It’s Friday the 13TH!!
In order not to break with the great film tradition of watching Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th, I figured we’d take a little stroll through the canon and make it a little easier to choose tonight’s smorgasbord of slaughter.
Well, it’s Friday the 13th today or, as it is known around the hallowed halls of Cybermonkey Central, a day of celebration and appreciation of one Mr. Jason Voorhees. For those unacquainted with the works of Mr. Voorhees, you should leave that cave you live in more often and rejoin civilization, my friend, yet you will find this rambling informative and useful and it will probably save your life. For the rest of us, today is a conundrum. With three (3) Friday the 13th’s last year we’ve pretty much blown through all the Jason films in one go and, though it’s been eight months or so since the last one, we pretty much remember what’s what. In order not to break with the great film tradition of watching Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th, I figured we’d take a little stroll through the canon and make it a little easier to choose tonight’s smorgasbord of slaughter. Starting at the top (for no particular reason):
Part 1: The movie that started it all. Sure, it was an attempt to cash in on the unprecedented success of John Carpenter’s independent smash Halloween (1978), released hot on it’s heels in 1980, but it remains a classic nonetheless. Double-digit body count (10), the forest setting, the always lovable idea of teenagers getting killed, Kevin Bacon and a twist ending that still surprises people who haven’t seen it in a while (or at all) all add up to a solid film that promises a whole lot more to come before it’s all over.
Part 2: Jason Voorhees makes his first gunny-sack-wearing appearance and brutally slaughters ten more campers in the woods. Everything about Part 2 screams “direct sequel” so to say any more without totally blowing the first is unfair (even though we all know what it’s about). It’s better run as a double-header with #1.
Part 3: My personal favorite of the bunch, filmed in 3D (remember that?), body count of 13, fat Shelly and his hockey mask, speargun to the eye, some stupid bikers – this one has it all. A genuinely fun time and the first of what people mean when they say “Jason Movie.” This is where the franchise really takes off and should be a proud staple of any Friday the 13th film festival.
Part 4: Or, rather, the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy Part 1. This trio of films begins with a group of teenagers renting a cabin next to the Jarvis’ in the middle of the woods. Of course, they all get killed and Tommy Jarvis and his family are hard pressed to survive themselves. The kicker is, Tommy Jarvis is played by Corey Feldman! To top that, one of the slaughterees is none other than Crispin Glover! Matches the body count of #3 and the Feldman/Voorhees throwdown is worth the price of admission.
Part 5: Or, rather, the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy Part 2. Corey Feldman returns for a small bit but largely the film takes place in a mental recovery farm as Tommy has gone batshit crazy after squaring off against Jason Voorhees, so much so that he’s being played by some other dude who’s not very good. The rest of the idiot cast more than makes up for it, begging to get killed. And they do, to the tune of 22 confirmed kills. Kind of a let down at the end and the final minutes are pretty retarded. Not the best, but more solid than others…
Part 6: Or, rather, the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy Part 3. Much better than Part 5 but a lower body count (18), this one starts with acting legend Ron Palillo digging Jason up and accidentally reviving him, which goes bad for Horshack but not so bad for Jason, and who should be around to see him but the third actor in as many films to play Tommy Jarvis. Tommy does the socially responsible thing by heading to the law to warn them but they lock him up for being batshit crazy. The Sheriff’s hot daughter wants Tommy bad so she lets him out and they go tearing around while Jason kills everyone. These last three really deserve their own night so save these for the next one and run the whole group.
Part 7: The worst of the bunch. Sure, 16 people die and it’s the best Jason’s looked ever but this is the psychic chick one. You know, her dad died and she tries to use her X-Men powers to raise him and all she does is manages to undo every bit of hard work Tommy Jarvis put in in Part 6. Now Jason has to kill everyone while this girl runs around and generally is annoying but then she gets to Jean Grey all over poor Jason until her dead dad (?) comes to pull Jason back down into the water. Sorry for any spoilers but that was so stupid I just had to say something. Not at all my favorite but surprisingly watchable compared to some other big name franchise sequels.
Part 8: Manhattan. X-Men 2’s Kelly Hu. Death on a boat. Like 10 minutes in Manhattan. 19 dead. Many people don’t like this installment (until I remind them about Part 7) but I think it’s a lot of fun. First time I ever had an out-loud body count going with the whole theater (all 12 patrons!!). Stupid fun with a lot of deserving characters taking the big plunge except for the few you really want to die but don’t. A good one-shot of death and one of the more well-known.
Part 9: New Line’s first foray into the Jason series and it hits enough spots (23 kills, Erin Gray, nods to The Thing (1982) and The Evil Dead (1981) and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), great opening segment and nudity) but the whole “Jason’s spirit of evil can possess new bodies”-thing and the “kill the last of the Voorhees and he’ll be invincible (isn’t he anyway?)” bits are really, really stupid. I mean stupid. Psychic-power stupid. This film, however, overcomes a lot of that and is five times the film Part 7 is.
Part X: Jason in Space. Needing to keep the franchise in the public eye before Freddy vs Jason but not being able to do anything to spoil the neat little set-up at the end of Part 9, the creators launched Jason into space where he goes on to gain his highest body count at 24 and prove that even the future cannot stop him. Lots of stupid in this one also but, surprisingly, a lot of fun as well.
Freddy vs Jason: Noted Hong Kong director Ronny Yu steps up to the plate and smashes this battle of the titans right out of the park. Remains faithful to both franchises but mashes them up in such a way as to be perfectly engrossing. Saw this three times in the theater, have the DVD and Blu-Ray. Right up there with #3 in my book. Totally deserving of a viewing on the 13th or whenever.
New Jason: Now, I detest remakes and this one seems like a remake (what, no hockey mask?) but with constant references to the old films and plenty of nudity and dismembering along the way, the new Friday the 13th is not terrible at all and completely watchable. This is the best thing I’ve said about the current crop of remakes ever.
So there you have it. A quick glance at the Friday the 13th series to help make your film fest better, or at least cut down your time wondering which one to watch. One look above and you can go “oh, yeah. That one.” I would continue but it’s now time to begin My Friday the 13th. Happy killing!!