‘Ch ch ch, cha cha cha…’
You can’t very well have a horror month without first mentioning the ultimate horror franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean. Sorry. I mean The Matrix. Sorry. I of course mean FRIDAY THE 13th.
In a move that some would describe as “pointless”, others as “maverick”, and some “whatever”, I have decided to write a feature (some very short, some very long) based on each individual film in the FRIDAY THE 13TH canon. Impressed? I know I am and you will be too. Join me on this journey of blood, dodgy 3D and mayhem.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
FRIDAY THE 13TH was a little film made for $550,000 by an unknown director, Sean S. Cunningham (though Cunningham had worked with Wes Craven on LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT). Inspired by HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH was a smash hit (in fact it was the highest grossing film of 1980) that had people jumping out of their seats. Not only did it have a vast body count, it also had some good laughs (and Kevin Bacon). The film is perhaps most famous for the end moment in which a submerged Jason Voorhees comes up from the depths and attacks the heroine – an end shock idea that was inspired by the closing shot in CARRIE. All in all FRIDAY THE 13TH is deservedly a classic slasher and a great foundation for the greatness/insanity that followed throughout the 1980s.
Best Kill? Arrow through neck from beneath the bed.
How Does Jason Look? Like a goblin.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1982)
The inevitable sequel. This time Jason – who hither to was simply known as a drowned boy that looked like Skipper the Eyechild from Garth Marenghi, was out for revenge on the woman that killed his mother which is achieved within four minutes by the way. After that I guess he figures, “hey I’m in a Friday the 13th film with a sack on my head, may as well start murdering people”. In the words of Barry Norman, “And why not?”. A solid start to the Jason years.
Best Kill? Machete in head of guy in wheelchair on the stairs.
How Does Jason Look? Like a ginger Sloth.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (3D) (1983)
Jason is back, this time he would be in 3D. Not any 3D mind you, very awkward looking at the camera with one eye while trying to poke an implement into the lens with the other, 3D. Yea. Up yours James Cameron, get back in your submarine. Kicking off with an excellent early 80s disco number, this film is infamous as “the one where Jason gets the hockey mask”. It is also the one I personally refer to as “oh no. Not the one with that annoying prick Shelley”. There are some brilliant kills and of course some outrageous 3D.
Best Kill? The head squeeze.
How Does Jason Look? Sloth mixed with Ray Brower from STAND BY ME.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)
Jason is hung and has an axe plunged into his head, but this does not stop him (Jason really is the horror version of the Black Knight from MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL) as he returns for a “final” Friday “adventure”. The decision was made to kill Jason off. The 1980s were kind to Corey Feldman. Sadly the 1990s threw him away like a used tissue. In THE FINAL CHAPTER Corey plays Tommy, loosely based on Tom Savini, a young man obsessed with masks and make up. Tom Savini returned to do the make up (as he did in part 1), he later said ”I made Jason, It’s only right I kill him too”. This film must have the highest early film role ratio of any of them. You have Corey Feldman as young Tommy, Crispin Glover as one of the teens and Fackler from Police Academy as a morgue attendant. The only stand out moment is the Crispin Glover dance (which he says was actually to AC/DC Back to Black, but later dubbed as some lame 80s pop fair) in which he dances like a total and utter bell end. The rest being fairly pedestrian, even for a Friday movie.
Best Kill? Tackler from POLICE ACADEMY having his head sawed off
How Does Jason Look? Like a goblin again.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)
Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman’s character from the previous film) is now living in a hippy mental institute. A magical place in which no one appears to be mad, but raging nymphomaniacs that can come and go as they please (no pun intended). You are supposed to think that Tommy is so mad that he is now killing everyone as they seem to make a big point of that fact that he is never around when people meet their doom. However it turns out to be a rubbish ambulance driver who is annoyed that his son (who was the only one actually pretending to be mad) was axed to death by another inmate (again, someone who actually seemed mad) for asking if he wanted a bit of his chocolate bar. Which may seem slightly unfair, but wait until you see him do it, you would axe him to death too.
Quite why this man decides to dress up as Jason (replete with fake bald head) to murder people is a bit of a mystery. It’s not as if he left anyone alive to tell everyone that Jason is back and killing again. I know you could pick holes in these films until the cows come home, but this takes the biscuit.
Anyway, it ends with Tommy wearing the mask and holding a big knife. Originally, Tommy was to be the new Jason, but that all changed with Part V came out and bombed. People hated it, they felt that they had been swindled. Which is probably fair enough. So Jason came back in Part VI.
Best Kill? Death by spikes!
How Does Jason Look? Like a bloke dressed up – Scooby Doo style.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986)
This is where the “fun” begins. From the ridiculous James Bond style gunbarrel opening to the paint balling scene, this is very much an attempt to inject some more humour into the franchise. An experiment that does actually work. As a FRIDAY film it is actually one of the better ones, does a great job at reintroducing Jason and has some nice nods to Universal horror movies (with Jason’s method of his return from the grave).
Best Kill? The back breaker
How Does Jason Look? Like a weird and wormy prune.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1987)
In flashback, we see a young girl (Tina). She is upset that her parents are arguing and her dad hits her mum. Tina runs out of the house(which is on Crystal Lake) and gets in a boat. The dad comes out to say sorry and Tina is so upset, she becomes telekinetic and murders her dad by collapsing the harbour he is standing on. Years later she is coming back to Crystal Lake to be studied by an evil doctor, probably to weaponize her or something (they are always with the weaponising).
Anyway, Tina again, in her fucking selfishness, gets upset by a doctor trying to make her do cool stuff like moving a matchbox and runs out of the house again. She only ends up bringing Jason not only to life, but snapping the chains that hold him under the water. What a total bitch she is.
Overall, there are many deaths, some very satisfying (the infamous sleeping bag sequence for one) some very lame (the strimmer) and Jason without the mask looks very cool. The whole Jason vs. Telekinesis battle is quite good, though not sure about the pot plant being thrown at Jason with a fake looking head in it wobbling around.
This film is only really notable to FRIDAY fans for the first appearance of Kane Hodder as Jason. He was really the best at playing Jason and really made him seem more menacing.
Best Kill? Axe in head and thrown across the room.
How Does Jason Look?: Like a gargoyle. Not bad at all, actually.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)
A film every way as ridiculous as the title would lead you to suggest. Jason stows away on board a boat bound for Manhattan and starts knocking off more teenagers. Once reaching Manhattan (which is clearly NOT Manhattan but actually and obviously Vancouver) Jason carries on his killing spree, though in fairness we are only in “Manhattan” for about 10 minutes, so that title is a bit misleading. A better title should have been “Jason on a boat”. Which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Officially the last FRIDAY film (until the 2009 remake) as it was the last to be made by Paramount. It was set to be the last as it took the least at the box office and was critically mauled.
Best Kill? Boxing decapitation
How Does Jason Look? Like a monkey-prune painted white.
JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993)
An utter waste of time from start to finish. Principally it’s a rip off of THE HIDDEN. Famous for the final moment in which Freddy Krueger drags Jason to hell. With the FRIDAY film rights now being owned by New Line (who also owned the NIGHTMARE rights) fans were teased by this ending and were then promised a Freddy Vs. Jason movie. It would be a long wait.
Best Kill? None of them.
How Does Jason Look? Like a horny worm.
JASON X (2001)
With the awaited Freddy Vs. Jason movie in development hell, a new FRIDAY movie was suggested. However, with seemingly every avenue covered, where else could Jason go? Yep. Space. I shit you not. Jason is frozen in time (in an opening scene that has a David Cronenberg cameo) and thawed out in the future – in deep space. The usual onslaught is then carried out and Jason is even given a new super robot body. Sigh. Feels like a made for TV movie. Nothing new, except the setting.
Best Kill: Ice face smash.
How Does Jason Look? Shiny.
FREDDY VS. JASON (2003)
As is often the way when you give the people what they want (AVP) and mash two franchises together, some important ingredients are lost in the mix. Whilst it’s probably the best job with the resources available, it still feels like a hollow exercise in crowd pleasing. The ending is perhaps the worst example of this.
Best Kill? The cornfield party.
How Does Jason Look? Bored.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)
The original FRIDAY THE 13TH films, though brainless and in no way masterpieces, were fine. They certainly didn’t need an even more brainless, witless and charmless remake, nor did they deserve one.
This new film felt like the writers of AVP:REQUIEM fell over, banged their heads, became more mentally ill than usual and wrote this in a semi-coma in Hospital.
The problem was, the writers seem to have decided that Jason just walking around slashing and killing wasn’t enough, they would much rather that Jason became a proper Leather-face style serial killer, replete with a lair and a girl chained up as a prisoner.
Now, I may be being far too picky, but the idea of Jason Voorhees not killing someone and keeping them prisoner, is about as wrong as Batman swinging from building to building with his spiderweb. It just has never happened in the previous films.
The kids in this film were also just dull and you could easily forget which is which. Say what you like about the originals, but at least there was a degree of humour and effort to be mildly memorable, these kids all looked the same and acted like they had watched too much Cheech and Chong. It’s funny how the game has changed in 30 years. Instead of beer and sex, modern slasher films revolve around massive amounts of weed and scenes of women revealing giant fake breasts. They are most distracting, like two footballs nailed to a block of wood.
Jason himself is also terrible in this film. A giant, fat lumbering thing with a giant fat head and a tiny face. He is also dressed like an extra from a medieval film complete with bad fake wispy hair.
The old Jason was often accused of having teleporting abilities, which to be fair, he often did. One minute he is walking forty yards from someone, next minute he is ahead of them with a strimmer. This Jason however, runs at people, which looks more ridiculous. He is also permanently armed with a machete which he holsters up when finished. He is also seen sharpening it in his “lair” which again, just looked fucking stupid.
It’s like the writers have never seen a FRIDAY THE 13TH film. I just don’t know how you could get it so wrong? A bloke, kills everyone, someone “kills” him at the end and in the next one he comes back.
They even tried to ape the original FRIDAY THE 13TH ending in this film, but it was just incredibly stupid and poorly executed.
Best Kill? Topless waterski harpoon
How Does Jason Look? Like a fat bloke with a combover.
You can check out the rest of THN’s HalloweenFest right here.