Julius Gaw: The Great Black Hope
by : Joslyn Corvis
Heroes don’t always survive the storm; sometimes they just show us that someone is willing to stand up and give us a glimmer of hope and faith in humanity. They might go down but not without a fight, just like Julius in Jason Takes Manhattan.
We see an intrinsic heroism in Julius when he fearlessly organizes a crew to take down Jason Vorhees. Even after a near-death-experience at the hands of Jason, Julius doesn’t back down, which takes us to one of the best kill scenes in the history of Friday the 13th. This does not fall into the category of “best kill scene” for the same reason as, say for instance, the notorious “campers in the sleeping bag” or the “smiley face imprint on the tree;” this one is memorable because Julius met his fate with a dignity that most victims lose in a fit of hysterics in their final moments, especially when they realize exactly what they’re up against.
In his second round with Jason, Julius finds himself on a building rooftop with nowhere to go. In an act of bravery, he uses his boxing skills in the fight of his life, and from what we can infer from the subtle glimpses into his character, to save his friends. Every punch Julius throws at Jason gives us hope that he’s going to at least stun him long enough to get away, giving us a suspenseful feel of “sure uncertainty” that he is going to rise the victor somehow. This creates a new dynamic for fans of Friday the 13th because admit it: We are subconsciously on Jason’s side since we’re in it for the scares. There’s something special in Julius, and from the get-go we feel an attachment to him as we cheer him on in his final moments, hoping for the best yet expecting the worst. It’s a far cry from the typical experience of screaming, “RUN!” at the TV screen while peeking through our fingers while the suspense builds from the chase as Jason stalks after someone through the woods, and in a split second, it’s all over. Every time I watch that scene, my eyes get teary and I’m not ashamed to say it.
What makes Julius stand out is his attitude. We get a deeper connection to him from what minimal screen-time he has, especially by compare of main characters in almost any slasher flick. His fearlessness and determination comes across in a way that shows a sort of three-dimensionality lacking in so many of these types of movies.
Other characters who exhibit that brand of bravery seems to be often out of necessity rather than ambition, but Julius takes the risk of death upon himself and goes down in a blaze of glory. He doesn’t even fit the “tough guy” persona, like the carbon-copy guy in every movie who talks a big game, flaunts his machismo, and either backs down when things get real or is taken out in a screaming frenzy. Julius also creates a solid sense that “the black guy” does not have to be depicted as a thug, comic relief, or a sort of glimpsed over place-holder, maybe a sort of nod to Affirmative Action in some on-screen way. He is not boxed in by a stereotype or expectation of race or even horror movies, but breaks out into his own in a stand-out performance.
Julius’s character should have been a turning point in not only horror, but all genres, but sadly, it is few and far between that we truly see this kind of heart and valor portrayed by the cast members of horror movies, and even rarer in black characters. However, because of the rarity of this type of character, and because Julius is memorable to my mind (and in most peoples’ minds, even if not by name,) it should be held up to progressivity as what will one day become a norm in the portrayal of black characters featuring a variance in personality types and multi-dimensions, and of course, as heroes and heroines.
Hailing from the Red state of Texas, Joslyn Corvis is a very proud liberal and feminist. As a first-time college student as of January, 2016, she hopes to pursue a degree in