There are loads of theories for why we associate Friday the 13th with bad luck. Friday was the day Jesus died, for instance, and the thirteenth apostle was Judas. Add to that the fact that twelve is just so much more regular (there are 12 items in a dozen; 12 inches in a foot; 12 gods of Olympus in Greek mythology; 12 months of the year; and in mathematics it is known as a sublime number). Taking one step beyond it can seem decidedly dicey at best.
Friday the 13th doesn’t have the same ghoulish connotations everywhere, however. In Spanish-speaking countries, it’s Tuesday 13 that’s unlucky, and, in Italy, it’s Friday 17, because there the number 13 is considered lucky. “To do 13” in Italian (fare tredici) is to hit the jackpot.
Whatever the reason, it still spooks us out. So, on this Friday the 13th, here’s a list to help you stop worrying and love the number 13.
1. Friday the 13th
Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first. This mega horror franchise worked on our fear of this fateful day, telling the story of drowned kid-turned-mass-murderer Jason Vorhees in the original 1980 movie, and eventually leading to twelve slasher movies, a television show, novels, comic books and tie-in merchandise.
2. Taylor Swift
TayTay considers 13 her lucky number and used to wear it or draw it on her hand for every live performance.
In 2009 she explained to MTV that whenever a 13 comes up in her life, it means a good thing: “I was born on [December] 13th. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first No. 1 song had a 13-second intro. Every time I’ve won an award I’ve been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section or row M, which is the 13th letter.”
3. 13 Ghosts
There’s all sorts of things we could write about this 1960 ghost movie from “master of movie horror” William Castle, but most of it is: you have to watch this trailer. Seriously. Watch it. It’s brilliant.
Castle was famous for marketing his low-budget movies with gimmicks, and 13 Ghosts is no exception: It featured the use of Illusion-O, a “ghost viewer” that allowed audiences to see ghosts and ghouls “materializing in ectoplasmic color.” Basically it was kind of like a pair of 3D glasses, except viewers looked with both eyes either through the red lens, which made the ghosts appear, or the blue, which “removed” them.
Oh, and keep your eyes peeled during the trailer above and you’ll spot Margaret Hamilton, a.k.a. The Wizard of Oz‘s Wicked Witch of the West, in one of her final movie roles.
Remy “Thirteen” Hadley MD (Olivia Wilde) becomes part of House’s new diagnostic team in season four of the medical drama, gaining her nickname when she’s assigned the number in the competition for her position. Unlucky for some, though it doesn’t seem to faze her one bit.
For most of the fourth season we don’t know much more than that about this secretive character: her surname isn’t divulged until the penultimate episode, and her first name not until the fifth season.
5. Lucky Thirteen
Lucky Thirteen was the name of Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch‘s first album in the U.S., released in 1966 and compiled from his first two albums in the U.K.
Among the many musicians influenced by Jansch was Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young and, in 1993, when he released a compilation of 13 songs from the period 1982-88, he too named it Lucky Thirteen.
6. 13 Tzameti
Phew: The word “tense” doesn’t cover it. This suspense thriller from Georgian filmmaker Géla Babluani was so good it won the Sundance Jury Prize for World Cinema in 2006.
The 2010 American remake, however, didn’t. Called simply 13, it starred Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Sam Riley, and 50 Cent, and has an 8% rating on reviews site Rotten Tomatoes.
Blur‘s sixth studio album was named 13 and released in 1999. It signaled the band’s move away from the Britpop sound to a more experimental, electronic sound—in part down to new producer William Orbit. The songs were darker too, with “Tender,” “Coffee & TV” and “No Distance Left to Run” the best known of the 13 tracks.
8. Battlestar Galactica
The multiple TV series, books and games of the sprawling Battlestar Galactica franchise share the same premise: that human civilization has extended to Twelve Colonies in a distant part of the universe.
After an attack by the Cylons that destroyed all but one gigantic battleship called “Galactica,” the survivors embark on a mission to find the fabled thirteenth colony: Earth.
9. Apollo 13
Not only was Apollo 13 the thirteenth mission of the Apollo space program, but it also launched at 13:13 on April 11, 1970. What happens next is told in Ron Howard’s iconic 1995 movie, where in an early scene Marilyn Lovell (Kathleen Quinlan) expresses concern about the mission’s number, asking “why 13?”. Husband Commander Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks)’s answer? “It comes after 12, hon.”
Of course now we know her unease was well-founded; two days into the mission an oxygen tank exploded, the lunar landing abandoned, and, after four days of great hardship, the entire crew finally returned safely to earth.
13 is the only Broadway musical ever with a cast and band entirely made of teenagers. It opened in 2008 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, and starred The Good Wife‘s Graham Phillips as Evan Goldman, a 13-year-old dealing with his parents’ divorce, a recent move from New York to small-town Indiana, and his impending Bar Mitzvah, and a young Ariana Grande as cheerleader Charlotte.
11. Number 13
Alfred Hitchcock got his first shot at directing in 1922 with Number 13, or Mrs Peabody. It fell victim to the curse of the number thirteen however: Only a few shots were filmed before the budget fell apart and Gainsborough Pictures pulled the movie. Now one of the most sought-after “lost films,” it was eventually followed by Hitchcock’s first finished feature-length movie, 1925’s The Pleasure Garden.
12. 13th Warrior
The 1999 historical movie based on a book by Michael Crichton and starring Antonio Banderas was one of the biggest bombs in movie history. With a budget of over $160 million, it took in just $61 million in box office, with critics calling it a lumbering failure.
Still, it starred Omar Sharif, even if he referred to it as a “meal ticket” that went badly wrong, and the whole experience led him to him stop making movies altogether for four years. Oof.
Well, at least the trailer gives us a chance to hear German band Enigma’s Gregorian chant dance smash “Sadeness (Part I)” again. Aaah: The ’90s.
In Thirteen, Jodie Comer gives an enigmatic performance as Ivy Moxon, a 26-year-old missing woman who finally escapes her kidnapper 13 years after being abducted at 13 (or does she?).
Intrigued? Then you’re in luck: Thirteen starts on June 23 on BBC America.Read More