Quick disclaimer…if you clicked on this looking for something related to the quintessential Slasher, Jason Voorhees, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m not discussing “Friday the 13th” series of films but rather a lesser known television series of the same name. The show ran on a Chicago UHF station called WPWR-TV Channel 50 from October 1987 till the summer of 1990. It had absolutely nothing to do with the hockey-masked killer but an antique store called “Curious Goods.” Unfortunately, the heirlooms sold at this shop were anything but “good” since its former owner, Lewis Vendredi, made a pact with the Devil thereby cursing each and every one of them. Once Lewis’ deal goes south and he’s inevitably claimed by Satan, it’s up to his benefactors, Micki (Louise Robey) and her cousin Ryan (John D. LeMay) to try and reclaim the evil objects. Once safely in tow, they’re locked up in a basement vault; not unlike Ed and Lorraine’s artifact room seen in The Conjuring series.
You’d think unsuspecting customers would be happy to return their malevolent objects but, unfortunately, most have been seduced by their sinister powers. The curses often have an “upside/downside” angle; granting you special gifts but at the cost of somebody’s life. Fortunately, our duo is assisted by Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins – who I was surprised to learn voiced “Mysterio” in the old ‘60s Spider-Man cartoons), an old friend of their Uncle Lewis’ who shares knowledge of the items while also serving as a sort of father figure. Even the producer’s aren’t sure how Micki and Ryan are related and why all three of them are living at the shop is a bit strange as well. This is one show you’d best not try to overthink!
I remember watching this show during its original run back in high school along with a few other horror-related series such as “Tales from the Darkside” and a “War of the Worlds” spin-off. I got hooked on “Friday the 13th the Series” during its second season, starting with an episode titled, “And now the news.” The story revolves around a cursed radio that a psychiatrist uses to cure his patients while simultaneously killing one of his rivals.’ From then on I was hooked. It was always a mystery what object would appear in each show as well as why anyone would have bought something like that in the first place – like an ugly cupid statue or an antique woodchipper.
The “Friday the 13th” moniker was confusing, not only because it was the ‘80s when slasher films were at their zenith, but because they also used the same “font” as the movie series. This was no coincidence since their producer, Frank Mancuso Jr., also produced the ‘Friday’ films from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) through Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988). There were rumors that the series would eventually tie in with Jason with a final episode dealing with a cursed hockey mask, but this never happened. In fact, the show was abruptly cancelled towards the end of its third season leaving no time for closure. Probably just as well since John D. LeMay quit the show that season and was replaced by Steve Monarque (Johnny Ventura in the series).
The acting was all over the place with some performances laughingly bad and others quite good. The same can be said for the writing though it was almost always entertaining, regardless. One of my favorite episodes was “Heads I Live, Tails You Die,” which revolves around a cursed coin being used by a group of devil-worshipers to raise the dead. The coin would later resurface in a future episode which was one of the things I liked about this show; they weren’t afraid to reference previous episodes. In a pre “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” world this wasn’t very common.
After its cancellation, the show fell into obscurity with occasional ScyFy Channel marathons during holiday weekends. I purchased the complete DVD box set quite cheap on eBay and have been watching the entire run with my teen daughter who says the production value reminds her of Goosebumps – another series of macabre tales filmed in Canada. The quality is relatively poor and this series could definitely stand for an upgrade. Since I paid like $10 for it, I’m not complaining.
Reboots and remakes often have negative connotations but in this instance I think a decent cast and budget could really be a hit! Even if they drop the whole “Friday the 13th” thing and adopt its original title, “Friday’s Curse,” or something completely different it would be alright by me.
C’mon, Shudder or Netflix, do it!