the posters show traces of carnal violence: march 13 – april 14

A poster gallery of the psychotronic flicks we’ve been watching over the past month.

Fisty:


Bill:

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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”

April Fool’s Day

a cut above the rest

April Fool’s Day
aka Week-end de terreur
aka Die Horror-Party
aka A Noite das Brincadeiras Mortais
Director: Fred Walton
Released: 1986
Starring:
Deborah Foreman, Thomas F. Wilson, Griffin O’Neal, Mike Nomad, Deborah Goodrich, and Clayton Rohner
Running time: 83 minutes
Genre: slasher, comedy

It’s gotta be bloody unforgettable: Preparing for the arrival of her friends at her island home, Muffy St John (Deborah Foreman) prepares the house, happening upon an old jack-in-the-box in the basement. While opening it, she recalls receiving it as a birthday present, and how the little monster inside scared the bejeezus out of her while all the adults laughed.

Ready for some Spring Break, Muffy’s friends wait for the ferry to pick them up. The company includes the serious A-couple Kit (F13P2 Final Girl Amy Steel!) and her boyfriend Rob, sex maniac B-couple Nikki and Chaz, and Chaz’s BFF Arch. Unknown quantities are wetblanket shy girl Nan who does theatre with Muffy, the ambitious Hal who’d like nothing more than to make good with Muffy’s wealthy father, and Muffy’s fine-ass cousin Skip. On the ferry over, insta-buddies Skip and Arch smartly play a game that involves throwing knives (yes, exactly what your parents warned you NOT to do), but the fun and games take a turn for the worse when Skip takes a knife to the stomach and falls overboard. Rob and townie crewman Buck leap into the water to save Skip, only to discover that it was an elaborate prank involving a trick knife belt. After all, it’s April Fool’s Day! Oh, you kidders!

we got punk’d

But then as the ferry is arriving at the St John dock, Buck, who stays in the water attempting to hook the boat up from below, is crushed and horribly maimed between the ferry and the dock. He’s carted off to the hospital by the ferryman, screaming imprecations at the group, who are also roundly chewed out by the local constabulary, who warns them not to leave the island until the matter is sorted out. Suitably chastened, they repair to Muffy’s secluded mansion.

The girls talk sex while heating up beans n’ franks for dinner, and the boys goof around outside, but Skip stews over the accident and Buck. At dinner, Nan is mortified by sitting on a whoopie cushion, while Arch is somersaulted by his trick chair. Nan drippily offers a toast in appreciation of college chums, only to be outshone by Muffy, who quotes Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (You really cannot go wrong with Dr Johnson or Boswell, kids.) A touching moment. As the guests raise their glasses to their hostess, Muffy looks on smirking, enjoying the wine dribbling down everyone’s chins. “April Fool,” she says archly. That isn’t the end of the gags, though. As everyone settles in for the evening, each room’s occupant stumbles upon more yet more pranks. Some of the pranks are innocuous–exploding cigars, trick faucets, lights that won’t turn off–but others seem aimed at dark secrets: clippings about questionable deaths, drug paraphernalia, S&M gear, and more.

hey, biff, your mcfly is open and we can see your flux capacitor

Even Muffy seems off-kilter when they come down in the morning, looking unusually frowzy and acting totally out of it. Despite the previous night’s minor contretemps, everyone spends the day relaxing and trying to enjoy their vacation. At least until Kit and Rob sneak off to the boathouse for some nookie, and catch a glimpse of what appears to be Skip’s body floating past. Rob, Chaz, and Arch investigate and find Skip’s trick knife covered in blood, and speculating on a connection to Buck’s accident, the three split up, intending to search for either Skip or the possible maniac. Only, Arch doesn’t come back.

Reassuringly, Muffy offers to make tea, because that’s definitely what’s needed in times like these. Discovering that the water main is broken, Nikki and Hal go out to the well where they discover Arch’s head and Nan’s body and flip their shit. When the constable calls that evening, he assures them that he’s been with Buck all day, but that he’s on his way to the island with some important information. While they wait, the group battens down the hatches, locking doors and windows. Everyone but Muffy hangs tight in the den, where they speculate on how odd Muffy’s been acting–and looking. As they discuss the pranks from the night before, tempers flare and suspicions are raised.

What exactly is going on at the St John house, and will anyone survive?

“april fool”

An essential lack of seriousness: Despite initial low returns at the box office (due in large part to a crap advertising campaign), April Fool’s Day ended up a cult classic due to success as a staple on late-night television and as a video rental. It is a perfect blend of comedy and horror featuring a quintessentially ’80s cast, and directed by Fred Walton who helped kick the whole slasher craze off with ’79s When a Stranger Calls. It’s a lighthearted mid ’80s slasher that manages to pay homage to the antecedents of the genre while epitomizing the decade in which it was made.

Bill: Writing reviews in the two person format we’ve chosen here at PB&G can sometimes be a pain.  With a single voiced review, you can just bang it out whenever you feel like it, but with a partner, you sometimes find yourself hostage to your “co-anchor’s” schedule, health, even mood, and sometimes your desire to crank one out gets stomped on by your 2nd voice’s (my) laziness.  Such was the case with last week’s review of French Sex Murders. I slacked off and we didn’t finish on time. Because of that and because I love April Fool’s Day, I figured I’d surprise Fisty by having this review all primed, synopsis written, and ready to go, so we could turn this mother out  and start on our next, The Initiation of Sarah. …but I got sidetracked. By the time I was ready, she’d already done most of the work and been waiting on me. My response upon seeing this, being as I’m a jerk, was not, “Wow! You’ve been busy. Good work. Let’s get into this.” It was, “Aw. You already did the synopsis for AFD. I was going to do that.” Now, since Fisty isn’t talking to me (this has happened before – it’s temporary) and this review has to be done by tomorrow, I get to review April Fool’s Day all by myself. Prepare to be underwhelmed!

dramatic recreation of the results of two-person format reviewing

First thing I want to talk about is the cast. As our crew of possible killers and would be victims arrives, ready to ship on out to friend Muffy’s island for the week, you’ll notice a lot of faces that any child of the ’80s will recognize. Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2, Larry the narcoleptic male stripper from Summer School, Biff motherfucking Tannen, the wholesome girl from the S&M scene in Waxwork, um … the boyfriend from I, Madman … and … others. I wish Fisty were here. She’d love to talk about these folks and their ’80s pedigree.

Fisty: Mr Passive Aggressive, you forgot to mention the hot, popular girl in Just One of the Guys AND Rick, the made-over nerd into cool dude also from Just One of the Guys! Plus Stu Charno, from BOTH Friday the 13th Part II AND Just One of the Guys! And last, but certainly not least, that truly dazzling Julie chick from Valley Girl! Totally trippindicular fer sher!

Bill:Fisty! I am NOT passive aggressive. And I’m pretty sure the Julie girl from Valley Girl is the sweet girl from Waxwork, but I’ve still never seen Valley Girl, so… Hey, did you know the guy that played Buck was in Jason Lives? He was the stunt coordinator on that, too. That movie ties with The Final Chapter for my favorite Friday the 13th movie.

Fisty: BILL! Yes! I know that! Actually, he’s also Thornton in Jason Lives, which is why he’s got his own category. Nyah. That’s how we roll here, by the way; we have categories for every actor, director, sometimes FX or composers or writers, that you might possibly find in another movie we might conceivably write about one day.

but where is paul?

On topic, this movie is chock-a-block with familiar faces from myriad other classics of the Eighties, which is one of the reasons it’s so fun. Even Aristotle would agree. Also agreeable in that they satisfy certain expectations are the genre conventions that April Fool’s Day upholds, then transposes. Like gialli before it, AFD takes a murder mystery–in this case, one of the ur-mysteries, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None–and applies the slasher formula, slowly picking off pretty young things in inventive ways.

Bill: AFD is a lot closer to its gialli forebears than most slashers. In ways I think it resembles Bay of Blood even more than Friday the 13th does, with all the mystery and talk of inheritance, the possibility of sinister local boatmen, the missing bodies, scheming for money (by Hal), and the wooded setting. It even slightly resembles 5 Dolls for an August Moon, even if that is mainly due to the island setting and the healthy sense of humor. I love that it feels so akin to a giallo or straight up mystery.

a bay of blood?

I also love that it’s successful at being damn funny (that sense of humor I just mentioned.) Chaz and Arch are the primary funny men, and they are great as the class clown types. The girls’ sex quiz talk is genuinely funny, too, but Muffy’s pranks, childish as they are, are the best. Whether it’s dribble glasses, whoopee cushions, trick chairs, rigged faucets, whack-a-mole lighting or whatever, it all gets at least a smile. Most of these actors have had some comedic experience as well, and they know how to sell the sense of merriment you feel whenever you see someone get gotten. It really makes the first half of the film super fun to watch. It also creates a sense of total uncertainty. From the very beginning of the movie, everything is a joke. You’re never quite sure when something is real or just another trick. When the mischief begins to darken to the point of upsetting people, you don’t know if you’re seeing actual clues to the real mystery, genuine malice, or just more jokesterism going a bit too far. This carries on through the whole film, so that even in the very last moments, you can’t be sure where things will go.

Fisty: Walton creates and sustain tension beautifully throughout the movie, right from the beginning, which has a “found footage” feel. Perhaps this is a metamodernist interpretation (since Cannibal Holocaust was really the only such genre film before it), but Chaz’s video footage gives the feeling that it’s the only surviving testament to their weekend, that perhaps no one survived. And that’s from the very first frame! The creepy boatman that Bill mentioned, the accident, the isolated setting, and the possibly malicious pranks–Walton harps on all of them to keep heightening the tension, and then lessens it with moments of good humor and gregariousness as the narrative rolls on. By the time people really start disappearing, the mood is well-established, and Walton never lets it up right until the finale. But he couldn’t do any of it without the superstrong (mutant strong?) cast.

“hold me as only a mutant strong man can”

As noted above, pretty much everyone in the cast was a regular on the psychotronic scene by the time they hit AFD, and their combined experience–particularly in working together previously–lent a genuine camaraderie to their acting. The first part of AFD is very much an ensemble piece, depending on those actors to create likeable, real people, and they get it right. As does Walton’s direction, and even more, Danilo Bach’s script, of course. Though they’re all spoiled preppies–they (mostly) attend Vassar, and Muffy OWNS an ISLAND, for crying out loud–they’re still not just walking, talking stereotypes, nor do we get Twenty Minutes with Jerks. They’re just ordinary, if over-privileged, young people, concerned with their nearing entry into the post-collegiate adult world, with very real concerns like career-planning, “what will I do with my life” nerves, and whether to do anal or group sex. This weekend, they might have their choice.

Now, I don’t know anything about Bach, other than that he also wrote Beverly Hills Cop, and it makes me curious about his agenda with AFD. Because seriously, there is no other pre-Scream slasher that has anywhere near as much gay subtext as does AFD. It’s not even all subtext; we’ve got the subliminal, the liminal, and the superliminal! So we’ve got Vassar students–a college renowned for its resistance to heteronormativity–and we’ve got at least three men who are very comfortable playing dual roles with their sexuality. Chaz plays bottom to Nikki’s top and camps it up with his New Wave look. Arch, despite vowing to bed multiple women over the course of the weekend, also indulges in a lot of mincing, and is comfortable rolling around on a bed with not only his BFF Chaz, but gets up close and personal with Skip, whom he’s only just met.

heteronormative

Rob is kind of a nonentity, but he does like to prance around in half-shirts and short-shorts, displaying his wares for men and women alike. With the women, we have first Kit, who like Rob is the control, though she is fond of mannish attire (contrasting with his slutty togs?). Next we have Nikki, a mostly confident and sexually adventurous young woman, who is comfortable experimenting though she might sometimes feel insecure. And then there are Muffy and Nan, our Vassar theatre girls. There is definitely something going one with those two; not only is Nan completely out of place with the group, she’s also unreasonably upset when she thinks Muffy may have betrayed her secret. Her toast celebrating the particular importance of college friends seems to hint at the particular importance Muffy has for her, and notice her role at the end? Very telling! My interpretationof their relationship casts Nan in the role of Serious Sapphist, maybe new to it, but sprung on Muffy, while Muffy is a bit of a playgirl–maybe she’s just experimenting, maybe she’s an honest to goodness bi Ethical Slut. Muffy is a bit of an odd fish, with her past with Biff Arch; contrast that with her interactions with Nan and Nikki, and she comes off as very much as smooth operator, a genuinely self-assured coquette, even a femme fatale of sorts. Deborah Foreman OWNS Muffy, and she OWNS this movie. Hats off to Amy Steel for another outstanding Final Girl, but it’s Foreman who gets the standing ovation here. No other Val girl can touch her.

Bill: Speaking of homo-subtext, I really would’ve loved to see Muffy get it on with Nikki. Or even just see Nikki get her kit off. (See what I did there?) Man, Nikki was hot. There’s no nudity in AFD, however, and less gore than you’d expect, a certain boating accident’s victim being the main exception. Even the three – count ’em THREE! – severed heads aren’t particularly gruesome. Believe it or not, I’M NOT COMPLAINING! This a movie that doesn’t need any more red than it has, would, in fact, suffer by its inclusion. This is a movie that needs a bit of mystery to the kills for it to work. You have to be kind of uncertain about what happened and how. Is someone just missing or are they dead? Where did they go? Who startled them? Are they kidding? Is it just a joke or did something terrible happen? The less you know, the more tense it gets.

met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine

Charles Bernstein’s music adds to that intensity. He’s done plenty of horror scores before, for movies like The Entity, Cujo and, of course, A Nightmare on Elm Street, but there’s something different going on in the music for AFD. There’re no discordant sounds meant to disorient you. It’s not about some unrelenting chase theme or crazy stinger. It gets at you the most during calm, quiet scenes. It’s simple and serene. It sounds like secrets and childhood. It reminds me a little of the music from Poltergeist, but even more so, it reminds me of the opening of Tales from the Darkside. It makes me feel like I did when I was a kid, when it was so easy to be scared.  It makes me think of the opening sequence of Darkside, where everything looked nice and sunny and pretty, but you knew there was something else, something you couldn’t see, that needed to be feared. I don’t know much about music, but I know when it’s effective and the music in April Fool’s Day really creeps me out.

So, we dig the cast, the music, the direction, the tone, the writing… What do we have to bitch about in this movie? I know the most common complaint thrown at it and I suppose we can address that after this…

SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING!

Do not read past this point unless you’ve seen the movie!

Fisty, what do you have to say about the people that hate the twist ending of April Fool’s Day?

Fisty: Well Bill, they’re fools. I’ll admit it, the very first time I saw AFD back in high school (after years of admiring the VHS cover), I was like, “Wait, WHAT?” I can understand the shock, really, I can. But any long-standing ire or complaint is completely unwarranted. It’s just so cleverly done, so much misdirection and hinting–with very few stretches of imagination–that you just have to applaud. And it’s so fucking funny, too. Kit’s reaction when she runs into the parlour, and everyone silently pretends to ignore her, is fucking priceless. It’s absolutely perfect. And poor Rob! Still locked in the pantry while Kit’s getting the lowdown, wailing and pounding on the walls–oh, I may just faint. Hilarious. Absolutely worth it.

oh, HA HA, that’s really funny, you guys

Bill: Damn right, they’re fools! I watched this A LOT when I was younger and I can’t really remember my very first reaction to the twist, but I imagine I must not have had a problem with it, since I went on to watch it so many more times. As it is now, I love it. It’s a slasher movie with a truly happy ending. How often does that happen? Everything about the reveal is perfect. Even better, Walton did such a great job of keeping you on your toes and questioning everything in the movie (even when you hear a dog howl in the dark, it turns out to be one of the guys getting drunk outside) that you doubt the happy ending. The denouement reveals everyone to be ok, it was all a big joke, they partied down and had a good time and, yet, you, as the viewer, can’t relax.  You’re still expecting something horrible at any moment. So great.

Fisty: And you do get a final jump scare, one of my favorites!

Now that we’re in Spoiler Town, let’s touch on how AFD handles those slasher tropes, shall we? Attractive young people: check. Any questions? Remote location: check. There’s no boat back to the mainland till Monday. Stalking victims into an And Then There Were None scenario: check. AFD is relentless and creepy about it. Nil authority figures: check. Our constable is the only one, and he’s only nominally involved, long enough to disappear. Bodies disappearing so that no one knows what happened to them: check. It’s essential to the plot.  Inventive deaths & Poetic Justice: check. We’ve got F13P2’s caught in a Looney Toons trap, Hall’s trussing, the Chaz bondage mask murder, and Skip’s being stabbed with his own prank knife all fit. Holiday theme: check. It’s the whole gimmick of the movie! Yes, yes, these qualities are all in line with what we expect from our slashers. What’s different?

As mentioned above, the characters aren’t two-dimensional assholes, and we’re not rooting for any of them to die. We also don’t have any expendables, people who wander onscreen long enough to die and show what a Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day the Real victims are going to have. The Psychotic Evil Twin of Happy Birthday to Me and Blood Rage is inverted not only by being not a psychotic evil twin, but by being a fraternal twin, not Buffy but Muffy. And then there’s Death By Sex: Doesn’t happen. Yes, all of our characters are sexually active, but the first to “die” is the most morally upright and virginal-seeming, Nan. Darling Nikki is the last girl–barring our Final Girl–to go, and she and Chaz were getting it on all weekend. Our Final Girl Kit herself is a pretty ordinary, non-virgin type: monogamous, but not with the guy she lost it to, gregarious, happily participating in the sex quiz. She and Rob even sneak off for some midday booty without being impaled in the middle of it. The guys are all pretty similar; Arch and Hal are both intent on getting some, while Rob and Chaz actually are. Now if only the many slasher imitators had had the brains to be similarly original, then perhaps the slasher genre wouldn’t have peaked and devolved into self-parody quite so quickly, effectively murdering the horror genre for years.

THUS ENDETH THE SPOILERS! SPOILERS HAVE ENDED THUSLY!

You may resume reading. Or just go watch the movie and come back, jerk.

Bill:So, no real complaints about April Fool’s Day at all. It’s a solid flick. I’d put it right up there with Friday the 13th, The Burning and Halloween as one of the best. Do yourself a favor and watch it, if you haven’t already.

And thank you, Fisty, for forgiving me and being the consummate pro that you are. I couldn’t do this without you.

PSYCH! I got this shit, man. I got it by the ass! HAHAHAHAHAHA! April Fools, sucka!