Friday the 13th Marathon (parts V & VI)

For the past couple of years, I've watched a whole lot of horror movies in anticipation of Halloween. It seems that this year, I never really stopped watching horror movies, and one of the things I started a couple years ago was revisiting the Friday the 13th series of films. I realized at some point that if I continued at the same pace, I wouldn't be able to finish revisiting the films in the series until 2011, so I sped things up a bit. I still have a few movies left, but I figured it's time to start talking about the films. For some unfathomable reason, I like these movies. I fully recognize how bad these films are on an objective level and, quite honestly, on a subjective level as well. There's a definite element of nostalgia here - I've seen most of these films when I was younger, but often in bits and pieces and usually covering my eyes during the "scary" parts. At this point, I can't help but wonder what on earth I was so scared of (perhaps the absurdly bad acting? the lack of continuity?), but I still have a fascination with the movies. During the last 6 weeks of Halloween marathon, I covered parts II through IV (ironically titled "The Final Chapter" even though we're really only 1/3 of the way through the series), so we'll pick up right where we left off with part V (followed by some shorts, a quick review of part VI, and lots of screenshots.) Incidentally, Major Spoilers all throughout this post, but why do you really care?
  • Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning: The interesting thing about this movie is that it doesn't really feature Jason. Oh sure, there's a dream sequence and some hallucinated glimpses in mirrors and the like, but otherwise, no Jason. Don't get me wrong, there's a killer who is picking off all the teens and he's dressed up in a hockey mask, but he's a copycat killer, and he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids! In essence, this movie plays out like a Scooby Doo episode, and I think that's an interesting idea. Of course, the bad thing about this is that it plays out like a goddamn Scooby Doo episode. At the end of Part IV, it was strongly hinted that young Tommy Jarvis (who repeatedly hacked at Jason with a machete) would take up Jason's cause, and in an amazing feat of continuity, Part V starts off by informing us that Tommy is mentally disturbed and living in a halfway house for troubled teens. Throughout the film, it's implied that Tommy might be the killer, but you find out instead that the killer is some random extra you saw earlier in the film who seeks revenge on all the kids at the halfway house. It's a dumb twist, but whatever. The film doesn't otherwise stand out a whole lot from the rest of the series. The acting and directing are right on par with most of the series, and the kills are mostly unremarkable, though there are a couple of good ones. From what I gather, most fans of the series aren't happy with this Fake Jason concept, but I rather liked the idea and think this movie is unfairly maligned. There are several entries that are a lot worse than this one, and I like the premise, even if the execution leaves something to be desired. **1/2
  • Jason Voorhees cameo on Family Guy
  • Thursday the 12th (Robot Chicken) (Brilliant)
  • Friday the 13th - Angry Nintendo Nerd (video game review)
  • Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI: There aren't many film franchises that can claim that their 6th movie is actually the best in the series, but I think you could make a pretty compelling case for this film. Don't get me wrong, we're not talking about fine cinema here, but there are many things that I love about this film. In a lot of ways, this one of the strangest installments (for instance, it's the only Friday where young kids actually make it to camp and are in danger)... yet if feels like the steriotypical Friday the 13th story. At first, I wasn't sure about this one. The opening sequence has Tommy Jarvis (our hero from the last couple films) and a buddy heading over to Jason's grave. You know, to make sure he's dead. Of course, Jason's rotting corpse gets struck by lighting and he comes alive again, punches a whole through someone's chest and then something amazing happens.

    Jason Voorhees

    Jason turns towards the camera, holding a spear. Then the camera zooms in on his eye, and you see Jason swagger accross the screen, James Bond style, and swing a machete to reveal the title card. It's a brilliant moment, and it sets the stage for a film that is intentionally funny (unlike previous installments, which are unintentionally funny) but still just as scary as any other movie in the series (though that's not saying much). Writer/director Tom McLaughlin seemed to actually care, and there are a lot of little things I appreciated in the movie, so I took some screenshots and made some comments (see the extended entry for most of these). There's something to be said for the way a lot of 80s horror devolved into outright comedy (some series were better at this than others), and I can see why some people don't care for this installment because of its self-reflexive and referential nature, but for my money, it's the best Friday... It's got the best atmosphere, a plot that kinda makes sense (despite the lack of continuity between part V and VI), some of the characters manage to be likeable, and there are several classic kills in the movie. In the end, it's a lot of fun. If someone wanted to watch only 1 movie from the series, this is the one I'd recommend (after that, part IV would be a good one). ***
More screenshots and comments on part VI in the extended entry...

The opening sequence starts

The opening sequence starts

The opening sequence starts

The opening sequence starts

As previously mentioned, the James Bond title sequence is sheer genius. I think Devin Faraci (also a big fan of the series) said it best in his review:
The mood is almost perfectly set, and then McLaughlin goes and makes it utterly perfect: we zoom into Jason's eyeball and all of a sudden his iris is taking up the screen, and Jason walks in from stage right - yes, it's a Jason Voorhees version of the famous James Bond gun barrel sequence. Jason turns to the camera, swipes his machete, blood pours from the wound in reality and the titles happen. It's a glorious moment; one part tongue in cheek, one part homage, one part acknowledgment that, like James Bond, Jason Voorhees will keep showing up in movies for decades to come (that confidence was a little premature, I think).

American Express, Dont leave home without it!

So once Jason is brought back to life, he starts roaming the countryside and eventually stumbles on this car with two camp counselors trying to make their way to Crystal Lake. The woman in the car actually says something to the effect of "I've seen enough horror movies to know when to turn around," but of course, it was not to be, and Jason impales her boyfriend. She tries to get away but falls in a puddle and then actually attempts to bribe Jason with her American Express card (Don't leave home without it!) Jason is not amused.


Jason and an arm

For some inexpicable reason, a company is conducting a team building exercise in the woods near Crystal Lake by playing games of paintball. Jason neatly dispatches three of the paintballers with one swift stroke of his trusted machete. Another employee shoots Jason with a paintball, so jason grabs him by the arm and throws him at a tree, where his blood stains the happy face. Oh, and by the way, Jason never let go of the arm. The way Jason lifts the arm and cocks his head is hilarious. It's never quite explained why this company apparently only has 4 employees and yet needs to participate in team building exercises, but little inconsistencies like that are endearing in a movie like this.

A young girl reading Jean Paul Sartre

As previously mentioned, this movie actually features children put in harms way. I found this particular shot amusing. How many 10 year old kids do you know that read Jean Paul Sartre? It's the attention to detail in shots like this that puts this film above others in the series.

A Manual of Occultism

So after his initial encounter with Jason, our hero, Tommy Jarvis heads to the book store to figure out what to do. He buys several books, among them 30 Years of the Dead, The Dead are Alive, and A Manual of Occultism. Presumably he did this so he could know how to defeat Jason, which is amusing since the method Tommy eventually uses is pretty stupid.

Offscreen murder

There's nothing like seeing the results of an offscreen murder to chill your soul. Or at least, cool it off a little. Like air conditioning. Ok, moving on.

Jason is Defeated

This is how Jason is defeated in this movie. It's a breathtakingly stupid ending, for a number of reasons. Oh sure, they show a boat propeller cutting into his face at one point, but still. Jason's taken way more damage than that and lived, so what's the deal? I guess it's that Jason originally died in a drowning accident, so maybe he just goes comotose in the water or something. Yes, this film is reaching for that sort of thematic depth. And realism too. Because if you tie a chain around someone's neck, their body would float like that. Why? Because apparently only Jason's head has buoyancy.

Well now that I'm starting to complain about realism in a Friday the 13th movie, I figure that's my signal to stop.