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Many a major Hollywood star began their careers in horror, but few died as spectacular and memorable a death as Kevin Bacon in the original Friday the 13th (1980), which celebrated its 40th anniversary on May 9.
“[It] was a classic horror movie death, because I smoke a joint and have sex with a girl, and then that means you’re going to die if you’re in a slasher movie,” Bacon, 62, tells us during a recent interview (watch above).
Indeed, Bacon’s Camp Crystal Lake counselor Jack Burrell is enjoying a post-coital puff on a cabin bunk while his lover Marcie is in the bathroom when an arm emerges from below the bed and pins down his head. Then the sharp edge of an arrow protrudes up through the bottom of his neck, spouting a geyser of blood as his eyes pop in horror.
Bacon says the scene was a practical effect, requiring a prosthetic chest and neck — though it wasn’t an easy process.
“I was on my knees with my head through a hole in the bed, with my neck back. It was very uncomfortable, I had to stay there for a really, really long time. And there was only one neck and chest, so everything had to work perfectly.
“Someone was under the bed to push this arrow through, somebody else was going to pump the blood. I had to have the right [look] — I don’t even know how you rehearse getting that look. And they rolled camera and the arrow came through, but the pump broke on the blood plumper, so the special-effects person [legendary Tom Savini] grabbed it and started blowing through it as someone’s saying, ‘Make your eyes roll back.’
“And then it was done. And they got it in one take, which was good, because there was no second neck.”
Friday the 13th was Bacon’s first notable credit following his meme-worthy breakthrough in 1978’s Animal House and his first taste of horror. Though he has had a prolific, eclectic career co-starring with so many other well-known actors that it’s inspired a board game, Bacon has frequently returned to the genre throughout his career. Some other notable credits include Tremors (1990), Flatliners (1990), Stir of Echoes (1999), Hollow Man (2000) and this year’s You Should Have Left.
“It’s very, very actable stuff,” Bacon says of his affinity for horror. “It’s high stakes, life or death, emotional turmoil. It’s challenging to try to modulate where a character’s emotional life is gonna be over the course of a screenplay.
“And people don’t like to talk about this, but if you’re doing a scary movie and you’re a lead in a scary movie, 75 percent of the time you’re gonna be scared. So what are those looks and feelings gonna look like? You have to have variation. So I find that to be a great challenge.”
Watch Kevin Bacon talk about why You Should Have Left is quarantine horror:
— Video produced by Gisselle Bances and edited by John Santo
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