I’ll start off by saying I completely ripped off James Rolfe at cinemassacre.com with this. Instead of reviewing one a day, I decided to just release a collection of blurbs I wrote on Facebook.
Next I need to explain that I have never been a fan of this series. To me, Jason was boring. He was a poor man’s Michael Myers. My favorite horror franchises are HALLOWEEN, for it’s setting and atmosphere (even if most of the sequels are lame), and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. My appreciation for the latter deserves a post of its own. Friday the 13th just never did it for me. Fellow horror fans loved it for all the nudity and Gore. When I watched them, my reaction was, “Nudity is just nudity, and most of the Gore happens off screen.”
With us getting hit back to back with the unlucky Friday, I thought I’d give the series another chance. These are my honest reactions to Friday the 13th 1980 through 2009.
FRIDAY THE 13th is so poorly paced that you can’t even call it a “slow burn”. Long stretches of nothing punctuated with quick splats of gore. A lame Halloween knockoff without the atmosphere or ingenuity. I’ll never fully understand how this came to be considered a “classic.”
FRIDAY THE 13th PART II should’ve been called, AGAIN, FRIDAY THE 13th. It’s the same movie. Except the long stretches of nothing are filled with obnoxious kids saying nothing much.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART III is the first in the series to have any sense of fun to it. Actually, in a very strange way, it reminds me a bit of GOLDFINGER. This is the moment when the formula and iconography of the franchise is set, and is self-aware enough to play it.
PORKY’S THE 13th – I mean, FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER is the most entertaining, and ’80s, of the series thus far. With a few characters worth caring about, and a pretty twisted ending. It’s funny to think about how badly Paramount just wanted this franchise to end when you consider it’s the second film in a row to be conceived as “the last”. Oh, and it’s PORKY’S.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING had a promising start. The haunted, and much older, Tommy Jarvis trying to cope with PTSD set an ominous psychological tone…for about 8 minutes. From then on, a barrage of boisterous cartoon stereotypes are introduced and disposed of so quickly that it actually made me miss the quiet of the original.
JASON LIVES! FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI Is like a late ’80s Hammer horror film produced by MTV, with real reverence for the UNIVERSAL MONSTERS, a sense of humor, a couple characters with a hint of personality, and memorable kills. This feels like the first in the series that seemed genuinely interested in giving people a good time. Obviously the producer’s apology for not having Jason in PART V. A fun movie. Probably best enjoyed with pizza and beer.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD is the debut of The People’s Jason – Kane Hodder. It’s also an adequate sequel. The addition of a telekinesis was an interesting, if under utilized, touch. A lack of humor, and remarkably flat aracters, puts it on par with part IV.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: JASON TAKES (more like visits) MANHATTAN was a total bore. Very difficult to sit through. Taking Jason out of the woods, and into the concrete jungle, could’ve been spectacular. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints, and lazy writing, made this a substandard sequel with few redeeming qualities. Only the last few minutes keep it a notch above PART V.
JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY was notorious growing up – the movie that foretold FREDDY VS. JASON. That final shot fueled our speculations for a decade. The film does something different, which I appreciate. However, introducing a mythology, with rules, so late in the franchise was a mistake. Especially when the movie itself has trouble sticking to those rules. Steven Williams as Duke was a definite highlight. So were all the references to other horror films. Other than that, nothing special.
JASON X is nothing more than a romp. This has always been a franchise built on cheap thrills. The best installments fully embrace that. Few do so more than this one. That being said, it’s rewatch value isn’t very high as a whole. The face smashing, Jason upgrade, and Camp Crystal Lake simulator are hilarious and worth watching again. Beyond that, it’s the same old thing in New CGI paint.
FREDDY VS. JASON was everything it needed to be. Jason butchering lame teenagers with superhuman, undead strength, and Freddy playing the master manipulator. All leading up to an epic bloodbath between the two slasher titans. Most impressive is the film’s ability to balance the tone and voices of each franchise. Jason’s scenes are over the top violent. Friday’s are dark and surreal. I’ve read different variations on the concept, most tend to lean heavily on the Freddy side -most likely because he’s the better character. This manages to be a film suitable for both, with an outcome that pleases fans of each.
FRIDAY THE 13th 2009 Isn’t so much a remake as it is another sequel. I remember people gushing over the fact that JASON RUNS! As if that somehow ads anything to the experience. He’s done so plenty of times before. Those people weren’t paying attention. I’ve never been a big fan of these films, despite my reviewing them all here, and I see this one as yet another missed opportunity. But, I’m sure the team behind it just wanted to make their audience happy. Hopefully they did. For me, I wish I’d skipped it.
After viewing several hours of people getting hacked to bits, I grew to understand and respect the draw of franchise. At some point it became comfort food. Every time I started one I knew what I was getting, and I welcomed that. The series is still far from great, and I doubt I’ll revisit them anytime soon, but it was a fun ride – mostly.
Happy Friday the 13th.