Of course, there was no way of knowing the kind of cultural impact “Friday the 13th” would have on a mainstream that was ready to champion the horror genre after the phenomenal success of “Carrie” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” For Palmer and the rest of the cast, they were just shooting a badly lit slasher movie in the middle of the woods at Camp NoBeBoSco in Hardwick, New Jersey. Thanks to the twist reveal of Mrs. Voorhees as the real killer and Tom Savini’s groundbreaking gore effects, suddenly, director Sean S. Cunningham had a budding franchise in the making.
With her background in theatre, Palmer studied the Stanislavsky method which compelled her to invent some crucial details for the character. Those little additions may have been part of the reason Mrs. Voorhees ended up being so memorable. Palmer previously spoke with The Dissolve about her process as an actor:
“I traced Pamela back to my own high school days in the early 1940s. So it’s 1944, a very conservative time, and Pamela has a steady boyfriend. They have sex, which is very bad of course, and Pamela soon gets pregnant with Jason. The father takes off and when Pamela tells her parents, they disown her because having [children] out of wedlock isn’t something that good girls do. I think she took Jason and raised him the best she could, but he turned out to be a very strange boy.”
Indeed, he did. The promiscuity of the camp counselors led to Mrs. Voorhees becoming “very psychotic and puritanical in her attitudes,” according to Palmer’s added backstory. The rest, as they say, is horror history, and the time-tested equation that sex always equals death continues to be proven over and over again decades later.