The Bull's Bridge Inn
Friday the 13th Part 2 Set up Camp 30 Years Ago in Kent and New Preston, CT
By Bob Deakin
(The Friday the 13th Part 2 theater poster from 1981)
It was 1980. Most of the actors had hairstyles modeled after the cast of TV shows C.H.I.P.S. or Dallas, and the women were entering the big hair era. Horror movies had just made a comeback, perhaps inspired by director John Carpenter’s Halloween, released in 1978 to rave reviews.
In Kent, Warren and New Preston, it was time to film Friday the 13th, Part 2, featuring Jason, the horrid goon who would star in a series of movies wearing his trademark hockey goalie mask. Paramount Pictures filmed the movie and used local talent to provide the background characters.
The 87-minute Friday the 13th, Part 2 was rated R and may have rankled some of the locals when it was released because of its brutality. The movie was set in the bucolic surroundings of Camp Kenmont and he Bromica Lodge in Kent, as well as The Casino, in New Preston, located on West Shore Road. A new house now stands on the site – The Casino having burned down just a couple years later under mysterious circumstances.
Part 2 was directed by Steve Miner and featured Jason before he donned his hockey gear, when he wore only a white sheet over his head with an opening for an eye. Residents in New Preston must have wondered what was happening in the town center when they saw a pickup truck used in one of the first shots of the movie stop in the village. A young man and woman bolt from the truck, headed for the phone booth where Eleven Main Street now stands. In a flash, a tow truck from Dowler’s Garage was on the vehicle, towing it away as part of the plot.
Lloyd Albin of Kent owned and ran Camp Kenmont at the time and had about 80 people living at his camp for the filming during September and October of 1980. He was first contacted by a location scout who was considering a number of camps in the area as a setting for the film. The timing was good, as the children from summer camp had just gone home.
A look at a draft of the script left Mr. Albin skeptical.
“I recommended a number of camps to them because I wasn’t anxious to have them in my own camp, thinking that they would wreck the place,” he said with a laugh. Eventually, however, he decided to allow filming on the premises.
“What we had was the ideal situation because we could accommodate the people,” he related.
(Lloyd Albin of Kent, CT displays the "head" of Jason's mother, used as a prop in the movie "Friday the 13th Part 2." Photo by Bob Deakin)
He had a full-time chef still on the premises and charged the crew room and board to live in the bungalows, many of which were used in the film. The camp also had an expanse of woods where Jason’s rickety shack could be built and it bordered North Spectacle Lake, where more shots were filmed. Bromica Lodge, owned by the late Janet Gordon, was next door on the waterfront, and served as the camp counselors’ lodge in the movie.
The plot of the movie involved about a dozen young people who were training to be camp counselors near an old camp where a couple of vicious murders had taken place a few years before, in the original Friday the 13th.
“That’s camp blood,” warned Ted, played by actor Stu Charno early in the movie. “You don’t want to hear about it, man, believe me.” Such was the dialog and the constant temptation for the characters to poke around looking for signs of the haunting legend that lurked nearby. They quickly found it.
Friday the 13th, Part 2 had one of the highest body counts in horror movie history, and a graphic killing could be expected with nearly every scene change. Even one of the wheelchair-bound counselors didn’t escape the wrath of the ax-wielding maniac.
One of the few conditions that Mr. Albin insisted upon was that no panoramic shots of his camp be used.
“It wouldn’t help the enrollment,” he added, “if the kids knew that Jason was swimming in the same lake as they were.”
Finally, he remembers, the movie makers decided his camp offered the best location and moved in. Still concerned about the prospect of a horror film being made at his camp and potential damage to it, an agreement was made that the production company would put up a bond in the event any damage was done.
Mr. Albin was pleasantly surprised to find the crew polite and well behaved. One of his employees even got a speaking part I the film as an extra.
“They ate very well and it was like having another group of counselors coming in” he said. “They were all very nice, outgoing people. It was a pleasure to have had them there.”
The crew worked nights and slept during the day. Breakfast was served at 11 p.m. and dinner at 7 a.m.
“It was like a Stephen King novel. If you drove in during the day no one would be around but then all these people started appearing late in the afternoon.”
Laurie Potter of Warren lived on Davis Road at the time of the filming and was still celebrating the birth of her son that August. She had coincidentally named him Jason, not knowing about the film to be shot just beyond her back yard, and noticed signs along her road directing people to “Jason.”
Her son’s feeding schedule coincided with the filming schedule.
“Because I would get up in the middle of the night, I turned my lights on,” she remembers. “They were doing night filming on the lake and I was right on the other side.”
The light was picked up by the cameras and one of the production assistants (PR) stopped by her home one afternoon requesting that she cover her windows at night, and was given the materials to do so. Ms. Potter had no problem complying and remembers that she and and the PR had a laugh discussing the recent birth of her son.
“She said she had heard that I just had a son and named him Jason and she said, ‘you don’t want him to be named after this Jason.’”
One day, roughly 100 extras were bused up from New York to The Casino in New Preston and the producer came to Mr. Albin in a panic after learning that the caterer for the day had canceled. Mr. Albin and his chef came to the rescue.
“I took my chef and we set up two 55-gallon half drums in the parking lot of The Casino and we cooked lunch for about 200,” he said.
Friday the 13th, Part 2was released in May 1981 and some of the actors called to ask Mr. Albin for his permission to have a reunion camp out on his property.
“Of course I said yes and they had a great time,” he said. “When they left, they told me that they had left me a souvenir and I said ‘thank you but forget about it.’”
Soon after, one of his real camp counselors was shocked to find one of the heads used in a decapitation scene hanging from a tree in a net. The actors also left him the sign for “Camp Crystal Lake” and he saves both to this day.
Mick Deakin of Brookfield was an extra in the movie. He heard about the casting call on the radio and went up with a couple friends for a quick audition and got the part.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “It was my first filming experience. You do a lot of standing around and waiting.”
He appeared in the scenes shot in The Casino, dancing with a girl in front of the band, The Smokey Boys, who were an actual band in the area at the time. He remembers one of the male leads in the movie was somewhat full of himself – perhaps choosing not to step out of his character in the movie – but that the rest of the cast and crew were friendly. In particular, Amy Steel, the female lead, made it a point to spend time with the locals and even joined them in games of tabletop bowling in the bar.
“It was a great experience, overall,” he said. “The band was lip-syncing and the coolest thing was that they had to do the dialog in the next room.”
The extras were not paid for their efforts but all got t-shirts with the inscription, “I was an extra in Friday the 13th, Part 2.” For added comfort, the bar at The Casino remained open for the entire evening.
The Kent and Warren volunteer fire departments also helped, creating artificial rain.
“I was fire chief then and we went up there and sprayed the hoses up against the Bromica Lodge to make it look like rain,” remembers former Kent First Selectman, Bill Tobin. “We weren’t really involved in much else of the production but they gave us a nice donation.”
Long-time Kent resident and attorney, Boone Moore, was also called to assist, lending animals for the film.
Mr. Albin remembered a particularly memorable night of shooting. “As careful as they were, the guy who was playing Jason got a gash on his arm filming the scene where the girls try to fight him off with a chain saw,” he said. “They brought him to Sharon Hospital with the fake ax still imbedded in his head and took about 28 stitches. They told me he said to the nurse ‘I have an awful headache.’ and caused quite a commotion at the hospital.”
Over the years, he said, about 20 or 30 cult followers of the movie series have come to his camp in search of Jason’s old shack or other mementos. He had the shack removed following the filming to prevent it becoming a tourist attraction and bothering the neighbors.
The budget for the movie was about $1 million. Reviews were awful but it did well at the box office, grossing approximately $19 million (opening the same day as The Shining) and DVD rentals continue to accumulate revenue.”
It had one of the longest pre-credit sequences in movie history – nearly 15 minutes – which made it unique and added to its cult status. Whenever anyone refers to a horror movie of the 70s and 80s, Friday the 13th, Part 2 is always in the discussion and will be for generations.
It may be a tough movie for some to watch, but shots of camps, roads and homes in the area provide a good reminder of the way the area and its people looked in 1980. They may or may not be proud, but they remember, but their memories are forever captured on film, albeit it a horror story.
Portions of this story were originally published in The Kent Good Times Dispatch and The Litchfield County Times in late October, 2004.
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