These holidays (F13) are so few and far between, I couldn’t resist saying a few words about one of my all time favorite horror movie franchises. As a younger fan of the slasher genre, I watched more of Nightmare on Elm Street. In a way, i think that’s because Freddy is more “kid stuff,” especially the flicks starting with part 3, aka Dream Warriors. It became more and more of a build up to those sweet one-liners, such as: “Wanna suck face?” or “How’s this for a wet dream?” or “Welcome to prime time bitch!” and then breaking into that cackling laughter whilst the soon to be dispatched teen flees for however many seconds of life they have left. Good times. But i think it was around 1994-95 when my allegiances changed when Jason Goes to Hell released to VHS. Somehow, one of my buddies (Matt) was able to get his hands on a copy. Fangoria was still really popular back then too and they had done a full spread on the movie. Needless to say, from that moment forward, my slasher heart belonged to Jason Voorhees. Continue Reading
Tonight we take a look at one of the big four. I mean, really, when one hears the word SLASHER, four characters jump to mind, right? Freddy Krueger, Michael Meyers, Leatherface and of course, Jason Voorhees.
There are countless other stalker killers out there, but for some reason, these four are synonymous with the word slasher. It doesn’t seem to matter that there were slashers before and after these classics were made, these are the Grandaddies of the slasher family. Take it or leave it. One might make a case for Chucky, The Firefly Clan and others, and while terrifying and time-tested, in my opinion, Chucky has become a lampoon of himself and The Fireflys were only in two(?) movies. That’s not to say that Jason and Freddy haven’t become parodies either, but that’s a topic for another day. Today we talk about the birth of all things Camp Crystal Lake and why teenagers of the 80’s didn’t want to go to camp. Continue Reading
WELCOME friends to a new year of “In Review.” As you no doubt have guessed, this year we’re running the gauntlet with Slashers & Serial Killers. To say we’ve got our work cut out for us would be an understatement. Thus far the review count looks to be well over 150 different movie reviews all spread throughout 2018 with our usual break in observance of the holiest of horror holidays, Freight Fest. Why such a high review count? There’s the love of course…the utter romanticism of this particular horror sub-genre–knowing the killer in us all by living vicariously through onscreen murderers and villains. Beginning as early as Psycho in 1960 and continuing on all the way into 2018, slasher and serial killer movies are alive then as they are today with hundreds of different movies to choice from. To kick things off, my movie of choice may seem a bit odd…allow me to explain. Continue Reading
If the title of this post doesn’t give away what we’ll be talking about, well…shit. We’ve got some work ahead of us. As any fan of horror, the one thing that we deranged nerds tend to appreciate, even more than the actors themselves, are the special effects guys (and gals). To be frank, why do we watch horror? To be entertained, fundamentally, correct? We’re not here to find enlightenment, though if it happens then all the better. No, much like the poor bloodthirsty souls crammed into Rome’s gladiatorial colosseum, we cry out for escape from the realities of our plight. And what brings the greatest escape, the tastiest of entertainment? Gore. And all the horrible ways characters get done in by the monster, the serial killer, the freak in the castle, the alien invaders, the thing hiding the ice, whatever, we expect gore and lots of it and not just quantity but quality as well. For horror fans, special effects take front row. We critique effects just as harshly as we look at the screenwriters and even more so maybe than the directors. Who hasn’t sat through a terribly written and directed horror movie walking away loving it simply because it had awesome effects? It’s often the first thing we look at.
And with every decade, every generation, there are particular styles of special effects. In the 1940s and leading through the early 60s, it was what wasn’t seen that was supposed to scare you, and blood came from a bottle of Hersheys Chocolate. But starting in the late 1960s, following the advancement of technicolor, under the direction of guys like Alfred Hitchcock and Herschell Gordon Lewis, filmmakers began pushing those on-screen limitations and inventing new ways to entertain with effects. Dick Smith is rightfully the real pioneer of realism in special effects. His crowning achievement, realistic gore in movies such as The Exorcist, The Godfather, Scanners, and more. And Dick did more than pioneer the industry, he set the table for the rise of a new generation who would bring us even better work to the history cinematography.
Tom Savini was inspired, not by Dick Smith or Herschell or even Frankenstein’s maker Jack Pierce, though no doubt they each impacted him in some way. No. Tom credits his inspiration to legendary early silent film star, Lon Chaney Sr, aka, the Man of a Thousand Faces. Chaney had a reputation in Hollywood for coming up and developing his own props and makeup, most of it often extremely uncomfortable, for the characters he played on screen, some of the most notable ones being The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Norte Dame, and London After Midnight. In 1957, Universal released the biopic of Lon Chaney Sr., and young Tom fell in love and began experimenting with special effects makeup, first on himself and later his friends. Eventually, Tom attended Point Park University and later Carnegie-Mellon University (following his tour of duty in Vietnam). After enlisting in the U.S. Army, Tom served as a combat photographer in the Vietnam War. It is during this service Tom most credits his development of special effects, taking the harsh realities of war and applying it to his later work.
The true birth of practical effects, or the surge of gore, really started in the 1970s, in such movies as Dawn of the Dead, I Drink Your Blood, and The Incredible Melting Man, among others. And it was during this era Tom Savini started his career which would eventually award him such titles as The Sultan of Splatter and The Godfather of Gore (though to be fair, I think this title ought to go to Dick Smith, don’t you think?). In 1974, Savini worked on Bob Clark’s masterpiece (but oddly forgotten) Deathdream, the story of a Vietnam soldier who comes home after being killed in action. I’ve often wondered what Tom thought about this flick, having served in Vietnam himself. Deathdream doesn’t present itself as being either pro or anti war, though we can certainly guess. What it does present is an overwhelming sense of questioning of our individual involvement in the affairs of the nation, beautifully told from the simplicity of a small town family unit. I’ll stop myself there. I can go on for a tangent with Deathdream, in fact, I’ve got a review of the movie…if you’re interested, you can read it here.
Next, Tom worked again with Bob Clark in the movie Deranged. Later, he worked with fellow Pitsburg allium, George A. Romero, in the underappreciated fright flick, Martin. Let’s slow down here before moving on with Tom’s other work. Whenever I think of George A. Romero I first think of…zombies, yes, it’s true, shocker, right? But I also tend to think of Tom Savini after thinking about zombies. While Tom was in Vietnam, Romero was making Night of the Living Dead, but thanks to their relationship developed in Martin, they were able to collaborate in Romero’s second of his Dead Trilogy, Dawn of the Dead in 1978. If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan. Dawn of the Dead is without a doubt one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Not only was the screenwriting, the direction, the acting totally above par, but the practical effects also shined. Even today, though the blood is certainly not realistic, it is still effective. When the zombie-fro dude takes a chunk out of that lady’s shoulder, it still gives me the creeps. That’s a 38-year shelf-life, and it’s still aging, still perfecting like a fine wine.
Dawn of the Dead also opened new doors for Savini. In a slew of films, he would eventually be invited by Sean S. Cunningham to work on a new project titled Friday the 13th. Clearly, I’m picking all of my favorite movies Tom was involved in, and why sudden I? I’m the one writing this dang article! That being said, I’m sure there are other horror nerds who tend to lean in other directions regarding the Sultan’s work. Some may prefer Maniac or Eyes of the Stranger or The Burning or The Prowler, all are fine films worth considering. But for me, one of his crowning achievements was Friday the 13th. It’s because of this movie I question why Savini hasn’t been given the nickname The Father of Jason Voorhees. It was Tom’s creation that would spawn into a long lasting and fruitful franchise. Loved by many; despised by some. And as any tragic greek tale, Tom would eventually be asked to destroy his creation in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
And his career continues. In 1985, Tom was given the Saturn Award for Best Make-Up Effects in Geroge A. Romero’s third “dead” installment, Day of the Dead (1985). And he moved on to contribute to too many movies and television shows to mention here, working as not only a special effects guru but also as a director and an actor/stuntman. Without a doubt, his love for horror movies is very evident. He even started his own school for special effects by opening Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, Pennsylvania and authored several books, including but not limited to Grande Illusions I and II and Horror F/X. For fans of the late 70s and 80s horror, it’s difficult not knowing his work and the work of other legendary special effects artists. It’s what we wanted most, the gore. Today, though, I have to wonder, are the makeup artist and gore masters even thought of. If I asked your typical The Walking Dead fan who did the practical effects for the show, would they know? I seriously doubt it. The answer is Greg Nicotero, BTW, who also worked on The Evil Dead 2 and Day of the Dead, and who is also from Pitsburg, which makes me seriously question what exactly does Pitsburg put in their drinking water. Maybe this is something we should start doing. No, not the drinking water, the “other” people who make movies possible. Even I do not know all the names of the effects or prop masters and all the other behind the scenes people working tirelessly to bring us our horrific entertainment. This is especially worse for TV as the credits flash by to make time for more commercials. So, if you’re a fan of horror, if you indulge to be entertained by the grotesque, after the show, after the movie, look up the effects team, the writers, the props, the composers, and read their names. you may be surprised to find a lot of these people have been involved in a lot of work you happen to be a fan of.
Born November 3rd, 1946, today marks Tom Savini’s 70th birthday. And I wish him many more birthdays to come. Thank you, Tom, for your work and bringing not just me but countless others hours and hours of wonderfully sadistic entertainment. Cheers!
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Let’s face facts here, people. The 1990s had some damn good horror movies! But what sets the ’90s apart from every other decade? It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyhow), every era has its own brand or style of horror. The classic silent pictures of the early 1910s with its German expressionism and tales of old legends and then moving on to the Universal Monsters, such as: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Mad Ghoul, The Leopard Man, Cat People, etc. etc showed us a new world, reconstructing itself from the maiming machines of the Great War. And then we had the “invaders” of the ’50s with its outlandish sci-fi horror-esk Cold War-esk flicks, like The Day The Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars, Them!, The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Plan 9 From Outer Space, etc. etc. And then in the ’60s movies drew downward into psychological freights, with Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Black Sunday, Carnival of Souls, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, and so on and so on. And of course, who could forget the ’70s? The decade of Savage Cinema with terrifying flicks, such as The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead, Alien, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Jaws, Carrie, The Omen, Shivers, The Brood, Deathdream, etc. etc. And of course moving into the big hair, more of everything, excess-excess of the 1980s, with films like: The Evil Dead, Re-Animator, Nightmare of Elm Street, The Thing, The Fly, Return of the Living Dead, The Stuff, Hellraiser, Poltergeist, American Werewolf in London, Videodrome, Creepshow, and so many more, not to mention the birth of the Friday the 13th series and the modern slasher.
Lets return to the above question. What could be said of the 1990s? The monsters, in retrospect, seem to be more internalized, almost spiritual or more supernatural in nature than in decades past. Before moving on to our movie in review, lets examine for a moment the occultioris sensus of some of these spiritual-supernatural horror flicks, which would include: In The Mouth of Madness, Candyman, Jacob’s Ladder, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Nightbreed, The Sixth Sense, Ravenous, Sleepy Hollow, Silence of the Lambs, Baby Blood, Lawnmower Man, Cronos, The People Under the Stairs, Misery, Cube, Ringu, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Event Horizon, etc. etc. And I know I’ve probably missed some, but still… Take a look! For the most part, pooling from a majority of movies, we can tell that horror withdrew from the overindulgence of gore and mayhem and, much like in the ’60s with the addition of supernaturalism, drew inward becoming a spiritual-supernatural psychological thriller.
When our beloved classics crossed over into the new era, they likewise transformed into the cerebral appetites of said decade. Consider Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was not heralded as a good Nightmare on Elm Street…why? Because its not a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. The ’80s are…game over man! Done! Gone. Hasta la vista baby! When long running series’ transition into a new decade, the judgement and critique of the film becomes…well, a tad bit unfair. When we hear Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th we expect what we watched in the 1980s, but its not the 1980s anymore. If we were to be reasonably rational, we must critique said movie for the era in which it was made… Of course, a really-really-really good critique will look at both, if the movie is from a running series. Does the movie honor the decade past while ushering in a new take in the new era? While Jason Goes to Hell has received some rather harsh criticism, my opinion on the matter is, yes, Jason Goes to Hell does honor the past while bringing in the new.
After being blown away by a team of FBI agents, Jason Voorhees (played by Kane Hodder) needs to find a way to overcome certain death. When his bloodied remains are sent to the morgue, his heart, still intact, is able to hypnotize a coroner and take over his body. After brutally dispatching a couple of FBI agents, he heads back to his favorite stomping grounds: Crystal Lake, and commences a quick massacre before heading into the town surrounding Crystal Lake. Jason swaps bodies has he continues his hunt for the Voorhees bloodline so that he may be reborn again. After a confrontation between Creighton Duke and Diana Kimble, Creighton warns Diana that Jason will come to get her and her daughter, Jessica Kimble, the only remaining relatives of Jason. Diana tells Jessica’s former boyfriend Steven Freeman to meet her at their house to discuss some issues in private. Come nightfall, Steven arrives at her house, hears Diana screaming, and goes to her aid to find her being assaulted by Josh, a fellow policeman who earlier, had been taken by the “coroner” and had Jason’s spirit transferred into his body, as illustrated by Creighton Duke. Jason then finally kills Diana.
Steven is falsely accused and arrested, meeting the mysterious person, Creighton Duke, in jail. Duke claims that only members of Jason’s bloodline can truly kill him for good. Therefore if he transfers the creature into a member of his family, he will be “reborn” back to his old form. Creighton goes on to tell Steven that the only living relatives of Jason are his half-sister Diana, her daughter Jessica, and her infant daughter Stephanie.
Unscrupulous news anchor Robert Campbell, who is dating Jessica, steals Diana’s body, planting it in the house for an upcoming investigative show to boost his ratings. Jason bursts in and possesses Robert before leaving with Steven in pursuit. Jessica, who is unaware that her boyfriend is the undead killer, is attacked by him so he can be reborn through her but is disrupted by Steven, who manages to stop him and get Jessica into a car. He runs over Jason and explains the situation, but Jessica does not believe him and throws him out of the car and goes to the police.
Steven turns himself into the police and arrives at the station as Jason does; he frees himself again to protect Jessica, who now realizes the truth. In the chaos, Creighton makes his escape. Steven and Jessica discover a note from Creighton, telling them that he has Stephanie and ordering Jessica to meet him at the Voorhees house alone.
Jessica meets Creighton at the Voorhees house. Creighton throws her a knife, and when she catches it, the knife turns into a mystical dagger. Jason tries to possess Stephanie, but Steven arrives and severs his neck with a machete. A creature crawls out of his neck, and makes its way to the basement, where Diana’s body was planted. Jason explodes through the floor in his original body.
As Jessica attempts to retrieve the dagger, the two men alternately fight with Jason. Duke is killed by Jason, and the fight between Jason and Steven ends up outside in the yard. As Jason prepares to finish him, Jessica jumps behind him and stabs him in the chest. This causes Jason to be dragged to Hell.
As a dog appears and unearths Jason’s mask, suddenly, a familiar claw-gloved hand suddenly emerges from the ground and drags the mask down into Hell with an evil heckle in the background (Friday the 13th Wiki).
Jason Goes to Hell brings back all kinds of 1990s nostalgia. For the life of me I cannot recall if I was able to see this one in theaters or not, however, I do remember watching it on VHS and thinking how different it was from the others (I even can recall the Fangoria issue with Jason Goes To Hell!!!), but not in a bad way, just a different way. With being a big fan of Friday the 13th, I’d read all the books (that’s right, there are books!) and was familiar with the concept of the supernatural element with Jason, that is, his spirit can live on in others. Voodoo type stuff. Think, Child’s Play. This was sort-of the concept for Part V but let’s not get into that right now…
Jason Goes to Hell had some drawbacks, sure. Fans were hoping for what they’ve come to love, teen-slasher-gore. But that’s simply not what this movie was about. I think to better understand Jason Goes to Hell we should look at it as its own stand-alone flick. If we can push away from the table of Great Expectations, we’d see the amazingness this Final Friday brings to the table. Much like New Nightmare was for Freddy. I know plenty who hate that movie, simply because it wasn’t like the others. Personally, I enjoyed both. Yes, they weren’t the slashers we remembered from the ’80s. But hey, the ’80s are over, man! In Jason Goes to Hell, the action was well paced. The acting was a hell of a lot better than in some of the Friday’s past. The cast was also solid. There was humor, specifically in all the Easter Eggs in the Voorhees house. The Uncut edition was chock full of gore and practical effects. It was brutal when it needed to be and it was supernatural when it needed to be. And the soundtrack was also very memorable. Overall, I thought Jason Goes to Hell was a fantastic addition to the franchise, taking the ’90s spiritual-supernaturalism back into the gore-fest mayhem of the ’80s, or vise-versa…? Oh, whatever, you know what I’m getting at!
My Rating: 4/5
Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character-driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Lanmò. His paranormal-thriller series, The Subdue Books, including Dwelling, Emerging, and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he does reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can check out his work on the altar of Amazon here.
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I was never a huge Freddy Krueger fan. Now don’t get my wrong. I enjoyed Dream Warriors as much as the next guy. But old scar face never really did it for me. Maybe he was too comical for my brooding teen drama years. I was a much too serious horror fan, in retrospect. Regardless, Friday the 13th was my main slasher squeeze. Loved me some Jason. Watched the movies. Read the books (yup, there was a very cool short lived book series out that are actually high dollar collectibles now). And played the video game (damn that NES!). Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to gaze upon the hockey masked killer on the big screen. However, I did experience the machete wielding silent Bob on glorious VHS. But this was long before your time, I’m sure. Being a late 80’s mostly 90’s horror kid, this was the reality of watching horror. Most of everything good had already been released. If you wanted to watch the classics, you had to watch it on VHS. And if you couldn’t sneak into the theater because some Nazi was working the ticket counter, you had to wait and watch the flick at home or at a friends house. Though I love and adore the movie theater experience, VHS was a good fall back… Where was I going with all this?
So, in my younger years, my favorite part in the Friday the 13th series was: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Why? I’m glad you asked. For starters, allow me to parry with my own question: is part VII still my favorite among the Friday series’? No. Part VII is no longer drawn with a heart inside my locker. Why? I’m glad you asked that too. But lets take this one step at a time and begin with why it was my favorite and then move on from there. Good? Great! Grand! NO YELLING ON THE BUS!
Directed by makeup effects artist John Carl Buechler, the seventh in the long-running, grisly horror series was far from the last, although the climactic fate of its antagonist would seem to suggest a final send-off. Lar Park Lincoln stars as Tina Shepard, a teenager with uncontrolled telekinetic powers. As a girl vacationing at Camp Crystal Lake, Tina killed her abusive father with the use of her mental abilities. Years later, seeking intensive counseling from manipulative, greedy psychologist Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser), Tina agrees to participate in a radical therapy that takes her back to Camp Crystal Lake. Unfortunately, Tina’s psychic skills rouse the slumbering Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) from his watery grave and, in typically bloody fashion, the vengeful spook begins dispatching the randy teenagers partying in a house nearby. As Tina attempts to stop Jason’s slaughter with the use of her powers, the mass-murdering ghoul encounters his toughest opponent yet. Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood was often referred to by series fans as “Jason vs. Carrie,” an apropos reference to Tina’s strong similarity to the main character in the horror classic Carrie (1976). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi (pulled from Rotten Tomatoes).
For the win:
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood was my favorite for a very simple reason: telekinesis. Yup. For starters, yes I was and still am a huge Marvel, X-Men, mutant comic book nerd. And Star Wars as well. The notion of moving objects with ones mind intrigues me and ushers many a lazy fantasy of fetching sodas (beer now) from the fridge without ever having to leave the couch. And perhaps a little more homicidal, for those oh so slow drivers on the interstate, or that one hot rod who thinks every damn lane is his. With just a little wave of the hand and we’ll see how fast he can go! Hahahaha!!! (clears throat) Sorry about that. Where were we? Oh yes. Part VII. Having a character with telekinetic abilities is a new twist for the tired and true slasher. This is probably why I loved Gabriel Gray so much in Heroes. I’m actually really surprised no one has capitalized on this yet. A serial killer with telekinetic abilities…? Scratch that, ignore everything that you’ve seen here! Move along, move along.
Tina Shepard (played by the oh so innocent looking Lar Park Lincoln) is a very Carrie-esk vulnerable character packed with plenty of “I killed my daddy but I didn’t mean to” issues. And through most of the film she is awkward and antisocial. Much like most of us horror nerds, right? (Coughs) Never mind. But then towards the end she ends up kicking butt and using her supernatural powers to not only douse Jason in gasoline and light the torch, but also to raise the fucking dead!!! Yup! How else do you think corpse dad comes to the rescue at the end? Oh — SPOILERS!
If psychic kid was the the frosting, then Jason played by the ever impressive Kane Hodder (His first donning of the hockey mask) and his tank like demeanor and tool-shed of murder was the chocolate. Jason, as he should be, was an entertaining character, and though he’s the guy who never says anything, Kane’s portrayal was unique and singularly of his own making. The kill scenes were fantastically decrepit, though not the best in the series, which brings me to the second half of this review.
Part VII has fallen in rank among my favorite Friday the 13th’s. It was a sad passing of the torch, but it had to happen. As most things, we get older and our tastes for movies change. It is a necessary fact of life. Though Part VII will always be an enjoyable watch, Part VI and then quickly followed by the original Part I are my two favorites now. Part I for obvious reasons. For its originality compared to the other films where mommy dearest does all the killing and the more serious tone of the movie. Now, Part VI has moved up in the ranks as #1 because of its artistic value and amazing satire. Not only is it one of the Tommy Jarvis sequels, but is also directed by Tom McLoughlin (One Dark Night). With equal parts comedy and scares, part 6 is a true unsung hero among the others. And is one of the only films in the series to actually have real campers and not just camp counselors in the movie. Part 6 was made with a level of thought and intention seldom found in a Friday the 13th film. In fact, the atmospherics are gothic enough where the film is actually more enjoyable in black & white. Trust me. Pure magic.
But we’re not here to talk about Part 6. I think a lot of why Part 7 fell in rank is because it was in all intents and purposes a kids movie. The characters were weak at best. The nudity was at an all time low. Even the pot smoking and beer drinking was only marginal. It seemed the main focus was on the high school vibe and bullying. And I call this a kids movie because as a kid you enjoy the surface qualities of movies, the kills and the gore and the cool telekinesis abilities. As an adult, one looks for meaning in movies, purpose, intention, the things below the surface. Depth. Part 7 was sourly lacking such things. The character relationships were not believable, hell, most of the character tropes were not believable. I still have no idea what Dr. Crews’ game was in the movie. Okay, he wanted to study Tina’s power…and then what? The only believable part with Dr. Crews was his demise. And it seemed like the same could be said of all the characters. Part 7 was to put it bluntly, a teen drama. Which may have been entertaining when I was a teen, but not now. In fact, now its just down right obnoxious.
My 1990’s Rating: 5/5
My 2015 Rating: 3/5
If you’re a Friday the 13th fan, today is a good day for you. Not only has the, in my opinion blundered, Blu-ray box set released, but also, the more anticipated Crystal Lake Memories: the Complete History of Friday the 13th (a more definitive making of Friday the 13th franchise collection), and a new book by author David Grove, Location in Blairstown: The Making of Friday the 13th. And at conjuncture, I’d rather get my grubby mittens on the documentary film than the Blu-ray box set. There isn’t much there that hasn’t already been offered on DVD. You can check out my full review on the quote-unquote, so-called “complete collection” here (for shame WB, for shame!).
But, today, not only can we be excited for these new Friday the 13th releases, but also because today is the moniker for our beloved franchise. Now, Friday the 13th wasn’t the first slasher, John Carpenter’s Halloween should be credited as the patron saint for fictitious murderers, but Friday the 13th has become the most influential, goring the hearts and minds of horror fanatics ever since its release back on May 9th, 1980. Springing from a simple, albeit notorious, tale of a bereaved parent struggling to find justice for the death of her son, Friday the 13th has since encapsulated how killer outcasts seek retribution and old testament justice (revenge) in a post-contemporary world. It’s always interesting going back to the original and comparing it to the many sequels and spin-offs that have followed over the years. Though the mood and pace of the original is similar to the others, it’s also very different. In the original, while the film is still dominated by the classic slasher motif, there is an actual story, worthwhile, taking place.
The synopsis follows: “In 1957, a young Jason Voorhees, drowns at Camp Crystal Lake, while the counselors were ‘too busy’ (wink-wink) to watch him. His body was never found. One year later, two counselors are found murdered [at the same camp], [but] the murderer [is] never caught. After the brutal murders the camp is dubbed, ‘Camp Blood’ by the locals [and] remains closed [for twenty years]. Many [attempt] to reopen, but failed due to foul play. [The story picks up as local native] Steve Christy [throws himself into] reopening Camp Crystal Lake [at all costs]. He hires [a group of rag-tag teens, including:] Annie, Alice, Marcie, Jack, Bill, Brenda, and Ned… [Yet] one of the counselors never shows up. [A storm rolls in] and one by one, each of the counselor’s go missing. Till only one remains, to face the killer alone” (adapted from Camp Blood synopsis).
The real shock, for me at least, when watching the original was discovering that Jason wasn’t the killer; he wasn’t even in the movie until the very end. Friday the 13th wasn’t my first Friday the 13th film, I started with part 7 (I think) and after a few years, decided to give the original a go. Sadly, at the time, Jason wasn’t my favorite horror movie monster. Growing up, Freddy was slightly more popular than our hockey masked friend. Thankfully, through the decades, I’ve wised up and have accepted Jason for the dominating 80’s horror icon that he was and still is. Today, Friday the 13th, despite lacking one certain “pissed off goalie,” and supposed questionable production value, has become my personal favorite in the entire franchise.
Why? Good question. Sure, the Nightmare on Elm Street series is rather good, at least the first couple films, but as I’ve found myself a little more…seasoned, the characture and character of Jason resonate stronger with who I am now; not who I was as a kid. I don’t think kids could (can) appreciate Jason. Freddy always had those cleaver one-liners and retrospective dream stories children tend to find interesting (right?); whereas, Jason simply goes for the throat without the Bond-esk narrative. Jason delivers up-close and personal stalk and slash without being silly about it. The films are normally grainy but never lazy. There is a pace expected and always delivered. You cannot reason with Jason. He is who he is; the situation is what it is. You can fight and lose or fight and survive. The strong do not necessarily live to see another sequel; the weak do not necessarily expire in some grotesque manner. Chance and unpredictability play just as equally as the notion of “bad luck.” And then there’s the nagging question of morality. In a way, Jason is a supernatural judge, weighing the lives of his victims, and dispatching fanatical Old Testament justice.
The question of morality is why, as it seems to me, Friday the 13th has become such a popular movie and has built such a huge fan base. No one enjoys being judged. In Friday the 13th, Pam and Jason are giving the audience a way of relieving feelings of moral judgment by making lite of the entire enterprise. Jason and his doting mother are cathartic; extreme, chilling and gruesome, but yet satisfying in the face of bullhorn preachers. And the best part of Friday the 13th is that it’s really just a simple popcorn horror movie, enjoyable to the last kernel. A movie nostalgic campers resonate with well. Friday the 13th is a “ghost” story, a myth that fits perfectly in the old way of looking at evil, “out-there” in the deeper places out in the woods, beyond the campfire, where we dare not go alone.
Really, so much could be said regarding the Friday the 13th series. You can love them or hate them, but doubtfully anything ho-hum; it is truly the only absolute either-or I’d accept. I’d expect nothing less from such a unique franchise. While critics initially hated the release of the first film, fans have only grown to adore it that much more. There are currently twelve Friday the 13th movies, spanning over 33 years! And the franchise is still growing, or at least has plans to grow. Even the really cheesy ones hardcore nerds tend to criticize, such as part 10 (clears throat), in themselves have found their own fan base. I’m not a huge fan of Jason in Space, but then again, some folks really dig it and the simple fact that there are people who actually love the awful ones is what makes the series so amazing!!!
Have a Happy Friday the 13th everyone and don’t forget to pop in your favorite Friday the 13th film!
Coming September 13th, 2013 (which so happens to be our next calender Friday the 13th) the Friday the 13th series will be released on blu-ray in one mass collection. Finally, right?!? Finally we’re given what we’ve been asking for ever since blu-ray format movies began coming out in droves. Ever since random Friday blu-rays have eked out into the market. Finally, we have the definitive collection. Or do we? From amateur to hard fans alike, Friday the 13th has been an amazing storyline worth watching over and over. Among other notable historic figures, Jason Voorhees will be remembered as the pinnacle bad guy among the many slasher antagonists of the 1980’s. Jason may not have started the modern slasher (credit for that should go to Myers), but he most certainly defined it. And yes, i’m placing this hockey mask wearing mama’s boy up on the pedestal he so rightly deserves, because with Jason there are no confusing story arches that you have to work to follow. He’s pissed his mom was killed. He’s pissed those morally questionable camp counselors let him drown as a boy and if you walk up into his Crystal Lake territory…well, adios compadre. Jason doesn’t stand on ceremony; he’s driven by revenge without the James Bond supervillain monologue. But I digress, let us get back to this “definitive” blu-ray release!
If you asked me to express in one word what I thought of this blu-ray Friday the 13th collection, my word would be: Exploited. Plain and simple, newcomers and old fans alike are being exploited against this most beloved horror series. Why? Well, lets take this point for point.
- Tin Case- this might seem mundane to some, but for me this just feels like some cheap (but expensive retail price of $130) metal box. A “definitive” collective should be in something worth the title of “Complete Collection.” And we haven’t even mentioned the art work on the cover yet. What is this? Some generic picture from Jason goes to Hell? Warner could have done something much — much — much more cooler and something worth the mantle of a Friday the 13th collection. Did the wow factor get drowned in the lake? There are so many iconic images to this franchise than some cheap copy and paste.
- Theatrical releases- each and everyone (except for perhaps the reboot film) of the FINALLY blu-ray release are not uncut…but simply a format transfer/repackaging of what we already have on DVD. If this was going to be the DEFINITIVE collection, every single disc should have included an uncut version with all the added blood the MPAA forced producers to leave out in theaters and the original DVD releases. 99% (1 % being the recent reboot included in this “collection”) of these features are recycled from previous deluxe editions. If i’m going the shell out $130, this had better be it, the very last collection you’ll ever need, or at least until the next video format comes out. But again, we end up coming back to the word — exploited.
- Friday the 13th part 3 and 3D- The blu-ray part 3 with this “collection” is simply the standard analygraph 3D format, not the actual modern 3D built in today’s HDTV’s. This is less of a big deal for me, but only because I haven’t jumped on the whole home theater 3D experience yet. But again, if you’re going to market a blu-ray collection for $130, shouldn’t it be legit? Why not bring this awesome original 3D movie into the new format? Laziness and greed…
- Special features- Nothing new here that hasn’t already been released at one point or another on one of the many DVD collections. The only thing new is the bonus “killer disc” full of supposedly never before seen footage on the making of this famous franchise; however, chances are those very same “never before seen” moments will be included in the upcoming release of a new Friday documentary called, Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th is a longstanding series. There have been many collection releases as the franchise rights have continually changed hands. Understandable, each producer is going to want to put out their collection, but when it comes to a blu-ray $130 box set, is it too much to ask for it to be worth the cost? As of now, blu-ray is king, shouldn’t a blu-ray collection be better than the already released DVD collections? Makes sense to me; makes sense to a lot of fans out there that have already commented on the pending release. Apparently not so much for Warner Bros. Check it out for yourselves, here is what will be included in the blu-ray collection:
- Disc 1 – Friday the 13th (1980)
- Disc 2 – Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
- Disc 3 – Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D (1982)
- Disc 4 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) NEW TO BLU-RAY
- Disc 5 – Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) / Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) NEW TO BLU-RAY
- Disc 6 – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) / Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) NEW TO BLU- RAY
- Disc 7 – Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) / Jason X (2002) NEW TO BLU-RAY
- Disc 8 – Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
- Disc 9 – Friday the 13th (2009) (Theatrical Version and “Killer Cut” Extended Version)
- Disc 10 – Killer Bonus DVD Disc
Bottom line: though intentionally excited to hear of the upcoming release of a blu-ray collection of my most beloved 80’s slasher, after looking up and reading through the above mentioned features and also seeing the marked up price, well…its not worth the cost, not yet anyhow. I know a lot of hard core fans and folks who don’t really care for uncut enough to deny themselves and will thus be purchasing this collection. Some will be grumpy; others will actually smile as they hand over their hard earned funds. But not me. This release is the same release I already own on DVD; $130 isn’t worth a few extra pixels. Warner Bros. could have done Jason and Friday the 13th right by honoring it with a collection worthy to be on a blu-ray format, but apparently the only thing their interested in is money through the exploitation of endearing fans of the series. This is a very sad Friday indeed.