jasonxPretty much ignoring Jason Goes to Hell, Jim Isaac (director) and Todd Farmer (writer) give us Jason’s first (and to date only) trip to space.  Eat your heart out Neil Armstrong.

Granted, both the Leprechaun and Pinhead (from the Hellraiser films) had already gone into space about five years before, so it is not a wholly original idea.

The film begins with a top secret military base below Camp Crystal Lake (!) where Jason is being held until he can be transported by movie director David Cronenberg (!) and a bunch of military guys.  This goes badly, and Jason ends up trapped in cryogenic sleep along with a young woman named Rowan (Lexa Doig) who was trying to prevent his escape.

Decades later they are found by students on a field trip to a now barren earth.  The students bring them back to their ship and their teacher thinks he can get a lot of money for Jason.  They revive Rowan, then Jason wakes up and mayhem ensues.

The film has middling effects, the practical stuff looks good, but the digital looks very, well, digital.  The story is out there and includes all sorts of odd things like a girl android in love with her creator, Jason getting a chrome makeover, killing holographic campers, soldiers hanging out on the spaceship, terrible “Future Clothing Fashion”…there is a ridiculously high body count in this film.  It is full of stock characters (the stoner, the smart kid, the jock, the greedy guy, etc) who never amount to much.

This film never worries about explaining why Jason is not in hell.  It never worries about explaining much, actually.  Needless to say, this helped the studio push forward with a Freddy and Jason movie to wash the taste of this one out of fans mouths.

MPW-59123I like the title. It doesn’t warn you that it is NUMBER NINE in the series.  And by golly, it is the Final Friday!  This is the end of the series.  For sure.

And in a grand revisionism, we get new members of the Vorhees clan (Played by Col. Wilma Deering!), a crazy bounty hunter (played by the police captain from 21 Jump Street!) and a bunch of character actors playing wacky hicks. The movie starts out very basic. Attractive woman goes to a cabin, gets naked for a shower and the lights go out. She puts on an industrial strength towel and leaves the bathroom. She looks around, it is just the wind, she turns around and sees JASON! What misdirection! Jason raises a machete and misses the girl one foot away, but he manages to break the railing and she falls to the floor and smashes a coffee table. Towel stays intact. She jumps up and runs out the door. Towel Stays intact.  She slides across her car Dukes of Hazzard Style, and hides behind it as Jason steps out of the cabin. Towel Stays intact. She runs. Towel Stays intact. And runs. Towel Stays intact. And runs. Towel Stays intact. Through a forest. Barefoot. In a towel. Jason lumbers. Towel Stays intact.  Jason catches up, but we discover-IT’S A TRAP!!! There are military guys everywhere. They shoot Jason with machine guns and mortar rounds. They launch missiles at him. Jason go boom. The military guys hand the girl her soldier uniform (a hat). Everyone is happy. Towel Stays intact. That was an impressive towel.

But here is the twist. Jason is not…dead. Oh, wait, that’s not a twist? Shoot. At the autopsy, a familiar character actor sees Jason’s still beating heart and eats it, thus transferring Jason’s essence into his body. How is that for a twist?! See, Jason wears bodies like I wear a suit. Poorly. We also meet our young hero, John LeMay (who has gone on to an inspiring career playing such roles as…um…I am not sure). He is in love with Wilma Deering’s daughter (Kari Keegan, you might remember her from the uncredited role of “former girlfriend” in Jerry Maguire-NO?), even though they broke up.

Then there is The Bounty Hunter (Captain Fuller from 21 Jump Street. Oh, and Mr. X on the X-Files. My friend Rob would be heart broken if I forgot to mention that). He’s a wacky bounty hunter who speaks in crazy metaphors and is an expert in all things Jason. He is just waiting for someone to pony up enough cash to catch Jason.

This film is a crazy mess of a film.  The story makes no sense and an all new back story is invented for Jason.  Suddenly he is a body hopping spirit aided by demons.  Special knives are now required to end Jason.  He suddenly has additional family members.

The film attempts to wink and nudge it’s way through working hard to be self aware.  In one scene, we see a guy and girl getting it on. She says he has to use a condom, he whines, so she says “what the heck” and throws the condom out of the tent.  And for that, Jason guts her and her boyfriend. As Jason walks away, his boot grinds the unopened condom into the mud. How this never became a safe sex ad on TV is beyond me.

In the end, the ground opens up, giant hands grab Jason and a light shines down from heaven, Jason is sucked in to the earth, leaving behind only his hockey mask. LeMay and Keegan walk off (with the baby). Suddenly, a clawed, gloved hand bursts from the dirt, pulls the mask into the ground and we hear Freddy cackle. This started the hopes of horror fans everywhere for a Freddy and Jason movie.  And then eight years later we got…a sequel without Freddy…

friday13th8Yep. Jason Takes Manhattan. Again, Kane Hodder makes Jason very entertaining to watch. Anyways, the movie starts on the Streets of Manhattan where a voice talks about the gritty city…eventually, after the credits are over we get to Crystal Lake and a small houseboat on which two high school seniors are getting it on. The anchor drags along the bottom and picks up a powerline. Juice jumps to the body of Jason, who is chained to the bottom of the lake, yet again. The boyfriend hears a noise. He leaves the girl, and she starts to get predictably nervous. Suddenly a guy in a hockey mask pops in and stabs her! Oh wait, it’s just a retractable knife. She gets so mad at him that they get back into bed to have sex. I gotta remember that…making a woman think you are a mass murder and she could have been your next victim is a turn on to the ladies. Of course, if you are paying any attention when you popped the disc in the player, you know Jason is on the boat and ready to kill, kill, kill. And so he walks in grabs the hockey mask and a spear gun. The girl sees him, freaks out causing her boyfriend to turn a few shades of white as he turns around. Jason shows the tried and true aim of a Stormtrooper from Star Wars and misses the two kids that he is five feet away from. Don’t worry, he remedies the situation and manages to kill them both.

The next morning we meet the senior class of Crystal Lake High…all fifteen of them. Just like any high school class there are your basic stereotypes. The Jock and his friends. The friendly Black Jock. The Hot, Self Absorbed Blonde and her follower (in most movies she has more than one, in this film it is just Kelly Hu). The video nerd. The rocker chick. The nice geek. The nice teacher. The creepy principal and then there is the Troubled Heroine and her dog. She is scare of the water. And is getting on a big boat. She has waking nightmares about a young boy calling for help. Sometimes? Its a young boy with a full head of hair. Other times, its a deformed boy who looks like young Jason. They are both supposed to be Jason though. Go figure. Jason grabs onto the side of the boat. Then there is the ominous deck hand who keeps saying everyone is going to die. Every ship should have one of those. Maybe the Titanic would not have sunk.

Jason wanders the boat, killing just about everyone. For some reason, he thinks it’s better to kill the captain and it’s crew first, ensuring that the ship start to have technical difficulties forcing the survivors to jump ship in a life raft. Real smart Jason. So the Nice Geek, Nice Teacher, the Friendly Black Jock, the Creepy Principal and the Troubled Heroine (without her dog) all float along until they reach New York. But Jason gets there as well. And lucky for Jason, people are not faced by walking corpses wearing Hockey Masks in New York, so he is not phased.

Some druggie gang members kidnap the Troubled Heroine and shoot her up as they get ready to rape her. Her friends all split up to try and find cops. Well, before the gang members can rape her, Jason steps in to save the day. Jason isn’t so bad after all, right? So, our now high and Troubled Heroine runs away and meets up with the Nice Geek. They go looking for everyone else. The Friendly Black Jock turns a corner and meets Jason, well, that’s not good! Being a minority is bad news in a Friday the 13th film. If you want to live. He runs from Jason and climbs a fire escape. But apparently, Jason is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The Friendly Black Jock starts punching Jason. Jason just stands there until the Friendly Black Jock is so tired he is missing Jason (who is one foot away-I did not say he was a Friendly Black TALENTED ATHLETE Jock).. Then, all tired out he says to Jason one of the stupidest things you can say to an undead serial killer. “Go ahead…take your best shot”. So, with one punch, Jason knocks his block off. Literally.

In the meantime, the other four have met back up and found a cop. He makes them get into the back seat. When he opens his door the dome light reveals the head of the Friendly Black Jock on the dashboard. Everyone screams and the cops starts calling for help…rather in vain as Jason grabs him and drags him away. The Troubled Heroine jumps to the front seat, apparently, the cop cars in NY have no screen dividing the front and back seats. She speeds the car down the alley and Jason steps in front of the car. Suddenly she sees little deformed Jason soaking wet…and she runs him over and crashes the car…everyone but Friendly Teacher get out before the car explodes. Suddenly, the Troubled Heroine has a flashback to the Creepy Principal (her uncle, did I forget to mention that?) pushing her out of a boat to force her to swim, where she gets pulled under water by deformed young Jason. Seven and eight really mess with the Chronology of the series with these flash backs, but if you don’t try and make a logical timeline you will be okay.

So the Nice Geek and the Troubled Heroine run away from Creepy Prinipal. Jason wakes up and starts chasing him. The Creepy Principal runs into a building. It’s here that Jason displays his ability to teleport as suddenly the Creepy Principal flies from the second floor window. Jason looks at him and disappears from the window. Suddenly he is on ground level and grabs the Creepy Principal, carries him over to a barrel full of grungy looking rain water and drowns him in it.

Jason goes after the last two survivors. They duck into the subways and he follows. Oddly people are more annoyed by the kids pulling an emergency break on the Subway than the Homicidal Maniac in the Hockey Mask. Jason appears to get electrocuted by the train tracks. This allows the Nice Geek and Troubled Heroine to say, “It’s all over!” Its not of course…and They see Jason in the middle of Times Square. They run through the streets. Jason passes some punk rockers listening to rap. Apparently, Jason doesn’t “feel” hip hop, as he KICKS their boom box in stride. They of course start to make threats. Jason stops, turns around and lifts his mask and the punks have a change of heart. Jason lets them live and walks away. Best gag in the entire film.  He follows the two remaining kids into the sewers.

But the Troubled Heroine throws a bucket of toxic waste in Jason’s face. And it burns. But Jason does not give up. He stumbles down the Sewer. Well, the Trouble Heroine and the Nice Geek hit a dead end, but there is a ladder. They climb to the grate at the top, but it won’t budge. They are stuck as Jason reaches the ladder. OH SHIT! WHAT WILL THEY DO?! Did you know that at midnight, NY floods the sewers with Deadly Toxic Waste? Me neither, but according to the movie, they do. You would think they would not want us to hear about that. The NY Film Commission is just stupid. Or maybe they are just greedy. I don’t know.

So, anyways, the deadly toxic waste floods the hall. Jason sees it and starts vomiting water as the wall of toxic waste tumbles towards him. Not sure why. It’s just what Jason does. The toxic wastes hits Jason and he starts to disintegrate. Luckily, the toxic waste is odor and fume free, so our two survivors are not at risk of being knocked out by the fumes and falling into the waste. Then the toxic waste recedes. Leaving a normal, non-Jason looking little boy lying dead in his swimming suit. They killed Jason’s true spirit…or something like that. The two survivors find a way out and walk onto the streets at sunrise. Now they can say “It’s all over”. As they hug, something catches the Troubled Heroine’s eye. Whoa, is it Jason? Nope. It’s her dog, who we last saw on the boat. What a relief!!!! And then the credits role.

This is not a good film.  The story is muddled, the characters are light sketches even by slasher movie standards.

You might think Jason going to Manhattan is as an absurd concept as a franchise can get. Just remember…Jason has been to space.

friday_13th_7_poster_01There was only one year the entire decade without a Friday the 13th movie released.  1987.  But 1988 sure fixed that problem!  Well, I gotta give them points for trying something a little different. Instead of a bunch of teen victims with nothing to help them, we get a girl with telekinetic powers.

The story opens with a backstory, in case this is your first Friday. And old man tells us that Jason is still down there…waiting. Then we meet a little girl whose parents are fighting. According to what we hear, daddy hits mommy. The little girl runs to her family’s doc and jumps into a boat with dad running out after her. He gets to the end of the dock, making all the apologies abusive dads do. But the little girl will have none of it and her super powers kick in…see, she makes water bubble…and that bubbling trail is deadly…it goes back the fancy dock. It starts to shake and then collapses, taking Daddy with it. He sinks to the bottom and dies.

Fast forward to when the girl (Tina) is older and apparently suffering from years of therapy. Her mother is driving her back to Crystal Lake, to confront her demons with the help of her psychiatrist. The actor playing the psychiatrist is none other than Bernie of the weekend of Bernie films. It’s pretty obvious early on he has sinister intentions, the film makes no attempts to hide that. Really,it would have been far more interesting if he was a good and caring doctor. Next door are a bunch of partying teens. Thankfully, we get a realistic portrayal of a group of teens this time around. Everyone knows that in each group of friends you have one rich, hot, bitchy girl. You have one geek. One dope smoking fiend. One or two “plain girls” who compete for one guy. And at least one really horny couple (this film gives us two glory hallelujeh!). And finally, you have the one guy who does not really like the others, a bit of a rebel, but with a heart of gold.

When Tina’s luggage bursts open, the rebel tries to help her, and she rudely brushes himself off. The obvious reaction is to be intrigued and assume it was your fault she was rude to you…and that’s exactly what he does. She ignores his attempts to give a shirt back to her, storming off into her house. So he WASHES it and gives it back to her. And invites her to the birthday party they are all there to celebrate. So she goes. Of course, hot, rich bitchy girl humiliates her and she runs outside. She stands on the dock, crying about her abusive dad. Wishing she had not killed him. She concentrates on the water and frees Jason. That makes two movies where Jason is set upon the world by the people who stop him. Good going.

She faints, Jason looks around, decides killing unconscious people is not very fun and goes off to kill awake people. We have death by fist, tree, tent spike, tree pruner, axe and the old fashioned head crush. There is even an homage to Jaws…which the director makes all about the T&A. This film actually has some of the most offensive “victims see Jason and wait for him to kill them” moments. This homage is the worst of them. Because when Jason bursts from the water about ten feet away, the girl’s response is to scream and tread wildly. Pretty soon Tina and her love interest, the Rebel with a Heart of Gold are all that’s left. But supergirl Tina and the Rebel with a heart of gold fight back. Well, supergirl Tina fights back, the Rebel with a Heart of Gold just gets thrown around…a lot. Finally, supergirl Tina makes the house blow up (will, it’s a bit more nuanced than that, but I don’t feel like giving a blow by blow account) with Jason inside. But Jason is not so easily dispatched and walks from the burning rubble out onto the dock where supergirl Tina and the Rebel with a Heart of Gold are resting up. Jason tosses him aside-yet again-and Tina starts to panic…suddenly something bursts from the dock and grabs Jason. Apparently, nobody thought it was a good idea to removed the body of her dead father all those years ago, and he actually looks quite good. He wraps chains around Jason and pulls him into the deep. The firemen and paramedics come along and everyone is safe. I love a happy ending.

There is a lot of fun in the fact that Tina is able to fight Jason, and there is a nice juxtaposition with her powers being mind based and Jason being a pure physical force.  The special effects are quite strong for their time.  This is not terribly surprising since Director John Carl Beuchler came from an effects background.  This is one of the more energized films in the franchise.

This is Kane Hodder’s first time as Jason and he brings a lot of presence and physical character.  His run in the Franchise is one of the high points.

BTW, Seven is the first film where the titles do not literally explode onto the screen. 1-6 all featured the words “Friday the 13th” which were then obliterated by the subtitle flying up from behind.

friday-13th-part-6The new title is Jason Lives. Which is a bit of a misleading title. After all, I am not sure a walking corpse fits the definition of “living”. The story once again involves crazy Tommy Jarvis who is now a little talkier and tough than in # 5. And less homicidal. Apparently, he got the help he needed and did not become Jason II.  Really, six ignores five entirely.  For all intents and purposes, this Tommy is a completely new character.

Part six actually marks a turning point. This is when intentional humor started to be added to the series. It seems as though they knew they had milked the basic formula to death and had to alter it ever so slightly. It is the beginning of the “Let’s throw it at the wall and see what sticks” era.  And I think it helps make the later films more enjoyable.

The story begins with Crazy Tommy and his pal from the institution Arnold Horshack (yeah, from Welcome Back Cotter) speeding down a country road. Tommy needs to prove to himself that Jason is dead. So he goes to the cemetery. Jason has been given a real night plot of land. As they start to dig, the wind picks up. Tommy gets to the box that Jason is buried in. After prying it open, we find Jason is decomposing and near mummified. But still covered in maggots. That’s pretty good since he was in the ground for, what, ten years? Well, Tommy still can’t believe it, so he takes a metal post and stabs Jason with it repeatedly (all while a storm brews overhead). Tommy climbs out of the hole just as lightning strikes-TWICE- in the metal post lodged into Jason’s chest. Apparently, lightning can regenerate dried out eyes, because Jason starts scanning his location. Tommy jumps down and covers Jason in gasoline. As he jumps out of the Grave, Jason spryly jumps up and grabs him. As you can imagine, this freaks Horshack out. But he need not worry. Jason kills him quickly. Tommy runs away and Jason decides to go home.

Number six marks the first and last time the series returns to the camp counselors in danger motif. This time, however, the counselors live long enough for the kids to arrive. Tommy runs to the police to tell them that Jason lives. The police totally believe him and they hunt Jason down and trap him in the lake. Heh. Just kidding. The police never believe young people in movies. No they get mad at Tommy and threaten to kill him. But the police Chief’s hot blonde daughter (Jennifer Cooke in her last role according to the IMDB) thinks he might not be crazy. It’s to bad for her friends she can’t convince her dad. Jason starts killing all the counselors. It’s all pretty routine Jason stuff there.

Jason stalks and kills. One thing I have noticed about Crystal Lake…the doors on all the houses are not very strong. They routinely burst open from gusts of wind. And man, Crystal Lake is like, super prone to either heavy rains or super windy days. So Tommy and the Hot Blonde get out to the camp and find the empty squad cars. Jason has killed everyone but daddy the chief and the kids. The Chief has a bizarre confrontation with Jason. He shoots him with a big ass rifle. And it knocks Jason down. But he gets up again. The Chief shoots again, Jason gets knocked down, but gets up again. And another shot. Jason gets knocked down, but gets up again. Clearly, nothin’ is gonna keep him down. Jason starts walking toward the Chief who throws the big ass rifle away and opts for the far deadlier pistol he carries. Which does far less damage, but you never know. Jason breaks him in half. Yup. You heard me.

Jason finds the Hot Blonde and gets ready to use his patented “Head Crush Fatality” on her. But Tommy saves the day. He calls out to Jason, and Jason, like a homicidal puppy follows. Jason marches into the lake, disappearing into the depths. He leaps up onto the boat, they struggle and Tommy times a chain around Jason’s neck. Jason body slams the boat cracking it in half. He and Tommy sink to the bottom. Jason holds on to Tommy until he appears dead. Then he lets Tommy float to the surface.

The Hot Blonde is worried when she sees the lifeless body of Tommy bobbing on the surface. So she swins out to get him. Apparently the deepest Crystal Lake gets is about twelve feet, as Jason easily grabs her foot while he is chained to the bottom. She grabs at the motor of the boat Jason smashed, as it is one of those floating motors that will not sink if you drop it into the water. She grinds Jason’s mask and head up with the rotary blade and he lets go. She gets Tommy back to the shore, performs CPR-just like on Baywatch-and Tommy survives, everyone is happy. Cue Alice Cooper song and roll credits.

As noted, overall, it is pretty routine. However, director Tom Mcoughlin pulls off some generally nice and moody visuals. Such as a shot that follows a counselor walking through the girls cabin. Just out of her sight, following outside is Jason. And there are some genuinely funny jokes (one kid turns to another and asks “So what were you going to be when you grew up?”.

This is far more entertaining than the last, but still follows the main conventions of a Jason Movie.

FridayThe13thPartVANewBeginningI like to think of this film as the “Scooby Doo” version of Friday the 13th movies. It picks up with little Tommy (Corey Feldman!) walking in the rain. He stumbles through the woods and comes upon the grave of Jason. Suddenly, two hooligans come into the clearing and do the things hooligans do. You know, dig up the graves of mass murderers and stuff. But boy do they get a shock. Jason gets up out of his grave and kills them. And worse-he sees Tommy! So he starts to chase him. Finally Jason catches up and lifts his machete and WAIT! It was all a nightmare! Tommy has grown up to look nothing like Corey Feldman. Tommy (Not Corey Feldman!) has apparently been in and out of institutions over the years. Apparently cutting someone up into pieces can make you unstable. Who knew?

So he gets transferred to a halfway house for troubled teens. And boy are they troubled. There is the kid who stutters. The red headed girl. The fat kid. The punk/goth chick. The horny couple. The black kid (to be fair, he is the groundskeeper’s grandson). Oh, and the crazy, homicidal axe wielding angry kid. The last guy gets annoyed with the fat kid when the fat kid offers him a chocolate bar. So he does the reasonable thing and chops him up into little pieces.

And the poor dead fat kid. There is no one to mourn him, because no one likes fat kids. His mother died and nobody knows who his father is. Well, the paramedics come and haul him away. There is additional trouble in that the local angry hick and her son keep harassing the Halfway house residents threatening to kill them. But she is okay, she is just eccentric, right?

So, as the time passes, people start getting killed by a hockey masked killer. Has Jason returned?! Tommy thinks so, he sees Jason everywhere. And so do Jason’s victims. Lots of beheading, impaling and other gruesome deaths ensue. That wacky Jason. But hey, people are starting to suspect Tommy. Tommy does not talk much, and we all know people who are quiet are cauldrons of homicidal rage (you did know that…RIGHT?).

Pretty soon Jason has offed everyone but the black kid, Tommy and the Hot Woman in charge of the halfway house. Now, normally, the minority is dead by this point, luckily for him he is about thirteen, meaning he gets to live. So he and the Hot Woman find all the dead bodies and then see Jason, who they think is really Tommy. Jason tries to kill them, but they are pretty crafty. Finally, Jason chases them into one of the many generic barns on Crystal Lake. And boy are they shocked…Tommy walks up. MAYBE IT IS JASON!!! Maybe Tommy is right.

He has an old fashioned stare down with Jason. Of course, since Jason is wearing a hockey mask, he could be blinking a mile a minute. But Tommy will never know. Jason finally tries to kill Tommy with his machete. Jason has pretty bad aim all of the sudden, and nicks Tommy. Tommy runs and climbs the ladder in the barn. Jason follows them up to the hay loft for a battle royal. He rushes after the Hot Woman and she dodges and causes him to fly over the edge. Everyone is relived as they sit close to the edge of the door. SHOCK! Jason grabs the leg of the black kid. Threatening to take the kid with him, Jason now seems to have a chance. But not if Tommy has anything to say about it. He takes the machete and chops off Jason’s arm. Jason falls to his death, getting impaled on some farm equipment. That’s when we see he is one of the paramedics who wheeled away the fat kid.

See, it turns out that he was the fat kids father, and this sent him into a homicidal rage. Oh, sure, he could not be counted on to be a parent, but dammit, don’t hurt his flesh and blood. And he would totally have gotten away with it if not for those pesky kids.

The film is an attempt to restart the series, but it did not excite fans to find out Jason was not Jason.  And beyond that twist (which it is hard to be a real twist when it could not be Jason) there is nothing fresh here.  Unlike previous entries (where Jason’s look keeps changing…in two he has long stringy hair.  In three?  Completely bald) there is no real continuity to worry about, yet they do not take advantage of this.  Instead everything is by the numbers.  The film lacks any imagination.

The film ends, just as part four did, with the suggestion that Tommy is the new Jason. But don’t worry…

friday-the-13th-part-iv--the-final-chapter-posterPart four has my all time favorite sequel subtitle. The Final Chapter. You know how many Friday the 13th movies there are? Ten. Eleven if you count the Freddy/Jason movie. And number four is the final chapter. So everything after that is apparently an addendum. Sure, other movies have had a “final” movie that was not so final. Freddy’s Dead: the Final Nightmare. The Omen 3: the Final Conflict. Children of the Corn 2: the Final Sacrifice. But I believe the Friday the 13th Series has the distinction of doing this twice. And most of those films only got one or two sequels after the “Final” sequel (the exception is Children of the Corn 2. If you think I will sit through those you are sadly mistaken. I know my limits). So I love the title.

Plus, this movie has all the things people love to see in movies. A precocious kid (Corey Feldman!), hot twins and a dog. Oh, and Crispin Glover.

Our story picks up directly after Part 3. Jason still appears to be dead. Apparently, when the two squad cars left the body of Jason unattended, they called in SWAT, the army, the Guardian Angels and paramedics. So they bring Jason to the morgue. Apparently they don’t question the appearance of death on Crystal Lake. He’s not hacking at you with a machete. Must be dead. So of course he gets up and kills the morgue attendant and his girlfriend nurse. Apparently they assume he is dead without checking as well.

We then jump to the next morning. In spite of the death toll in Crystal Lake, it appears people still feel safe living there (this marks the second film to diverge from the camp counselor theme). A single mom, her teen daughter and pre-teen son (Corey Feldman!) all live by the lake. The son is a special effects genius, which is totally not that hard to buy. After all, it’s totally plausible that a ten year old kid is making elaborate latex masks and high tech special effects, right? What else is there to do when you live next to a lake? They meet a group of kids who are staying at the house next door. Mostly more realistic teens who talk about nothing but sex and have skinny dipping parties in front of the kid (Corey Feldman!). See, the kid (Corey Feldman!) is kind of a perv. We get the point when he is in bed and looks out the window to see one of the hot girls next door remove her shirt. He does not just watch. He starts slamming his face into a pillow and laughing excitedly. And jumping on the bed. He’s a little horndog, that kid (Corey Feldman!).
Then the kid’s (Corey Feldman!) older sister meets a bounty hunter, well, we don’t know that yet. But eventually we find out he is there to kill Jason. If you have seen the first three movies, you know where that is going. He is kind of the teenage girl’s romantic interest. He appears to be about thirty one. Nothing creepy about that. As soon as it gets dark, Jason gets his kill on. The director tries new things in horror. Well, one new thing. Instead o a nubile beauty being killed in the shower, it’s a pretty boy. A young Johnny Depp type (Before we knew what a Johnny Depp Type was). Of course, the girl he showered with still dies.

It’s all pretty routine. Although there are the attempts at humor. Crispin Glover yells out for a corkscrew to open a bottle of whine and Jason plunges it through his hand. Bwahahahahaha! The bounty hunter guy gets killed in the basement. Then we are down to the Sole Survivor and her kid brother (Corey Feldman!). She is alone in the house running into dead bodies. She opens one door and there is a body laying on the porch. Apparently that dead body is booby trapped, because the Sole Survivor does not dare walk around it, she instead slams the door and runs around the house looking for a way out-eventually using a window. She runs back home and shuts the door. That will show Jason. They are safe now in the house with lots of big…windows…aw crap. Jason jumps in and chases the youngins’ up the stairs. Remember, Jason ain’t dead yet, he can still run.

The Sole Survivor keeps telling her kid brother (Corey…oh you get the point) to get out of the house. Other than that she screams a lot. It’s really weird, because it isn’t natural sounding at all. She looks left, and screams. Looks right and screams. Looks at Jason and screams. Looks at her agent and screams. Then she turns and run down the hall and leaps through a window. That’ll teach Jason. The kid is hiding in the bathroom shaving his head. That’s what kids did in those days. Jason went down stairs to check on the Sole Survivor who is, indeed, alive. But not for long, Jason starts pushing her around and is ready to kill her when the kid starts yelling for Jason. He turns around to see the kid, now really bald, looking at him on the stairs. This confuses Jason. In part two it was established that Jason can’t tell his dead mother apart from a blonde college girl if she wears mom’s sweater. Apparently, if Jason sees a bald kid, he might think it’s himself standing there. Yeah, Jason is kind of stupid.

The Sole Survivor grabs Jason’s machete and runs up from behind, swings and…knocks Jason’s hockey mask off. Yeah. Anti climactic, I know. Jason looks completely different from the third film, in spite of the fact that it is a lousy whole day and a half later. Jason reaches for her, which gives the kid the moment he needs. He grabs the machete and swings and unlike his sister actually has the ability to HIT his target. He plants the machete deep in Jason’s skull. Jason stumble and then falls face first to the ground. This allows the machete to go deeper. This insures that we see Jason is d-e-a-d. There is no way he is ever coming back. So the Sole Survivor is technically not the sole survivor. The movie ends with the two hugging in the hospital (we have a first, the last girl alive doesn’t flip out in this one, folks!). How sweet…well, until they cut to the close up of the kid with that homicidal gleam in his eye.

Oh, and whoever owns the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise, take note. Corey Feldman (!) makes it clear he wants to pull a Jamie Lee Curtis and return to the franchise for a battle to the death against Jason. Which is tough to do, since if you do the Halloween: H2O thing, you ignore the sequels that came after your film. Which means Jason is still dead. Oh, what is that you were saying, Mr. Franchise Owner? You had no interest in doing that? Glad to hear it.

friday13thpart3Part three is in 3-D and you know what that means… long drawn out scenes with people pushing things towards the camera. They dump the plot of camp counselors trying to reopen the camp this time around. Instead, it’s a group of friends going to Dana Kimmell’s cabin. Dana is unsure about returning to the cabin, because a crazy man attacked her there. You won’t be surprised to learn it was Jason, since they are at the infamous Crystal Lake So we get a bunch a college students hanging out in a cabin. Not much happens, as Jason holds out on killing the kids until late into the film. His first victims are a couple that run a general store and then some pissed off bikers who are angry at the college kids for running over their bikes in 3-D.

One by one they are knocked off and Jason gets a hold of his famous hockey Mask, which he steals from one of his victims. We are left with the Lone Survivor who fights Jason in a barn. She knocks him out and puts a noose around his neck., then kicks him over the edge hanging him. Thank God that’s over. So she climbs down the ladder and goes to open the barn door. She is shocked when Jason wakes up and proceeds to set himself free. So they fight, suddenly, one of the bikers we assumed dead leaps out of the shadows and-is quickly killed by Jason. But this gives our plucky Sole Survivor the moment she needs to grab an axe and plant it in Jason’s skull. He staggers and falls.

The Sole Survivor goes out in the dark and gets in a boat. She falls asleep, and then wakes up in the morning when the boat bumps into a submerged branch. Then she gets a scare when a duck flies by. Then her boat gets stuck on a bigger submerged branch. Then, she looks to the cabin by the shore…who is looking at her from a Window? An overly excited Jason! He comes bursting through the door and the Sole Survivor starts panicking and trying to get her boat free, then she looks back. The door is still on its hinges, Jason was not really there. Whew! Suddenly from behind, a decaying Pamela Voorhees leaps from the water (somehow managing to get her head back on her body between movies) to grab our Sole Survivor. But WAIT! She’s just gone crazy. The cops have her. Now, noone tried to call the police in the film, but being the Crystal Lake area, I guess they figure you can never be to careful, so they randomly check cabins for slaughtered counselors. They put the crazy Sole Survivor in the back seat as she babbles about a lady in the lake(are we seeing a trend here?). The cops never search the barn, since that is where they would actually find the body of Jason with axe still firmly implanted in his skull. The best part of the movie? The hilarious theme for the opening and closing credits.

The lone survivor girl being a bit crazy at the end of each film is starting to get tiring.  The film has a cast of pretty people and the lone loser who they put up with.  The character is to obnoxious to be sympathetic, which seems to be the opposite of what they were going for.  It is clear he is supposed to be a love-able schlub.

The 3D is not effective at all, and the outdated 3D leaves us with a ton of boring footage that was supposed to startle the audience.  The third film does not breath life into the franchise, just keeps it chugging along.

Oh yeah.  In Part 2, Jason has long stringy hair and a beard. Part 3 takes place literally hours after the second film.  In this film, he is clean shaven and bald.  Stopped at the barber I guess.

friday_the_13th_part_2-usPart two shows us that Jason is still alive and stomping around Camp Crystal Lake, killing random people. Mainly folks no one would miss, you know, like the town sheriff and the Official Crazy Old Guy from the first film. Initially, Jason leaves Camp Crystal Lake to kill the Sole Survivor of the first film. After what she did to dear old ma-beheading her and all. Due to low property value, Camp Blood has remained closed in the five years since the first film. Luckily for fans of slasher films, there is another  camp on the same lake. Again, a variety of attractive young counselors are killed in gruesome ways. Jason runs around with a potato sack over his head, which frankly is not all that scary, nor as iconic as the hockey mask. But the Sole Survivor of the film finds Jason’s shack where he keeps Ma’s severed head and her sweater. She puts on the sweater and convinces Jason she is his mother. Because, you know, they look so much alike. She almost is done in by Jason but is saved by her boyfriend. She returns the favor by putting an axe or a machete (I forgot which already) into the back of Jason’s knap-sacked skull. The two lovebirds go back to the camp. They go into the main cabin and suddenly there is a scratch at the door. They get ready for a fight and open the door and it’s “the cutest dog in the world” that went missing earlier in the film! While people can stomach its short shorts wearing owner being butchered, killing the puppy, that would make Jason some kind of sicko.

Suddenly, in slow motion a deformed Jason leaps through a big glass window and grabs the Sole Survivor. And she wakes of screaming on a stretcher asking where her boyfriend is. Which no one answers. Inexplicably, he is just gone. But hey, what kind of Jason movie would end without a Sole Surviving Girl babbling incoherently?

The film follows its prescribed formula that will set the story for the series. People show up, Jason kills them…cause why not?  Amy Steel is a strong protagonist, but the overall story is not very compelling.

One thing that makes no sense. Jason did not drown. But it is clear in the first film Pamela Voorhees clearly believes Jason is dead. So, if Jason survived the drowning…in all those years he never tracked her down? And yet he loves her enough to keep her head on a table in a run down shack?

*Updated to correct a factual error regarding the film’s timeline.

friday-the-13th-movie-poster-1980After the success of Halloween, filmmakers everywhere wanted to cash in with a holiday themed horror film.  Sean Cunningham and his friends had made a kids movie previous, but thought they could make a cheap horror movie and rake in the cash.

Sean Cunningham is a bright guy.  They chose Friday the 13th…which had little to do with the plot.  They came up with an idea for a tale and started work.

 So, the film begins with what has become standard in horror, two counselors sneak off to have some sex. While they are doing that, someone walks into the room and startles them. We don’t see the killer, because it is supposed to be a mystery, see. With a twist no less. Now, unlike it’s predecessor Halloween, which had it’s twist in the first five minutes, Friday the 13th draws it out. We jump ahead to modern times (well, 1980). And Camp Crystal Lake is getting re-opened. One of the counselors has apparently hitch-hiked her way there (oh, the carefree days of the late seventies and early eighties). She walks into a small town diner with, like, six locals. She asks which way to Camp Crystal Lake. The room goes, predictably, silent. And then the locals call it Camp Blood. Scary, huh? Finally a trucker offers to drive her there, since he is going that way anyhow. As the are getting in the truck they are stopped by the small town’s official Crazy Old Guy. He warns the girl that she is going to die. Her and all the other counselors. The trucker brushes him off as the Crazy Old Guy. Which is funny, because after a few miles; the trucker suddenly switches gears and becomes the Official Crazy Trucker. He starts going on about how bad of an idea it is to re-open Camp Blood and that she could be in danger. She gets out of the truck and starts to walk.

As it turns out, the two crazy guys were not so crazy. She gets picked up by a person in a jeep. We don’t see this person, and I am guessing they are not wearing a hockey mask, since the girl gets in the jeep. But finally, the girl gets freaked out by the fact that the camera keeps looking at her. So she leaps from the jeep and starts to run. The jeep stops and the camera gets out and follows her. Then the camera catches up and slits her throat. The real bummer here is that she is the camp cook.

The rest of the counselors get there without getting impaled with sharp objects. And then you have hijinks. It’s not terribly interesting for awhile. College kids chat, flirt and go off into the woods by themselves to get killed. We get more of the back story of Camp Blood in this portion of the film. The guy re-opening the camp-apparently the son of the original owners-explains a bit as do other characters in the know. Some kid (Jason) drowned a few years back and shortly after two counselors were found dead. Apparently, parents were a bit squeamish about sending their kids to such a camp.

Then a storm hits and that allows the killer to go crazy. Finally, it’s down to the Lone Survivor and the killer…and that’s when we discover, the killer is the crazy old lady whose son drowned years ago! Jason’s mother Pamela went a little loopy and started to kill people to get the camp closed all those years ago and now she is at it again! So they duke it out, all the while, Mrs. Voorhees talking to her dead son-kind of Norman Bates style. 

Even though actress Betsy Palmer thought the script was a steaming pile of crap and took the job because she figured the movie would quickly be forgotten, she does a solid job as Mrs. Voorhees.  Outside of a final jump scare, Jason was a cautionary tale for counsellors to be responsible in this first film.  He is not a living character.

It is a decently made low budget film, and the effects are quite good.  The script is the weakest link.  The film is a bit slow and clunky at points, but can be effective at times as a thriller.