosts his scenes with Lattanzi, a dancer and former husband of the late Olivia Newton-John whose acting can be charitably described as dazed. Glover's comic skills even help him emerge from his character's humiliating encounter with a sex worker who places him in a quasi-torture device.

It's true: Ron Palillo was the tough guy in Skatetown U.S.A.

Actor Ron Palillo was a long way from his brief stint as a TV breakout on "Welcome Back, Kotter" when he played former mental patient Allen Hawes in "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives." Hawes accompanies the grown-up Tommy Jarvis (played by Thom Mathews) to Jason's grave with the intention of cremating the killer's corpse. An ill-timed lightning bolt revives the hulking psychopath, however, who claims Allen as his first post-resurrection victim by ripping his heart out of his chest.

At the time of its release, Palillo's "Friday" appearance was his first feature film role in nearly a decade, though the actor had been busy post-"Kotter" on television and in stage productions. His previous venture to the big screen, which also marked his first movie role, was 1979's "Skatetown U.S.A." The film, written by Nick Castle (Michael Myers in the original "Halloween") stars Patrick Swayze and Greg Bradford as rival skaters competing for cash prizes at a roller disco. Like most disco and roller disco movies (see: "Roller Boogie"), "Skatetown U.S.A." is deeply weird, filled with bizarre subplots and oddball cameos by, among others, Ruth Buzzi, Billy Barty, Murray "The Unknown Comic" Langston, and Flip Wilson, who dons Geraldine-style drag to play his character's wife.

Palillo is improbably cast as Frankey, the "enforcer" for Swayze's tough guy crew. Tricked out in a perm, full beard, and spiked collar, Palillo is perhaps the least intimidating muscle ever seen in a feature film. Even more absurd is a subplot involving Maureen McCormick as Bradford's boy-crazy sister; she has an inexplicable yen for Palillo, which culminates in the dizzying sight of Marcia Brady making out with a punk rock Arnold Horshack.

Kane Hodder was (what else?) a tough guy in the wretched City Limits

Actor and stuntman Kane Hodder is the man who has spent the most time behind the hockey mask in the "Friday the 13th" franchise. Hodder made his debut as Jason Voorhees in "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" and reprised the role three more times until Ken Kirzinger took up the machete for "Freddy vs. Jason." Hodder, who later reprised Jason for the 2017 "Friday the 13th" video game, has also played or provided stunts for a dizzying array of other movie killers, including Leatherface in "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III," Victor Crowley in the "Hatchet" series, and even took up Freddy Kruger's gloved hand in "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday."

In addition to his most iconic roles, Hodder has essayed dozens of other maniacs, tough guys, and bad-to-know types in films ranging from the 2003 "Daredevil" and "Monster" with Charlize Theron to "House II: The Second Story" and "2001 Maniacs." As with most genre pics, some titles are better than others, but in the case of "City Limits," it's safe to say that most, if not all movies are better than that 1984 sci-fi pic

A post-apocalyptic thriller set in a Los Angeles where a plague has eliminated most of the adults, "City Limits" features a sizable of then-up-and-coming performers, including John Stockwell, Rae Dawn Chong, and future "Independence Day" writer-producer Dean Devlin as survivors who have formed motorcycle gangs. Kim Cattrall and Robby Benson are also on hand as members of a mysterious corporation sent to rebuild the city at the expense of the bikers.

Sounds confusing and poorly conceived, you say? Well, you're right — and Joel and the 'bots on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" agree, since they torched the film in their original run — but if you look carefully, you'll see Hodder as a member of the DAs, a hostile biker gang. Hodder is billed as one of the Unfriendly DAs, and with his powerful build and glowering face, he's more believable than anything else in the picture.

Terry Kiser wasn't dead in Surf II — but the jokes were

If Terry Kiser, who plays Dr. Crews — the conniving therapist in "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood," looks familiar to you — chances are you've seen him enduring round after round of pratfalls in his best-known feature film role, anchoring the "Weekend at Bernie's" series. Kiser played the late Bernie in the 1989 comedy and its 1993 sequel; "The New Blood" gives Kiser a chance to show off his dramatic talents while also reiterating just how good he is at playing dead when Jason disembowels him with a whirring tree saw.

Years before tackling either role, Kiser was showcased in "Surf II," a bizarre 1984 comedy with Eric Stoltz as a blissed-out surfer who takes time away from the waves to stop crazed nerd scientist Eddie Deezen's plan to turn soda drinkers into zombies. When adults prove too stupid to help them, Stoltz turns to his fellow surfers to mount a counteroffensive; Kiser has a small role as the parent of comic actor Tom Villard ("One Crazy Summer"), and appears utterly confused by the film's nonsensical plot in his brief scenes, one of which involves a spirited debate about baked beans. Oh, and to answer your question: there is no "Surf 1." The poster even promotes the film as "the end of the trilogy."

TV vet Peter Mark Richman survived Girls on the Loose

Say what you will about Jason Voorhees: he's sadistic, deranged, and a menace to all that cross his path. One thing he's not is mean, but in 1989's "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan," that label certainly applies to Charles McCulloch. A biology teacher and chaperone for the Lakeview High School senior class trip to New York City, McCullouch is also revealed to be an abusive jerk who gave his niece Rennie (Jensen Daggett) a fear of water. That's an unfortunate situation, since half the picture takes place in New York Harbor. Thankfully, Jason is on hand to give McCulloch a taste of his own medicine by drowning him in a barrel of toxic waste.

Veteran character actor Peter Mark Richman, who played McCulloch, was a familiar face to TV and movie audience for more than a half century, with credits ranging from the original "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" runs to "Knight Rider," "Three's Company," and "Beverly Hills, 90210." Richman also starred in a handful of feature films, including one that might qualify as his please-forget title, "Girls on the Loose." The 1958 thriller, directed by actor Paul Henreid ("Casablanca"), concerned a gang of women who operate a robbery ring from a nightclub. Richman is the no-nonsense cop who infiltrates the operation by dating Abby Dalton, the sister of ringleader Mara Corday; he also manages to lend a note of credibility to the film with his deep voice and ramrod straight bearing. Unfortunately, he can't save this pulpy mess from itself.

Talk about terror: Erin Gray had to romance Kenny Rogers in Six Pack

The ninth entry in the "Friday" franchise, "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" has earned a reputation as one of the series' most convoluted and confusing titles thanks to extensive retconning of what many fans consider canonical elements of the storyline. Among these much-debated additions is Diana Kimble, who is revealed to be Jason's half-sister. Dispatched quickly by the father of her granddaughter while possessed by Jason's spirit (it's a very confusing movie), Diana later serves as the vessel for the killer's rebirth in one of the ickiest scenes in the film (or any "Friday" title, really).

Erin Gray, a TV favorite in the '80s for her roles in "Silver Spoons" and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," played Diana Kimble in "Jason Goes to Hell." And while it's definitely a low point on her resume, "Jason Goes to Hell" doesn't quite bring the pain in the same degree as 1982's "Six Pack." A heaping bowl of corn disguised as a family comedy, "Six Pack" was the first and only feature film vehicle for Kenny Rogers, cast as a washed-up stock car racer who finds himself the unwitting patron/parent of six orphans who boost automobile parts. Nestled among their number: a young Anthony Michael Hall in his film debut and future Oscar nominee Diane Lane, who at one point in the film has to act seductively towards another "Friday the 13th" alum, Terry Kiser.

Gray is saddled with the task of convincing viewers that her small-town waitress is wholly entranced by Rogers' shaggy, shambling car jockey. It's certainly not as unpleasant a task as birthing Jason Voorhees in demonic fetus form, but you have to admire an actress who's willing to tackle such a challenge.

Leslie Jordan checked into Frankenstein General Hospital

Prior to his Emmy win as Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace" and scene-stealing turns on the "American Horror Story" franchise, "Boston Legal," and "Call Me Kat," actor and playwright Leslie Jordan toiled in minor roles in countless features. Among these projects were the woeful Richard Pryor vehicle "Moving," teen comedy junk like "Ski Patrol," and "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday." Jordan plays Shelby, a short order cook at his family's diner, where he meets an ugly end in his own deep fryer at the hands of reporter Steven Culp, who is possessed by Jason's spirit.

None of the aforementioned projects are quite as bizarre as "Frankenstein General Hospital," a 1988 comedy featuring comedian Mark Blankfield ("Robin Hood: Men in Tights") as a descendant of the monster-making scientist and Jordan as his assistant, Iggy. Witless and trashy from start to finish (the film's idea of humor is Jordan procuring two left legs for the monster played by Irwin Keyes, who also has a cameo in the original "Friday the 13th"), "Frankenstein General Hospital" wastes the comic talents of Blankfield and Jordan and "Monster Mash" singer Bobby "Boris" Pickett, who turns up briefly in an elevator.

Lexa Doig made it out of Jungleground

Before appearing in such science fiction and fantasy projects as "Andromeda," "Stargate SG-1," and "Continuum," Canadian actress Lexa Doig faced an altogether different challenge in space with "Jason X." Doig played scientist Rowan LaFontaine, who is accidentally frozen in a cryonic chamber with Jason, only to be revived with the killer four centuries later aboard a spaceship traveling to a new Earth.

Both LaFontaine and Doig survived 2001's "Jason X" (which flamed out at the box office, becoming one of the lowest-grossing titles in the franchise), and the actress went on to enjoy stardom in a diverse array of projects ranging from "Arrow" and "Virgin River" to "Chucky" and the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries for the Hallmark Channel. Had she depended on her first feature, the 1995 action drama "Jungleground," to establish her career, audiences might never have seen Doig in any of these projects.

The Canadian-lensed thriller starred Roddy Piper as a grizzled cop forced to fight his way out of the titular location — a strip of gang-ruled turf in an unnamed city — in order to rescue his fiancé from the clutches of Odin (J.R. Bourne), a megalomaniacal gang leader. Bourne, who seems to channel James Marsters in his arch performance, and the majority of his followers are a B-movie's idea of thugs, with plenty of black leather and eye makeup, which makes them more amusing than threatening. Only Doig, as a mean gang member named Spider, seems to have any idea about how to project a sense of menace. She gets barely a few moments on screen, but one gets the sense that she could wipe the floor with Piper, her crew, and just about everyone else on screen, if given half a chance.

What hurt Travis Van Winkle more - Jason or Meet the Spartans?

Though the "Friday the 13th" franchise has netted a pile of money for its creators and studio, it hasn't always translated into stardom for its cast. Of the dozens of actors who have suffered unpleasant deaths at the hands of Jason Voorhees, only a handful have gone on to enjoy stardom. Kevin Bacon, Jared Padalecki, and Tony Goldwyn are undoubtedly at the top of the list, with Ben Feldman, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, and Kane Hodder on various lower rungs, as well as Travis Van Winkle, who's best known for "Transformers" and Season 3 of "You."

Van Winkle appears in the 2009 "Friday" as Trent, whose family owns the cabin near Crystal Lake where much of the film's action takes place. Trent is a textbook example of toxic privilege, and his death by impalement (machete and spikes) is a welcome end. Trent's grisly end is by no means Van Winkle's most unpleasant screen moment; that laurel rests on "Meet the Spartans," a 2008 parody of "300" from the makers of "Disaster Movie," "Epic Movie," and other crude and highly caffeinated pop culture parody films.

"Spartans" follows the template laid down by its predecessors, skewering "Shrek," "American Idol," and tabloid magnets like Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan with relentless gross-out humor. Van Winkle, who plays the son of Kevin Sorbo's Spartan captain (named Captain), displays both the required ripped abs to play a Spartan and the gameness to tackle the movie's juvenile gags with a straight face. For his pains, he has his head blasted off in the film's final moments by a Rocky Balboa impersonator.

Jared Padalecki faced his greatest challenge in New York Minute

Jared Padalecki took a break from his work in the long-running series "Supernatural" to star as Clay Miller, the ostensible hero of Marcus Nispel's 2009 reboot of "Friday the 13th." Clay comes to Crystal Lake in search of his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), the sole survivor of an assault by Jason on a group of campers. Clay's search coincides with the arrival of a group of teens at a summer home on Crystal Lake; he later teams with that group's Final Girl, Danielle Panabaker, to rescue Whitney from Jason.

As his work on "Supernatural" and "Walker" would show, Padalecki is a capable actor at home in drama, action, and comedy. His turn as Clay doesn't give him much to do beyond furrow his brow and avoid losing a limb to Jason. However, "Friday the 13th" doesn't squander Padalecki's talents as much as "New York Minute," a 2005 comedy that marked the final feature film project for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The twin siblings — who are perhaps best known these days as Elizabeth Olsen's sisters and less as the stars of "Full House" and numerous direct-to-video features — starred as (what else?) twins who become involved in a series of ridiculous misadventures during a trip to the Big Apple.

Padalecki is on hand as the son of a U.S. Senator (played by comedy great Andrea Martin) who serves as a romantic interest for Mary-Kate. He's game to fulfill the requirements of the role, which is to look cute and abet the Olsens' hijinks. He ultimately comes away unscathed from the experience, even after he's locked in a trunk by a bad guy chauffeur with an unplaceable accent, as played by Andy Richter.