To celebrate that kooky calendar quirk, Friday the 13th, Yours Truly decided to embark on a foolhardy marathon of Friday the 13th and all of its sequels and kept a bit of a running commentary going on Facebook, which I decided to re-post here in all its rapidly degenerating-as-the-evening-wore-on and the sun came up glory. So, pack up, Boils and Ghouls and let us head to Crystal Lake shall we?
Before June of 1980, summer camp probably brought to mind some fun in the sun, perhaps an inconvenient tumble in a patch of poison ivy, or maybe stealing your first kiss behind the canteen before gathering and singing songs around the campfire under a fat full moon. But after June 1980, thanks to filmmaker, Sean S. Cunningham, a rousing chorus of “Kum-Bah-Yah” rapidly degenerated into a brutally quick rendition of “Kum-Bah-Yeaaarrghh!” when a lethally sharp gardening implement was shoved into your spleen, leaving you to gargle the refrain.
I had toyed with idea of watching the films in reverse order but quickly scotched it. And so, we began at the beginning with the original long night at Camp Blood and still my personal favorite if the franchise. Friday the 13th (1980) also holds a dubious distinction for me. I have seen it (in this order) via word of mouth from my older sister, on Betamax, on VHS, on old school Laser Disc, on broadcast TV, on basic cable, on premium cable, on Monstervision, digital streaming, on DVD, on BluRay, at a Drive-In theater, under a hardtop, expanded through the novelization, three separate 'making of' texts, and countless behind the scenes documentaries. No other film, even Star Wars, holds that distinction. Loved it then, and I still love it now. And now, on to Part 2!
No one could have predicted the cultural lightning rod and box office phenomenon generated by Friday the 13th, which quickly earned itself a sequel to cash in. One part The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), two parts Mario Bava's Bay of Blood (1971), and a tablespoon of Part 1 nets you Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981). Now, one of the dumbest things this franchise ever did, and that is really saying something, is how they killed off Adrien King's Alice, the lone survivor of the first massacre -- though a movie about how a guy wearing a potato-sack managed to track her down without drawing any undue attention would've been a hoot, but, no, we just get more of the same.
The film does suffer a bit from JAWS 2-itus in that not enough campers get killed. (Even the odious comedy relief escapes. *pfui*), and can I get a moment of silence for Crazy "You're all Doomed" Ralph? I've always preferred the whodunit of the first one as opposed to the howtheydunit, which this one laid the foundation for. Best of the franchise? Maybe. All I know for sure is the worst is yet to come. Onward to Part 3 -- IN 3-D!!!
This might be considered blasphemous in some circles but the second dumbest thing this franchise ever did was ditch the potato sack for the hockey mask. I go into greater detail on what some consider to be the worst film in the franchise here.
It's kind of amazing how much Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) is a carbon copy of Part 1 when it comes to the jump scares. The home 3D experience is still pretty terrible. Shelley's still an asshole. And Stoner girl is the worst actress of ever. Still, some of the franchises' most nasty kills. Alrighty, then. NEXT!
And with The Final Chapter, thus ends the opening salvo of the Friday the 13th franchise, when Paramount decided to temporarily pull the plug on Crystal Lake. I had a great idea for a Friday the 13th sequel once. It begins with the end of another one of Jason's rampages (back when these were still lakeside massacres) and the crime scene investigators come in and try to piece it all together, question the lone survivor etc. etc. etc. Meantime, Jason escapes from the morgue and comes back, the killing begins anew and here we go again.
That's not quite what we get in Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984). This time we lost Matthew Starr, George MacFly and a golden retriever as Jason meets his Waterloo at the hands of prepubescent film nerd and a ride down his own machete. Is this 'Final Chapter' the end of our marathon? Nay. We are barely half done. *sigh* ONWARD!
Ah, yes, A New Beginning. And has anybody seen Jason? Hello? *tap*tap*tap* Hello? Yeah, the fifth dumbest thing this franchise ever did was laying the groundwork for a reboot with Tommy Jarvis taking over for clan Vorhees. Not sure which part I liked better in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985): the part where the dude with the runs got killed in the outhouse that took forever or the bumblef@ck hayseed riding his motorcicle around and around and around and around and around.
E'yup. This one is a bit of a mess, and it didn't help that the MPAA dropped the hammer on it, leading to some jarring and nonsensical cuts. Also around the fifth installment you start to notice patterns. Like how there's a lot of produce squishing when some is killed (-- Banana Girl in Part IV and Hillbilly Mom in Part V), allowing me to coin Ronco's Death-Spasm. Also, I had failed to realize that Jason Vorhees chucking people through a window was such a thing. It's like this franchise's Wilhelm Scream.
It should be no surprise. He did learn it from his mama, after all. I don't know. Maybe they had the right idea of moving on without Jason, putting the whodunit element back into the franchise -- though it wasn't much of a mystery. Eh, it's all moot anyway as 'you know who' was destined to return. So sharpen your machetes and lets move on...
Wake up, Kitten, you're missing it!
There's a bit of a Naked Gun element leaking into Friday the 13th by Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). But you either gotta fully embrace that kind of full frontal parody or you wind up with the kind of mess that this movie turned out to be. For what we get all boils down to Random Schmucks in the Woods Getting Stabbed: The Movie.
And it's all Tommy Jarvis' fault, too, as he pulls a Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and inadvertently resurrects our villain. So all that blood is on his hands. But! If memory serves, we are finally done with that cretin as the franchise takes another drastic left turn. For, long before he took on Freddy Kreuger, someone had the bright idea of having Jason duke it out with Carrie White. Sort of. Now there's a prom date for ya. Push play already!
Meet The New Blood! Not quite the same as the Old Blood but close enough! Honestly, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) is easily the second or third best film in the franchise. I, for one, was thankful for the hard reboot that left the misfired komedy elements of Jason Lives dead and buried.
Probably not since the first one have we seen such a collection of victims that we aren't anxious to see our hero/villain dispatch -- with the notable exception of Snooty McPooty and the seedy psychologist, 'natch.
Awwww, man. We were really rooting for ya there, Maddy.
Also, Jason using a power tool is the
equivalent of Dylan going electric, right?
And kudos to first time Jason, Kane Hodder. I really dug his "What the hell is happening?!" reactions to Tina Shepherd TK'ing all that crap she chucked at him. Alas, this was a one and done for our Carrie surrogate, though this might be a good thing because she probably would've wound up marrying that idiot, Tommy Jarvis. Still, with this entry the franchise appeared to have corrected itself somewhat -- but that sure as hell didn't last long judging by what came next.
And as the clock reached 8am and this marathon entered it's eleventh hour I came to the regretabble conclusion that I was getting way too old for this nonsense. And so, as the opening credits for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), I called it and this would be the last film partook. Now, the fourth dumbest move this franchise ever made was having Jason take a slice out of the Big Apple but then spending 90% of the movie on the SS Ersatz Love Boat. Nice poster art though.
Well, it was until Paramount was threatened with legal action by the city to cease and desist and got themselves a new poster. Anyhoo ... The saddest part of this disaster is Jason invading a knock-off Golan 'n' Globus New York City should've/could've been amazing. He could've been like an inadvertent Paul Kersey, taking out a gang of tuffs terrorizing a neighborhood, but then leaving the original victims to get rid of him once he does that. Instead, we got this steaming pile of shit. And I'll have to confess, I kinda dozed off during this one. I remember Guitar Girl getting killed, and then the next thing I knew it's five hours later, the sun was up and the cat was chewing on my beard because, apparently, her food dish was empty. I thought about finishing it off, but, nah, screw it, that one is thee worst of the worst -- well, at least until the Platinum Dunes reboot.
Now, I did get some grief for not including Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) in this marathon. As to why I excluded it? Well, first, the third dumbest thing this franchise ever did was reducing Jason Vorhees into a transferable slug of evil.This is a franchise I have come to expect certain things from, and that wasn't it. As someone else said, it's a pretty good movie but a shitty sequel. Saw it once in the theater, didn't care for it, and refuse to go back. (Though that opening bit where the FBI baits our killer and then bazookas him is hilarious.) And, turns out, I pooped out before I would've gotten to it anyway. (Well, that and I didn't have a copy to begin with.) And with that, I crawled off to bed with Jason X (2001) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003) still safely ensconced in their cases for another day. G'night everybody! And next time, I promise to start a little earlier so's I can finish this thing properly.