Most horror fans know of the Friday the 13th movie series, backwards and forwards, some have podcasts drenched in the storyline, others crave more movie collectibles on the topic with each passing year. The original owners of the production rights never thought that the one movie, Friday the 13th (1980) would create a money explosion years and decades later. Therefore, now 30 years later, a film I saw at an AMC theater, at the age 15, let’s look back at this flick, rather less of the plot, and more of the details of the film.
Some criticize Part VII, for its hokey and cheesy display, but upon investigation one could see this as the next logical step. Face it, how many times could Jason return to kill trespassers on his grounds without redoing the storyline. Hence and thanks to director Tom McLoughlin for the positive correction and resurrection of the true Jason Voorhees lore, with his Part VI: Jason Lives, realizing the damage and bad taste in fans mouth of Part V: A New Beginning. By the time 1988 rolled around, the slasher market began to heavily wane, the subgenre overplayed and overstayed the welcome of the gory days, however with film franchise made cheaply and reaping moderate box office successes, producers wanted more, at any costs possible, less about a loyalty to storyline and rather a lustful greed. Therefore, Paramount and New Line Cinema the then owners of Jason and Freddy creations respectively and reading the trades and letters from fans wanting a ‘versus movie’ the planning started. It’s what everyone wanted, the dollar signs dancing in the eyes of each production, however significant problems arose, no one could agree to splits of rights, financing, storylines, etc. The calendar year passing quickly, Part VII rolled into a rushed development, from start to finish a 5-month production, which lead to interesting series of issues. First, what to do, really where does one go, Jason chained to the rock in the bottom of Crystal Lake, thankful the chain never rusts and no curious teens go swimming in the Lake or near Jason, after all he’s the modern day Monster from Frankenstein, and better yet an advanced zombie. It took a serious thought-process Parts 1 through 4 all technically make sense, Part 5 tried a different avenue (just like Halloween III (1983) did), Part 6 corrects and enhances many parts, even generating a self-awareness in Jason character. Now a resurgence with the franchise, special effects creator and director John Carl Buechler, steps in to handle the latest installment of then, with first time horror screenwriters Manuel Fidello, who seemed to be replaced by Daryl Haney (Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995), according to many reports.
Some do call this period in the Friday 13th franchise as Phase II or Reborn, as Jason truly left the earthly plain and the series starts a bizarre series of sequels, from a supernatural battle of powers to a sightseeing trip to Manhattan over to a body swapping mess ending for trip out of this world, completes this phase. Then that famed wish of the producers and fans alike came in 2003 with Freddy vs. Jason with a promise of rumored sequel, which still has not materialized just like another sequel, although a reboot 2009 snuck into the mix.
Buechler knew who he wanted to portray Jason, none other than Kane Hodder (Old 37 (2015)), the hero to the fans, even the films he stars in the lesser favorite ones. The reason for him came working on Renny Harlin’s Prison (1987), in which Kane ate live worms, (oh yummy!) and he was both a stunt coordinator and stunt man, all reasons to control budget costs. If Hodder, turned down the role likely C.J. Graham would have reprised the role again. So, what plot did Paramount choose, Jason vs. Carrie White, okay, not literally Carrie, rather Tina blessed with telekinesis (the ability to move objects by thinking about them).
A nifty opening that paid dividends to both fans and the franchise came from the usage of a voice-over of narrator Walt Gorney (RIP 2004) and images of previous films closing in on a cemetery at night during a storm, on how Jason Voorhees always comes back. The famous headstone of Jason’s grave explodes from a lightning strike, the killing cycle and finishing with “People forget, he’s down there… waiting.”
New Blood a truly bizarre little movie, working title of “Birthday Bash”, it contains the common traits of the slasher subgenre, with less characterization that porn parody of the series. No true to suspense and follows a group on individuals (so-call friends) at a location to have fun and become slaughtered folly. First, obviously removed from the lush forests of the other movies but balanced with a very high body count of sweet sixteen, that went to battle with the MPAA (more on that later). The story quickly has Tina as a child portrayed by Jennifer Banko (1990’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), she witnesses another fight between her parents and her father striking her mother, then switch to a dock and her wishing her daddy dead and falls through and killed. A quick transition to Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln) returning to her childhood home with her mother (Susan Blu) and Dr Crews (Terry Kiser, who later starred in Mask Maker (2011)), meets local teens occupying a nearby house and inadvertently frees Jason from his prison who bypasses the potential victims at the houses to venture into the woods for stroll.
Jason emerges with some of the best special effects, showing the age of rotting under water from an exposed spine to kneecap complete with sagging tattered clothing. Soon the killing starts with the common themes, found the series a collection of seriously weak secondary characters, first names only, with them horny as ever, complete with a T&A shot, and general character traits a shy girl, a stud, a slut and so on. However, a common element that borrows from Alien (1979) tagline ‘In space no one can hear you scream’ no one hears anyone scream regardless of how close they are to the slaughtering. Jason kills always a pleasure for the fans to witness, from party toy in the eye, head crushing, varied gardening tools including a scythe, a buzz saw, toss victims willy nilly and the famous sleeping bag kill. That last one reprised in the strange Jason X and Hodder’s favorite kill, though definitely not the easiest to film, in fact it added to the frustration for some the stunts to, limited time to prep and a few quite dangerous acts including a full-on fire stunt. Tina and her friend Nick (Kevin Spirtas (The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)) find themselves fighting Jason, with Tina taking her powers and using them for max effect.
While trying to avoid the plot one can’t overlook some of the confusing logic scene switches, such as Nick leaving Tina alone while she waits for her mother to return so he can round up his friends next door only to return minutes later and find Tina gone looking for her mom. Then Melissa who’s been missing for an ungodly long time though no clue where she vanished to never bumps into either Tina or Jason. This all convoluted by meaningless and flimsy dialogue. But the conclusion of the film, contains Tina’s father’s ghost returning to pull Jason back in the depths of lake, while still close to the shore… WTF!
John Carl Buechler often recalls the numerous times he resent the film to the MPAA to avoid the dreaded “X” rating, leading to nine submissions and reducing the scenes of blood loss to mere trickles. The censors board often the bearer of bad news to horror fans, their treasures ripped apart by this group. Often enough other films in the action genre get away with heavy violence without many cuts to their individual productions. At least the viewers witness the longest runtime of Jason with his legendary mask, a unique design underneath showing a rotting face. Composer Fred Mollin’s touches up and enhance Harry Manfredini’s music which still contains enduring homage to composer Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho (1960).
I often switch back between Part 6 and Part 7 as my favorites aside from the original, which appears as a whodunit at times, and while silly to many horror fans, it’s something I grew up with, as did many others. If one not a fan of the entries, then likely either not into the subgenre of slasher flicks or that you’re a Freddy fan. A note though, the knife on the poster art doesn’t appear in the film, but a major discussion with the fans to the type, which most believe is as a Buck Master 120 General, with blood slit. One knows that the love affair with the franchise is never actually dying anytime soon, from video games to comics, to various artists creating their own version of Jason’s world regardless of the future content on display.
- Her Mind Awoke Jason From The Dead! (Deluxe Edition DVD)
- On Friday the 13th, Jason will meet his match.
- Jason is back, but this time someone’s waiting!
- On Friday the 13th, Jason is back. But this time, someone’s waiting
IMDb Rating: 5.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10