Luck in Horror Movies

How Luck Affects Horror

Luck vs. Preparedness: A Delicate Balance

With it being the month of St. Patrick, what better topic to discuss than luck? Whether on the part of the villain or the people they’re after, it plays a crucial role. With that said, I think it’s important to distinguish between being genuinely lucky or unlucky and the plot working against or for someone.  First,  we need to define what luck means precisely in this context.  Spoilers ahead.

Let’s look at the Friday the 13th movies as an example. In the first one, Alice is the only survivor., having managed to decapitate Pamela Voorhees. She must have been fortunate that there was a weapon nearby for her to defend herself with. Not only that, but it’s also a good thing for her that she wasn’t one of the first people to be axed off.  She managed to escape the whole ordeal in one piece.

That is except for having all her friends dead and presumably experiencing PTSD, at least until the sequel where her luck immediately runs out. I guess she used it all in the first film.  With Jason Voorhees and many other recurring icons, their luck may fade, but it never runs out.  There’s always some way they come back. Why? Okay, I understand the obvious answer involves dollar signs. 

However, I’m attempting to find a more in-universe explanation for this. For someone like Jason, it’s hinted that his mother used the Necronomicon to resurrect him. Therefore, his coming back wouldn’t be a case of chance so much as him having a factor working in his favor.  Although, you could argue he was lucky that his mother managed to get her hands on a book capable of resurrecting the dead. That’s something that, at least as far as the movies are concerned, is never explained. 

That accounts for Jason always coming back. What about  Freddy Krueger from The Nightmare series? They try just about everything to get rid of him. In the first movie, Nancy stops believing in him which takes away his power. Although, he does come back at the end so it didn’t work too well.

 At least she survived until the third film. In the second movie, he gets defeated by…The power of love, I guess? Sure, we’ll go with that. In the third, they try holy water. Then in the one after that, the souls of his victims rip him apart from the inside out. 

Eventually, his deaths get wild to the point of his mom being used to get rid of him and him even getting blown up. The craziest to me, though, is in Freddy VS Jason. The entirety of Springwood was actively working to suppress knowledge of Freddy even to the point of institutionalizing people that knew about him. Even then he still manages to come back. How? Well, in Freddy’s Dead, it’s revealed that at the moment of his death, some dream demons came and made a deal with him.

Lucky Rabbits Foot

Once again, the Necronomicon may have played a part in this, but that involves the Freddy VS Jason VS Ash comics and I don’t want to bog this down with what qualifies as canon. For now, we’ll say the power of those demons is the factor working in Freddy’s favor. Akin to Jason, however, it’s oddly lucky for Freddy that these hellish forces happened to choose him over all the other active serial killers at the time. Why him? Well, there’s a saying that people create their own luck.

While that’s true to an extent, it’s also just reality that you aren’t going to get gold by rubbing two pennies together. For the most part, people are forced to work with their dealt hands. That isn’t to say this is a set-in-stone rule. If someone is exceptional enough, can they be recognized over others? Sure, albeit rarely. 

This is where Freddy comes in. He’s not just a serial killer. He’s the serial killer. His drive for mayhem and revenge was stronger than that of anyone else like him. That’s what made him attract those dream demons. 

I think the more he fed his sadism, the stronger that dark luck became. That’s only relating to luck you could consider good in some way.  Why don’t we instead talk about the kind that, no matter how you spin it, is shit.  Going back to Jason, other than the fact he’s immortal, he’s led a miserable life, or lack thereof if you want to get technical. He wasn’t just unlucky enough to be disabled which made him a bullying target.

Fate determined that he be drowned by some camp kids at the same time some counselors were too distracted to pay attention and save him. By that I mean, they were fucking. If that wasn’t bad enough, he had to live on his own for years in the woods near Camp Crystal Lake. I suppose there is some serendipity in that he managed to survive for so long given his mental shortcomings. Unfortunately, I have to imagine seeing the only person who cared about him get beheaded puts a damper on this.

Both he and Freddy have revenge as a motivation. The difference is I don’t get a sense Jason enjoys what he does. With Freddy, there’s glee behind his action. With Jason, there’s only rage. In that sense, you can make the case that his mother bringing him back and never letting him be at peace is the worst thing she did for him.

I think a character in a similar situation is Michael Myers. Now, before I go any further, I get the whole Thorn Cult shit is dumb as hell and in no way am I trying to say otherwise.  I also grasp that given the more recent entries in the franchise, that plot has more than likely been disregarded. The reason I bring it up is that it shows that Michael’s life was never his to decide. 

Don’t get me wrong. He’s still a piece of shit and so is Jason. All I’m saying is that the circumstances that shaped them into the monsters they are were always out of their control. What about someone like Elliot Spencer (Pinhead)? Was it lucky or unlucky that he survived the war and came into possession of the Lament Configuration?  I suppose it depends on where you fall on the sadomasochism scale. 

Let’s get back to the heroes of horror which again is something that’s a matter of perspective. What do, Andy Barclay, Tommy Jarvis, Ash Willaims, and Laurie Strode all have in common? They were able to survive their respective monsters.  For the sake of this post, I’m going with the Halloween continuity where Laurie isn’t eventually killed by Michael. What have they gotten for putting down evil numerous times?

Luck in Horror Movies

Andy had to live in foster care and then join military school when that didn’t work out. Meanwhile, his mother was institutionalized. Speaking of, what happened to Tommy after he was able to defeat Jason? Keep in mind he was only twelve when he pulled this off. If your answer was a pat on the back and a somewhat stable childhood, then sorry to say you’re off the mark. No, he was also thrown into an institution.

Ash Williams is essentially cursed to always be in pursuit of the Necronomicon and therefore, can never truly have peace. Laurie had to live in fear of her brother for decades, something that caused her to become an alcoholic. Still, it can’t be all bad for these heroes. Can it? Fortunately, there are such things as happy endings even in horror as few as they may seem.

Tommy’s journey in the Friday The 13th movies technically concludes on a high note with him beating Jason again. Then after that, he hopefully went on to live something remotely resembling a normal life. I haven’t seen it, but from what I read about Halloween Ends, Laurie was able to get into some romance so good on her. Are there any horror films where the good guys win outright without any psychological issues or anything similar?  The only ones I can think of are maybe Tucker and Dale VS Evil and The Zombieland movies.

Hell, luck is a huge part of Tallahassee’s character in the latter films. Columbus was all about preparedness and that made for an intriguing dynamic between the two. How much of someone’s luck is on them to create and how much are they predisposed to? Well, that may never be answered. However, what I do know is even if someone’s luck is bad, as long as they are around there’s always a chance, no matter how slim it may seem, that it may change.

On that note, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.

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