Friday the 13th


Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

It's hard to bring all the Friday the 13th films back into one's memory. I've seen only a couple of them more than once, & some I only saw late night on old videos, paying only half attention, if not quite nodding off to sleep. They tend to blend together as bunches of scenes of Jason in mask with machette or fireplace poker, not terribly distinct films most of the time. But to dredge up some faded memories, with asterisks by best ones:

Part IIFRIDAY THE 13th (1980) directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Ultra-cheap & badly acted poor imitation of Halloween, but one of the first films of its type to understand the pure-girl-survives premise of Halloween was going to be de rigour for some while.

It sets up some "ideas" (if they qualify for ideas) & provides a history that is sort of required, though the backstory's pretty simple of course: Jason is pissed because someone let him drown, & he might therefore be some kind of ghostly automaton of random vengeance.

* FRIDAY THE 13th: Part II (1981) directed by Steve Miner. This is a good-of-kind film, which is not to say it's a good film of any other kind. More remake than sequel, it is better put together & superior to the first one. The underlying theme of "spiritually good girl is stronger than supernatural evil boy" is again repeated from Halloween.

Friday the 13th 3DFRIDAY THE 13th: Part III (1982) directed by Steve Miner, originally called Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D because its theatrical release was in 3D, a version today rarely screened.

The story rehashes every cliche already seen up to & including "last girl standing." There's very little unique in it, though Jason is taken on by a biker gang, & we briefly get to see underneath the hocky mask, & Jason's invulnerability is more apparent than previously.

FRIDAY THE 13th: FINAL CHAPTER (1984) directed by Joseph Zito. Final my ass. Boring rehash; as always, if you have sex, you get cut to ribbons. As too often in this series, when Dead Jason rises from the dead, the story fails to sufficiently underscore Jason's essential ghost-ness, leaving one to assume he was only unconscious for a while.

And having overlooked the chance to make it all mysterious magic, the rest is just stalk & kill, stalk & kill. Mask looks better than previously though, & with nothing to pass for characterization, the mask is the real star of the series.

New BeginningFRIDAY THE 13th: A NEW BEGINNING (1985) directed by Danny Steinmann. Make that Old Beginning for a Tiresome Retread.

It suprises me how many times I mention to people that Jason's a ghost, & they didn't know that, but once again, he's definitely dead & buried, but when someone digs him up, he springs back to life -- cuz he's a gawdamn nasty ghost.

The resurrection, though, may have been a dream or hallucination, it's hard to tell, but there's the possibility that the spirit of evil Jason now resides in Tommy. It's all mindless killing the rest of the show, so it doesn't really matter who else besides Jason is or isn't psycho.

Jason LivesFRIDAY THE 13th Part VI: JASON LIVES (1986) directed by Tom McLoughlin. Well of course he lives. Boring stuff here, even though the supernatural element of his unkillability is for the first time made seriously obvious.

Having milked imitation-Halloween too many times, an element of Nightmare on Elm Street has been added, regarding Jason's psychic link to his victims, akin to Freddy. ĘTommy escapes the madhouse & returns to the lake where Jason drowned & where so many teenagers have been slaughtered.

Jason's body is dug up but before he can be burnt, lightning reanimates him, & awaaaaay we go. ĘThe best bit is Jason sinking back into the lake at the end, not least because it means the boring show is finally over. These "Tommy" episodes stink to high heaven.

New Blood* FRIDAY THE 13th Part VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988) directed by John Carl Buechler. Having ripped off Elm Street & Halloween, it's now time to rip off Carrie. ĘThanks to the addition of the psychic girl character, I liked this as a supernatural horror instead of "just" a slasher, with nice good telekinesis vs. supernatural evil battle.

It's not really any good but it did put some pizazz into a lifeless series & was really the first one I fully enjoyed. The dull "mystery" lingering at the end of Part VI, of who the replacement for Jason would be next time round, was blessedly ignored by further sequels, so that Jason is never replaced.

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH Part VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989) directed by Rob Hedden. Shipboard Jason sucks, then sinks. I cannot remember squat about this episode, only that New York wasn't much of a presence.

At the end of the film, Jason actually got dissolved in acid, leaving behind only a little drowned boy (proof that he was all along a ghost of the little boy drowned before the series started in 1980). Despite that very cool ending touch, this episode as a whole was one of the least memorable.

Jason XJASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993) directed by Adam Marcus. I remember really looking forward to this one as the trailer indicated a supernatural tale for sure, set in Hell; but the film itself didn't get round to Hell at all.

The legend of Jason is altered & elaborated in that his goal is not to kill all teenagers at a lake because he as allowed to drown, but is instead to kill his own entire bloodline, & thereby become immortal, though after so many sequels it seemed to me he was already immortal.

In the previous installment he was utterly dissolved in acid except for the little boy at his center, but nobody cared about continuity between episodes, so Jason starts out in this one still intact, but not for long, as he gets blown to pieces. His heart however is a living entity all by itself, & someone gets a backroom heart transplant (sort of). The heart-creature should've been more interesting, but didn't add much to the Jason myth per se.

Freddy vs Jason* JASON X (2001) directed by James Isaac. Even though previously dissolved in acid in Jason Takes Manhattan or reduced to a heart-monster in Jason Goes to Hell, it seems that Jason is actually fully intact & been stored in a cryogenic fascility for a few centuries.

He gets loose on a space ship & causes havoc, but they have better weapons in the future, & a way cool girl robot, so Jason comes to a deserved end.

Alas, Nanobots rebuild him better than before. I love this film, & the girl robot is the funniest coolest robot since the cowboy robot in Starcrash (1979) who got utterly destroyed but turns up a couple scenes later anyway, with his southern drawl boasting, "You can't keep a good robot down!"

* FREDDY VS. JASON (2003) directed by Ronny Yu. This was commerce going delightful, an exploitation film promising the best possible portion of crap, & delivering exactly what the audience desired.

Though it is more an Elm Street film than a Friday the 13th film because Freddy Krueger drives the plot, there's plenty of Jason too, & what an old-fashioned treatment it becomes when Freddy & Jason both make it out of hell & onto Elm Street. It's Frankenstein vs. the Werewolf for the slasher generation.

Freddy's jibes seem occasionally to reach mindless Jason. Mainly being a wiseacre to an automaton is wasted breath. Even so, Freddy's comedy plays interestingly off Jason as "straight man" who doesn't get the joke.

copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl

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