Jason X (2001) review

Jason X posterDirector: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Derwin Jordan, Melyssa Ade

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” (Professor Lowe, Jason X)

I can just imagine the conversation that potentially took place when Jason X was originally conceived.

“We need to make another Friday The 13th movie boss, but we’re running out of ideas.”

“Running out of ideas? Are you mad? It’s a slasher movie. Put gore and tits in it and you’re good.”

“Yes sir, but Friday The 13th fans expect something more, some sort of twist. We’ve already had a 3D one, a copycat killer one, a zombie one, one shot in New York and a possession one. What now?”

“I don’t care. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s fucking Jason In Space, just get tits and gore in it and have it ready by the summer.” Continue reading “Jason X (2001) review”

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Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review

Jason Goes To Hell posterDirector: Adam Marcus

Starring: Kane Hodder, Kari Keegan, John D LeMay, Steven Williams

STEVEN – “Duke! The part about being reborn through a Voorhees woman, does it have to be a living woman?”
DUKE – “No.”
STEVEN – “Duke, that thing is in the basement with Jessica’s dead mother.”
DUKE – “Mother of God.”

Here’s the story. After Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan died on its arse and drew the lowest ever box office in the series’ history, Paramount was done with it.

Step forward New Line Cinema, who owned A Nightmare On Elm Street. New Line had been itching to make a film pitting their own Freddy Krueger against Jason for a while, but the fact that they owned Freddy while Paramount owned Jason meant it was a logistical nightmare.

New Line’s solution was impeccable: buy Jason from Paramount at a low price while his name is mud at the studio, make him popular again then make the Freddy vs Jason film everyone wants to see. Continue reading “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) review”

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review

Friday The 13th Part VIII posterDirector: Rob Hedden

Starring: Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Todd Caldecott, Tiffany Paulsen

“I think the time has come for your first swimming lesson. You don’t wanna end up drowning like that Voorhees boy, do you? He never learned how to swim, either. And he’s still at the bottom of this lake.” (Charles, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)

By the time the Friday The 13th series had reached its eighth incarnation it was clear ideas were running a bit thin on the ground.

After all, there’s only so many times you can recycle the whole ‘masked killer stalks horny teens through the woods’ routine without eventually jumping the shark.

By this point though, Friday The 13th had jumped more sharks than Evel Knievel at a poker tournament. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) review”

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) review

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood posterDirector: John Carl Buechler

Starring: Lar Park-Lincoln, Terry Kisser, Susan Blu, Kane Hodder

“There’s a legend around here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake. A death curse. Jason Voorhees’ curse. They say he died as a boy, but he keeps coming back. Few have seen him and lived. Some have even tried to stop him. No one can.” (Narrator, Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood)

The Friday The 13th series has jumped the shark so many times I’m surprised Jason Voorhees isn’t dressed like Evel Knievel.

After apparently killing their iconic slasher villain for good in Part IV, introducing a copycat killer in Part V then resurrecting the original as a zombie in Part VI and chaining him to the bottom of Crystal Lake at the end, Paramount decided it was time to fill an entire swimming pool full of sharks, jellyfish and piranha and jump that instead.

Enter Tina Shepard, the heroine of Part VII: The New Blood. Not content with merely being the latest in a line of sole survivors in Friday The 13th films, Tina is different because (drum roll) she has telekinetic powers. Yes, she can move things with the power of her mind. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) review”

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) review

Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives posterDirector: Tom McLoughlin

Starring: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, CJ Graham

“I went to go cremate Jason… but I fucked up.” (Tommy Jarvis, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives)

After pissing off long-time Friday The 13th fans by releasing a sequel in which Jason wasn’t actually the killer (see my review of Part V: A New Beginning), Paramount wasn’t taking any risks with the sixth film. That’s why Friday The 13th Part VI comes with a fairly definitive subtitle that states, yes, Jason is alive and well in this one.

Not that his resurrection makes a lot of sense, mind. After surviving a Friday film for the second time, Tommy Jarvis (now played by a third actor, the frustratingly spelt Thom Mathews) escapes from his mental institution, heading to Jason’s grave with his friend to convince himself he’s gone once and for all. After digging up the grave he sees Jason’s rotting body. Nice one, job done.

Except it isn’t, because Tommy decides he wants to drive a metal pole through Jason’s corpse, an act that comes back to munch on Tommy’s arse when a lightning storm hits the pole and brings Jason back to life, all zombified and annoyed and that. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) review”

Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) review

Friday The 13th Part V - PosterDirector: Danny Steinmann

Starring: John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Melanie Kinnaman, Dick Wieand

“Jason Voorhees? You’re outta your fucking mind. You’ve been out in the sun too long. Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated. He’s nothing but a handful of ash.” (Mayor Cobb, Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)

Picture the dilemma faced by the studio execs at Paramount. They’d just released the fourth Friday The 13th film, one which quite clearly drew a line under the whole series with the title Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. And yet, people wanted more.

So, deciding to neatly brush the whole ‘final chapter’ business neatly under the blood-soaked carpet, Paramount greenlit a fifth film and decided to call it A New Beginning, the title implying that the first four films were still their own little series and now we were dealing with a brand new story arc. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) review”

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) review

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter posterDirector: Joseph Zito

Starring: Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Peter Barton, Ted White

“Jesus Christmas! Holy Jesus! Goddamn! Holy Jesus jumping Christmas shit!” (Axel, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter)

Oh, you poor, deluded fools. To think there was once a time when the fourth film in the Friday The 13th series was supposed to be the last one ever.

Of course, hindsight tells us this couldn’t have been further from the truth – Jason would go on to star in a further eight movies – but for now let’s treat The Final Chapter as the concluding part it was seemingly intended to be.

Following on from the end of the third movie, an apparently dead Jason is carted off to the local morgue where he rests with his victims. Predictably, it’s not long before he’s up and at them again, killing a couple of doctors on his way out of the building. Continue reading “Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) review”

Friday The 13th Part III (1982) review

Friday The 13th Part 3 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner, Richard Brooker

“Is that all you’re gonna do this weekend? Smoke dope?” (Shelly, Friday The 13th Part III)

After the second Friday The 13th movie ended with the doors left wide open for a sequel, that inevitable follow-up sauntered through said doors just one year later in the shape of the imaginatively titled Friday The 13th Part III.

The second film concluded with the survivor conveniently blacking out and having no idea where Jason had gone, so the third begins just one day later as a still very-much alive Jason heads to a lakefront property called Higgins Haven, where he takes solace in a nearby farmhouse to rest his wounds.

As Jason’s luck would have it, yet another group of sexually active teens are on their way to spend the week at Higgins Haven, blissfully unaware one of the horror genre’s most notorious slashers is camping out in the building next door. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part III (1982) review”

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review

Friday The 13th Part 2 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Warrington Gillette

“I told the others, they didn’t believe me. You’re all doomed! You’re all doomed!” (Crazy Ralph, Friday The 13th Part 2)

It’s common knowledge among horror fans that Jason isn’t actually the killer in Friday The 13th, and it’s in fact his mum who wanders around coating the forests of Camp Crystal Lake with teenage blood. Eager to cash in with a sequel but realising they couldn’t pull off the same trick twice (not to mention the fact that Mrs Voorhees was decapitated at the end of the first film), Paramount decided it was time to finally introduce Jason himself.

Before opening with a short prologue to ensure the first film’s heroine is quickly done away with, Friday The 13th Part 2 jumps forward five years to introduce us to a new group of potential teenage victims. These cheery (and horny) scamps are headed to the countryside to take part in a training session so they can learn how to be camp counsellors. Continue reading “Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review”

Friday The 13th (1980)

Director: Sean S Cunningham

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon, Walt Gorney

“You’re going to Camp Blood, ain’t ya? You’ll never come back again. It’s got a death curse!” (Crazy Ralph, Friday The 13th)

You can’t beat a good Jason movie. Not that this is one, of course, because he’s not really in it. And while the reference to Friday The 13th in the opening scene of Scream did its best to inform today’s horror fans that Jason Voorhees was never actually the killer in the original movie, many still believe he’s been the one slicing up teens ever since the series began. They’re wrong. Laugh at them.

Regardless of the big man’s absence Friday The 13th is still a hugely influential film. Much like Halloween inspired the slasher genre in the first place, Friday The 13th was the film responsible for countless imitators in the more specific camp slasher sub-genre. Sleepaway Camp, The Burning, even modern ‘gems’ like Scream Bloody Murder… they all got the original ‘teens at a camp’ idea from Friday The 13th.

Insert your own "splitting headache" joke

The story now sounds clichéd but at the time it was fairly original. 23 years after Camp Crystal Lake closes down following an accident an enterprising young chap decides to open it up again, despite warnings from the locals to leave well alone. As we join the story the counsellors are making their way to the camp early to prepare for the children’s arrival in a few days. But they’re not alone… well, obviously, because the other counsellors are there. What I mean is there’s a killer wandering around too.

As the first important camp slasher movie, Friday The 13th established a lot of the clichés that remain to this day. Gory deaths are a given but it was also responsible for cementing the unwritten rule that if you have sex you die, the subsequent rule that the virgin is the one who’ll become the survivor, and the presence of that camp slasher favourite, the Crazy Old Man™.

Ralph was right! Who's crazy now, eh? (answer: it's still Ralph)

Friday The 13th’s Crazy Old Man™ is Ralph, an apparent Grade A mentalist who advises one of the counsellors that Camp Crystal Lake has a “death curse” and that they should stay away. Though it’s not a curse as such, the fact that Ralph was right all along and that he’s smart enough to then piss off after his warning so he can survive past the closing credits (in this film, at least) means he’s a credit to Crazy Old Men™ everywhere. Good work, Ralph.

Of course, all the counsellors ignore Ralph because he’s a Crazy Old Man™ and continue on to the camp, presumably because if they’d said “hmmm, sounds dangerous, let’s go back home and get a bar job instead” the film would perhaps have been less exciting and may not have spawned the eleven sequels it did.

"I'm sorry, all I meant was that for a female killer you've got very hairy hands"

And so, as would soon become traditional, the counselors start getting offed one by one. The deaths surprisingly realistic for a film with such a low budget, mainly thanks to the special effects expertise of a young Tom Savini, who would go on to become a legend of the horror genre with films like Dawn Of The Dead. The most impressive scene of the bunch is the arrow-in-the-neck demise of Jack – played by a 21-year-old Kevin Bacon in his first role – which looks so believable that to this day many are still stumped as to how it was done (though there have been documentaries since that have revealed the secret).

Of course, as is customary in these films the killer has to eventually be revealed, and while I won’t spoil it (in case you’re one of the few people who doesn’t know what happens) it leads to a rather underwhelming final fifteen minutes when you know the killer isn’t exactly the strongest person in the world. Still, the final death and the brilliant twist ending make up for it.

Friday The 13th may be showing its age now and it may not prominently feature the man who would become synonymous with the series but despite this it’s still a great example of the genre at its purest. If you’re relatively new to slasher films and are as a result less likely to be able to tell when the jumps are coming (many films used the Friday The 13th series as templates for the timing of their jumps) then you’ll be in for a scary ride, but for everyone else these days it’s just a dumb, fun movie that happened to give birth to an entire sub-genre. See it.