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”

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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!”

Friday the 13th, Part 2

bag-head’s revenge

Friday the 13th, Part II
Director: Steve Miner
Released: 1981
Starring: Amy Steel, Jon Furey, Adrienne King, Warrington Gillette, Stu Charno, Betsy Palmer
Running time: 87 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher

Friday a deux: Alice, sole survivor of the murders at Camp Crystal Lake, lies dreaming of the horrors she went through at the hands of Mrs Voorhees. Awakened by her nightmare, she showers, chats on the phone, and then, before the very eyes of her adorable cat, is brutally slain. The killer is considerate enough to remove her boiling kettle from the hot burner. What a well brought up killer!

Fast forward five years, and a fresh crop of counselors-to-be arrive at a training center on Crystal Lake, not far from the infamous “Camp Blood.” The chief trainer, Paul, advises the n00bs of the seriousness of being a camp counselor, mostly bears, and that night around the campfire, the underlines said seriousness by telling them the story of Camp Blood, Mrs Voorhees, and of course, Jason, who reportedly still lurks in the woods around Crystal Lake. Dismissing the tale as an inflated urban legend, the would-be counselors kick back with some teambuilding exercises like swimming, grilling weenies, and cockteasing. Two of the more intrepid CITs (that’s counselors in training, for those who’ve never read the seminal summer camp classics like There’s a Bat in Bunk Five), Sandra and Jeff sneak over to Camp Blood to check things and or possibly do it, but are caught by a local yokel just as they discover the mangled remains of some animal, possibly Muffin. (Fisty: At this point, Eli declared he no longer liked Jason.) That night, most of the CITs head into town for some partying before their training begins in earnest, but a select few stay behind for shenanigans. And of course, Jason is happy to keep them company. STABBY COMPANY.

Increasing returns: F13P2 is a stalwart entry in the franchise, even compared the the same year’s The Burning. It’s a respectable flick that could stand on its own, and is the last sequel to truly capture the feel and groove of the original–so much so that they could almost be one movie. Unfortunately, the kills (several thieved straight from Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve) are censored out of awesome and into mediocre.

Fisty: Good goddamn, I am so glad Steve Miner spent like, six minutes recapping all of F13 in Alice’s dream, because god knows the plot is hard to follow. OH WAIT, NO I’M NOT.

Bill: It had only been a year since the release of the first movie.  No one had forgotten any of that!  Still, you get the recap followed by five minutes of dickteasing with no nudie payout, then a prank call because Jason loves the Jerky Boys, and, finally he shows up (apparently having taken the Crystal Lake Ferry into Manhattan) and kills a girl that has nothing at all to do with this movie, since it all takes place five years after her disappearance!  Then, at last, 15 minutes into an 86 minute movie, we see some of the main cast.  But that’s followed by 10 more minutes of nothing, making the movie practically a third of the way finished before we get the campfire scene that explains everything we just watched and should have been the beginning of the movie!

Fisty:And then even after the campfire reveal of Jason’s story to the CiTs it’s still another six minutes of not a whole lot to the next kill, which is just Crazy Ralph being his crazy self and getting garotted. Next to go is the cop, who wanders off into the woods to investigate that strange man he just saw, and then stumbles across Jason’s Little Shack of Horrors where he bites it approximately eleven minutes later. God, these guys really were following their “a kill every ten minutes” rule.

terry’s abbreviated morning jog

There’s a lot of teaser stuff here, in that we’ve got a lot of mysterious boot-clad feet standing around, and killer POV peeping out at folks from the bushes. And then there’s First Girl Terry, who is never more than half-dressed at any give time, and sometimes much less. Either her ass is hanging out of her shortshorts, or her boobs are hanging out of her skimpy halfshirts–occasionally both! (We won’t go into the vaguely hippie Sandra’s awful attire, as she is otherwise quite likeable.) For all these teases with Terry, F13P2 is sorely lacking in titties, and there’s only a nanosecond of bush shadow. I know it’s par for the course with F13, but still, I was stunned when Terry, after her skinnydip, bothered putting a shirt back on when the towel draped around her neck actually covered more than any of her shirts thus far. HIGHLY DISAPPOINTING. And thanks to heavy censorship, half the kills are off camera, too.

Bill: That brief scene is the only nudity in the movie.  The flick teases you with Mark’s little fan girl, showing her panties slide down her legs, but never makes good on the promise.  And the speared couple have sex without ever even showing a single nipple.  Ugh.  Appalling.

Fisty:But I like Vicky! Her death is, to my mind, the worst in the movie (except for the maybe-Muffin death), because our Bava fan took some notes from the Italians, and her death is very Italian, very Fulci: Long, slow, and excruciatingly drawn out. She just goes tharn in abject terror as the knife slowly approaches. It’s so awful, and I liked her so much. She’s a good girl being naughty! I like her throwing herself at Mark (aka Wheelchair Dude), and I love how she runs off to prep for their hooking up. It’s all so natural, right down to the lipgloss and panties that match her sweater. Despite the amateurish and sometimes hammy acting, I like the look of all our campers/counselors; they all look very real, very natural, like they just wandered out of a Judy Blume or Norma Klein novel and into a nightmare. It’s one of the significant aspects of these movies, that the victims are so very ordinary, that they try to realistically place teenagers in an adult-free setting. Verisimilitude, baby. Right down to Ginny’s halfbaked drunken child psych maunderings.

our sweetheart, vicki

Bill: One of the strengths of the slasher genre was always that it took away all the gothic trappings and scary old houses full of characters that a kid growing up in the 70s, 80s, or even today, could barely relate to.  In their place, we get suburban neighborhoods and camps and sorority houses, the places we find ourselves, filled with kids that could be us or our friends.  The F13 franchise, up until the second half of the series, was particularly good at this.  People like to rag on the characters in movies like these, saying they’re unbelievable, because they do stupid things, go where they shouldn’t, do things they’d be better off not doing, but when I think of my friends or myself as a kid or,  hell, even think of myself now, I know I’m not far off from a Mark or a Paul or a Ginny or Vicky.  I’ve heard your drunken meanderings, Fisty.  Aside from all  the crying and screaming about Laura Ingalls Wilder, they aren’t far off from Ginny’s.  Vicky’s little spritz of perfume on her panties, the way she skips around, oblivious to danger, lost in her hormones and glee…  That could be any of us.  It could certainly be me.   I have sprayed cologne in my pants and skipped around.  I have even worn panties that matched my sweater.

Speaking of Paul…  Fisty, do you know what happened to him?

Fisty: I wasn’t aware that we were, but NOBODY KNOWS. What the fuck happens to Paul? And to Muffin, for that matter? The last we saw, crazed hillbilly mutant Jason crashed through a window just after Paul opened the door to discover the missing Muffin there, purple ribbon and all (and that moment, when the music gets all Benji sentimental and Muffin looks up at them, is totally heartwrenching and pleasing). The music rises to a sudden crescendo, everything goes slow-mo, and then … fade to Ginny being taken away by EMTs, calling, “Where’s Paul?” (Who called them, anyways?) We never see or hear of hide nor hair of either Paul or Muffin again, not even in F13P3. THAT JUST ISN’T RIGHT.

Bill: Maybe he met up with Terry, whose body I don’t recall ever seeing (could she have called the emergency services?!) and they went to hang out with Ted at the bar he never came back from.  Man, you can really tell Jason doesn’t have the hang of this psycho killer thing yet.  He just lets half of the cast wander off and disappear.  As much as I’m enjoying tearing it apart, the very fact that this is Jason’s first go around as the killer and, thus, important to the development of the character and the series, I can’t hate this movie.  I can’t help it.  I’m an unrepentant, Friday the 13th fanboy and even Sack-head Jason has a place in my heart.

Fisty:Awww, Jason the Bag-head! Him and Muffin, togetha 4eva!

muffin the hunted

Bill: You mentioned earlier that the kills were mostly fushing feefed (trans.: stolen) from Twitch of the Death Nerve and they totally are, but I don’t think I’d have minded that so much, if they’d tried to one up Bava’s film.  Instead the kills are totally weak and there’s barely a trickle of blood in the whole movie.

The weak kills, almost total lack of T&A, and Jason’s unprofessional inefficiency force me to place this sequel low on the scale of best Fridays.  I’d still rate this one ahead of parts 8 and 9, but that’s it.  Every other installment in the series is better than Part 2.

Fisty: Hells no. You are a total idiot. P2 is probably my favorite, even in light of later fun with the Dead Fuck Dance or in space(!). It’s got character! Style! The characters are developed, it FEELS like the first movie, and the story works–but for the incomprehensible ending. Plus, Ginny is a totally kick ass Final Girl. Suck it, Bill.

Hell Week of the Shrieking Cannibal Dead

Halloween is on its way.  This is my favorite time of year and I wanted to kick off the season right.   What better way to do that then with hordes of the shambling undead?  I decided that I’d spend a week watching nothing but zombie movies, beginning on September 18th and leading up to Old School Sinema’s 6th Cleveland Charity Zombie Walk, which I knew was coming up on September 25th.   If I managed to survive 30 hours of gutmunchers and the company of hundreds of brain-ivores, this week of extreme carnage would serve as my official beginning to this years Halloween season.

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supernatural voodoo woman

1.  Sugar Hill (1974)

Blaxspoitation voodoo zombies in the funkified seventies, killing organized crime thugs.

It’s a low rent Foxy Brown with zombies by the people who brought you Blackula.  It’s all very cheesy.  Also very fun.  The zombies have bulging eyes devoid of pupils or irises, discolored skin and cobwebs on them.  They look slightly moldered more than straight out rotted.  It’s a look that is, at once, really corny and still pretty cool.  Nothing to see in terms of gore or nudity, sadly, but plenty to laugh at.  Noisiest jungle ever.  And Baron Samedi is hilarious.

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orgy of the dammed

2.  Beneath Still Waters (2005)

Aquatic, grimoire-raised, zombies in a reservoir over a submerged town, killing anyone that goes near the water.  (Great idea!)

Brian Yuzna always makes good with bucketfuls of awesome gore and make up and some nice, healthy titties and, really, that is usually enough.  He doesn’t disappoint here, bringing both in good supply.  With Beneath Still Waters, however, he really goes out of his way and also gives you some creepy atmosphere and it’s a great concept.  Based on a novel, I believe.  Thank you, Brian Yuzna, for Melinda Clarke in Return of the Living Dead 3 and thank you for Beneath Still Waters, a movie that lets me have my cake (smooshed all over a woman’s breasts at an orgy) and see people get eaten, too.

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hong kong gooey

3. Bio Zombie

Chemical weapon, soft drink zombies inside a mall, killing the people locked in with them. How’s that for a twist?

Bio Zombie is a fucking awesome zomcom.   Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee are my new heroes.   They are like the Shaun and Ed of zombie movies. Well, the Shaun and Ed of Hong Kong zombie movies, I guess.  Or maybe I should call them the Brody and T. S. of zombie movies.  Or if Shaun and Ed were the Brody and T.S., then Crazy and Woody could be the Jay and Bob of zombie movies.  Regardless of what I call them or if any of this jabber makes any sense to you, they fucking rule.  The make up is shit and the movie is weird as all hell, like most Asian comedies I’ve seen, but the flick has heart.  And, while Jelly isn’t that hot, her friend, Rolls, is sexy as hell.

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the opposite of good

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4. Zombi 3

Chemical, or possibly viral, zombies (and zombirds!) on a tropical island with one radio station, killing a lot of lousy actors.

So, so very bad.  It steals outright (not pays homage to) Return of the Living Dead, The Crazies and Day of the Dead.  The head scientist over acts so hard I started to sweat just watching him.  He yells every line and throws his arms about wildly and pauses in very odd places.  If Jeff Goldblum and William Shatner had a baby that developed some nervous condition that caused uncontrollable muscle spasms and was always screamingly angry, that child would have given a subtler performance than this guy.  Throughout the whole movie there are zombies throwing themselves off of roofs at people.  Why and how did they got up there in the first place?  Beats me.  Oh!  There’s a helicopter escape, too!   Two of the three remaining survivors get to da choppa and begin taking off, hovering and calling for the third survivor to jump up and grab on.  They do this instead of just waiting for him to get in, which they could have done, since there were no zombies anywhere near them.  Or were there?!  As he’s hanging off of the skid of the helicopter, zombies leap up out of the hay beneath him.  They were hiding there all along!  BASTAAAAARDS!

So bad.  I didn’t even mention the deejay, the zombie deejay.

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you don't have to see to love boobies

5.  Night of the Seagulls (1975)

Evil, blind, Templar Knight zombies in a village of assholes that beat retards with sticks, killing beautiful young maidens.

Ah, I do love the Blind Dead series, of which this is the fourth and final film.  How can anyone not love them?  Gorgeous women, great concepts, creepy atmospheres, awesome sets and those wicked, eyeless, sword-wielding, zombie horse-riding, skeletal knights are some of the coolest risen dead in all of film history.  Even though they’re blind, they’re always nice enough to rip open a young maiden’s dress before killing her.  They do this for us, you know, since they can’t see ’em.  What a considerate bunch of corpses.

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you'll shoot your eye out, kid

6.  Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1973)

Grimoire-raised, criminal zombies on a misty island with a graveyard for undesirables, killing a local theater group and their slimeball director.

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is amateurish in every way.  Still, some of the one-liners are clever and the movie can be fairly funny at times. I especially liked one character’s repeated confession to having pissed in his pants.  It isn’t something that I can bring myself to watch often, but I do like it for a couple of reasons.  One of those being the bitchin’ title.  Seriously, one of the coolest titles ever.  The other being that the entire movie has the feel of the kind of local station-produced tv segments that would be hosted by some Elvira-type character.  I can’t watch this movie without getting nostalgic for my days as a youngster, watching all sorts of horror flicks with my local, Cleveland area, horror hosts like Super-Host, Big Chuck and Lil’ John, and The Ghoul.  Ah, good times…  Call me old, but I think TV was better before we all had cable and knew what an infomercial was.

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no boats, no lights, no motor cars

7.  Shock Waves (1977)

Aquatic, Nazi zombies on, and in the water around, The Isle of Peter Cushing, killing a boat-load of stranded tourists.  Hmmm…  That’s three different zombie infested islands already.

Come on…  It’s underwater Nazi zombies in cool goggles and Peter-fucking-Cushing!  Like I have to say anything more about that?

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reich of the living dead


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8.  Outpost (2008)

Philadelphia Experiment, Nazi zombie, masters of time and space in an old, abandoned bunker, killing an international bunch of badass mercenaries .

Here, we have something new!  Some kind of electromagnetic, unified field theory, universal vibration gobbledygook machine has created a breed of Nazi zombie that can blink in and out of existence at will.  I’m not even sure if they would qualify as zombies, since they seem awful ghost-like, but they look like Nazi zombies and they’re solid enough when they’re there.  Bullets hit them, but don’t stop them.  They sure as hell can kill in some pretty nasty, physical ways.  AND I LIKE THEM!  The mercenaries in the flick, lead by DC (Ray Stevenson, who made an even better cinematic Punisher than Dolph Lundgren, if you can believe that) are some badass guys, but don’t stand a chance against these inviso-vibro-zombies.

I love weird war tales.   Outpost fits that genre well and would make a great double feature with Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, which, itself, is one of the better action-horror, weird war movies from recent years.

My only real complaint about Outpost is the lack of color.  The damn movie is practically in black and white.  I understand that this is a stylistic choice and that sometimes it even works for a movie, but I’m getting really tired of it.  Still, it is a spiffy addition to the zombie Nazi sub-subgenre.

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"they're us. we're them and they're-" YES, BARBARA, WE FUCKING GET IT!

9.  Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Classic, Romero zombies outside of a farmhouse trying to eat the people inside and a few animals outside, because meat is meat and a zombie’s gotta eat.

How about that cast!  Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Tom Towels, Tom Savini!  And, man, is that Patricia Tallman a looker or what?  Savini does almost everything right with this remake.  My only issues with it are some of the more melodramatic moments, like Ben looking to the sky and screaming, “Damn you!  Damn you all!”  I was waiting for him to say, “Get your rotting paws off me, you damned dirty zombie,” all Chuck Heston-like.  Or Barbara’s, “They’re us. We’re them and they’re us.”  Just seeing the look on Tallman’s face was enough, we didn’t need the sledgehammer to drive the point in.

One awesome moment:  When Ben first steps out of his truck, all you see are his boots, then the hooked end of his crow bar comes down into the shot.  I would swear on my life that this was a nod to Tony Todd as Candyman, except I know that Candyman didn’t come out until 2 years after NotLD’90.  Savini is a horror prophet!

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fuckin' nursery school

10.  Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Red Bull-infused, athletic, viral zombies, outside of a mall, killing the people hiding inside, but dogs are safe.

I like this movie, I do, but, while I mostly love the script, the more I watch this, the more I have to roll my eyes at Snyder’s direction.  How about we turn this into a drinking game?  Whenever you see a slow-mo explosion from far away with muted sound, drink.  Whenever someone is about to be shot and the movie cuts to another shot before you hear the bang, drink.  Whenever the camera gets all up close on a gun barrel with a whoosh sound and hints of slow motion, drink.  Whenever a digital gore effect is shown in slow motion, drink.  Whenever you see shell casings fall and clink and clack to the floor in slow motion, don’t drink.  That would be way too much alcohol and you would die.  If I seem like I’m being extra harsh on this flick, while being very forgiving to others, that’s because I am.  It bugs me that this is just an ok movie.  It really could have been great, but it’s held back by one man’s obsession with quick edits and slow motion and zombies that consume as much Gatorade as they do flesh.

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a mouthful of greek salad

11.  Day of the Dead (2008)

Viral zombies (with the proportionate speed, strength and agility of a spider) in a small town, killing everything.

You know, when you get over the fact that they’re using the name Day of the Dead and realize that it has so little in common with Romero’s movie that it is really a remake in name only, it’s not any better or worse than a lot of other shitty movies, which can be enjoyed as such.  Hell, it’s really more like the Zombi 2 of Dawn of the Dead ’04 than a remake of Day of the Dead ’85.  Sure, Mena Suvari is completely unbelievable in her role, but she has a shapely enough ass that it shows through, even under her army duds, so that’s ok.  Yes, Nick Cannon is the Jar Jar of zombie movies, but legless zombie Ving Rhames is cool enough that I think he should be a legless zombie in every movie he’s in, so that almost balances out.   Also, Cannon’s P. Diddy line made me laugh.  And, ok, zombies with 6-foot vertical leaps and the ability to crawl on ceilings is pretty dumb, but the airborne transmission of the virus and flu-like symptoms are kind of neat.  And, I mean, this movie begins with four teenagers making out in an abandoned building.  That’s a clear sign that they weren’t aiming to boggle your mind with their brilliance. If they had named it anything other than what they did, you could probably watch it just as dumb movie that’s easy to laugh at and make fun of.

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lol wut

12.  Zombie 4: After Death (1988)

I don’t know!  Some kind of zombie, voodoo, I guess, on another island, killing whoever happens to be around, including bisexual porn stars, really ugly mercenaries and a girl who may have been able to run across the ocean as a child.

JEFF STRYKER!  I totally used to sell the Jeff Stryker Cock and Balls dildo at work!  This movie rules!  Except it sucks!  As bad as Zombi 3 is, Zombie 4: After Death is on a whole ‘nother level of bad.  It is AMAZINGLY bad!  Nothing in this movie makes any sense whatsoever!  NONE!

The credits will tell you that this was directed by Clyde Anderson, but that’s a damn lie.  The man behind this pile is Claudio Fragasso.  He is the man who wrote and directed Troll 2, a movie so bad they had to make a documentary about it.  This guy is the Sultan of Suck.  He is the Pope of Putrescence.  And Z4: After Death is worthy of him in every way.

The zombies!  They all seem to be just a little over five feet tall.  This is never really explained, but I think they were probably all jockeys.  They may have also been ballerinas, which would explain their graceful leaping abilities.  Seriously, it’s like watching Ice Dancing of the Living Dead Jockeys, only without the skates.  They’re also really good at synchronized window and wall smashing and masters of leaping out of nowhere in small rooms where they could not have possibly been hiding.

Oh, and the song!  Al Festa’s song, Living After Death, epitomizes every cheesy metal song in every movie from the late ’80s.  Not only does it play over the opening credits, but when you first meet the mercenaries, they’re listening to it on the radio.  It rocks so hard that I started getting excited near the end of the movie, because I knew they would play it again.

The end!  This a spoiler, but I really don’t think that matters with a movie like this.  JEFF STRYKER GETS FIST FUCKED IN THE TORSO BY A ZOMBIE!  Really.  That fist just keeps pumping in and out, with an occasional little twist, through a hole punched into his back and out of his belly.  And this just goes on and on while he makes an O-face and the girl who ran across the ocean plucks out her own eye and peels the skin off of her zombifying face.  None of this makes any sense at all, but who cares, because as soon as it’s done, YOU WILL BE ROCKED RIGHT DOWN TO YOUR CORE BY AL FESTA!  Not only do they play Living After Death over the end credits, as I knew they would, but the song rocks so hard that they let it keep playing over an empty black screen after the credits have finished.  FUCK YEAH!

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bill just farted

13.  Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)

Trioxin zombies in a small town, eating braaaains!

Return of the Living Dead is one of my favorite movies ever, but I actually saw RotLD Part II first.  While now, I watch it and laugh at the humor, when I was watching it by myself one night, 12 or 13 years-old, it scared the hell out of me.  My house at the time had windows that would rattle whenever there was a strong wind.  As I was watching, the window began to rattle and I could almost swear that there was a silhouette of a person out there, beyond the blinds and I knew, it was a zombie trying to get in.  To this day, even as an adult, whenever a window rattles, I flash back to that moment and imagine rotting hands smacking against the panes of glass, trying to get in and eat me.

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reports that the virus was caused by rage infected monkeys have now been dismissed as complete bullshit


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14.  28 Days Later (2002)

Rage-infected zombies in an emptied-out Great Britain, killing anyone unfortunate enough to catch their attention.

This movie is so great.  Sometimes I forget how great it is, until I watch it again.  I could easily name off 50 zombie movies from memory and maybe as many as 100 or more, but I can only think of two that have made me cry.  28 Days Later is one of those.  Everything about the movie (except for the lame Rage explanation) is perfect.  Love the music and the way it slowly builds through the climax until it’s almost maddeningly intense.

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panic in the streets of london

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15.  28 Weeks Later (2007)

More rage zombies in infected Britain, killing the people resettling the island.  Yes, it’s an island.  That’s five different islands and six movies so far with zombie-plagued islands.  How many more are there?  Zombie, Zombie Island Massacre, Survival of the Dead, House of the Dead, etc…  Why does anyone ever think that going to an island would be a good way to escape zombies?

Jeremy Renner before he made it big!  Not as good as 28 Days Later, but still really good.  Great cast, great music.  Very depressing.  100% less Cillian Murphy penis.

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we're the only ones who've watched the damn thing anyways

16. The Signal (2007)

People infected with a madness, akin to 28 Days/Weeks Later infected, only with more mental ability, run all over a city killing the uninfected and each other.

Neat idea.  Three different men each direct one-third of the movie, with each segment labeled as Transmission #1, 2 and 3.  It makes for some strange tonal shifts in the flick.  The first third is somewhat disturbing and played very straight.  Scary stuff.  The second takes a more comedic angle and had me laughing pretty hard.  Then the final segment takes the movie back to the more serious, though not as suspenseful, territory of the first.

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nothing at the movie show when you're dead

17.  Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Trioxin zombies on the loose in Louisville, Kentucky, eating the brains out of punks and paramedics and anyone else they can get their teeth into.

One of my top 5 most watched movies ever.  Infinitely quotable.  Tarman and the “Pain of being dead” zombie are amazing!  Trash, I love you, codpiece and all.

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I was aiming for twenty movies, but I fell a little short.  I did watch the beginnings of Zombie Strippers, Don’t Wake the Dead and Burial Ground, but since I fell asleep during all three, it would be dishonest to include them and claim the full twenty. But, if you look at some of the movies I had no trouble staying awake for, that may tell you a little bit about how bad these three are.

The zombie walk, like the five previous walks, was a great success and a helluva good time.  A few hundred or so people turned out, massive amounts of food were gathered and the world was made a better place.  The streets were clogged with the rotting hordes and cars were attacked, civilians eaten and at least one dog was lightly sampled by the dead.  Mmmm… tasty!  I can’t wait to do it all again next year.  But for now, bring on the candy corn, because it’s Halloween time.  Silver Shamrock, bitches!