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Halloween Tribute: Friday the 13th
In the spirit of Halloween, let’s take a look at the big three. Who the hell are the big three? Well, I’m talking about the three un-killable, sequeled to near death, unstoppable killing machines that defined the slasher genre, along with 80s and 90s horror. They make us afraid to go into the woods, walk the streets of small-town suburbia, and even fall asleep.
This is not a movie or series review, but rather a brief look at these horror icons. After a quick peak at their origins, we’re going to look at what makes them unique.
Just a few things to note:
- This is one part of three for this tribute, so hang tight if you like the first because the others are coming soon.
- These are in no particular order and one is not necessarily better than the others.
- The analysis below is based on my own opinions and experiences with these movies.
- The release dates and some of the minor stats were taken from the back of the movies themselves, but the rest was from pure memory and re-watch.
Warning: there are some spoilers, as they are required to clarify certain aspects of the series.
Jason is the most sympathetic on our list, as his origins are quite sad and tragic. This mask wearing, machete-wielding zombie had rather humble beginnings at a summer camp, which would later become the very grounds he haunts. Being a deformed child, the other campers and even the counselors ridiculed him while spending summers at Camp Crystal Lake. His residence at the summer camp was a direct result of his mother working there and is established in the very first movie. Sadly, the teenagers who were supposed to be supervising him were too busy having sex to hear his pleading screams for help, as he sunk to a watery grave in the lake’s murky waters. While not the killer in the first movie, the counselor-stalking killer still makes his debut, with his unsuspecting appearance at the film’s conclusion. From that point forward, Jason was thrust into the spotlight and would become the series main antagonist.
The hockey masked Jason Voorhees usually sports a large machete and stalks any who dare venture into the former Camp Crystal Lake and the surrounding wooded areas. Although his murderous path of destruction eventually leads him to other areas, such as New York City and even Elm Street, he always winds up back at Crystal Lake.
Entries into the Series – 12 total - 10 parts (part four is called the Final Chapter and part nine is The Final Friday...), 1 crossover with Freddy, and 1 remake.
Debut – Friday the 13th (1980) - As already mentioned, although Jason is not the killer this time, the original still marks the character's first appearance on the big screen.
Greatest Adversary – With the exception of Freddy, who Jason rumbles with in the crossover, there is only one true champion in the main series. Tommy Jarvis makes his first appearance in the series fourth installment, Friday the 13th: the Final Chapter (how ironic), where he defeats Jason during the film's final showdown. You may be thinking, what makes Tommy so special since others have bested Jason in the previous films. Well for starters, Tommy’s only 12 years old during his first encounter with the undead killer and then proceeds to further distinguish himself from all other survivors. He shaves his head to resemble a younger Jason and even proceeds to hack the murderers grotesque face up, after delivering a knock out from the menacing killer’s own machete. Tommy would do battle with the supernatural killer in two more installments and defeat him both times, thus propelling him to the top of Jason’s greatest challengers.
Series Most Memorable Kills –
Friday the 13th(1980) -This one isn’t credited to the man himself, but rather his mom. Jack (Kevin Bacon) takes an arrow through the jugular after just receiving some passionate summer love. While resting after the lovemaking, the arrowhead bursts through unsuspecting Jack's neck, with the unseen killer operating from beneath the bed. This scene is legendary amongst fans and usually makes the top of most Friday countdowns.
Friday the 13th Part 2 – Poor wheelchair-bound Mark is killed while waiting on the porch for one of the female counselors to return. Not only does he receive a thrown machete to the face, but is propelled backwards down every step in his chair before coming to a perfect stop at the bottom. It may have been the flawless stick landing that made this scene so unforgettable.
Friday the 13th Part 3 – This one is just plain hilarious. A member of the new batch of victims dumb enough to venture onto the unhallowed grounds of Crystal Lake, Vera becomes another body in the growing count. Jason puts a harpoon right through her eye. The poor complaining girl gives him more than enough time to take aim and line up his shot with the speargun. The projectile pierces her eye and drops the young woman where she stood in the water.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – The film's most distinguishable doesn’t go to Jason, but his opponent. 12-year-old Tommy not only incapacitates Jason, but proceeds to dice his face up with the killer’s own weapon. But what’s Jason’s most memorable kill? Probably when he cuts Jimmy’s post sexual celebration short and impales the poor young man’s hand with the very corkscrew he was searching for, before planting a meat cleaver in his face.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning –Once again Jason does not snag the best in this film, as it’s awarded to unstable teenager, Vic. He brutally murders social misfit Joey with an ax over a candy bar. The scene is strange, awkward, and not necessary in any way, but that’s what makes it so remarkable. However, Jason’s most brutal kill is most likely poor Eddie. After finding his girlfriend dead by hedge clippers, the unfortunate young man’s head is crushed against a tree with a strap.
Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives – In an attempt to rid the world of Jason once and for all, Tommy decides to dig up the buried corpse. Before the corpse can be cremated, a bolt of lightening revitalizes the killer. Now alive once again, the supernatural killing machine proceeds to punch clean through the chest of Tommy's companion. Jason removes his heart and discards the body casually, which falls into the open grave. While certainly nowhere close to being the best in the series, this one packs one hell of an intro.
Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood – As stated on the commentary, this scene was actually cut down slightly to keep the film’s rating from exceeding the “R” rating. Jason traps poor unsuspecting Judy in her sleeping bag and slams her repeatedly into a tree. While it's a simple idea, the effect is not lost, which would be mimicked in later installments, and perfected in the remake.
Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan – At this point in the series, Jason has racked up quite the body count and has receive a number of injuries from a variety of weapons and objects. However, in this one he actually takes a few punches from young Julius who attempts to deliver a knock out while on a roof in Manhattan. Obviously you're not going to incapacitate Jason via boxing. However, not only is he unsuccessful, the undead killer decapitates him in one swing and sends the head soaring into a conveniently placed trash bin below.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – A forgettable entry into the series, but still has one of the best openings. The FBI, who baits Jason with a female undercover agent, ambushes and blows him away by ensuing gunfire and explosions. While there are plenty of more deaths throughout the film, this one is certainly the highlight.
Jason X – Often considered the black sheep of the series, the movie certainly does contain one of the most brutal deaths in the franchise. An unlucky intern aboard the film’s spacecraft has an unfortunate run in with the futuristic Jason. Adrienne receives a deep freeze as her head is immersed in liquid nitrogen and then shattered on the nearby counter. The death is vicious to say the least.
Freddy vs. Jason – While there are many kills throughout this supernatural throw down; we’re interested in Jason’s best. The killer’s first victim of the film is well done and reestablishes Jason as the badass he is. A lone girl, who decided to take a late night dip in the notorious lake, meets an untimely end. This is only after she is hunted and chased through the nearby wood by the stomping menacing presence, before Jason’s blade pins her to a tree.
Friday the 13th(2009) – Being a remake, this movie distinguishes itself from the original in many ways. This is especially the case, since Jason is the killer, where in the original he was not. Right from its opening, the film builds suspense well and forces the audience to wait patiently for Jason’s first appearance. This makes his first victims to fall all the more exciting and one in particular is unforgettable. After having sex, some poor young woman is imprisoned in her sleeping bag and draped over the campfire, where she is cooked alive. Not only is her death horrific, but the poor girl’s screams lure her unsuspecting boyfriend back, where he’s ensnared in a bear trap and completely Incapacitated when Jason returns.
Musical Score- Like the other slasher flicks we're going to discuss, Friday the 13th’s theme song is fantastic and only intensifies the feelings of horrors. The instrumental score provokes a feeling of panic, fear, and chaos. There is a subtle hint of Jaws in it, which invokes the fear of being hunted. Finally, the breathing is the icing on the cake to this haunting melody.
The Best- The original Friday the 13this a horror classic and expanded upon the brilliance that was already established by Halloween, while revolutionizing the genre with a theme that only remains true to the original.
The Worst- In most cases, it’s usually the remakes that stick out like a sore thumb in the series. Usually recycling tiresome ideas, ripping scenes directly from the original, and adding nothing new to the character. While the 2009 remake isn’t completely innocent of this, I personally don’t think it’s that bad. In a sea of shitty remakes that Hollywood seems to be relying on only more, this one wasn’t too bad.
Now with that said, what’s the series worst? While many of the sequels are uninspired and only focus on the body count, Jason X is the least appealing, as it simply doesn’t fit with the rest. I’ll commend it for trying something different, since many of the others are just a rehash, but it just doesn’t do it for me. The idea of sending Jason to space was ambitious, but not executed well. Although I don't know if it could have been pulled off in a way that would please viewers. It leaves most scratching their heads wondering what the hell they just watched.
Thoughts on the Remake
Remakes seem to be the easy out for Hollywood currently, as they continuously flow out of what now appears to be a nearly uncreative industry. However, I saw this in theaters with my horror buff girlfriend and honestly we were generally impressed. Is it better than the original? Absolutely not in my opinion, as its 1980 predecessor possesses both nostalgic charm and originality. However, I am willing to say that it ranks much higher than some of the pointless sequels that came before it (Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X, spotlights on you). Also, they did break away from some of the overused cliches that riddled the previous installments. Sure Jason is known to slowly stalk his victims while they run around and tire themselves out. Not to say it doesn't build suspense in between kills, but in this movie he chases them down. Everything seems to be amped up in this reimagining and I'll commend them for that because it only heightens the suspense.
Not the best in the series, but certainly not the worse. If you're a fan or even just looking for a good horror flick, I say check it out.
Just a Reminder...
This is only one part of three. So, if you're dying (pun intended) for more, remember to stop back and check out the other two.
The dream preying, child-killing, claw wielder himself, Freddy:
The manifestation of pure evil, Michael Myers.