First actor to play Jason in ‘Friday the 13th’ films makes Portland his next haunt

This nearly life-sized statue of Jason Voorhees from the &quotFriday the 13th" horror movies welcomes customers to Portland's Coast City Comics. The first actor to play the character will pose for photos and sign autographs at the store next month to raise money for charity.
Seth Koenig | BDN
This nearly life-sized statue of Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" horror movies welcomes customers to Portland's Coast City Comics. The first actor to play the character will pose for photos and sign autographs at the store next month to raise money for charity. Buy Photo
Posted June 25, 2014, at 4:23 p.m.
Last modified June 26, 2014, at 2:25 p.m.
Tristan Gallagher, owner of Coast City Comics in Portland, holds a copy of a &quotFriday the 13th" comic book. Ari Lehman, the actor who first played the murderous Jason Voorhees in the &quotFriday the 13th" horror movie, will make an appearance at Gallagher's store on July 8.
Seth Koenig | BDN
Tristan Gallagher, owner of Coast City Comics in Portland, holds a copy of a "Friday the 13th" comic book. Ari Lehman, the actor who first played the murderous Jason Voorhees in the "Friday the 13th" horror movie, will make an appearance at Gallagher's store on July 8. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland is only about 20 miles away from Crystal Lake — albeit the one in Gray — so maybe it’s natural for Jason Voorhees to make a pilgrimage here.

Ari Lehman, the first actor to play the now-iconic antagonist of the “Friday the 13th” horror movies, will make an appearance at Portland’s Coast City Comics next month to raise money for charity.

Lehman’s turn as Jason was brief but important in the series’ canon. At the end of the first “Friday the 13th” movie, released by Paramount Pictures in 1980, a young Lehman burst from the depths of Crystal Lake to haul an unsuspecting camp counselor out of her canoe and into the water.

The surprise attack revealed that Jason was still alive years after having supposedly drowned there as a boy, and he was back for vengeance. Jason, played by other actors and eventually donning his signature hockey mask, would continue as the main villain in 10 additional movies.

In Portland, Coast City Comics owner Tristan Gallagher plans to set up a small boat in the store for fans to sit in and pose for photos as Lehman bursts from the “water” behind them for a re-enactment of the plot-twist moment. The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 8.

“Jason’s been played by a lot of people, but Ari was the first,” Gallagher said. “He played Jason back before it became a ‘camp’ series, back when it was a true horror movie.”

For $20, horror enthusiasts will get Polaroid pictures of themselves in the makeshift scene signed by Lehman, who was in his early teens when he played the disfigured, never-dead Jason.

“[The Polaroid] makes it more ‘1980.’ It falls into the vintage of that particular summer camp,” Gallagher said of the event keepsakes.

The money raised by the appearance will benefit Camp Sunshine, which offers waterfront getaways for children battling life-threatening illnesses and their families in nearby Casco, as well as other local charities.

Gallagher’s store is also sponsoring Lehman’s appearance with his band, First Jason, at a Seacoast Repertory Theatre screening of the 1980 “Friday the 13th” in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on July 9.

“We are a monster emporium of sorts, as evidenced by the six-and-a-half-foot-tall statue of Jason looming over our customers with a machete,” Gallagher said, referring to one of Coast City Comics’ most recognizable decorations. “It’s appropriate for us to be bringing [the actor who played] Jason here.”

Knate Higgins, curator of the Seacoast Repertory Theatre’s “Let’s B-Reel” film series, said in a statement that “when we think summer and cult films, we immediately thought of ‘Friday the 13th.’

“We are so excited to bring the Seacoast not only a great summer horror film but one of the most iconic monsters in cinematic history — plus the man who started it all,” he said.

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