One Last Night at Camp Blood: Jason X

And here we arrive at the final proper entry in the F13 series. I decided not to include Freddie VS Jason or the F13 remake because they weren’t direct sequels. For those interested however, I thought F VS J was a lot of fun with some great over the top gore, and the F13 remake was awful, and shit all over the original. And if nothing else, all the sequels have made me appreciate the original F13 all the more (Kevin Bacon’s penis aside).

I suppose there were better ways to end the franchise than launch Jason into space, but when you get to the tenth entry, good ideas are hard to come by. That said, Jason X is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. Please, don’t mistake entertaining for good, as that would be a mistake-but in comparison to Jason Goes to Hell, this is a Fellini quality film. After all, David Cronenberg makes a cameo in it, so that counts for something (to me anyway). And as I should have said from the very beginning of this series, These are my opinions only. If you like what I didn’t, that’s great! Movies are subjective and all I can do is give my reaction to them. Many times they seem contradictory, but that’s part of being human. Anyway, let’s lift off!

It’s 2008, and there’s two things that may surprise you. The U.S. Government has captured Jason and holding him in a dank, damp cellar, at a compound in Crystal Lake. Why there would be a government installation there is anyone’s guess, but David Cronenberg is the head of it, so it’s all cool. Scientist Rown wants tofreeze dry Jason, however Cronenberg and company have other plans to study him and adapt his cell regeneration if possible. When they enter the area Jason is kept, they discover Jason has gotten loose and killed the guard on duty. Pretty soon, everyone but Rowan is dead.

She leads him on a chase and eventually traps him in a cryofreezing unit. Before she can escape, Jason punctures the until and manages to stab her, so they’re both frozen like some Birdseye veggies.

Almost 450 years later 3 students and their professor are on an expedition to the Crystal Lake building. Despite the fact no one lives on earth any longer, it having become too polluted, they still do some excavation. They find Rowan and Jason, and are excited by the find. After they bring them back to their ship they begin the process of thawing out and reviving Rowan (Jason being a lost cause they surmise). She’s brought back using nanotechnology, and also has her wounds healed as well. Jason is left in the morgue where he’s about to undergo an autopsy.

This leads up to the first kill on the ship, and probably the best of them all. Mr. V comes to life and sticks the techs head in some cryo freeze unit until her entire head is frozen, and then wham! Smashed against the counter. How Jason knows what it is and what it does though, is anyone’s guess. Apparently he’s not as stupid as we assume (fair to say, Jason’s smarter than most of the screenwriters).

There’s a minor subplot about the professor not wanting Jason dead because he’d be worth a lot of money, and he needs that dough. A security team is sent out to neutralize him, and as it goes, they’re all killed save the leader who shows up later at a most convenient time.

 

The more Rowan warns about Jason’s danger the less people seem to listen and the more chances they take. Even as they’re picked off one by one, no one really listens to Rowan. In space no one sees you do stupid things. The Android with the ragtag bunch of survivors gets retrofitted with some kickass power and that’s exactly what she does, kicks Jason ass. Then she does what I’ve finally waited for someone to do in every sequel-shoot him in the legs. Cut them off, kneecap him, something to at least slow him down.

They leave the Jason chunks where they are, and somehow the nano bugs come and not only put Jason back together but make the parts of him missing, metal-so he’s indestructible. The uber Jason while a ridiculous concept looks bad ass, so it’s only natural he die in a bad ass way, hurtling towards the earth and burning up on entry, only for the remains to land by, you guessed it, Crystal Lake.

Look, I’m not going to pretend Jason X is anything great, as it’s not. In fact, it’s pretty ridiculous, however it has one thing going for it the previous two didn’t: truth in advertising. We barely saw any of Manhattan and none of Hell. 95% of the movie is actually in space. Side note, simply being able to get a job that allows you to go to space doesn’t mean you’re smart enough to not get killed. Jason has always been an equal opportunity killer. Jason X doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is, a goofy roller coaster ride that doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a good looking film, with some-not all-better than average acting, and a self referential script. If anything, it reminds me of the straight to VHS scifi movies I saw in the 80’s.

Why do I like this and not Jason Goes to Hell? Because X respects the source material, while Hell really shit all over it. You can take a franchise in different directions without retconning it the way Hell did. Yes the whole government installation and Jason being captured is ridiculous, as is his being made into an uber predator; but I was able to buy that more than anything in the previous film.

Jason X gets 6.5 machetes from me. Half a machete taken away for sending him to space.

 

And there we go, all ten movies in the F13 series. I was surprised by some, disappointed by others, and found some scary. All in all it’s one of the more consistent franchises of horror. Nothing ever came close to the first movie in terms of scares or surprise, though I think 2 came the closest. I also think it’s the one series that gets the least respect. Sure everyone loves Jason-the character, but the movies still have a less than positive reputation. Even 37 years after the original they get no respect. And maybe, just maybe, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Five Long Nights at Camp Blood, Friday the 14th Part 6: Jason Lives

It’s at this point in the series that everyone gets to call me a hypocrite. Why? Because I really like Jason Lives and its humor. Over the past five installments I’ve talked about how I’ve hated the attempts at humor and how it ruined the movies to an extent. I have no good reason to justify my liking  it here, so I won’t try, other than to say, I like what I like. By all rights, it shouldn’t work, but whether it’s the direction or delivery, it does. Sue me.

We have a new writer and director, Tom McLoughlin, who not only appears to love the series, but actually loves horror as well. Perhaps because he was known for comedy is why the humor works, but it also helps he wrote an interesting, engaging script with characters that weren’t Trump levels of stupid. We also have a new Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews from Return of the Living Dead fame) as the previous one had become a devout Christian. It’s a shame as this was a far better role and didn’t have you uttering, “Jesus fucking Christ, really? every five minutes.

Jason Lives starts off with Tommy Jarvis and Ron Palillo (aka Horseshack), running from the psych hospital they were at and off to dig up Jason so Tommy could burn his body. I’ll be honest it was very cool seeing Palillo even if he’s only alive for 5 minutes, I was just hoping we’d hear the trademark laugh he gave Horseshack in Welcome Back Kotter. Sadly that wasn’t to be. Jason is dug up, Tommy grabs a piece of iron and stabs Jason with it. And wouldn’t you know, that piece of metal acted like a lightning rod, and it brought maggot face back to life. Victor Frankenstein couldn’t have done it any better. Once he’s alive, Jason punches Palillo in the chest, pulling out his heart through the other side. It’s a pretty good effect and a great way to start off the movie. Tommy escapes and makes his way to the Sheriff’s office. Needless to say the Sheriff doesn’t believe him, and when he goes to grab a gun,  Sheriff Garris arrests him and throws him in a jail cell.

As that’s going on, a couple of camp counselors get lost on their way, and find Jason standing in the middle of the road with the metal rod. “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that masked strangers are never good,” the woman says. When the male counselor pulls out a small gun from the glove compartment, and shoots Jason, it has no effect other than annoying him, and killing the both of them.

The next morning the Sheriff’s daughter and some of her friends who are counselors at the camp go to see him and ask for help in finding them. He says there’s nothing he can really so and basically blows her off. Tommy tries to warn them about Jason, but like the Sheriff he’s ignored, though it’s pretty apparent that Megan has the hots for him.

As all this is going on, there’s a paintball game happening in the woods because…why the hell, really? This scene features some inventive stuff including a triple beheading, and an arm being pulled out of its socket by accident. It’s kind of interesting seeing Jason just stare at the arm and I can imagine him saying in his best Urkel voice, “Did I do that?” He’s gotten far stronger than even he knew, which I guess may be a side effect of being undead. It’s also a point where past canon is sort of laid aside and the new testament of Jason (him being a supernatural creature, more than a human), of what he is begins. For any other franchise that would be the death knell, and in some ways I suppose it was, however, this sequel is so entertaining you don’t really think about it.

Unexpectedly to the camp counselors who are there, a bus load of kids arrives, and they’re caught not knowing what to do and improvise the best they can. This sets up a bit of tension as you wonder whether Jason will kill any of the little kids or not. This isn’t Season of the Witch, so it’s safe to say none of the kids are harmed. Physically anway, one can only imagine all the nightmares they’ll have. The Sheriff however is busy escorting Tommy out of the town limits with a warning not to come back.

No sooner does the Sheriff take off than Tommy heads back leading Garris on a chase to the cemetery, where, sadly for Tommy, the caretaker has already filled Jason’s grave back in. Just as a sidenote, when the drunken old caretaker is filling in the grave, he breaks the fourth wall and says straight into the camera, “Some folks have a strange idea about entertainment.” (or something similar, I’m paraphrasing).

At some point Tommy manages to get to a bookstore abd pick up some books on the supernatural, and within those tomes finds the way to kill Jason, which sets up the final act that’s about as exciting and well done as anything in the series. It features one of the all time great kills when Jason literally snaps the Sheriff in half, bending his torso so his back touches his legs. Unfortunately it’s so poorly edited that you really don’t get to see much other than the end result.

In a departure from other entries, this one has as much of a happy ending as you could hope for, as Tommy and Megan survive and sort of ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. Meanwhile Jason is chained to a rock and stuck underwater, though he is still very much alive.

 

After the hot garbage of Part 5, anything would have been a relief, but it’s fortunate that what came after was a worthy sequel. I’d still rather see more that took itself seriously as the first one did, but if there has to be some lightness, six has done it the best. With a smart script, good acting, and lots of atmosphere, Six easily rises above the pack.

I give Friday the 16th Part 6: A New Beginning 7 machetes

6 Long Nights At Camp Blood: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

Here we are at the halfway point in the series, and there’s nowhere to go but down. At least that would be the general feeling after seeing the fifth installment, and it’s here where I start gritting my teeth and wondering why I’ve decided to punish myself like this. Not since the original F13 have we had an installment where Jason wasn’t the killer. Ooops, spoilers, though if you’re reading this you’ve probably watched this already. If for no other reason that’s why A New Beginning gets so much derision. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of other reasons as well.

Not only is there a new actor playing the pseudo Jason, we also have a new director, Danny Steinmann who shows no appreciable talent behind the camera. He got his start writing and directing porno movies in New York, then went on to film The Unseen and Savage Streets. A New Beginning would be his last directorial effort, so if nothing else we can be grateful for that. Steinmann died in 2012, and talking ill of the dead spooks me, so that’s all I’ll say about him.

Also different from previous movies, we have no campers, but we do have a group of emotionally scarred twenty somethings, I mean teens at a halfway house out in the middle of the woods. As the movie opens we see what turns out to be a bad dream of Tommy Jarvis. In it, he imagines two men digging up Jason’s grave. When Jason comes back to life to kill them, he then goes after Tommy who is paralyzed with fear. We then cut to Tommy as a teenager (though the actor who played him was 25 at the time) on his way to the halfway house. No sooner does he get there and start to settle in when the police show up, bringing back two of the residents who were caught screwing on private property. That private property belongs to a crazy old woman and her mentally deficient son who also show up.

Later that day we see another resident, a slow witted overweight guy Joey trying to help some of the others around camp. Vic who is chopping wood, will have none of it, and he ends up killing Joey with the ax. We see the paramedics arrive to take the body away, and of course one makes jokes, and the other says little, but by the look on his face you know we’ll be seeing more of him later on. Of course we will, as he turns out to be the murderer.

That night we see a couple of guys on their way to town to meet some girls, when their car breaks down, because, of course. No one in the F13 series has any reliable transportation. As one tries to fix the car, the other goes to take a dump, but both actions lead to the same thing: Jason kills their sorry asses. The following night, the driver who brought Tommy to the halfway house goes to meet his girlfriend Lana at the restaurant she works in. After showing off her breasts for no reason other than they’re big, the both of them get sliced and diced, and deservedly so, no doubt.

Next up on the chopping block are Tina and Eddie, the horny kids who were brought back by the police at the beginning of the movie. Here we see more nudity than blood which is about what happens for the entire movie. You don’t have to be a Mensa member to see that the director’s previous work was filtering into the current project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if the kills are at least interesting-which let’s face is what most people go for-it’s certainly not for story. To be fair, Tina’s death by branch clippers to the eyes, and Eddie’s death by his skull being crushed with a leather strap tied behind a tree are the two best deaths in the movie, but like their orgasms come too quickly and last a lot less than they should.

All of this leads up to an over extended conclusion, which seems to drag on rather than elicit some sense of excitement. Reggie, a little kid knocks Jason into the dirt as he’s driving a bulldozer. Yes, that’s right, an 11 year old driving a bulldozer. Payback I would imagine for killing Reggie’s brother while using an outhouse.  Much like Part 3 ending happens in a barn. In fact it looks exactly like the barn from Part III, Tommy comes back after he’s run away earlier in the movie, and Reggie plus the blonde manager throw Jason out of the top of the barn and onto some conveniently placed spikes below. And then we see the great reveal.

It wasn’t Jason at all! It was the ambulance driver! Apparently the kid killed with an ax at the start was his son. Embarrassed by his less than impressive intellect, he kept him a secret. However he still loved him and his death made him seek revenge. The best part of this is the Sheriff is explaining it to the camp manager, and he’s showing her clippings from the ambulance driver’s wallet and one of them has a picture of Jason as if a photographer caught him on the street somewhere. Now I don’t claim to be an F13 expert, but I don’t remember his picture being taken by anyone at any time. And then, we get a second ending which is lifted straight from the fourth movie, with Tommy once again being set up to take over for Jason.

The biggest problem, and why I think none of the sequels really work as well as the first two movies, is they’re not taken seriously. 1 and 2 were straight up horror. Yes, 2 had more self referential bits in it, but it still took its job as a horror movie seriously. Once we get to five, there’s so much nodding and winking that any kind of scares are impossible to come by unless it’s a cheap jump. It’s poorly written, shits over the canon that’s come before, and values nudity over blood. Worst of all, there’s no Jason! Unsurprisingly, this was one of the least profitable entries in the franchise. The fact it still made decent money though shows the power of the franchise.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning gets 4.5/10 machetes

Seven Long Nights At Camp Blood: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

There probably should have been “My ass!” after the final chapter subtitle, as I don’t know anyone who believed the cash cow was being taken to the slaughter house. Like every good exploitation flick, the F13 movies were cheap and made a good profit. Who would want to stop that? Bueller?

With Steve Miner off to do other things, it was time for a new director, and exploitation movie director extraordinaire, Joseph Zito was brought in. Fresh off The Prowler, an underrated grindsploitation classic, Zito does the best he can, and while Final Chapter is a cut above (see what I did there?) the third entry, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily great, or even good. It is however different, and certainly the best looking of the four. It also sports some well known names, including Peter Barton (who had completed work on Nightmare with Linda Blair), Corey Feldman (who would go on to film The Goonies  the following year, thus keeping him from appearing in the sequel as the main character), and of course Crispi Glover, the Deney Terrio of the F13 franchise.

Much like Part 3, the fourth movie starts almost immediately after the previous. In fact the film opens on the investigation at the cabins, and the ambulances carrying away the dead bodies, and Jason. I should mention, prior to that, is a catching up of what has occurred in the previous movies, you know, because the back story is so rich and detailed it’s easy to get confused. It’s pointless filler, but with the running time at just about 90 minutes, can see why they threw it in. Regardless, we arrive at the morgue with Jason’s body, and the morgue attendant, a horny and serial sexual harasser tries to convince a nurse to spend some time in the cold room. She does this initially, however when Jason’s arm falls off the table, she loses her interest in boning the doc and heads off to do her job. Sadly for the doc, Jason rises and nearly decapitates him with a bone saw. I couldn’t think of a nicer guy to deserve such treatment.

Obviously the nurse is next to get it, and Jason takes off again for the woods.  We then meet this installments fresh meat for the grinder. On the way to Crystal Lake, they see the headstone for Mrs. Voorhees on the side of the road-because where else would you bury the mother of a serial killer? It should have one of those natio0nal park, Views of Interest next to it. If you thought Peter Barton and Crispin Glover would be part of this group, you’re correct. Crispin’s character Jimmy is sort of an awkward loner (totally against type), who hangs with his best friend Ted (played by Larry Monoson of Last American Virgin infamy). Ted is the joker of the group, Barton is the jock, and there’s another guy who is so boring, I forget he’s even in the movie.

Once they get to the cabin, we then meet their neighbors a family of three, Mom, daughter and son. Corey Feldman is the son who has a keen interest in horror movies and makeup.  The next day, the teens next door decide to go skinny dipping because, really, we haven’t seen enough boobs yet. While that is going on Tommy and his sister breakdown in their old POS which is mandatory for living in the woods. They run into a hiker that sis gets the hots for and they bring him back to the house. And what’s Jason doing during all this? I don’t know, they never show what he does in his downtime. (aside from the awful remake in 2009 which I will not review, I love you all but not that much.) Needless to say that since there’s going to be a party that night, you know Jason’s gonna be there to bust a move, furniture, bones, pretty much everything.

At this party Crispin Glover proves he isn’t a dead fuck as his friend referred to him on the trip to the cabin. Ted, said friend, ends up getting high, and acquires a case of blue balls while watching some early 20th century porn. In all honesty I think that would have been more interesting to watch. One by one everyone gets killed, save for Tommy and his sister,

Part four has perhaps my favorite way of Jason being killed. It is so gruesome that even today it makes me squirm, despite the fact iut looks fake as hell. He gets a machete in the head, and when he falls it hits the handle and we see it sliding through his skull, nearly cutting it off. It’s a fantastic effect marred only by the fact that Jason’s makeup looks more like a pull over mask than anything else. Yes it’s suitably deformed, that doesn’t make it scary though

 

In spite of the subtitle, and as I said in the beginning, there was no way this would have been the final movie, as the series was way too profitable for Paramount. The ending was setting up Tommy to take over for Freddy, and that could have happened had Corey Feldman not had to film The Goonies and Gremlins. Let’s be thankful to the powers that be that, that never happened. What came next was so, so much worse, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

The parts of F13 Part 4 are greater than the sum. There are some good scenes, such as Jason’s kill, and of course Crispin Glover’s spastic dancing. Yet the layout of Camp Crystal changes as much as Jason’s makeup-there’s no continuity in either of them really, and where did the second house come from all of a sudden? The world may never know. Needless nitpicking aside, Part 4 isn’t the worst of the bunch to this point, but that’s really not saying much.

Friday the 13th:  The Final Chapter get’s 5/10 machetes

9 Long Nights At Camp Blood: Friday the 13th Part 2

With the overwhelming success of the original, (it grossed $59,000,000 on a $500,000 budget), a sequel was almost a certainty. However, like Halloween before it, the plan was to not feature Jason, but have a different storyline set on the same date. Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view), that fizzled out and we got another killer Voorhees. Steve Miner, production assistant for Last House on the Left, and an exec. Producer on the original F13 makes his directorial debut in the second installment. Carl Fullerton handled the effects this time around as Tom Savini was working on another movie, and didn’t like the idea of Jason being the killer. Stan Winston was also asked to do the effects but a scheduling conflict nixed that idea as well, so Fullerton was it. Kind of like getting picked last for dodge ball.

 

Part 2 picks up a few months after the first movie. Alice is living on her own trying to do her best to recover from the events at Camp Crystal Lake. This is where we see a couple of new elements in filmmaking for the series, The first is a suspension of belief. Jason, disfigured and mentally undeveloped and spent his life in the woods and water of the camp somehow has tracked down Alice and not only found out where she lived but also tracked her there (all while wearing a pillow case over his head with one hole cut out so he can see). There’s a lot of that in this film, but I’ll only cover a couple of areas, because I do like the movie, and don’t want to seem overly critical.

 

The second thing that Miner does differently is tries to give it a sense of humor, in self referential ways. For instance in the opening scene where he finds Alice, once he kills her, he takes the tea kettle off the hot burner and places it on a cool one. I’m not sure Jason really cares whether the water boils over or not, and seems it was done just for a cheap gag. The second thing is we see a dog meet Jason in the woods. We of course think the worst, and the very next shot is of hot dogs cooking on a grill. That Steve Miner, was a cut up. He should have directed comedies. He directed Soul Man you say? Well, my statement still stands in that case.   In many ways I think the style had to change simply because the story was no longer a mystery thriller. I don’t think anyone knew who the killer in the first F13 was, and when the big reveal came, it was a real barnburner. In the second though, we know the killer is Jason, so the tension of who’s doing the killing is missing. Sure we see Ralph creeping around in an attempt to divert our attention, but when he gets killed our suspicions are confirmed.

It’s a death curse! I said that? You’re all doomed! I said that too? Screw it, I’m going home then.

Much like the first, the real beginning of the movie has all the counselors heading to camp. It’s now five years later, but crazy coot Ralph is still riding around town on his ancient Schwinn. He warns the first two counselors we meet, and then spends the rest of his time lurking around the camp. Jason, getting pissed, because that’s his job, kills Ralph with a garrote nearly decapitating him. Jeff and his girlfriend Sandra meet up with another friend, Ted who is this installment’s joker. Jeff is the stud here, and you can tell that by his muscle shirt, tight pants and old fashioned newsboy’s cap. Such a sexy outfit, how could anyone resist. Though it’s never said, Sandra reminds me of the town floozy who would have sex with pretty much anyone. That may be because she reminded me of this girl I knew, Robin who would let you finger her for 50 cents. This was back in the late 70’s, when 50 cents was worth something.

Who knew in 20 years they’d be obsolete. I mean the phone booth, not their acting careers.

Anyway, the next day the lovebirds get caught by the lake where they weren’t supposed to be by the Sheriff. After bringing them back to camp and admonishing the camp manager Paul, he leaves, and on his way sees Jason run across the road in front of him. In one of my favorite scenes in the movie we see him running through the woods after him, only to find his cabin and have the claw end of a hammer planted in his head. Mongoloid Lives Matter! So sayeth Jason.

If I had a hammer, I’d ha—

That night some of the counselors go into town while the victims, err other counselors stay behind including a wheelchair bound wannabe lothario featured in a very uncomfortable seduction scene. Paul his gf Ginny and Ted the wacky sidekick all go drinking, and when Paul and Ginny go back to camp, leaving Ted in town, we never see him again. He doesn’t die, it’s like the forgot about his character in the script.

These three campers walk into a bar…

Of course the killings begin earnest, as the tall, dark, and handsome Scott gets his throat cut while hanging feet first from a tree. Not long after Mark the wheelchair bound victim of a motorcycle accident takes a machete to the head and is thrown down the flight of stairs in his chair, using a very fake looking dummy. Probably even worse than Kevin Bacon’s throat puncture. Speaking of Kevin Bacon (but not his penis this time unfortunately), Jeff and Sandra meet a fate similar as they’re both shish kabobbed after having good old fashioned early 80’s nookie.  Thankfully the hat was not harmed in that death scene.

Getting nailed by flesh and arrow, does not mean it’s double penetration. Or does it>

Paul and Ginny return only to be stalked by Jason, which ultimately leads to the classic ending of Ginny pretending to be Mrs. Voorhees. One of the unique things about number two is the fact that Paul’s ending is left ambiguous. We have no idea what happened to him or Ted. We see Ginny being taken away in an ambulance, much the same way as we saw Alice wake up in a hospital. It’s all the more amazing because these were some very stupid people.

 

You’re not my mother!

Vickie who had the uncomfortable flirting scene with Mark, goes back to her cabin and changes. As almost an afterthought she changes her panties, from a fairly sexy black pair, to a shit brown pair, as if that would be an enticement. When she goes back to Mark and sees he isn’t there, she looks for him upstairs! There are a ton of other things like that in the movie, and while it doesn’t take away from the fun, it certainly dampens the chill factor in my opinion.

Jason likes his vegetables chopped.

As sequels go this could have been a lot worse, instead we got a pretty enjoyable slasher flick, and while it doesn’t have the iconic status of the original, Mark’s death still remains one of the most controversial. I think his death shows that Jason is an equal opportunity killer. Man, woman,  black, white, or whatever, disabled or not, he’ll kill everyone. How can you not admire that impartiality?

I said how much for a cut and shave?

Friday the 163th Part 2 gets 7/10 machetes.