So, I might as well get going with my first real post. I've had about a month to come down from the hype of the new Friday the 13th film, and I wanted to start off the blog with an icon, so why not a retrospective on the exploits of Mr. Jason Voorhees? (I'd call him "Sir", but I'm still holding out serious hope that he'll be knighted someday).
Now. Let's get Jasoning. Here's my list of the Friday the 13th series from best to worst.
1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter- to me, this is the epitome of everything the series was ever supposed to be. It plays like an actual '80's teen comedy, for the most part. The teenagers in these films have always been written to serve their purpose, the whole thing has been formulatic from the beginning, but here the formula is perfected. We laugh, we cry (oh, come on, he killed the kid's mom AND his dog), we watch them die. And Jason is just a mean old bastard, here he's at his most intense (mostly due to the fact that actor Ted White actually HATED doing the film). Some of the best kills in the whole series come from this film too (Crispin Glover's corkscrew/cleaver, banana girl, and Axel all stand out).
2. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives- an attempt to inject (intentional) humor into the series, while still keeping the classic feel, and it pretty much works on all accounts. Jason becomes pretty much a zombie in this film and ensures his status among the classics via a Frankenstein-like resurrection scene. This is the only film in the series without nudity, but it's also the only film in the series that ACTUALLY has kids attending CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE. So, you gotta give it points for that.
3. Friday the 13th (2009)- Yes. The new film ranks this high. I followed production closely, I got excited at every promise they made about what the new film would be. It would be a return to the roots of the series, and it was. Was it the best film ever made? Nope. And neither were the eleven films before it. It was formulatic, entertaining, and vicious. And boobies. That's right, it was boobies. Seriously, though, Jason has never been scarier or meaner than in this outing.
4. Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D- To be honest, this film used to rank a couple spots lower, but now that I've seen it in its original 3-D format, the way it was meant to be seen, I gotta say I get it a lot better. The gimmicks seem less hokey when they ACTUALLY pop out at you. Also, the characters here were kinda fun, even if they got on your nerves. I don't know if there's a single horror fan out there who couldn't relate to poor, misunderstood Shelley. And to top it all off, this is the film where Jason gets his hockey mask that has become just as iconic as he has.
5. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood- This is first film where Jason was played by stuntman Kane Hodder, who ended up playing him four times. The idea for this film sounds hokey, and it is, but it works better than one would think. Jason this time goes toe to toe with Tina, one of the series' best protagonists, is telekinetic. She is at the lake trying to get over her father's death as well as control her abilities, all under the guidance of Dr. Crews (award winner- biggest dick in the whole series). Anywho, she accidentally unleashes Jason from his watery grave, and no one blames her for being the cause of all the murders, because this is the 1980's. Jason is an unstoppable force of nature here, and the makeup work is astounding. Also, the showdown between Jason and Tina is surprisingly badass.
6. Friday the 13th Part 2- So, this film is our introduction to Jason. And I'll admit, it's amongst my least watched in the series because it just doesn't feel like classic Jason to me. Hockey mask Jason always pops in my head before Potato Sack Jason. But the film does establish the character, his obsession with his mother (his shrine to his mother is a brilliant concept) and really is a good slasher flick with some of the best kills in the series. Double impalement, anyone?
7. Friday the 13th- One may ask why the original ranks so low on my list. Well, 7 out of 12 isn't too too low, but it's far from my favorite in the series. Despite being the first in the series, there were sequels with more originality, and were more artfully made. Screenwriter Victor Miller has fully admitted to ripping off Halloween as much as he could, but this film does stand ok on it's own. It is neither the best or the worst horror film of the '80's, and the kills are fantastic, but more often than not, the series is watched for Jason. Despite the fact that Betsy Palmer is quite charming as the wonderful Mrs. Voorhees. Also, this does have to its credit the wonderful Kevin Bacon death scene and one of the best endings in horror history.
8. Freddy vs. Jason- Maybe this film wasn't everything it was supposed to be, but believe you me it could have been a lot worse. Monster mash-ups are a long-standing tradition in horror films. It dates back to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, to King Kong vs. Godzilla, and countless others. It's two horror greats going head-to-head, and it works in that respect. Robert Englund is still at the top of his game as Freddy in his apparent last performance as the character. The film is also very stylized, which is both good and bad at times. The screen looks great when focused on the two monsters, but everything else....
9. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning- I'll admit, this film is starting to grow on me. It's kind of mean spirited, the whole thing turns out to be pointless (the killer ain't Jason, and they don't bother to tell you until he's dead). And "Roy the paramedic" just isn't as intimidating as Mr. Voorhees. But it slashes, and it slashes well.
10. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday- well, yes and no. Jason does go to hell, which is apparently where the muppets ended up too, judging by the gaggle of creatures that reach up through the earth and drag him down. The concept is interesting, and new, which is hard for this series, so it gets points for effort. Here we find out that Jason has the ability to body hop from person to person when his own body is destroyed. And to get his own body back, he must enter the body of a member of his bloodline (giggidy, oh wait- that's actually what happens). Yes, the film has an intriguing start. Then there's a scene where Jason ties down a man and shaves off all his body hair, and doesn't kill him. Then we see his "true form" which is some sort of mangled demon baby. Then, in our climactic finish, he is reborn by crawling into his sister's vag. But, the last 30 seconds of film make the whole move almost worth it with the promise that Freddy vs Jason will finally come.
11. Jason X- When I started to realize this film was growing on me, I vowed never to watch it again. But, anyway, in this romp of a film, Jason goes to space (see Leprechaun 4, Critters 4, and Hellraiser: Bloodline) for notes on how well that works. Anyway, 500 years in the future, earth is a hell-hole because we suck. And after salvaging two bodies, the students (I don't know what the hell class they were taking, but it wasn't space-science, or space-acting) decide to bring Jason back into space because they suck, the professor decides to keep Jason around because he sucks, Jason kills everyone but then gets a cyber-makeover because, in the future, he sucks too. A hologram scene at Crystal Lake is noteworhty, however.
12. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan- Jason Takes Vancouver, Jason Takes a Cruise Ship, Jason Takes Your Money, or Jason Takes a Steamy Crap on His Own Franchise would all have been more acceptable and appropriate titles. Paramount Pictures held out through some pretty big box office ups and downs over the previous seven movies, but sold the franchise to New Line after this one, and I can't say as I blame them. There's about fifteen minutes of the movie that are actually set in Manhattan, and about fourteen of them are filmed in Canada. Jason spends the rest of the movie haunting a cruise ship, picking off a senior class one by one, as well as screwing up his own continuity every time he appears to our heroine. Let's just say that where before Jason had killed Crispin Glover, survived a hatchet to the face, drowning (x2), having a house dropped on him and being set on fire, here he dies screaming and vomiting in a flood of toxic waste. To top it all off, toxic waste seems to turn him into a twelve year old... brilliant, guys.
So, there you have it. Friday the 13th in all its glory. Stay tuned next time for whatever happens next time.