Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)

I know that trailer was a bit boring, but don't worry, I'll make up for it later. This is Friday the 13th Part 6, we've reached the halfway point! Hooray! Seriously though, there are so many of these damn movies, and they are just getting more ridiculous as they go. This one was made in 1986 and it really shows; we are in full-on 80s mode here, which is ironic since I believe if you're keeping count the movie is actually set in 1990. Jason has been accidentally brought back to life Frankenstein-style by--who else?--good old Tommy Jarvis. He is accompanied on his misguided mission to dig up Jason's body by Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter, who sadly just passed away a couple of weeks ago. Let's take a moment.

Anyway, for all those who fussed about the killer not being Jason in the last movie, he's back now so you can settle down. In fact, in honor of his return, let's listen to this INCREDIBLE song by Alice Cooper, "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)". I TOTALLY LOVE this song and have been listening to it for years without ever knowing which movie it was from, so I pretty much freaked out when I heard it in this one. Please enjoy:

HE KNOWS YOUR HOUSE, guys. This song is really just the best.

Key points about this movie, let's do it:

-Long part at the beginning with some corporate paintball excursion that is kind of boring and just there to add to the body count. Whatevs F13!

-Tommy Jarvis gets a girlfriend, sort of, which is nice because the poor kid's been through a lot. He could have had a really promising career in horror special effects if only Jason hadn't ironically intervened!

-Speaking of Tommy, the actor who plays him in this part is Thom Mathews who was also in Return of the Living Dead, so that guy is now Officially Great (a title earned by being in two or more movies/tv series I like).

-Return of the camp concept! And we actually get campers! I am convinced the little blonde girl named Nancy is a Nightmare on Elm St reference.

-Ridiculous gags like this gem:

So F13p6 ends with Jason chained to the bottom of the lake and Tommy, all the campers, and this movie's generic blonde girl all live happily ever after (but will Tommy Jarvis ever REALLY be happy? Really?). I think things will be looking up a bit from here, as the next few films involve telekinesis, Manhattan, hell, and space. Awesome.

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

So here we are, F13p5 and not even halfway through the series. I'm going to try to keep this one brief [LIES] because there are still so many more to come and I've developed a tendency to ramble [TRUE]. This is one of the more controversial Friday films because it features a "fake" Jason, and apparently some people just HATE that. I, personally, am not so picky about my mass murderers, so I don't mind at all. It's also becoming very apparent that this series is focusing more and more on body counts, and the originality of the kills really suffers for it. However, this does leave a very nice window of opportunity open that A Nightmare on Elm Street fills beautifully with its super original and fantastic kill scenes. In case I somehow hadn't mentioned it, I absolutely LOVE Nightmare on Elm Street, but now is not the time for all that gushing. Soon.

Anyway, in F13p5, Tommy Jarvis is back, all grown up and mentally disturbed. He's staying at some kind of halfway house that is supposed to transition mental patients from life in a hospital to life out in the big wide world, which would make you think that these people have their issues reasonably well-sorted, but if you thought that you would be completely wrong. One guy is so unhinged he brutally axe murders another guy for being sort of annoying. In the axe murderer's defense, the annoying guy was really reminiscent of that kid in Return to Sleepaway Camp who is just awful, so I can kind of understand. But really, rage axe murdering is a bit much when someone is just offering to help you chop wood, no matter how annoying they are.

So long story short, Tommy Jarvis (who seems to have been abandoned by his sister, btw) keeps having visions of Jason still being alive and thinks he has risen from his grave and is committing all the murders that keep happening. However, he is just being crazy Tommy Jarvis and the killer is actually some random paramedic who also happens to be the father of the annoying kid who got axe murdered at the beginning. Also I guess he made himself look like Jason while he did it for whatever reason. But the point is that it was NOT Jason and people really don't like that (although theoretically Jason was still in the movie because Tommy's hallucinations/dreams were of the real Jason).

On the subject of Jason being alive or dead: in this movie, Jason is absolutely, definitively dead. Going forward, anytime we see Jason up and moving about, he will be undead. Period. I still am unsure if this is his first, second (after the morgue), or third (after drowning in the lake AND the morgue) death. But we can really be sure now that Jason is 100% dead. So at least there's that.

Now I said I was going to try to keep this brief, but that was obviously a complete and utter lie. We need to talk about this controversy around who gets credit for playing Jason in this movie. The credits list Dick Wieand, the actor who played the paramedic Roy, because his character was the masked killer perceived as Jason, but the actual actor wearing the mask is Tom Morga, who is only credited as Roy's stunt double. This is some bullshit. Tom Morga auditioned for Jason, he played Jason, and he should be credited as Jason. Period. To make matters worse, it seems this Dick Wieand guy has gone around signing & selling photos of Tom Morga as Jason, passing it off as himself. It may not have been done maliciously, he IS technically (if erroneously) credited for the role and so some people may want his autograph for that reason. But let's be real: Tom Morga was Jason in this movie, both imposter Jason AND real Jason in Tommy's visions. So please Tom Morga, do more conventions so people can meet you and get your autograph because you totally deserve the credit for this. Thanks.

Finally, the only other things you need to know about this movie are this scene:

And this girl:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter (1984)

The Final Chapter is one of the two F13 movies I have seen the most (the other being Jason Takes Manhattan, for obvious reasons). It is also, as I'm told, the most common fan favorite, which is pretty understandable. Let's review the highlights of F13p4:

-Crispin Glover! Seriously you guys, Crispin Glover is SUCH a weirdo, he's the best. Did you know he once sued Steven Spielberg and WON? He also made a surrealist film called What Is It? featuring only actors with Downs Syndrome (and himself). He has also released a spoken word album titled The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be. His middle name--for real--is Hellion. He is just the BEST. His role in F13p4 is a pretty typical hapless-loser-trying-to-get-laid archetype, but he does have a completely George McFly moment right before he dies that I just could NOT stop laughing about. This clip only shows a bit of it, but you get the idea:

-Corey Feldman! Seriously, this movie is a star-studded event. This is only his second real movie role (first being Gremlins) and he is just adorable. His character, Tommy Jarvis, is also somehow an accomplished special effects artist and creates totally amazing monster masks. I find this a little unbelievable, but since it's Corey Feldman I'll allow it.

-Weird vintage porn filmstrips! I looked for a clip online, but as you can imagine, it's a difficult thing to properly search for--especially at work. I would like to note here one low-light of the movie: there are several incidents of fat-shaming, most notably when one of the lovely vintage ladies is called a pig and when a hitchhiking hippie is shouted at and teased. Not cool, guys!

-The return of using psychology against Jason! After the approach was abandoned in the last movie in favor of an axe to the skull, it was nice to once again see some clever exploitation of Jason's severe childhood trauma. Unfortunately, Tommy's impersonation of Jason mostly just serves as a distraction and actually winds up doing quite a bit of damage to Tommy himself in the end, that's really a topic for another post (the one right after this).

In conclusion, I'd like to revisit the issue of when and if Jason is alive/dead/undead. After the last movie, he wound up in a morgue, suggesting all life signs were gone and seemingly supporting the theory that he did in fact die and in F13p4 is now undead. However, most medical professionals and other authorities in the series are pretty incompetent PLUS Jason's physical anatomy is certainly irregular, so this evidence is hardly conclusive. I know this issue is just going to keep getting more complicated with each movie, so I'll leave it at that for this post, but stay tuned for Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Friday the 13th Part III 3D (1982)

Congratulations folks, we have now reached the point in the series where we go from classic summer camp slasher to cheesy 80s gimmicky slasher! The most obvious gimmick, of course, being the 3D. F13p3 is just FILLED with moments that exist solely to remind you that OMG IT'S 3D! People are frequently killed with long protruding objects (harpoon, pitchfork, hot poker, knitting needle) and every time there's something gross on screen you just KNOW it's about to be in your face. The best example of this, and best use of 3D overall, is when one character gets his head squeezed until his eyeball pops out and flies directly at you. Also of note, this is actually the second time you get an eyeball in the face in this movie.

The other gimmick is that there are 13 deaths* in Friday the 13th III. While it keeps the pace of the movie up to have people dying pretty much all the time, it also results in a lot of "why is this happening again?" moments. There is an opening sequence with a husband and wife who are killed by Jason that has literally nothing to do with anything that happens afterwards, plus a crazy biker gang that hassles the core group of victims for no reason other than to add to the movie's body count. Ridiculous as it is, it's really no big deal. The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, so it's best to just roll with it.

This installment of the F13 series also marks an important landmark: Jason obtains his iconic hockey mask, swiped from some jerky kid who's always whining and feeling bad for himself and I was totally glad when he died. It's also the first time the victims were NOT camp counselors, just some kids having a good time out in the woods. And then they all get dead, for no clear reason. It's kind of odd, since they really played up the psychological angle of Jason's homicidal tendencies in the last movie, that they've completely abandoned it here. Jason's whole demeanor seems to have changed, in fact, and seems less confused and enraged and more calm and determined. It seems he has resigned himself to a life of brutally murdering young people in the woods. I suppose there could be worse things to do with your time.

* To get a count of 13, you have to either count one of the bikers twice (seems dead, but comes back and gets killed again) or count Jason (also seems dead, but clearly will come back in the next film). In theory, you could infer from this that Jason has actually died in this movie; that previously he was alive but deranged and from this point forward he's actually undead. I'll try to return to this theory after Part 4.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cabin In The Woods (2012)

I don't know why I'm even writing about this, there isn't much to say except that it's basically the best horror movie ever. If you haven't seen it yet, something is seriously wrong in your life. Joss Whedon, you are my sunshine. This movie makes me happy on at least 12 different levels. I don't even feel the need to talk about it because its awesomeness is so apparent. It's not often that I see a movie and say "I'd like to own that", but there's no question on this one. Coming out on DVD/Blu Ray Sept 18th.

NOTE: It's ok to watch illegally downloaded Korean bootlegs if you ALSO buy the DVD and promote it on your blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

So here we are, part 2 of the Friday the 13th series. It opens with Alice, final girl from the first movie, who is predictably--but still entertainingly--killed within about 5 minutes. You know, to make a point. I did think it was a bit strange for her to show up just to get killed off before the movie even really begins because apparently she had to be coaxed to do this movie at all and immediately afterward left acting because she was being stalked and harassed, which I imagine is common with popular horror heroines.

Once Alice is gone, we get a new crop of kids getting ready for camp. I think it's interesting that, in these first two movies at least, camp never actually happens. All of the counselors are killed off as they are preparing for campers to arrive. This gives Jason/Jason's mom a fairly small window of time in which to do their killing. Do they consult a brochure to find out when camp starts? Or do they just hang around and make their move as soon as someone arrives? Also, how did Jason find Alice? I doubt she lives anywhere near Crystal Lake, since she seemed awfully traumatized. There are a lot of logistics issues here.

As I have already suggested, the killer here is Jason, not his mother as in the previous film (there's no such things as spoilers when it's a popular movie over 30 years old, btw). Near the end of the movie we get our first good look at him, and of course he's all disfigured in the face. He has yet to find his trademark hockey mask and instead spends most of the movie literally with a bag on his head, with one eyehole cut out. Why is a bag with one eyehole supposedly less scary than a disfigured face? This is one of the many F13 questions I cannot answer. Another is why Jason is now a large full-grown adult, although just 5 years earlier in Friday the first he appeared to be a little boy when he leapt out of the water and grabbed Alice. It should also be noted that since the first movie was set in 1979, this one is set in 1984, which at the time of its making was THE FUTURE.

So then some camp counselors arrive and fool around and smoke pot and get killed. To sum up, here are some things I liked about Friday Part 2:

1. 1981 attempt at diversity = camp counselor in a wheelchair
2. New blonde final girl uses "child psychology" (and also a machete) against Jason
3. Nerdy redhead who acts like Abed and plays crazy 80s handheld video games
4. Does the dog Muffin get killed?!? THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW. Thanks for letting me imagine it survived, F13p2.