Friday, July 13, 2007

That Unlucky Day

So, i have recently managed to find the time to watch the entire Friday the 13th movie series. Well, to be fair, I have seen the first 9 movies plus the edited for cable version of Jason X. I have Freddy vs. Jason queued up, but will not be watching that until I get through the entire Nightmare on Elm Street series (which I have all of and have seen the first two). Here are my thoughts on these movies.

Friday the 13th: The original slasher film. It's old, and looks old. But, it is still pretty damned good. Sets the stage for a decent story, and has some of the coolest deaths I have ever seen in a film. Even after watching how they did the arrow through the neck thing, I am still in awe of it. Plays with you at the end with a couple really great twists. Plus, Kevin Bacon.

Friday the 13th Part 2: This one takes place about five years later. It builds on the original nicely. They take the last remaining plots threads of the original and tie them up within the first few minutes of this movie. More interesting deaths and some great effects. I like the inclusion of some psychology and the dude in the wheelchair (though I felt bad he didn't get some before he died). A very worthy sequel.

Friday the 13th Part 3-D: Just to be fair, I will note that this was supposed to be shown in 3-D, but that was not able to be transferred to DVD properly. There are the obvious 3-D gags of the stick/snake/eyeball/etc coming directly at the screen. By the standards of 1982 I am sure it was amazing. By today's standards, where 3-D isn't really all that cool anymore, it was just silly. The plot of this movie takes place the day after Part 2. More campers, more gruesome death. The first appearance of the hockey mask, which is really quite interesting. There is a lame attempt to connect the heroine with Jason, but the movie would have been fine without that. Still a good flick.

Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter: Again, the day after the last one. This puts Jason's spree up to 3 days and two near-deaths. Dude just doesn't give up. Here we have some great strangeness. Twins. Marty McFly. That dude from The Last American Virgin. Corey Feldman as a creepy geeky kid. Vintage porn. Boobs and death. Loved the corkscrew bit. Loved the ending, where it is happy and creepy and gory and ominous all at once. Would have been a great end to a great series of movies.

Friday the 13th Part V - A New Beginning: Opens up with a nice creepy scene of Corey Feldman being stalked by Jason. Then he wakes up older and as a different actor. Lots of crazy people. Death by garden shears. Annoying fat kid gets what we all think he deserves. Girl doing "The Robot" before dying. Annoying black stereotypes getting killed. Nice ending that doesn't detract from the death of Jason. Ending is telegraphed a bit, but they do try to fake you out a bit. Also a nice post-ending ending. They should have stopped here.

Friday the 13th Part VI - Jason Lives: Oh. My. God. This one was so bad it's not even good in a bad way. Really unbelievable compared to the earlier movies. Too much comedy, not enough stabby-stabby. Granted, the comedy is quite funny. Would have worked as a Scream movie, but not as a Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood: This is one of the two movies in the series that I think may actually have been a decent movie if they had gone on their own, instead of tying in with Jason. We get the flashback of a girl accidentally killing her dad with her psychic powers. We get the asshole doctor trying to cash in on her power. We get the mom who doesn't know what the hell is going on. Next door are the partying kids all good slasher movies need. The slashing is good. The psychic is good. the story is about as good as an 80's slasher flick gets. The Jason makeup is idiotic, but I get where the director was going with it.

Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan: More like Jason Takes a Cruise Ship. I saw an interview with the director where he mentions the budget limitations that caused the increase of boat scenes and decrease of New York scenes. A shame, since the original locations might have made for a fun movie. Another lame attempt at tying the protagonist in with Jason. Unneeded and unwanted. Couple of the deaths are cool. Too much humor again, though not as bad as Part 6. The toxic waste tot he face was a cool effect. What the hell was up with the ending, though? That was just dumb, mildly confusing, and DUMB!

Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday: Talk about a misleading title. I remember hearing about this when it first came out. Between the title and the poster, I was expecting Jason to die early on and spend a movie slashing his way through hordes of demons or something. Instead, we get the FBI blowing him up, some dude eating his heart, and a bunch of bullshit about prophecies and forgotten siblings. This one does have one of my favorite deaths since the first movie's arrow through the neck. This one was the tent pole through the chest followed by a bisecting. This movie may have been better without the Jason ties. I would have enjoyed a movie like this more if it didn't have anything to do with Friday the 13th. The ending was a nice segue for Freddy vs. Jason. Except, that movie wasn't made until many years and another sequel later.

Jason X: So, let me see if I get this one...Camp Crystal Lake is now a military facility. They have Jason captured. Some government asshole screws it all up. Jason is frozen. Much much later, an interplanetary field trip takes a bunch of stupid teenagers to Earth where they thaw Jason out. He kills a few. He gets stronger through nanobots. He kills some more. He is stopped. What I want to know is who the hell thought this sounded like a good idea? Because, you know, it really isn't. Even with the missing gore and nudity, i can't imagine this being much better. This is the movie that put the bullet in the brain of a suffering Jason franchise.

One side note that I have been thinking about. It is interesting how the entire series can be rolled together into a handful of smaller series. If you take parts 1-4, you get the entire story of Jason Voorhees. Parts 4-6 are the story of Jason and his nemesis Tommy Jarvis. Parts 6-8 all tie in well with the chaining in the lake bits. After that, they sort of stop even trying to tie them together beyond Jason, Crystal Lake, and the hockey mask. Personally, I feel that the first 4 or 5 movies made a perfect story arc for Jason and Tommy. Ending the series with them would have been ideal. Everything else was just pandering for more money.

Update 3/23/09
Friday the 13th (2009): So, I saw the remake/new addition. My thoughts are that it was pretty damned cool. Opening flashback gives you everything you need to know from movie #1 in one scene (the finale from the original, redone). Then you get some pretty sweet stuff going on with a new batch of idiots smoking pot and having sex, then dying horribly. All pre-credit. After this is a standard Friday plot. Brother of one of the pre-credit girls is looking for missing sister. Bunch of other teenagers go up to a cabin on the lake to be stupid teenagers. Jason comes along, tearing shit up. Nothing special with the plot. The additions are where Jason is much cooler than before. You have a Jason who runs. A Jason who is smarter than before. A Jason with a series of tunnels beneath the camp and a lot of surrounding wilderness, which he uses to get around his targets in a surprisingly effective way. Jason is so much better than he has ever been before. Sadly, the rest of the movie is a little lacking. You get some nudity, a staple. But, the gore is so missing that it was a little sad. Especially since there is some supergore teased at with a woodchipper (among other things) that is never fully realized. You get hints of what is to come, and those hints are just lies. A nice reimagining of the franchise, and one that was needed after the last few movies. But, still not as good as the originals.

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