Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th!

The Friday the 13th franchise is one of my favourites. Even though it is filled with at least one terrible movie for every good one, but that doesn't dilute its charms. So with today actually being Friday the 13th (the third one so far in 2009 I should add, that's freaky!) I thought I'd take a look back through the series and share my thoughts.

Friday the 13th: A movie so good that they remade it ten times! The original is almost the best, but set the template for not only the Friday the 13th series, but slasher films like it for decades to come. Everyone has a favourite kill in each of the series' entries, but while I cannot remember them all I remember the original vividly, which is saying saying. I have to go with Mrs Vorhees, for best kill, who gets decapitated. Her head got struck off with an axe, but just keep flying through the history of cinema. "You tricked me" says Casey Becker. She should've known better. Although Marcie's axe to the face and Jack's (as played by one degree of Kevin Bacon) arrow through the neck are great too. What makes the film so fun to watch is knowing that they had no idea what they were creating. It's almost innocent in a way.

Friday the 13th Part II: Was this the first movie in which the killer wears a sack over his face? Perhaps. Part II is probably the most straight forward of the entire series. No big surprises, no novelty tricks, no silliness. Just Jason, his machete and a bunch of teenagers getting brutally murdered. Wonderful. It also features the sexiest cast member of any Friday the 13th movie in the form of dreamy Tom McBride who plays poor, sexy, wheelchair-bound, sexy Mark. Check out My New Plaid Pants for plenty of gratuitous McBride action.

Friday the 13th Part III: IN 3D! This one is my absolute favourite of the entire franchise. It has some of the best kills (some involving spears, yoga, yoyos and pitchforks, which all provide wonderfully silly 3D effects) and the 3D novelty is hilariously cheap. You can actually see the wires attached to a spear as it comes at ya in three dimensions! Plus it has the weakest looking biker group in cinematic history! What's not to love?

Friday the 13th Part IV - The Final Chapter: Final? Not so much, but another one of my favourite entries in the series. I still find it strange that they decided to make a kid the protagonist here. Would they be able to get away with that if it wasn't 1984? That the kid is Corey Feldman is even stranger since he's the closest thing this series has ever had to having someone in the cast who was or who would go on to become a "star" (well, until the post-2000 versions, which don't count). It also features Crispin Glover, which is a sight to behold!

Friday the 13th Part V - A New Beginning: That didn't last long, did it? If my memory serves me well, it was around the time of A New Beginning that the series started to veer off into distinctly shit territory. The fifth entry proves to be one of the worst of them all. Set in a halfway house for rebellious teens conveniently located in the woods somewhere away from civilisation. That the killer isn't even Jason Vorhees in this one is the icing on the crappy cake. Although it does feature some dude called John Robert Dixon who is fine to look at.

Jason Lives - Friday the 13th Part VI: "Jason Lives" because audiences were burnt by the lack of actual Jason in A New Beginning (rightly so). Of course, Jason's body is revived by lighting (oh, if I had a dollar...), but I don't really remember much of the movie to be perfectly honest with you except for the trailer sequence, which I remember liking. Other than that...

Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood: This is the last good entry in the Friday the 13th canon if you ask me. I really enjoy this one - and not just because the sleeping bag death or the scene where a man shields himself from Jason's weapon... by using another human being! Amazing! - as it felt like a classic early edition of the franchise. Besides, Jason is a beast here! Plus, hello Kevin Blair! And, sure, there's a supernatural child, but who cares? Supernatural children and Jason Vorhees mix well!

Friday the 13th Part IX - Jason Takes Manhattan: Wow. Ya know, for a movie that's subtitled "Jason Takes Manhattan" there really isn't much in the form of Jason, Taking and Manhattan. The idea of Jason Vorhees in Manhattan is an inherently stupid one so I wasn't expecting rocket science, but I was disappointed because he's barely even in Manhattan until the final ten minutes. That the rest of the movie is set on a boat (somehow this mysterious Crystal Lake leads upstream to New York Harbour?) could have been really cool, but they can't even get that right! The whole thing just feels so horrible mishandled and poorly executed and, worst of all, boring. And to not mention that ending is to be thankful. Something about Jason reverting back to a child or something something.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday: The one film in this entire franchise that I have never seen is also the one routinely cited by every single person who has as being the worst of the lot. It sounds dreadful. And yet I am intrigued by this scene (scroll - very slowly - towards the end!) How could I not?!?

Jason X: This is certainly the worst Friday the 13th movie I've seen. It's horrible in every possible way bar two awesome bits (the face smashing kill and the virtual reality return to The New Blood's famed sleeping bag kill, obviously). I mean, honestly! Jason in space? This was doomed to failure. Ignoring the fact that it looks like a cheap and nasty 1980s throwaway direct-to-VHS title, it's just not scary at all and at least, as dodgy as they were, the previous few dud entries still vaguely felt like Friday the 13th movies. This... does not. At all. The idea of taking a horror franchise into space was not new since Leprechaun had done it a few years earlier, but the idea of it is still a joke, and nothing in Jason X comes close to replicating the hilarity of Warwick Davis' Leprechaun bursting out of a man's penis.

Maybe I should rewatch it to give it a chance. Maybe I'm being too harsh?

I'm not going to discuss Freddy Vs Jason or, thankfully, the horrible Friday the 13th "re-imagining" from earlier this year since it's a stupid, terrible movie. Mean-spirited, not scary and completely out of touch with the Friday the 13th idea. I still continue to see any new one that comes out, but I don't think you can quite recapture that 1980s aura anymore. The faded film stock, the shlocky violence, the short shorts... my god, THE SHORT SHORTS! Denim, too! Slasher horror movie seem more intent on being nasty and grotesque these days and less intent on having cats jump out from behind a stack of spare tires, which is a shame in most regards.

Happy Friday the 13th, folks! May you be slaughtered by a man in a hockey mask wielding a machete! If you're gonna die today you may as well go out memorably and in the spirit of the date!


JA said...

Ooh love it. Two points: That ass from Jason Goes to Hell is AMAZING. Just amazing. Secondly, I think you are being a little hard on Jason X. Yes it's terrible but I find a lot of terrible things about it to love. The crappy sex-cyborg lady! David Cronenberg!

Glenn Dunks said...

I suspect I may enjoy Jason X more now than I did in 2000. In fact it was only the third Friday the 13th movie I had ever seen (having only seen the first and third) so maybe I was just so disappointed because it wasn't as good as those two.

Perhaps if I actually watched it in a marathon after the dirge of Manhattan and (presumed dirge of) Jason Goes to Hell then I might find it more amusing.

Glenn Dunks said...

And I know I mean 2002, not 2000. I did, later on, see the second and a couple of years ago I watched 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the span of two days. Thankfully my brother didn't have a copy of Jason Goes to Hell.