Friday the 13th, a day of woe and bad luck! Also the day that usually...has barely anything to do with the Friday the 13th movies!
Since his appearance in Friday the 13th Part II, good ol' Jason Voorhees has become an icon, an icon that's had the distinction of having been in Crystal Lake, Canadian New York, Hell, and Space (only Pinhead has the majority of those covered as well).
There are two unofficial trilogies in the franchise-the 'Tommy Jarvis trilogy' (part 4, 5 and 6) and the 'I don't think it's ever been given a name' trilogy. The latter is made up of Parts 2, 3 and 4, all of which take place within a three day period (barring a couple of bits). That 'trilogy' is what I'll be looking at for today...
Friday the 13th Part II opens up with Alice (Adrienne King), the survivor of the first film dreaming about the climax of the first movie, from when she met the killer, Pamela Voorhees, and when she introduced a machete to Pamela's neck. She wakes up, then talks with her mother on the phone. When she's done with that, she goes and showers, and when she comes back, she gets a mysterious phone call-she hears nothing from the other end of the line. She goes to feed her cat and opens the fridge, where, to her horror, she sees the head of Mrs. Voorhees! Then she's killed by a prowler (Jason), proving that the F13 franchise has way more balls when it comes to killing off main characters than the Scream franchise! (Why the hell is Dewey still alive! 'No-one is safe this time' my ass!) Poor Alice...
After the explosive opening title and credits (The title slowly advances to the screen, then speeds up and fucking EXPLODES! Ain't that a cut above the first movie with the title just smashing through glass!) we cut to couple Jeff and Sandra driving to a new campsite in Crystal Lake, situated nearby the now infamous 'Camp Blood'. They stop the car and go to a payphone, and they're accosted by Crazy Ralph, who warns them and tells them they're 'all doomed!'. After their car is towed, thanks to a prank by their friend Ted, Jeff and Sandra go to the campsite, where all of the other camp counsellors are. The head counsellor, Paul (John Furey) talks to everyone until Ginny (Amy Steel) camp counsellor and Paul's girlfriend arrives, late, thanks to her beat-up car.
Later, when everyone's gotten ready at the campsite, Paul tells a ghost story about Jason Voorhees, ending with Ted jumping out of the shadows with a mask and spear. Everyone laughs at the story and Paul claims that it's all fictional-Mrs. Voorhees died years ago and Jason drown back in the 50's...or so he thinks... Later in the night, when Paul and Ginny get it on, Crazy Ralph watches, and is suddenly garotted by a mysterious figure.
The next day, everyone goes for a jog, and Sandra, interested in the cordoned-off Camp Blood area, wants to see it, dragging Jeff along. They find the mutilated corpse of counsellor Terri's dog, Muffin (except it sort of isn't-explanation later), then are found by a policeman, who takes them back to the station and reprimands them. Paul takes the two back and the cop goes off somewhere and sees someone running into the woods. He gets out of his car and gives chase, eventually finding a ramshackle cabin. He goes inside and sees something horrible, and is immediately killed by someone, via a hammer to the back of the head.
Come nightfall, most of the counsellors go into the town, while a select few stay behind And completely unbeknownst to them, Jason Voorhees is stalking them, picking them off, one by one!...
F13 Part II is a fun little movie. Sure, it follows pretty much the same formula as the first movie, but it's not a bad formula to follow, so long as it's done well. The film has the usual slasher film tropes-skinny dipping, characters too dumb to live, and brutal violence...or at least, censored violence, thanks to the bastards of the MPAA!
On the subject of stupid characters, there's only one in particular in F13 II-Vicki! Over the course of the film, Vicki has the hots for parapalegic Mark, and while she changes into something more seductive for some fun in the bedroom with him, Mark is machete'd out of his cabin and down a staircase. So Vicki goes back into the cabin, can't find Mark, and decides to look for the guy in the wheelchair upstairs! So she goes upstairs, and into the room where Jeff and Sandra were getting it on until they were speared together by Jason, and suddenly Jason leaps up from under the sheets and advances on Vicki...who doesn't move for nearly 20 seconds! Run you dumbass! Run out through the open door! Don't just stand there and wait for death! Oh, would you look at that, Vicki, you've been stabbed to death, good going!
Onto Jason himself, (played by Steve 'Dash' Daskawisz for the whole film, barring the scene at the end, where he's played by Warrington Gillette). He's kept under wraps for most of the film (to the effect of this movie, not to the sequels!) and when we do see him, he doesn't have his iconic hockey mask yet, he has an Elephant Man-style sack, with a single eyehole. While many audience members of 1981 couldn't look at him without thinking "I am not an animal! I am a human being!", now, 30+ years since The Elephant Man, the sack looks creepy as hell! Much creepier than the hockey mask. This isn't the unstoppable Jason that we've come to know and love though, this is clumsy human Jason! Which brings me onto the film's final girl, Ginny...
Amy Steel plays Ginny very well. She's likeable, we know a bit about her character, and she's intelligent and resourceful, from when she finds her way into Jason's cabin and his shrine to Pamela (namely her severed head), and when Jason comes a'knockin', she puts on Pamela's sweater and roughly copies the head's hairstyle, and she almost manages to fool Jason (in a scene with a cameoing Betsy Palmer); to when she attacks Jason with the chainsaw! Jason grunts in fear as Ginny slashes him up with it and smashes a chair over his head!
While the film has many great scenes (the campfire scene, the aforementioned 'mother' scene, and others), there are a couple of weird things. For one, the film's comic relief Ted is the kind of character who you expect to see die, but he just goes into town, drinks for a while and we never see him again...ever. Also, why is the hair on Pamela's severed head long? She had short hair! Another strange thing is Muffin the dog. Either that whole ending scene was a hallucination or Muffin is as invincible as Jason!
Onto the violence, as I said before, they were heavily cut by the pricks of the MPAA, leaving scenes like the one where Terri just screams at the camera, to the spear scene (only the bloody spear hitting the ground is left in). A couple are more violent, like when sorta-jerk guy Scott gets his throat slit, and when Mark gets machete wacked in the face.
As for the ending, it's ambiguous and well-handled. I'm not sure if it's a hallucination, since Muffin is back, but there's one thing for sure-Paul is not having fun!...
Friday the 13th Part II is a fun sequel that has a few problems, but is still a very enjoyable sit!
Friday the 13th Part III (Part 3D!) is more of the same-it follows the same formula as the last two films, and at one point it even has a near identical scene! (More on that later)
F13 Part III opens with a montage/recap of the last film, which is ok, but not as good as the ones in Parts II and IV. Then we get the 3D credits, scored to an awesome disco beat!...Hilariously out of place for a Friday the 13th film, but I still get up and dance every time I hear it!
After that's over, the movie cuts to Crystal Lake townie and slob Harold (Steve Susskind) and his wife Edna (Cheri Maugans), who run a convenience store. While Harold is pigging out at the store's produce, Edna watched a news report on the massacre of the previous film, then sees a mysterious figure behind her washing...
Said 'mysterious figure' is Jason, and after hacking and knitting-needling through the couple, the movie cuts to the next day, where teens, Chris (Dana Kimmel), Andy (Jeffrey Rodgers), Debbie (Tracie Savage), and horror geek Shelley (Larry Zerner), (as well as Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard), who we don't see until the pot comedy scene) go to the house of their friend Vera (Catherine Parks). They've planned a trip to Chris's old home in the country, Higgin's Haven, in Crystal Lake...
After another funny scene, the car comes across a vagrant (David Wiley) lying in the middle of the road. They all get out of the car and go over to him, and he stirs. He gets up and spouts off a religious phrase, then shows everyone a disembodied eye! (which he 3D holds towards the camera). After driving way from the man (while he spouts of Crazy Raph-ish dialogue), the group arrive at Higgin's Haven.
While everyone else goes off to the lake to skinny-dip, Chris goes into the house and is suprised by Rick, her old boyfriend. She talks with him while he stacks hay, then they hear a shriek. They run into the house and find Shelley, with an axe in his head!...a fake axe-he's just pulling a prank, much to the anger of the group, especially Chris. While she storms off, Vera heads off to town, and Shelley tags along.
While Chris talks with Debbie, Shelley and Vera go to a convenience store (where the movie's theme is playing!), where they're harassed by a biker, Fox (Gloria Charles), who grabs Shelley's wallet when it falls onto the floor and taunts Vera, refusing to give it back unless Vera says please...which she does, and Fox gives back the wallet! Not very mean bikers, are they! Or at least, they aren't until Shelley accidentally backs the car into their bikes...
The two get back to Higgin's Haven, with the car's windscreen trashed up thanks to the bikers (who Shelley pisses off even more by nearly running the leader, Ali (Nick Savage) over). Also at HH though is a sinister pair of feet!...that isn't Jason, but the three bikers, Ali, Fox and Loco (Kevin O'Brien), who are out for revenge. They syphon the gas out of the group's van, and are going to vandalise HH, but before they can, Fox goes into the barn and, and when Loco follows, he finds her, pitchforked against a wall!...
So Loco is killed by Jason, then Ali goes in, and gets killed (or does he?...), then Andy nearly goes into the barn! Luckily he doesn't, otherwise the scene would've started to get silly! So night falls, and Chris and Rick are out in the wilderness, talking, and Chris tells him in more detail about when she was attacked in the area two years ago. So everyone does their own stuff, as does Jason, who's ready for a'killin'!...
F13PIII is about as good as Part II-that is, unless you watch them in quick succession, because they pretty much follow the same formula, which can make this entry boring. It does have many positives though! The film is shot well, with many cool shots, like when Jason is behind the washing line at the start of the movie. The film's acting is also good, and the characters are fun (although Shelley can be an unwitting asshole with his horror pranks).
Onto what makes this film really stand out-the 3D! The 3D is great, and unlike the masses of films of today that are converted terribly into 3D (Titanic 3D? Really?! The damn film wasn't originally intended for 3D, so how the hell are they going to make it work now?!), this movie was actually shot in 3D, which was an arduous and difficult technique that paid off greatly! We get zooming credits, eyeballs, yo-yos, oranges, arrows, machetes, blood and chain-punches hurled at the screen!
Onto what's important in an F13 film, the red stuff! The gore in this is better than in Part II, seeing as how the bastard sons-of-bitches of the MPAA weren't as censor-happy with this entry as they were with Part II (but that doesn't mean that the film's violence is uncut). We get stabbings, head-crushings, impalements, and various other awesome death scenes!
The film's final girl is Chris Higgins, and she's ok, but not as good as Ginny from Part 2. Dana Kimmel is a good enough actress, but she doesn't leave much of an impression. Plus, she comes across as very stupid when she underreacts hilariously to a bathtub full of blood and shredded clothes! She's good in the finale though, where she faces off against Jason (where she finds out that he was the one who attacked her two years prior). The whole finale is suspenseful, and it's very entertaining, although there are a few problems with it. One, Ali is still alive, and he tries to attack Jason...and is killed immediately. It's not too bad of a plot turn, except that Ali was attacked by Jason before...why didn't Jason finish the job?
The other problem is pretty stupid. Part of the film's climax is beat for beat, the same as Part 2's! Ginny is in a derelict cabin-Chris is in a barn. Ginny is being attacked by Jason-Chris is being attacked by Jason. Paul rushes in and attacks Jason...-Ali rushes in and attacks Jason... ...Which distracts Jason long enough for Ginny to ram his machete into his shoulder-...which distracts Jason long enough for Chris to ram an axe into Jason's face. The scene's even shot similarly!
Another problem is with just before the end. After Chris dispatches Jason, she goes in a canoe, falls asleep, and drifts in the lake until she wakes up the next morning, then she sees Jason by the barn's window. He burst out though the door as she tries to get the canoe unstuck out of branches, then he disappears, and the barn is suddenly undamaged...then a rotting Mrs. Voorhees jumps out of the lake and pulls Chris in... While the whole Jason bit is cool, everything else is basically the same ending as Part 1! And this is made even more annoying by the fact that a planned alternate ending sounded a lot cooler, as well as more original! Chris wakes up and sees Rick (who died a while prior) inside the barn. He calls for her and she runs over to the barn, overjoyed, and she runs to the door, opens it and Jason is there! He decapitates her, then she wakes up...it was all a dream. then the ending goes as follows as normally-she goes nuts as the cops take her away
Onto Jason himself, this is the film where he got his hockey mask! One of the reasons that Shelley is so cool is that he gives the lumbering killer his trademark mask!...Well, 'gives' as much as one can when they're dead. Richard Brooker is cool playing Jason, and is very intimidating. This Jason is also a lot less clumsy and hurtable than in Part II, which is a plus. The make-up effects for his face are great too. There is one problem with him though. This is the third movie, we know that Jason is the killer, stop only filming his feet!
F13 Part III is about as good as Part II, with some positives over it's prequel, but some negatives as well.
Now onto Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter! (um...yeah...)
F13 Part IV opens with an awesome super-recap of Parts 1, 2, and 3, which is really well put together, and is a great final recap for the seres' 'final' entry! Then the film opens proper with the title card zooming slowly to the screen, then slamming at it full throttle and exploding with what must be nuclear force! It may be the same title-style as Part II, but the explosion being bigger more than makes up for it!
After the recap, Jason's 'dead' body is taken to a very empty hospital where there are only two nurses/morgue attendants (either every. single. one of the staff has something better to do, or Crystal Lake hospital sucks!).The guy, Axel (Bruce Mahler) spends his time watching aerobics and coming onto nurse Morgan (Lisa Freeman), which he nearly succeeds at, that is, until Jason's 'corpse' decides to cockblock him! (his arm falls out of the body bag and onto Morgan). So while Morgan storms off, furious, Jason wakes up and kills Axel, then Morgan.
The next day, (yeah, I know this blog post's title isn't all that accurate when it comes to the days these movies are set over, but it sounds cool, and it's for brevity) Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberley Beck) are jogging, all happy and chipper, like there hasn't just been a serial killer on the loose in the area who's killed at least 12 people over the last couple of days! They come back to their home, where Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) is, playing a video game and leaving the house's door wide open, which Mrs. Jarvis isn't too pleased about, since 'any stranger could walk in'. Yeah, like the 'stranger' who crushed a man's head so hard, his eyeball popped out of his skull, you terrible mother!
Meanwhile, a car full of teens, Doug (Peter Barton, Paul (Alan Hayes), Sara (Barbara Howard), Samantha (Judie Aronson), Ted (Lawrence Monoson) and Jimmy (Crispin Glover), is headed for a house in the woods that they've rented for the weekend...and apparently they didn't listen to any of the news that reported the repeated mass killings in that area (and neither do any police ever check up on them, despite the nearby mass-killings and a loose killer)! While they drive, they come across a hitchhiker, but abandon her, because the car's full. Luckily for the hitchhiker though, she doesn't need to worry about getting anywhere...although I'm sure getting killed wasn't exactly the ideal way she wanted...
By the time the group arrive, it's nighttime. While the Jarvises have dinner and then meet the teens, the group chat about stuff. Then, when Tommy's in bed, he spies through his window at one of the teen gals in the very closeby house, getting dressed, and instead of acting normally, he squeals like a pig and pounds his fist against the bed!...serial killer behaviour much?
The next day, the teens are walking through the forest, and nervous Jimmy talks with sex-obsessed Ted, (who keeps calling 'Jimbo' a 'dead fuck', because of his bad luck with women). Soon enough, they bump into pretty twins Terri (Carey More) and Tina (Camilla More), who join the group in their hike, while Sara goes off to get the car. Sara walks through the forest, which has picked this opportune moment to darken and play atmospheric music...though nothing happens to Sara.
The group arrive at the lake (Just how damn big is this lake? It must stretch right over the freakin' state!) and decide to skinny-dip, so, AWESOME, nudity! One of the best reasons to watch a Friday the 13th movie (or any given slasher movie)! Meanwhile, Trish and Tommy are driving along when their car breaks down. Tommy tries to fix it (*insert a The New Barbarians kid mechanic joke here*), but has no luck. Then a sinister pair of feet arrives (enough wth the damn mysterious feet shots already!), which turns out to not be Jason, but hitchhiker Rob (Erich Anderson). After fixing the car, the Jarvises offer him a lift. On the way, Rob explains that he's in Crystal Lake hunting bears, which Tommy calls bullshit on as there aren't any bears in the area (then why the hell did Paul in Part 2 warn everyone about them and set up bear traps?!). Then he asks if there's any holidaying teenagers in the area, in a way that makes him sound like a serial killer!
So the Jarvises take Rob back to their house, and horror geek Tommy shows Rob the collection of masks and animatronics he's been making (which look too damn good for a kid to have made!). So then Rob leaves as night falls, and the teens are partying away, and Jimmy tries to dance. 'Tries to'! It looks more like he's having a seizure! And since night has fallen, Jason starts his usual one-by-one killfest rampage!...
F13 Part IV doesn't quite follow the same formula as the the previous two movies, but it's still pretty similar. The main difference is with the Rob character, the guy out for revenge against Jason because he killed his sister. Although that leads to a goof-Rob has clearly been out for Jason's blood for a while, and has been doing lots of research, having a huge scrapbook of Jason history...except Rob's sister is Sandra from Part II-Sandra who was killed only a couple of days prior to this movie! I'm surprised Rob even knows about his sister's death already, let alone is in Crystal Lake with a machete with Jason's name on it!
As for the characters, the teens are really forgettable, save for Ted and Jimmy, who are heaps of fun, and the hot twins! Trish is entertaining and makes for a fun final girl. As for good ol' Tommy Jarvis, he is entertaining, he isn't annoying, and he deals with Jason at the end awesomely! He does have a kind of stupid plan at the end though. While Trish and Jason fight in the Jarvis house, Tommy is upstairs, in the bathroom, shaving his head so he looks like Jason. That sounds clever, but there's no way that it'd work! Jason may be back-woods and deformed, but he knows how to use phones, and cut fuses-he's not THAT stupid! (Yeah, he was fooled by Ginny with the mother thing, but being fooled by someone pretending to be a kid version of himself is a bit of a stretch of disbelief). The plan doesn't even work. Sure, Jason stops attacking Trish and goes over to Tommy, but I'm sure that if you yell Jason's name repeatedly, he'll come over anyway!
As for the gore, it's not particularly graphic, (it should be legal to kill 1) Lawyers, 2) Telemarketers, and 3) bloody MPAA bastards!), but it's still fun. We get throats cut, death by syringe, throat impalements, crotch stabbings (OUCH!!!!), a violent axing, and corkscrew stabbings! The effects work in the film was done by Tom Savini (who did the first film's effects) and they're great! The film gets especially violent in a couple of scenes, like when Jason viciously breaks Axel's neck after slitting it, and during Jason's death.
As well as the Rob thing, there is another pretty big goof in the film. When Samantha is out on an inflatable raft, Jason stabs from underneath, right through the raft, killing Sam...but the raft is still afloat! Also, none of the teens hear each-other's screams when they die, which either means that they know they're in a horror film and are waiting for death, or...I have a theory-all buildings in Crystal Lake, from houses to cabins are soundproofed in a way that means that they're soundproofed even when doors are open, so it's impossible to hear anything in a nearby room!
The film does have two big problems. One is the pacing. The film moves along at an entertaining pace right up until about the 40 minute mark, then it is paced pretty annoyingly, and it gets a bit boring sometimes. The other big problem is with Jason himself-Jason is barely in this movie! For most of the movie, we only see the smallest parts of him, in the darkest shadows, and we only really see him properly in the climax! WE KNOW THAT JASON IS THE KILLER! THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUSPENSE AND BEING REALLY DAMN ANNOYING!
So in closing...
Well that was my Friday the 13th (series and date) review special, and I'll be back with more Friday the 13th reviews in October!...Until then...