Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

the new blah

 Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Director: John Carl Buechler
Released: 1988
Starring: Kane Hodder, Lar Park-Lincoln, Terry Kiser
Running time: 88
Genre: horror, slasher

With my luck, you’re probably going to turn out to be another delusion. We must be sitting ’round a campfire, because we hear an old codger–OMAGAH, it’s Crazy Ralph! Talking story from Beyond the Grave!–rambling on about Jason Voorhees and Crystal Lake Camp Blood Forest Green Crystal Lake while getting a pretty comprehensive flashback, showing numerous momentous occasions in the history of both, leading to the final confrontation Lake o’ Fire between Jason and Tommy Jarvis in Chapter VI: Jason Lives. Once Jason is chained at the lake’s bottom, we sit through an interminably dull title and credits sequence, and time passes–though how much, we do not know. Carol Anne Freeling Tina Shepherd stands outside a ramshackle cabin, listening as her drunken father and doormat mother fight. When the sounds of domestic abuse grow to be too much for the tot, she runs down the path to the lake, and out onto the rickety dock. In a move her parents have surely forbidden her many times, Carol Anne Tina hops into the family boat, and heads out onto the lake, without even a lifejacket for crying out loud. Her parents, having somehow caught wind of their daughter’s upset and finally acting like responsible adults, have chased after her. Daddy stands at the dock’s end, shouting for Carol Anne Tina to come back, but she’s too angry and frightened to do so–but not too angry to not rip a Carrie summon her psychokinetic powers and shake down the dock around his head. Into Crystal Lakes goes Daddy, caught below the heavy wood beams. DAAAAAA-DDDYYYYYYYY!!! NNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

It must be about a decade later when a grown Tina jerks awake. Mom’s driving her back to Crystal Lake, back to Trauma Central. You see, the whole killing her father with her psychokinesis thing kinda left some indelible marks on Tina’s psyche, and she’s spent some time institutionalized. But Dr “Bernie” Crews has got a bright idea about making CarrieTina face her inner demons by returning her to the scene of the crime, so to speak. Definitely seems like a good idea. But who cares about that when on the horizon we spy fresh meat?! At the cottage next to the Shepard lakehouse are some young folks, and we’re treated to two girls in bathing suits and a dude in short shorts. Blonde Number One is none too pleased about the arrival of the Shepards and Crews–why we’ll never know except that she turns out to be a Grade A, cast-iron bitch. But when Tina’s suitcase pops open, dude is quick to bound on over, friendly as a puppy and quick to fondle her granny panties. As Tina snatches them out of his greasy mitts, he introduces himself as Nick, but it’s too late. Tina storms off, undies in hand while the peanut gallery smirks.

During an experimental session with Dr Crews, Carrie’s Tina’s powers demonstrate themselves, and we get the idea that just maybe the good doctor doesn’t give a rip about Carrie’s Tina’s problems. Instead, it seems that he’s all about her powers and how to exploit them. And we also learn that she has little to no control over them. Rather than go to her room and practice moving a hairbrush or lifting a dresser, though, or even reading up on the subject at the library, Tina traipses on out to the rebuilt dock and gazes at Crystal Lake’s placid waters. Thinking of her daddy, Tina feels around with her mind, searching for … a Presence. Not realizing this is a Seriously Stupid Move, she then consciously channels her power for the first time, directing it to raise whatever’s there to raise. And and the waters start churning, Jason awakens. When Tina opens her eyes, she sees his dreamy eyes and blacks out.

Of course, Tina–having been previously ensconced in the loving arms of a funny farm–will from here on out be viewed by everyone as an Unreliable Narrator. Those visions of everybody dying? Just Looney Tunes playing in her head! There’s no killer stalking Crystal Lake Camp Blood Forest Green Crystal Lake! The partykids next door in the party cottage will provide appropriate Jason fodder while Tina makes the classic F13 Final Girl move of bonding with a random dude, Generic Hunk Nick. Jealous sparks will fly between Melissa (Grade A, cast-iron bitch) and Tina, and Maddy and Robin. Michael will make a shoddy Jimmy the Dead Fuck substitute. There will be titties and there will be mayhem. There will also be crazy psychic powers–and we’ll find out how much of a match they are for Jason.

jason’s pressbook

the new, unimproved crystal lake

you know what that means

Like has nothing to do with it. The first of the post-Tommy Jarvis Fridays, and only the second featuring an Undead Jason, The New Bloodhas a lot to live up to, but also a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction. With a new actor playing Jason, impressive effects, and an exciting new plot device, the old formula could be livened up, which could lead to exciting new installments in the franchise. Didn’t happen.

Bill: “This installment is further proof that they just didn’t gaf.” -Fisty

I mentioned in our review of Jason Lives that that movie was in heavy cable rotation just around the time I started getting into horror mags like Fango. In fact, the very first non-comicbook horror magazine I ever bought was Gorezone #2 from July of 1988 with Jason’s maskless, rotting mug right on the cover, sporting a telekinesis-hurled nail driven into his forehead. The issue featured an interview with the new Jason, Kane Hodder, as a preview, and ended with speculative talk of him possibly returning in a future as yet unnamed Friday sequel, becoming the first man to take on the role more than once. Man, was I stoked. I took the issue to school and showed all my friends. I put up the pull-out Jason poster included with the issue in my room. I committed to memory all of the pictures of Jason walking out of the water, wielding an ax, lifting some dude up on a spike, etc… To this day, when I picture a maskless Jason, the image I see in my head is the face from that magazine cover, from The New Blood. About twenty percent of my daily activities back then consisted of watching Jason Lives, reading about The New Blood, and getting so excited I was practically vibrating.  So it’s kind of odd that the movie itself doesn’t mean more to me than it does, but it just doesn’t. I can’t even remember the first time I saw it. Maybe it was on cable or maybe on video? Probably on video. For me, reading about the making of the movie meant way more than the movie itself ever did … which isn’t that hard to believe. I mean, the movie isn’t exactly all that great. The New Blood was maybe my earliest experience with Gustave Flaubert’s notion that “Anticipation is the purest form of pleasure.” (Shocked to hear me mention a French novelist? Think the name before this paragraph was wrong and you’re reading Fisty’s words? Nah, it’s me. I had to google the quote to find out who said it.)

Now, I don’t want anyone to misinterpret what I’m about to say next. I like Kane Hodder. I like the man and I like him in movies and, yes, I recognize that he did, as that old article predicted, go on to be the first recurring Jason and I applaud him for that. Having made that clear however, I have to go on to say that I just prefer C. J. Graham from Jason Lives as Zombie Jason. Sure, in The New Blood our fav undead mong is more like the Jason of old (at least in some ways): he’s a little sneakier; a little stalkier; he makes sure to use more of his old standard kills (facial stabbings, head crushings, window toss, etc…) from previous Friday the 13ths than he did in Jason Lives; but, as one friend of mine put it, “Hodder played the character like he had a chip on his shoulder.” He’s right. Whenever someone tries (futilely) to stand up to him, you can see in his face/hockey mask, “How dare you, sir or madam?! Don’t you know that I am the Crystal Lake Camp Blood Forest GreenCrystal Lake Killer?” You could see that Tina, with all her psychic crap, was pissing him off, maybe even offending him with her defiance. Props to Hodder for being able to emote through an inch of latex, but I think Graham Jason’s utter unflappability and single-mindedness makes for a more frightening killer. Your attacks do nothing. They have no effect on him physically or emotionally. He doesn’t think, he doesn’t feel, he doesn’t even want, he just kills. He’s like a shark loose on the campgrounds. Camp Blood is Buckingham Palace and Graham’s Jason is the Queen’s Guard of murder. Hodder’s Jason might kill you, sure, but at least you’ll die with the satisfaction that you were able to get under that bastard’s skin before he did. Graham’s Jason (much like Fisty says of  Paramount at this point in the series) just doesn’t GAF.

workin’ at the car wash

sexy pants

crews, lies, & videotape

Fisty: I gotta say, I do love me some Flaubert. Well played, Bill. Well played. Something I do not love? The New Blood. It breaks my heart to say it, but I don’t love it at all. TNB is actually the first Friday the 13th I have a true, clear memory of. When it came out I was really developing consciousness for the first time, and though I have memories of things before that time, many of them are impressions at best. 1988ish was when I really began having awareness and establishing opinions independent of my caregivers. I also was in kind of a terrible, shitty situation, and TNB held a great deal of appeal for me as a story in which a frail young girl, victimized, finds inner strength to overcome obstacles … and rain blood and fire down upon EVERYONE. (I was also really into Carrie at this point. Totally not unusual; see Lois Duncan and the popularity of paranormal YA lit.) So I had fond memories going into it on the first round of our re-watch back in 2010, but sadly, the the reality of TNB no longer matched those beloved childhood memories, not in 2010 nor now.

Bill’s quoted me as saying that this is where Paramount really began to not give a fuck, and I’ll stand by that. Oh, the production values are fine, the actors largely adequate and generically disposable (ie, a perfect slasher cast), and there are kills that would be great if they hadn’t been cut to shit. But the story is fucking ridiculous and just demonstrates how little care was given to continuing the Crystal Lake-Jason mythos, and how much the emphasis was on injecting life into a dying franchise.

Until this point, even right through Jason Lives–though there is a perceptible shift there–Jason was not the hero of Friday the 13th, though he was certainly the star of the show. In Parts 2 and 3-D, the heroines are the spunky girls who make the triumphant last stands against our beloved mongo pal. Then with The Final Chapter came the advent of Tommy Jarvis, slated as the anti/hero of films to follow. But following Jason Lives, rather than continue in the same vein with a recognizable protagonist battling an ultra-powerful undead monster amidst parodic humor (wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute here!), or even return to the roots of the franchise’s formula, Paramount began upping the ante with bloody and vicious kills (neutered right out), a gimmick plot, an exciting new Jason (wondrous FX and all) as the anti-hero. And well, it’s pretty much downhill from there.

I prefer early Jasons to the later ones, and agree that Kane Hodder’s Jason is, well, too menacing and angry. I don’t want Jason emoting unless he’s missing his mother and filled with a righteous indignation that requires the death of all pretty young things within walking distance. If Jason is Undead, then I prefer him more like The Shape, or T-100, or Jaws. He should be a killing machine, and nothing more. “[H]e’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living … .” That’s what I want out of an unstoppable, undead Jason. I don’t want Heathcliff or Belial or Charles Lee Ray.

jason literally makes an entrance

bitch stole my shoes!

the electric slide

Bill: Exactly! “I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes.” It’s interesting that Quint’s and Loomis’ descriptions of the shark from Jaws and Michael Myers are so similar. That vacuous indifference to life, death, suffering or fear is terrifying. It’s the horror of a natural disaster, an allegory for the unstoppable, unthinking, unaware, inescapable killing power of nature. The Shape is a tornado that destroys one home, but leaves every other house on the block untouched. Why? Why does he do it? Why there? No fucking clue. (I’ve always thought making Laurie Strode his secret sister in Halloween Part 2 was a mistake.) His motives are his own if he even has a motive at all. Like Randy from Scream says, “Motives are incidental.” And early Jason fits fairly well with that theme. He’s the Wild Child. He’s a dangerous force of the wild itself. When Jason stabs you or a storm drops a tree on your head or a flood drowns you or a bear murders you to death, they’re not doing it because they’re pissed off. They do it because, hello, it’s a bear! That’s just what they do!

An emotional Jason is just too human, too easy to relate to. When you try to humanize and explain why your killers are killers, it ruins something. Like you said, Fisty, it makes the killer the hero. I think that might have been a contributing factor to the downfall of the slasher film. The trend might have started as early as Halloween 2, when they explained Michael’s desire to kill Laurie by making her his secret sister (again, I always thought this was a mistake), and A Nightmare on Elm Street, where you first met a slasher with more character than his victims. Maybe you could also mention the Psycho sequels. Maybe. Now, I’m not researching anything here, I’m just running with an idea, so if you have other examples or want to disagree, I want to hear it, but that might have been the beginning. In 1988, however, was when the killers really eclipsed their victims to become the heroes of their films. That same year gave us The New Blood, with huffy puffy Jason, The Dream Master, being the first of the NoES movies to put Freddy ahead of his children, and Halloween 4, the first of the movies to start all that Celtic cult mumbo jumbo that shittied up the Halloween franchise. It’s also the year Childs Play came out. As of 1988, the victims stopped being important, the monsters stopped being unknowable, and something went out of balance. Sadly, that never seemed to go away. Now we mostly have a Leatherface that wasn’t just crazy, but had his face eaten by bacteria and was made fun of by his peers, a Jason that kidnaps instead of kills, a Michael that isn’t so much evil as he’s just really upset that his mom strips to shitty music, and fucking Jigsaw. Blah. I miss the old days. But at least I have Final Destination to make me happy. That franchise takes the idea of the empty, emotionless slasher-as-force-of-nature to it’s utmost extreme, totally de-anthropomorphizing the killer to the point that it doesn’t even have any kind of corporeal existence.

Fisty: In a world of Dahmers and Bundys and BTKs (oh, my!), we hardly needed more personalities, just Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil!

the night HE came home

jane, you ignorant slut

bloody hatchet wound

Bill: Yes! Very succinct. No one gets me like you do, Fisty.

But I went off on a little rant there. I need to get back to The New Blood.You said the production values were, “Fine.” I didn’t find them quite as satisfactory. The make up was good. Jason looks great. The scene where Tina tightens the straps on his mask and they cut into his head and pus leaks out … Oh my god! I love it! The kills, if they hadn’t been butchered, would’ve been spectacular, but it’s obvious that that’s where all the money went. Everything else about the movie just looks cheap. Distractingly so, for me. It’s so disappointing to see such a drop off from Jason Lives to this. I remember Jason Takes Manhattan looking way better than this one does. Hopefully I’m not wrong about that, because ugh, it’s terrible. The location sucked, too. The previous movies were filmed all over the place, but they all still had a certain size to them, a definite scope. The New Blood was filmed in Alabama and it just does not look like the Crystal Lake we know. The lake is too small, the forest too sparse. It looks like a boringly built artless set than a real location.

I was going to say something else, too. What was it? Jason is hero … victims play second fiddle … Oh yeah! Everyone in this movie that isn’t a narrator (I love Crazy Ralph!) or Jason sucks. Well, that’s an exaggeration. I kind of liked Maddy and Robin and I didn’t mind Tina herself so much (even though her hair was a mess!), but Nick was boring, Tina’s mom was boring, Crews was an asshole, everyone else was stupid, and Melissa was actually the first person in the franchise that I couldn’t wait to see die. I cheered at her death.

bitchface

can’t i get your ghost, bob?

stabbin’ cabins

Fisty: Fine, adequate, whatever. They certainly weren’t great; this is one of the least pretty Fridays, with nothing like the clean look of say, A New Beginning. Capping it is a real pain since there are very few memorable or striking images that I want to capture. A few to illustrate the story, but not much else. Sometimes it’s hard to stop stuffing images into these reviews, but in this case, not so much. I’m with you on the make-up being great (though as I’ve said, I’m not a big fan of the look).

It’s also a crazy boring cast. Tina’s mother is dull as dirt, and the intriguing storyline with her and Dr Crews is set up, then left adrift. Which sucks, because it’s more interesting than whatever else was going on (namely, nothing but Tina spazzing out). We don’t even get a real idea about what Dr Crews’ nefarious plot is, though I assume he wants to make a big name with breakthrough research on psychokinesis, but who knows? And the relationship between Mrs Whatever (I just don’t care) and Dr Bernie is also more interesting than any of the kid relationships (though one I don’t want to see explicitly), especially with what happens, but again, no development. Just set up and forgotten.

The young kids are largely interchangeable (read: forgettable). Gelfling lookalike Lar Park Lincoln is obnoxious, vacillating between confused hysteria and near-hysteria. And she has THE WORST Carrie-face; Kay Lenz in The Initiation of Sarah was soooo much better. Bland Nick doesn’t even have Rick’s date-rapiness or Rob’s thirty-six hour vendetta to liven him up, just a vague mention of “trouble” (Sex? Drugs?? Rock n’ roll???) and some short shorts. Sci-fi geek Michael kind of sticks out, but he’s the lamest geek. Robin and Maddy were, well, I was going to say “okay,” but I kind of hate Maddy. Her makeover is terrible, and she’s so whiny that there’s none of the poignancy of say, a Vickie or a Sara. I don’t mind Robin and her stoner boy, and Robin’s stalk and kill might be my favorite in the film (kitty!). But HOLY SHIT, MELISSA. I honestly cannot think of another fodder-type as vile as she is. She’s not just mean girl or bitchy, she’s a genuine cunt. There is literally nothing redeeming about her whatsoever. Her death comes as a relief–and it’s practically the last one! The desire to see her go was pretty much the only thing sustaining my interest in the movie.

Why is it so dull? Well, besides the forgettable cast (I know I’ve used that adjective a LOT in this review, but it’s just so damn applicable), we have the nebulous plot and sub-plots that never really make much sense. Jason isn’t even mentioned until an HOUR into the movie, when Tina and Nick find a random Overlook-esque scrapbook with clippings about the murders that happened, what? Twenty years ago now? Which no one else recalls or mentions, not even in a “There’s a spooooky legend about this place, you guys!” manner. And that timeframe does nothing for the series, either. If anything, Jason should be more mythic, but instead he’s just this forgotten undead serial murderer. Who’s wandering ALL OVER the Crystal Lake Camp Blood Forest Green Crystal Lake environs, apparently MILES from the lake itself (which must be freaking huge, yet shallow, because none of the locations look anything like previous ones, har-dee-har-har) to murder some tangential characters instead of stalking any of the primary victims-to-be. And even though the cabins of the two groups are literally a stone’s throw from one another, no one hears screams or anything suspicious when people finally start dying! Bah! It’s just so shoddily slapped together!

the many faces of tina: pensive

the many faces of tina: frightened & confused

the many faces of tina: can’t believe she gets to marry tawny kitaen

Bill: You want to talk “shoddily slapped together?” There are some serious temporal problems in The New Blood. It never feels like any time has passed between scenes. It’s such a problem that, at one point, I thought night had suddenly become day, because it wasn’t clear to me that it was supposed to be the next day.  There are times when characters are supposed to be off wandering the woods, but, because you never get the sense of time passing, (or distance) it seems like they couldn’t have gone ten feet. Tina drives away in the family car for all of ten seconds before crashing, it takes her mom and Doc less than that to find the car and start wandering the woods looking for her, screaming her name, but she’s already home. And this lack of awareness of scale and time is even more extreme for Jason. My biggest complaint about The Final Chapter was Jason’s ability to be all places at once while still hiding in the basement, but The New Blood is staggeringly worse! At one point Jason is at the cabins doing some killing, then suddenly he’s in the woods, far enough out that other people drove there, then he disappears again, presumably back to the cabins, so he can once again appear, (after Tina, who is also magically everywhere at once) this time with a massive power tool that would not be lying around in the middle of the forest. And he did this while still having the time to drag out and arrange four different bodies killed at different times, in different locations out to one spot out in the woods. Now, I’m not one of those people that makes a big deal about him walking around and still catching running people and I don’t need any of the dumb explanations the remake provided about how he gets from place to place; I don’t care, so long as he gets to kill people. However, to pull the crap he does in The New Blood, he’d have to have the teleportation powers of Nightcrawler, Madrox the Multiple Man’s ability to duplicate himself, and perhaps Cable’s timeslide time travel equipment. I’m sorry, but, as badass as he may be, Jason still should not be capable of doing things it’d take a whole team of X-Men to pull off.

Fisty: There are definitely some problems with The New Blood. But there were things I liked about it, too. I liked that it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. In fact, I like that it ended best of all. And I liked Elizabeth Kaitan’s totally gratuitous boobs. Well, to be fair, I also appreciated the occasional nods to Fridays past, such as The Final Chapter‘s family house versus party house set up and Robin’s defenestration–though I’m half convinced that most instances of that were unintentional. And I actually do like the end. Even though Tina kind of sucks at fighting Jason, the psychic versus Jason showdown was pretty fun. And then his ultimate dispatch? It’s got a special kind of lunacy that I can dig. Daddy Shepard rising from his watery grave to battle Jason, despite apparently drowning in about ten feet of water, just offshore? (They seem to have never dragged Crystal Lake for his body.) Sure! I’ll even interpret it metaphorically, if you want! (Though one of the early “mystery endings” like that of Part 2 would have worked wonders following, especially with Nick going missing a la Paul.)

gratuitous kitty

was is das ich weiss nicht mal

what is this, part 3-d?!

Bill: Yeah, the end battle is pretty fun, with fire and nails and couches flying all over the place.  It’s the best part of the movie. I dug the return of the montage opening. Loved that they had Crazy Ralph doing the beginning narration. Given these few things, I’m not so sure all the other nods and winks were accidents. I’m convinced the death of the caveman stoner was an intentional shout out to Halloween: The dude walks into a dark room, the light comes up momentarily and reveals Jason standing still and silent before it goes dark again, then Jason slowly moves into position and gut-stabs the guy with a big chef’s knife. It’s too similar to The Shape’s stalk/kill scenes to be accident. Buechler definitely knows the genre and it’s films well enough to do plenty of nudge-nudging. He even later went on to work on a Halloween movie and he worked on a Nightmare, too, so he’s dipped his fingers in all three of the big franchises. Also, I want to say, contrary to what this review might lead you to believe, I really like his work. Cellar Dweller is awesome and his effects work is steller and his werewolf in Project Metalbeast (played by Hodder) is just so crazy that it’s coolness cannot be questioned. I may be reaching with this one, but I also kind of think, or at least hope, that the Shepards’ last name is a hi-five to John Shepherd, since he was the only Tommy Jarvis not to appear in the “Last time on Friday the 13th” montage at the beginning of the movie. I guess that could be me just wishing A New Beginning would get some of the respect it deserves.

The few bits of The New Blood that are cool, however, just can’t make up for all the suck. It’s just not up to snuff with the first six movies in the series. I don’t hate it. I don’t think I could ever hate any Friday the 13thmovie, but I can say for sure that it’s the worst of the films we’ve covered in the franchise so far. I really don’t dislike it, but I can’t defend it. It sucks. I only like it because it’s Jason fighting Carrie. And even then, the idea is better than the execution.

this shot is missing a shark

we sure hate to see him go

TO BE CONTINUED … ???

Fisty: I know my disappointment is palpable, but remember that my fond childhood memories were just MURDERED by watching it again. To me it’s just ten pounds of suck in a five pound bag, I’m afraid.

Despite an exciting new look and actor for Jason, and a potentially thrilling plot device, The New Blood is a new low for the Friday franchise. The aforementioned Carrie versus Jason contrivance was a failed stratagem both in that it didn’t generate a decent movie, and also because it opened the doors for increasingly flaccid, gimmicky sequels in the now enervated franchise.

Bill:But at least it adds weight to some of our (mostly my) crackpot Tommy as Psychic, Dreamin’ Tommy and Jason as Myth theories.

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Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI

NOT IN 3D

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Released: 1986
Starring: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen
Running time: 86 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher

Maybe “lives” isn’t really the best word. There is only one thing that Tommy Jarvis fears … Jason. Tommy convinces his Sweat Hog friend Hawes from the group home (he’s still there?) that he has to face that fear, Maury-style. They road trip to Jason’s burial site in the small, rural community of Forest Green (formerly Crystal Lake). Tommy, however, plans on doing more than just confronting his fear: He plans to murder it by torching Jason’s corpse. After digging up the grave, seeing Jason in the casket triggers one of Tommy’s violent episodes and he repeatedly stabs the body with an iron rod, reliving his boyhood trauma of killing Jason. After the cathartic stabby-stabby, he leaves the rod in Jason’s chest and goes for the can of gas, but a sudden blast of lightning strikes the iron pole, Number-5ing Jason back to a semblance of life. Hawes becomes the first of J’s post-life victims, but Tommy escapes, heading into town to warn the people of Crystal Lake Forest Green that Jason is back and more dangerous than ever!

Naturally, when the survivor of two previous mass murders in the area with a common MO bursts into the Crystal Lake Forest Green police station, screaming at the cops about a killer on the loose, back up is called and they investigate immediately. NOT! Sheriff Garris and his deputy (probably Holocaust deniers) dismiss Tommy as a nut, informing him that they changed the name of the town to put all that Jason crap behind them, and then they lock him up for the night. Meanwhile, Jason is killing the shit out of random people on his way back to the camp, which is just about to open for the season.

The next morning Megan Garris shows up at the station with her friends Sissy, Paula, and Cort to ask her dad to look for a couple counselors (dead, d-e-d dead) that never showed up when they were supposed to. Tommy, still in the cell, not being a complete idiot like the CLFGPD, connects the dots and tries to warn them about Jason.  Megan takes notice of how cute the psycho in the cell is, but her dad shoos her and her crew away. He and Deputy Cologne escort Tommy out of town and send him on his  way, warning him not to come back. But Jason is out there and the body count isgrowing. Kids are showing up at the camp. Megan’s friends (and a bunch of other people) are dying. Only Tommy believes. And only Tommy can stop Jason and save those lives, but the authorities are sure that Tommy himself is the killer and none of his books on the occult will help him if he’s locked in a cell or shot full of holes. “He picked the right day to pull this shit. Happy Friday the 13th.”

never a good idea

number 5’s alive!

this should be a tip off for what to expect

Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment. A crowning moment in the series, IV is arguably one of the very best Friday the 13ths. Production values are high, there’s talent on screen and off, and a charming self-awareness. Presaging the meta stylings of New Nightmare and Scream by nearly a decade, Jason Lives reinvigorated a series ailing from slasher ennui and the vitriolic reactions to A New Beginning. It also classes up the joint, sadly being the first Friday the 13th to not suffer cuts due to an X rating, and also being totally lacking in boobs. You win some, you lose some.

Bill: I wonder if any of the post-A New Beginning movies actually happened or if they’re just the increasingly bizarre nightmares of an insane Tommy Jarvis. That would actually explain a lot. The facts in Jason Lives aren’t consistent with the previous movies in the series. Jason is said to have killed Tommy’s mother and friends, but the people that Jason killed in The Final Chapter could hardly be called Tommy’s friends and there is no mention at all of his sister. Oddly, there’s no Mention of Roy-Jason either when Tommy’s history comes up.

Fisty: It basically retcons the end of ANB, dropping the idea that Tommy could be the new killer. And Tommy kind of implies that Jason really did drown way back in the long long ago and has always been supernatural, and not a baghead feral mountain man-child. Plus, they claimed Jason had been cremated in ANB.

Bill: The timing doesn’t add up either. Tommy has aged at least ten years, but Jason’s corpse doesn’t seem to have been in the ground for nearly that long. And, though the age difference between Tommy and Megan and her friends isn’t that great–handful of years, maybe–Megan acts as if the children of Crystal Lake Forest Green were raised believing that Jason was just a legend, despite the presence of an actual grave with a headstone marked “Jason Voorhees,” and the previous films showing TV coverage and newspaper stories about his killing spree(s). Jason Lives fits so poorly with what we know came before that Fisty was wondering whether Jason Livescould be classified as a reboot of the series. But I’m going with dream, not reboot.

lightning is striking again and again and again and again

do i offend?

trailer or carbonite?

Jason Lives starts out with what is essentially a fleshed out rehash of Tommy’s dream of Jason’s resurrection from ANB. What brings Jason back? Lightning. Does that make any sense? Not really. Does it matter? Not really. It was good enough for Frankenstein and Short Circuit, so it’s good enough for Friday the 13th. Undead Jason then starts doing some really amazing things, like punching his fist through torsos and tearing arms off, folding people in half backwards. I guess he was always strong, what with his being able to smoosh people’s heads (he does some more of that in this one, too) and pop their eyeballs out and whatnot, so maybe that isn’t that unusual for him. Dropping down out of the trees like a hockey ninja, however, is definitely new and very un-Jason-like. Oh, and that one kill that always bugs me: Jason smashes someone’s face into the wall of a motor home and, rather than nose breaking, lips pulping, teeth shattering inward, the victims face makes a perfectly intact face-shaped indentation in the metal of the vehicle. (Lightning resurrection? I’m all in, but my suspension of disbelief stops at face-molds.) But if this is all in Tommy’s head as he sits around in a straightjacket somewhere, drooling, then the non-smooshy face-smoosh doesn’t bother me so much.

Fisty: Okay, I’ll give you the Tommy’s Dream theory, which goes a long way toward explaining the rest of the franchise. Despite the presence of the supernatural, this is the last of the “natural” Friday the 13ths, and it very neatly nails shut the coffin of the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy as well as the Wild Child Jason Hexalogy, while opening the door to the Killing Machine Super Jason as Myth Pentalogy … though if we agree with Horace (“Five acts a play must have, nor more nor less.”) then the franchise is off-kilter. Most fans would blame A New Beginning due to it’s Jason-less status, but I would argue that F13 is rather two pentalogies linked by a standalone episode, that being Jason Lives. “What the fuck are you on, Fisty,” you ask? Hormones and classics, my friends. But really, taking a step back and examining this installment and the franchise as a whole from a distance provides some clarity.

F13P1 through P5 chart the development of Jason, and later Tommy Jarvis. It’s the story of how a lovable little mongo kid drowned, his mother took revenge by murdering those she held responsible, and when she in turn was killed, her wild child takes his turn at vengeance, only to be brought down by an intended victim, little Tommy Jarvis, who then himself suffers the consequences of violence and takes refuge in insanity, even possibly becoming a killer himself and continuing the cycle. Again, this is all very classical, with Jason’s saga recalling The Oresteia (I was always kind of pissed that SPOILER Orestes got away with it; Clytemnestra is a much more sympathetic character to my mind).

stroke for bloody stroke

a mask tells us more than a face

going mano a mano

Bill: Whoosh! Right over my head! I get what you’re saying about the linked pentalogies, but I don’t think you can really break the series down that way. For one, you can’t really consider Jason Lives a standalone movie. It would have to be part of the Killing Machine Super Jason cycle and that would throw off your numbers. Plus, wtf? You’re counting Jason X and Freddy Versus Jason? You can’t count those. Neither of them are by title Friday the 13th movies. Jason X is still great and sure the X can mean ten, but it’s still more of a spin off movie than truly part of the F13 series, a Laverne and Shirley to the Happy Days of F13. And lets just ignore FvJ. Seriously, Jason’s afraid of water now? Fuck that movie. That leaves us with nine movies. Traditionally,  they’re broken down into two bookend standalone flicks, Mother at one end and Parasite at the other, with three overlapping trilogies between them, being comprised of One Weekend (2-4), Tommy Jarvis (4-6), and Zombie Jason (6-8). That works, but, if you really wanted to simplify it, I think it makes more sense to break the franchise down into two tetralogies, an ascending tetralogy and a descending tetralogy linked by ANB as the apex movie.

Now, I don’t pick ANB as the standalone because it’s not really Jason, but because it comes between Jason’s death and rebirth, when he existed purely as legend, as a boogeyman to be mimicked, as a sort of Candyman to refer back to one of the captions from our review of ANB. The Ascending Cycle begins in a pre-Jason era with Pamela, has Jason taking the murder-reins from her, moving out into a wider world away from the lake in P3 (IN 3D!!!) and the beginning of The Final Chapter, then returning  to die and become true legend. Then, after A New Beginning, the series begins to move in reverse back to the beginning, although in a more exaggerated way. Jason returns to life, after a movie or so in the immediate area of the lake, goes back out into the world, returns to a child state, then a practically fetal state, and eventually passing into non-existence/Hell and leaving a Jason-less world. And Jason Lives, as the first movie of the Descending Cycle, perfectly signifies this switch into reverse, as it’s basically all of the previous movies played backwards: Tommy comes back to CLFG from Pinehurst, Jason starts off dead and unmasked, returns to life, remasks himself at the beginning of the movie, (Fisty: Notice also that he starts out by killing random folks, then moves on to counselors), the camp opens and Jason ends up in the lake. And, from what I read about what was removed from the script but left in the novelization, Jason’s parent, his father this time, would’ve appeared at the end of the movie.

Fisty: Sooo, Jason is Orpheus? (Bill: No, but he was an Argonaut! *ba-dum-tish*) And wait a minute, they don’t overlap as trilogies, only as tetralogies. Not by my reckoning of the franchise timeline. And even then it doesn’t come out even because you’re jettisoning Jason X. I count what I count! PLUS, FIVE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER. Damn it, math is hard. I have to move on because all these numbers are blowing my mind.

One thing that’s a bit puzzling is the presence of the Jason as Myth in Crystal Lake Forest Green. After all, 2 through 4 went down what, ten years ago? That’s a pretty short timespan for culling a murderous episode from a town’s history (how very NoES) to the point that no one believes it ever happened. How is it that all of the kids were raised on the Jason as Myth and Camp Blood Legend, yet don’t remember any of the news reports of that era? And how do they not even remember that the town was called Crystal Lake only a decade previous? I guess that could be more support for the Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory, since dreams have their own logic and that logic only needs to meet minimum requirements to keep the story rolling. Like how Jason’s grave is different in both ANB and Jason Lives–though I will grant you the former as clearly being a dream gravesite–and especially how Jason in Jason Lives is granted a plot in a fancypants cemetery, while Pamela Voorhees is relegated to a plot on the side of the road in The Final Chapter. Dream logic! Or gaping holes in continuity! You decide!

say, what?

he is risen

this book reads like stereo instructions

Bill: What? Of course the trilogies overlap. But don’t yell at me about them! That’s not my idea! I just mentioned them as  that’s how I’ve seen the series broken down by other people. I like my Ascending/Apex/Descending idea better, mostly because it gives ANB more of the respect and importance that it deserves in the franchise. Five is the magic number, as in PART 5!

I touched on the timing of that Jason as Myth thing a bit before.  It really doesn’t add up.

Fisty: No, it doesn’t. Let me put it to you like this: Jason as Myth is not the same as the Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory (or TTJDT), but is the STORY of Jason that emerges following the events of The Final Chapter, after Jason the Feral Murderous Man-Child is killed by Tommy Jarvis the Civilized Murderous Man-Child (Wait–is Jason Enkidu? Can we really afford another digression?). Once he”s dead, whether it’s his legend being used by Roy or his reanimated bad self slaughtering the innocents, it is Jason-as-Myth, the Jason of legend and folklore, from the mouths of babes. Ten years is not adequate time for Jason the Fact to be erased and replaced by the legend.

Bill: So, if I go by your Jason as Myth theory, does that mean everything from A New Beginning on are just Jason’s legend, stories told around the campfire? Are the further sequels just the increasingly exaggerated re-tellings of Paul’s campfire story from The Final Chapter from after the real Wild-Child Jason’s death? (Hey, whatever happened to Paul?) Wow. That’s like Frank Miller framing 300 as an oral, fireside tale so he can trick out the history however he chooses. And I think it works even better than my TTJDT (Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory).

Honestly, I don’t really think it was a dream or anything like that, just bad continuity. The series has always been pretty shitty at keeping the story straight. That doesn’t really bother me. This movie is probably the worst of the bunch in that regard and it’s full of silliness, like the face smoosh I mentioned earlier. I don’t care. I still adore it. It’s a good thing we spent so long talking about the franchise as a whole because really, I could never review Jason Lives with any kind of objectivity. My attachment to it is even greater than my attachment to The Final Chapter. This movie started getting heavy rotation on cable at just around the time I moved beyond needing someone to watch a scary movie with me. I had seen all the other movies in the series, but I’d watched them with my sisters or my mom or my brothers. I was finally old enough to sit and watch them by myself and BAM! Jason Lives is on every other night. So I watched it every other night. And it’s so damn fun. And so funny! This was also about the time I started buying Gorezone and Fangoria, a very special time in my life.

he’s everywhere you want to be

darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter

rising up to the challenge of his rivals

Fisty: I would love to take this all the way back to Paul. (What happened to him!?) But why do you keep shooting down your own crackpot theories?!

Bill: Because I keep having new ones! Just wait until I suss out my ideas on this new Crystal Lake as a Static Pool in the River of Time/Jason as Nexus of All Realities theory I’m developing.

Fisty: Well, I care not for other crackpot theories on the F13 timeline, and before we spend the entire review arguing over it (seriously, you cannot separate 1 from 2! CANNOT!), we need to move on.

Jason Lives is fun because it’s so self-aware. McLoughlin knows he’s making a movie for horror fans, and that they have certain expectations, so he lives up to them while playing with them. From nods to Universal horror, to breaking the fourth wall, to metareferences like Lizabeth’s “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly,” the film is peppered with meta. Everyone–except perhaps the principals of Tommy, Megan, the Sheriff, and perhaps Jason–is aware of being in a slasher.

McLoughlin takes the humor over the top, bringing the film into parodic territory. The silly face smoosh you mentioned is just one of those ridiculous moments, like the smiley face kill. Personally, they take it a little too far; I don’t think kills have to be silly in order to be funny, and these are points against Jason Lives in my book. But McLoughlin recovers with the other jokes; I was especially fond of the campers themselves (is this the only F13 to actually feature kids at camp?). The comics and Sartre and No Future boys are probably my favorites. “What did you want to be when you grew up?” They’re no Reggies, but they’re cool little dudes.

we could’ve gone to camp north star, but no

reading material for the cool

reading material for the uncool

Bill: “I think we’re dead meat.” I love those two! And that comic the one sleeping kid has is actually an issue of Heroes for Hire featuring Power Man and Iron Fist, two of the coolest superheroes ever, inspired by Blaxploitation and Kung-Fu movies, respectively. The kids in this (and I think they are the first kids we’ve seen since the first movie) have better taste in reading material than the counselors do. Sissy is reading some lame Men at Play magazine? That’s not nearly as cool as Debbie and her issue of Fango from Part 3. Still, I like Sissy. I liked all of Megan’s group. Cort, especially, got some laughs out of me. Oh, and Nikki … there may not be any noodz in Jason Lives, not even during the sex scene, but a quick google titty search of Darcy DeMoss will be very rewarding. Sadly there’s nothing out there for Jennifer Cooke or Renée Jones. And I liked Farthead Martin, too, even if he isn’t quite as cool as Crazy Ralph.

I didn’t mind the smiley face kill. So the guy’s face just happened to land on a smiley face. So what? At least it didn’t leave a face-shaped impression in the tree. Stupid RV death, ugh. Besides, while there are a few silly kills, you do get some good ones, like the back-crack and a full-on, Zito-style window smash. (Two windows broken and two people defenestrated in Jason Lives, and one exploded door. Perhaps it should be titled Zito Lives?) And Lizabeth’s death (that’s the girl with the VW) is, I think, one of the most upsetting in the franchise. The way she futilely offers Jason her money and credit cards to spare her just makes me really sad. I did miss Jason’s creative body arrangements from the previous films. He did have the presence of mind to stick one head in a parked car, but that’s nothing compared to his old pop-up corpse shenanigans. Though, I suppose, in this movie, no body he left behind could be as gross and gnarly as his own. Ugh, there’s a scene in this sequel that might be, to me, the grossest thing in the franchise. Jason himself gets hit with a boat propeller and the result is that the water looks like bloody, chunky, rotten Jason stew and it always skeeves me out. I’m getting sick just thinking about it and I don’t get sick easily. Maybe I’m weird. Fisty, is that as gross to you? Anyway, I guess that makes up for the lack of gouged eyes and stacked bodies.

have a nice day

don’t leave home without it

does she or doesn’t she?

Fisty: All lakes are gross to me; I just don’t trust water that doesn’t flow. It’s the island girl in me, I guess.

I can’t believe you didn’t mention “The Man Behind the Mask,” though! For what, the first time ever a Friday the 13th movie has a decent soundtrack!? And it’s ALICE COOPER!? Hells to the yeah!

Jason Lives is one of the last hurrahs of the slasher genre before its final, inevitable decline. Though the peak was past, films like Jason Lives  and the same year’s April Fool’s Day played with the audience’s familiarity with the genre. Though its parodic elements may turn off some fans, its reputation as a fan favorite stems from the humor just as much as it does the slick direction and photography, and a talented cast, things that also made it one of the slashers most accessible to non-fans. The climax of an ailing franchise, Jason Lives effectively (though briefly) rejuvenated a dying genre. And it’s just plain fun. 

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

the faux jason cometh

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
aka Friday the 13th, Part 5: A New Beginning
Director: Danny Steinmann
Released: 1985
Starring: Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Marco St. John, Juliette Cummins, Miguel A. Núñez, Jr
Running time: 88 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher

When we said “final,” we didn’t mean “FINAL.”Little Tommy Jarvis ain’t so little any more. It’s been five years since his showdown with Jason Voorhees, and they haven’t been good years; Tommy’s been bounced from one psych facility to another, and all he’s gotten out of it are some freaky hallucinations, a hair-trigger temper, and a bad case of hormones that make him look twenty-five. At seventeen he’s on his own at Pinehurst, a bizarre halfway house that seems to run on the no-rules-at-all system. Even Trish is MIA, bummers. Upon moving into Pinehurst, Tommy makes a good impression on his new peers by going kung fu krazy on Eddie, and also meets Reggie, the coolest sassy little black dude since Webster. Neighboring deranged hillbillies Ethel and Junior show up to complain about teenagers sexing on their property (this is a problem?), and the day is capped by another resident, Vic, going apeshit and taking an axe to fat, laundry-hampered Joey. Arriving on the scene to clean up the forty whacks are paramedics, one of whom channels Rowdy Roddy Piper by chewing bubblegum and calling everyone “pussies,” but the other seems a mite … distraught.

vic gets ready for his forty whacks of fame

That same night, the killings begin, first with residents, and then hospital personnel. The next day, Tina and Eddie sneak away for some good ol’ sex in the bushes clean fun, and are horribly murdered for their pains. Though residents are disappearing right and left, Pam pshaws Dr Matt’s worries and takes Reggie and Tommy off to visit with Reggie’s totally cool brother Demon. (Who the hell is Pam, anyways, and what does she do at Pinehurst? Is she a counselor? Who knows?) Mental hillbilly Junior shows up again, freaking Tommy out and provoking another kung fu frenzy, and Tommy runs off while Junior tears ass on his ATV, for what reason I do not know. When Demon, his girl Anita, Ethel, and Junior all end up dead, it starts to seem like perhaps Tommy’s become what he fears: his nemesis Jason Voorhees. When Pam and Reggie return to Pinehurst, they find the remaining residents all butchered, and there’s a dude in a hockey mask who seems real happy to see them …

a high-toned sonofabitch

“Buncha pussies.” Vilified by the fanbase, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning continues Tommy Jarvis’ story–he being the first Final Kid to make it past the first few minutes of the next sequel without either dying or disappearing from the chronology forever. But that’s not what upset fans, the ones who came looking for a Jason Voorhees killing spree. The flashpoint for F13P5 was the shocking twist ending, which left many fans feeling betrayed and/or ripped off. Now, we’re going to discuss that twist ending, because it’s impossible not to, so if you don’t know what it is and don’t want it spoilered, get out now. Now, let’s see what all the hate is about, shall we?

Bill: Hey! Where’s my 6-minute recap/murder montage? How am I supposed to know what happened in the previous four movies? Was I supposed to remember all that? Who are these two guys and who are they digging up and why? Who is this kid and why is he watching? Why does he seem scared? OMG! That man isn’t dead and … He killed those men! Who are these people and WHAT IS GOING ON?!

This is the first of the Friday sequels that doesn’t start with a “Last week, on Friday the 13th” montage and I kind of miss it. Though, I guess, this being a New Beginning and all, I can understand the need to start fresh, to look forward instead of back. That’s why they begin with Tommy’s prescient dream of the beginning of Part 6! Seriously.  Two guys digging Jason up in the rain, the worms on his face, his resurrection … was this kid seeing the future or what? He foresaw the complete change in Jason’s MO!

they're playing pinochle in his snout

In the previous three movies, Jason was a sneak-and-stab guy, not an all-out hack-with-machete cat. He learned from watching his mama how to stalk and sneak and surprise and kill. Most of his murders had some of that to them. In Tommy’s dream, Jason comes out of the grave with that damn machete and just annihilates, then walks straight toward Tommy. No more sneaking, no surprise, just stare you down and cut you up. Apparently resurrected corpses have no need for stealth or cunning. In the next movie, that is exactly what he becomes! And he stays that way for the rest of the franchise.

Makes it kind of ironic, then, that A New Beginning gets shit on so much for having a faux Jason, considering the killer in this movie is far closer to the Jason of 2-4 than the post-death Jason of the latter films in the franchise, the very unstealthy, annihilating, murder-machine Jason of Tommy’s dreams.

Fisty: That is an interesting point, mon frere. Jason Lives is often singled out for its use of parody and comedy, but A New Beginning is really where that starts. Even to the twist ending, the unmasking of not-Jason, Steinmann et alia seem to be taking the piss out of the franchise, using the F13 tropes with abandon. It’s not surprising that with not only Steinmann at the helm, but also writing the script in the company of Martin Kitrosser and Danny Cohen (the former was responsible for the fiasco that is F13P3), the story often meanders in bizarre and meaningless ways. Characters traipse in and out of scenes, being introduced for the sole purpose of feeding the kill machine as ANB homes in on an astonishing twenty-two deaths. Sadly, thanks to a revamp of the R rating, most of those kills are quick-cut to death leaving only a few of the trademark highlight death scenes.

For the most part, those kills are in Jason’s traditional stalk-and-slash style; we get a lot of the POV lurking in the woods shots (thank goodness the producers didn’t do something silly like completely take Jason out of his wooded and isolated setting … can you imagine?) and cunning murders using items at hand. Canonically, could there be some connexion between Tommy’s dream and the later unstoppable force Jason? Is this some kind of Dark Halfscenario?

jason or george stark?

Bill: Like, an undead Jason powered by Tommy’s unrealized psychokinetic power and forced to behave according to Tommy’s subconscious mental image of Jason? Neat idea.

As for the kills in ANB, while, yes, they are cut to shit, at least they do give you a ton of variety. You get a melding of the under-the-raft murder and the through the bed murders from previous films. There’re two nice axings, slit throats, stabbings, a beheading and, more interestingly and memorably, a railroad spike to the head, road flare in the mouth (awesome!), and my two favorites in the film and two of my favs from the whole franchise. I am, of course, talking about the naked shears-though-the-eyes followed by sickening crunch as the shears are closed and the very inventive leather strap-around -the-head! That’s the good shit!

Fisty: Those were solid. And, lest we forget, this was a fairly boob-heavy entry in the series, even with the sex scene being cut down to ten seconds. No other sequel has as many, except maybe F13P4, despite the MPAA’s meddling.

as pretty a pile of victims as you'll ever see

Bill: Oh, yes! There’s really only three characters that show anything in this installment of the series: Tina, Robin, and Lana. Tina and Robin’s scenes are pretty great, from my POV, and Lana gives a nice little flash, perfect for her tiny role. I just wish Violet would’ve shown some flesh. Tiffany Helm is adorable. Easily, the third most fuckable female character in the entire series (1 & 2 being the twins from The Final Chapter) but sadly, she keeps her kit on until the end. There’s another nail in the coffin of that “No naughtiness = safe” myth.

Fisty: Much like F13P3, ANB’s storyline often makes no sense (I’m looking at you, Kitrosser). The halfway house idea, and the treatment/rehabilitation of Tommy, while it could have had some interesting subtext, is under-utilized, and when it is in use, it is often ridiculous. (“Let’s hand troubled teens an axe and see what happens!”) The whole concept seems to go right out the window about a half hour in, rarely to be mentioned again. Pinehurst’s residents are also less than compelling, with the exception of  Shavar Ross as Reggie, who fulfills the sequel’s need for a spunky little kid a la Tommy Jarvis of F13P4, and Melanie Kinnaman, who is largely memorable for her ability to frolic run from Jason in the rain in a sheer white top. Neither of them are actual residents/patients, however; the teens themselves are prosaic, although Tiffany Helm’s Violet has her fans. (Bill:ME!)

getting oedipal?

As for the non-residents, they can be reduced to simple Jason fodder. They wander onscreen, do something ridiculous, then die. The waitress Lana looks at her boobs in the mirror because I guess she likes them (and we like seeing them) and gets it, Nurse Billy the cokehead rambles to himself and bites it, Joey fetishizes chocolate bars and dies … and that’s how the entire movie goes. The installment is metronomic in structure, alternating jokes with jumps or kills with jokes with jumps or kills, contributing to the illogical structure. It’s hard to maintain a storyline under that sort of pressure. Combined with the editing done to appease the MPAA, the results are extremely disjointed, another reason for fan hate.

Bill: I think you’re being a little harsh. Yes, Pinehurst seems to be a whole string of accidents getting shoved into happening, but they did explain that it was an honor system and, up to Vic snapping, the worst problems they seemed to have had was some kids running off to fuck in the bushes. So, stupid as it seems to us, as viewers, I could see how a sudden murder was the last thing they’d expect. (It did happen after  Tommy showed up, too. More of his psychic influence?) As for the looney kids, I liked most of  ’em! I liked the scene with Jake admitting his attraction to Robin, then, snubbed, turning to Vi for solace, only to be brushed off again. Poor guy. Robin’s guilt, after, when she’s kicking herself for hurting his feelings is nice too. It’s endearing. And I really like the touch of Vi setting too many places at dinner after Joey and Vic are gone.

get away from her, you bitch!

The non-residents aren’t that bad either. Sure, they’re Jason fodder, but there’s fodder in all of these movies. There kind of has to be. At least they are mostly entertaining. Demon and his damn enchiladas are awesome.  Ethel and Junior are maybe a little crazy, but someone had to stand in for Crazy Ralph and God’s Eyeball Man as the town weirdos (and perhaps family members? Could Ethel be a widow?) Then there’s Billy, sweet Cokehead Billy. He’s like Nurse Axel from The Final Chapter, only much cooler. And all of those guys have scenes prior to or are mention prior to their murders. I will give you Pete and Vinnie  and The Hungry Handyman. They really were just pop-in roles and had no business even being in the movie. But, considering Steinmann was supposedly told to have a scare, shock or kill every seven to eight minutes, and he had to do this while setting up a new killer and peppering the movie with red herrings, I think he did an ok job. He does, at least, milk these mandatory add-ins for whatever he can get. With the exception of a couple wrong place/wrong time witnesses, he always either has the characters say something about the Pinehurst kids or having had some connection to them, or sticking in a clue, true or false, to the killer’s identity, making you question if Vic could be back or if it could be another Pinehurst resident.  Then, after each murder, he goes immediately to Tommy having visions of Jason, implicating him as the psycho.

which witch is which?

John Shepherd was fine as Tommy, but, you know, I really wish Thom Matthews had been Tommy in ANB, as well as Jason Lives. As a huge Return of the Living Dead fan, I would’ve loved to have Matthews in the same F13 with Mark ‘Suicide’ Venturini and Miguel ‘Spyder’ Núñez.

Fisty: I jizzed just thinking about that. I loves me some Miguel A. Núñez, Jr! And I’m not being harsh, I’m just being real. Let’s acknowledge the weaknesses while celebrating the umm, well, can we say it has strengths?

damn, enchiladas--you so fine!

The production values, for one, are MUCH better, especially in night scenes. This was a DREAM to screencap, just gorgeous and easy. Roy definitely had a way better Jason costume than Tommy did in The Final Chapter. (Notice how that blue marked mask is less menacing than the red, though?) And Steinman, though he was laboring under the joke/jump requirements, handles it well, Undoubtedly, his background in hardcore porn, which has a similar style, benefited him in this case. Though it is sometimes incoherent and the storyline weak, it is still par for the course of a standard F13 sequel. What do else do viewers expect? The problem is, they expected Jason, and instead they got everything else F13 is supposed to deliver–except that it wasn’t actually Jason acting all Jason-esque.

AND THAT’S OKAY. Repeat after me, kids: THAT IS OKAY.

Why wouldn’t it be? One can argue that a Jason who isn’t really Jason is a cheat, but it’s just as easily argued that the Jason of the later sequels is hardly Jason at all. He lacks the personality, the pizzazz of our beloved cunning Baghead Wild Child. He’s Jason, but he’s also not-Jason, if you catch my drift.

what is he, the fucking candyman?

There are really two eras of F13, and A New Beginning straddles them, as does Jason Lives. You have your early sequels, 2-4 which are a (somewhat) coherent narrative, mostly spanning a very short time period. The Tommy Jarvis trilogy awkwardly spans 4-6, and everything after 6 bears little relation to the earlier sequels. (There’s a nod in 7, but we’ll discuss that in its own time.) You could remove A New Beginning from the narrative entirely, and it really would not affect the clarity whatsoever, but there’s no reason to. It is a more than adequate entry in the franchise, hitting all of the tropes like clockwork, and there’s no reason for a fan to be offended.

Bill: The … (Fisty tells me “liminal” is the word I’m looking for)  nature of A New Beginningisn’t really through any fault of the movie itself. The original idea of ANB was to set up Tommy as the new Jason, which, if they’d have stuck with that idea, would’ve made this movie integral to the evolution of the franchise. The marginalization of Part 5 can be laid at the feet of the fans. It was the fan outcry against a new Jason that forced the producers to abandon their plans and bring Jason back in Part 6 (which I am pretty thankful for, honestly.) I just don’t understand why everyone hates Faux Jason. When ANB was made, Jason had only been the killer for 75% of the series of films and Roy/Jason’s motives for killing were way more in line with Pamela Voorhees’ original motive from the first movie. I have never even seen a Neo Jason/Roy action figure. They have figures for Mrs. Voorhees and Baghead Jason, but no love for Roy. Yeah, sure, the mask with the blue slashes isn’t as threatening or iconic, but surely SOMEONE would buy it.

i'd buy that for a dollar

And, yes, Fisty, I may tend to gloss over some of the faults of this sequel. I’m just so used to defending it against haters that it’s hard to turn around and be critical of it. I mean, I love Tommy Jarvis. I like this movie. I like that the killer’s motive hearkens back to the original movie. I love goofy Cokehead Billy. I like that there’s some mystery in the series again. I like all the titties and the inflated body count. I like the chainsaw vs. machete duel. There is a lot here to enjoy! However, I suppose it does have its issues.

One thing that really irks me in this flick is the repetition of certain bits of sound and dialog, especially during the final battle scene. Having a character repeat something is fine, but not having some different audio of it is not. It makes me think of automated operators repeating recurring digits in a phone number AND I HATE THAT! And Steinmann’s (I’m assuming, but it could’ve all been in the script) apparent ignorance of contemporary music and hatred of anything musical is not nearly as charming and entertaining as Joseph Zito’s hatred of glass. It seems like half of the victims in this meet their end either singing or listening to some usually woefully out of place music. There’re at least two ski-bop-a-loo-bopping characters in this movie, including a teenager. I can see this coming from Billy the Cokehead (though even he seems like he would be into something a little more modern) but Pete and Vinnie? They seemed straight out of the ’50s, out of The Outsiders. It’s 1985! I think they’d have been into slightly more contemporary music. Oh, and Lana with her sing-songy, “Iiiiiiiiiit’s SHOWTIME!” Then there’s Demon and his woman with their, “Hey baby. Oooh baby. Oooh baby. Hey baby. Hey baby. Oooh baby, etc…” ARGH! Even Violet, at one point, is listening to some bit of music that IN NO WAY MATCHES ANYTHING SHE SHOULD BE LISTENING TO. We’re not talking Lion in place of AC/DC either. It’s just the wrong fucking music for the character and scene. I think His Eyes by Pseudo Echo is the only bit of non-Manfredini musical-anything that actually fits with the film.

Fisty: A) You just asked for a word without telling me what exactly you were saying, and secondly, you stole my line. But like we said about ANB, it’s okay. Essentially, the experience with ANB can be summed up in Steinmann’s own words: “When you guys pick and choose that stuff, it demeans the work. What’s important was, there were people getting killed, and you saw some breasts.” F13 in a nutshell, kids. Roy is not undeserving of his own action figure!

Bill: Totally.

see ya, wouldn't want to be ya!

Important movie-related communique from Fisty:

“WHY

DO YOU HAVE TO ARGUE WITH ME OVER EVERYTHING?

ASS”

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

it's final, and we really mean it

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
aka Friday the 13th, Part 4
Director: Joseph Zito
Released: 1984
Starring: Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Judie Aronson, Peter Barton, Erich Anderson, Ted White
Running time: 91 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher

Giving it to you straight: Opening with what’s probably the most skillful recap in F13 history thus far, we’re treated to a framing device of a campfire tale as told by … PAUL! How YOU doin’?! Familiar faces flash by as we watch Jason’s history unfold narrated by our favorite Missing Person–even into P3, in which Paul was noticeably absent. Thankfully skipping Chris’ stupid dream from P3, the movie proper begins with Jason’s body still lying in the barn where he fell.  We get to dig on a little CSI: Crystal Lake, watching the police bag evidence and bodies get shipped off, until Jason is loaded into an ambulance and carted off. Changing channels, we then get to watch some of the 1980’s slasher equivalent of Scrubs as horndog Dr Axel  attempts to seduce Nurse Morgan. That goes down like a lead balloon and she takes off while  he slowjacks it to some spandexed aerobitards. Sick of that shit, Jason makes like a tree and kills off the lecherous medicos before making his way back to Crystal Lake.

Speaking of Crystal Lake, over in those environs we find Trish Jarvis and her mother on their usual early morning jog, apparently unaware of the tragic events that have been unfolding elsewhere on the lake over the past few days. Is Crystal Lake that huge or are they just that unconscious? The Jarvis family also includes budding geek and horror fanboy Tommy (Corey Feldman), and dumb dog Gordon, and they seem to have relocated to their lakeside cabin permanently following divorce from absentee father Mr Jarvis. Hot topics of conversation for the Jarvises include “who’s renting the cabin next door,” “what’s for dinner,” and “why are we drinking OJ with salad,” rather than “who’s killing teenagers in Crystal Lake.” Their lack of interest in current events will come back to haunt them …

murder just isn't relevant to their interests

Next-door-neighbors/victims to-be are en route to Crystal Lake even now: Generic Hot Guy Paul (don’t get confused!), Cheerful Slut Samantha (a pre-Weird Science Judie Aronson!), Lesser Generic Hot Guy Doug, Shy Virgin Sara, Horny Jerkwad Ted (Lawrence Monoson of The Last American Virgin), and Horny Shy Dork Jimmy the Dead Fuck (Crispin Glover). Courtesy of Gordon, Trish and Tommy get a Meet Cute with the party kids next door while Mom looks on in approval–and maybe a little jealousy. The next morning brings twins Tina and Terri, who are going to Crystal Point–despite riding their bikes down the trail in the opposite direction–and some gleeful midday skinny-dipping. We’re also introduced to the mysterious backpacker Rob, brother of Sandra from F13P2 (she who was shish-kebabed).

Night falls on Tuesday the 17th (or whatever day it is now), and the party kids settle in with their Coors and begin switching off partners, while Mama Jarvis and Gordon go AWOL (shades of Muffin!). When Trish and Tommy get home from wherever they’ve been, the lights are cut, Mom and Gordon are missing, and the fun is ready to begin. Jason shows up, people get defenestrated, and every single window gets broken.

final girl trish defenestrating

Put that in your computer, Teddy Bear: Fan favorite and the standard by which all other Fridays should be judged, The Final Chapter is the first movie to feature, for the entirety of the movie, the true Jason as he would forever be.  It introduced his greatest nemesis in the character of Tommy Jarvis, gave the franchise its reputation for nudity, and featured the single greatest dance sequence in the history of cinema.

Bill: Since he recapped all the way through Part 3 (in 3D!) can we say that Paul I isn’t dead? Or did he perhaps have a way to see into the future and read our reviews, as Zito seems to have done. He begins his entry in the franchise with the very campfire scene that we said would’ve been the logical starting point for Part 2. It’s the first time in the series that the recap doesn’t seem overlong and a bit annoying. This Zito guy knows what he’s doing. He knows how to handle a lippy window, too. Rob breaks a window to get into Tommy’s house. Trish, rather than use either of two doors that are only barely blocked, breaks a window to escape. Later, she jumps through another. Jason smashes one window, pulling someone out of it who then falls and shatters all the windows in a car. Later, Jason throws a body in through one window and jumps through another, smashing both. He also smashes through a shower door, which, really, is just a frosted, sliding window on a bathtub. Even the dog, rather than face Jason, jumps through a window, breaking it. I’m positive that if Rob’s tent had a window, it would’ve gotten broken. I’ve never seen so much broken glass in a movie. Not since DC Comics’ Hitman #18, when Garth Ennis introduced a character called The Defenestrator, have so many bodies gone through so many windows.

FUCK GLASS

Fisty: You’re totally wrong about that, Bill. Oh, what? Sorry, I was on auto-pilot. You’re actually a hundred percent correct about the defenestration factor in Part 4, so much so that I wrote the number out. (And I, for one, am grateful to Zito for his penchant for defenestration, and for giving us the excuse to write the verb ‘defenestrate’ and its various conjugates about forty thousand times.) If it weren’t totally in poor taste, Zito probably would have subtitled Part 4 Kristallnacht instead of The Final Chapter.

Aside from shards of broken glass (which I am uniquely qualified to appreciate since I used to collect shattered glass), Part 4 is also littered with insanity. The Jarvis clan is a whole family of crazy–but it’s the kind of crazy we’ve grown to know and love ever since Part 3. Notice how, despite a weekend’s worth of killings somewhere else on the lake, Mrs Jarvis still would rather hang out in an isolated cabin with her two children rather than retreat to somewhere uh, safer. She and Trish for for sunrise jogs around the lake (so it can’t be THAT huge), leaving Tommy unsupervised, and she often sends her children off to town or outside to hang out in the woods with a psychopath. Before you say, “Hey, any reports would have mentioned that the killer was caught and killed, so it’s all good,” allow me to point out that, A) people tend to be illogical and paranoid when it comes to the possibility of danger to themselves and their children, and B) Zito shows Mrs Jarvis hanging out on the couch reading a newspaper with the headline “MASS MURDERER’S BODY MISSING.” (And as we see from Rob’s collection later, there was ample news coverage of all the slayings.) Now, considering the history of the area, and also the weird, unspoken conspiracy of adults a la Nightmare on Elm Street demonstrated in Part 3 (and elsewhere … notice how Pamela Voorhees’ grave is right on the side of the road, isn’t that spot a little prominent for a mass murderer? That’s a grave that’s just begging for desecration), you’d think she’d have like, an ounce of concern over this. But no. Maybe she just has a deathwish though, considering her penchant for wandering around outside on scary, stormy nights. A nasty divorce will do that to ya, I guess.

we're just a bunch of crazies

And what the fuck is up with their dinner? Green salad, tuna salad, and orange juice for dinner? No wonder Trish wanted some pizza. Gross me out.

Bill: Maybe Tommy has a gluten allergy? That boy is just as nuts as the rest of his family, but I still love him. They kind of winked at the die-hard fans like Fisty and myself in Part 3, by having Shelly love silly make-up pranks and showing Debbie reading some Fango, but with Tommy, they went full out.  He is us. He is the scary movie fan in a scary movie, the proto-Randy-from-Scream.  That Fango Debbie was reading? It was probably left there by one of Tommy’s neighbors after they borrowed it from him. I had my make-up effects phase at his age, too. I was reading Gorezone and Fangoria and planning on being the next Savini, Baker, or Bottin, using whatever I could find around the house to create effects that’d freak out my family or some strange guy at the corner store that didn’t speak English and thought I needed to go to the hospital (true story.) It’s fitting that “The Final Chapter” would pit Jason against one of us, that his greatest enemy would be one of the only people that would really know what it takes to kill the unkillable. I love Tommy because he lets me be a character in the movie. We even had the same toys. You can clearly see a Dungeons & Dragons figure on his shelf. That was one of my favorite monster toys when I was his age. Hell, when he saw Samantha and Paul 2 getting it on through the only unbroken window in the movie, he behaved exactly the way I still act when I see a naked girl.

even jason loves tommy

Fisty: Yes folks, he really does. Speaking of naked girls, we get a lot of them in Part 4. Really, it’s the most boobage of any of the sequels (Can we get an actual count? Who has these statistics?), and gave the franchise its (not entirely deserved) reputation for nudity. Let’s see, we have daylight skinny-dipping–including twins (twins!)–evening skinny-dipping, shower sexing, and even vintage burlesque boobies. Finally, after the desert that was Part 3! This almost makes up for the low red count; notice how there are kills galore, but not as much blood, or nasty sloooooow deaths.

Jason finally comes out of his three movie identity crisis and settles into the Jason we all know and love: Giant, implacable, puckishly-humored, creative, and finally, dead. He finds time in Part 4 to indulge in some interior decorating, and also goes in for poetic justice in his kills (witness Jimmy being screwed to death).

These little things all add up into what is ultimately the ne plus ultra of Friday the 13th sequels; it’s not just that it is the fan favorite, but also that if you had to pick just one movie of the franchise to really showcase all of its virtues and flaws, The Final Chapter is it. Though Part 2 is still my ultimate favorite, I admit that it has a very different, very Seventies feel, really showing its influences, and it isn’t perfectly representative of the Friday the 13th ethos the way Part 4 is. Part 4 really distills everything that made up all of the previous movies, and presents the perfect franchise formula, what every sequel thereafter would try to replicate.

we love him!

Bill: One of the things we like about the F13 sequels we’ve reviewed so far, as we’ve mentioned before, is the strength of the characters. Contrary to the notions people have of the slasher genre, F13P4, like the earlier films in the series, has victims that, for the most part, are more than just cardboard standees and who subvert the expectations of their characters. Slutty Samantha is more sage than slut at times and even gets out-slutted by one of the twins. Virginal Sara is actually way down to fuck, which she adorably informs Doug of by saying she wants to go upstairs, but she’s not tired and she wants him to sleep in the bottom bunk, but she doesn’t want to sleep in the top. Dead Fuck Jimmy, who seems to be the strange Shelly-esque character of the film actually bags one of the twins and Ted the Data Entry King can’t seal the deal with her sister. Paul 2 starts to look like a Rick for a while, but then shows his true decency by rejecting the super hot twin trying to climb up his johnson and staying true to his girl Samantha. Then the Doublemint Twins turn out to be nothing alike, despite their matching clothes. It’s kind of a shame that these kids are just fodder for Jason, as I like all of them more than Rob or either of the Jarvis women, who seem like lesser characters. Trish and her mom are pretty boring and Rob, while it is nice to have a hunting-the-hunter type fella in the film, is a far cry from the Ahab that Tommy becomes later in the franchise and doesn’t exactly set the screen on fire.

now these are engaging characters

Fisty: Rob is boring–at least Date Rape Rick was interesting. And Final Girl Trish is almost unbearably dull, too. She is my least favorite Friday Final Girl thus far, by a wide margin. She exhibits some very poor decision making skills, like chillin’ with Strange Dude with a Knife with all the mass murdering going down in the neighborhood. It’s kind of weird how the Jarvises hardly interact with the party kids at all. Plus, she seems very elderly and prissy–except when she’s fighting Jason, because she really whales on him with hammers, machetes, whatever–and that distances her from our party kids. I guess because she looks thirty, and Tommy so young, that’s part of why they Jarvises and the party kids don’t interact, but I don’t like it. Rather than a cohesive group, we get two distinct groups: Fodder and Finals.

Bill: I can overlook those few bland characters and I can forgive the irrational behavior of the Jarvis Bunch, them being crazy and all. I can even forgive the lack of flowing red stuff that Fisty mentioned a few moments ago, since I did get to see naked, synchronized-swimming, teen twins, but there are a handful of silly plot holes that are harder to ignore. These are my biggest complaint about the movie. For instance, way more than in the earlier films, Jason seems to be in multiple places at once. At one point he seems to be: upstairs, scaring the dog; outside, arranging bodies; and hiding in the basement the whole time. The whole sequence of events irks me. …but at least I got to see Banana Fatty get killed!

banana fatty does not like being called 'banana fatty'

Fisty: Awww, poor Banana Fatty. She’s not even that fat!

I do dig how this installment subtly turns that sex = death argument on its head. On the face of it, yes: The sexual kids die. But then, so do the non-sexual. Tina (or is it Terri), the twin who isn’t down to ride anything with a pulse, gets hers when she’s leaving the party after refusing to get down with Teddy. Unless Jason just couldn’t tell them apart by their color-coded matching outfits. And Zito actually treats First Girl Slutty Sam as something more than fresh, naked meat, by casting the bubbly and sincere Judie Aronson. Plus, though she dies for it, he handles Virgin Sara’s Quest for Booty with all the dignity and charm–and sweetness–afforded to our Darling Vicki in Part 2. Even the musical chairs-like swapping of partners during the party scenes smacks of well, typical high school and college situations, with some people trying to exert their sexuality, contrasting with others who are comfortable with their roles, and others who are trying to find their places. So wholesome!

sara's bloody axe wound

My single biggest peeve is the Tommy transformation at the end. The kid is a budding monster FX maven, and he spends what feels like twenty minutes cutting his hair and then Bic-ing his head in the SLOWEST AND LEAST CONVINCING TRANSFORMATION EVER. While Trish battles Jason downstairs–and to her credit, she really takes a good forty whacks at him with the machete, you go, girl!–Tommy dicks around with shaving cream and a Bic. Come on, Zito! The kid makes monster masks! You’re telling me he doesn’t own a single fucking Latex bald cap? My ass, he doesn’t. In the time he took to cut his hair and then shittily shave his head, Tommy could have snapped on a bald cap, some hillbilly teef, and whipped up some prosthetics so he’d really look like Li’l Mongo Jason. Fucking A.

Bill: The choice of disguise is also a pretty strange leap in logic for Tommy to take. When Ginny grabbed Pamela’s sweater it seemed like the natural move to make, but did Tommy actually think that he was going to confuse Jason into thinking he was seeing himself as a little boy? Oh yeah… insanity, the Jarvis curse. So of course it worked. Makes me wonder if Tommy’s mother didn’t have Voorhees as her maiden name.

Still, despite these gripes, and a whole lot of continuity errors, Part 4 remains one of the funnest films in the Friday the 13th franchise. What a shame that it was “The Final Chapter,” as I’d have liked to have seen a few more of these.

plus, TWINS

Doctor Kitten Yo: we didn’t talk about the Dead Fuck Dance
living0dead0punk: I know. I really wanted to talk about how the band Lion also did the theme for Transformers: The Movie, and how that’s AWESOME
Doctor Kitten Yo: you know he was really dancing to ac/dc
living0dead0punk: I know
Doctor Kitten Yo: and that’s so much more awesome
living0dead0punk: no, that would be too cool for Jimmy the spaz. Lion is just cool enough
Doctor Kitten Yo: you fool
Doctor Kitten Yo: him dancing to ac/dc is perfect; it adds a tiny thread of coolness to a spaz, highlighting just how spazzy he really is, making it so much sadder. pathos!
living0dead0punk: But, when I said to someone last night, “You know when Crispin Glover dances in f13p4, it’s to a Lion song? You know what else they did, right,” I was answered with, “FUCK YEAH, I DO! THEY FUCKING RULE!”