Last year I found myself in a strange place heading into the Halloween season, which for me usually starts sometime in September. In years past, I’d written posts about various movies and franchises for the dearly departed Topless Robot/Robot’s Voice site. I loved poring over these films, taking notes and then figuring out the best way to present them to an audience.Oh do go on
If you’re keeping track, and I’m not sure why you would be at this point, I’m still muddling through Stephen King’s The Stand. And yet, I stray away from time to time to check out other books like Jason Zinoman’s Shock Value, which I stumbled across while looking for various horror films in my library’s database. With a subtitle like How A Few Eccentric Outsiders Gabe Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, And Invented Modern Horror, how could I not bite, especially around Halloween! Continue reading Halloween Scene: Shock Value By Jason Zinoman
For the most part, when it comes to remakes of prominent 80s slasher films from the past decade or so, I’m not a fan. I really disliked Rob Zombie’s Halloween and wasn’t a fan of the Platinum Dunes version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (though I kind of liked TCM: Beginning, so go figure). It’s not so much that I can’t believe my beloved crazy murderers are getting updated or changed, it’s that there should be certain parameters that get addressed and ideas hit in any given property or franchise otherwise you’re dealing with a completely different thing. I fully understand that that’s exactly what an old fuddy duddy would say, so I guess that’s where I’m at.
Even with all that said, I actually liked the 2009 reboot of Jason Voorheese in Friday The 13th. The movie acted as more of a remake of the first three films from the original series with nods to Mrs. Voorheese being a maniac, Jason killing while wearing some funky headgear and him finally grabbing the hockey mask. The film doesn’t actually involve any campers which is a bit of a bummer, but this holds with reality better than the original films when you think about it. Who’s going to keep opening camps on a lake where a madman has created his own private hunting grounds? Those elements were still in the film, though, in the form of the abandoned camp.
It’s buildings like these where Jason has made his home. He’s basically been living in the woods for 20 years on his own, killing and maiming as he sees fit. His warped mind is reflected in the home he’s made for himself which looks like what you’d expect from a hulking man with the emotional capacity of an 8 year old (who also happens to murder people).
And boy, does he murder a lot of people. There are actually two sets of victims in this film, the first is basically pre-credits fodder who show the audience what Jason is capable of and then the second that’s staying at a rich asshole’s parents’ cabin near Crystal Lake. Meanwhile, Jared Padalecki’s traveling around trying to find his sister who was one of the women from the first batch. As you’d expect, they run afoul of Jason and he starts picking them off one by one, utilizing his trademark machete as well as a bow and arrow and a few other tools he finds nearby.
The movie’s nowhere near perfect, though. It definitely follows that late 80s slasher trend that was continued throughout most of these 00s remakes where the soon-to-be victims are all either complete asshats or, at the very least, unlikeable caricatures of stereotypes. This movie’s got the drug obsessed potheads, the jerky rich guys, the girl who sleeps with the guy as soon as his girlfriend leaves the room and the unfortunate nice girl who gets swept up in all this madness. The general idea behind creating characters like this is that audiences won’t mind seeing jerks get iced. There’s a bit of truth to that, but many horror fans would argue that it’s far more interesting to see characters we like in danger than ones we could care less about.
Still, this is a slick looking horror film with a super-intimidating actor under the Jason mask plus a story that mostly makes sense within its own rules. Some characters make wildly stupid decisions, but that’s to be expected when they’re drunk, post-coital, high or on the run from a maniac the size of a redwood. While the movie doesn’t necessarily add anything but slickness to the Friday the 13th franchise, I also don’t think it detracts like the Halloween remake did.
I would like to pose a question to my fellow Jason fans that gets into spoiler territory for this film as well as the original, so if you haven’t seen them you might want to move on. What did you think of the very end where Jason pops out of the water to grab the survivors? Personally, I’m on the fence. On one hand, I like the homage to the original, but it also felt really forced. We spent this whole time dealing with what seemed like a very human villain and then he comes back with this supernatural craziness? If they wanted to go with this kind of ending, maybe it would have been wise to avoid a wood chipper as a means of stopping him. How does he come back from that with his head intact? If it’s a dream, like some of the other water pop-outs, it’s not my bag.
In the process of watching all the F13 films, I of course returned to the one I liked the least, Jason Goes To Hell. This is one of those cases where I remembered not liking the film and read my old review which was overly negative, but couldn’t remember any specifics aside from the fact that they got rid of Jason and used a worm-thing to transfer evil from one body to the next.
Maybe I’m in a much different place mentally these days or maybe a complete lack of expectations made for a better viewing experience, but I like this movie more this time around. I mean, it’s not great (or even all the way good), but it’s not as terrible as my memory told me it was. There are three main problems with this film: it shouldn’t be a Jason movie, the directing is wonky and the casting was bad.
If this was simply a supernatural slasher movie about an evil transported from body to body in search of a perfect specimen, it’d actually be pretty cool. But when you take one of the most iconic killers of all time and remove him from all but two big chunks of the film, you’re not really making a new Friday the 13th movie.
As far as the directing goes, I don’t think this needs much explanation. Some elements of this film are just dumb. But, even if they weren’t there are some supremely strange choices. Jessica returns to her house to find her mom’s co-worker (and a childhood friend, possibly) cleaning her dead mom’s blood out of the carpet. This scene isn’t necessarily acted poorly, but it is staged in a supremely strange manner. These two old friends start catching up (not weird) about five yards from the gigantic blood stain (weird). Oh, also, the friend doesn’t know about Jessica’s baby even though she spent a lot of time with the kid’s grandma AND knows the father. That just doesn’t make sense.
It’s not easy separating the acting choices with the directing ones in this film. Everyone related to Ma, the diner owner, is awful. They’re poorly constructed characters performed in this ridiculous, over-the-top manner that made me bristle. On the other hand, you’ve got Steven Williams as the bounty hunter who somehow knows EVERYTHING about Jason and yet has never killed the maniac himself. This guy thinks he’s so Eastwood it’s annoying. You don’t need to growl everything to let us know you’re a badass.
And yet, I can’t completely write this movie off. Like I said, it’s an interesting story. Plus, the special effects are pretty great at times. The part where that guy basically melts was pretty gross and that little Jason monster made me cringe. At the end of the day, this could have been a better movie with a few changes or maybe another pass or two in the editing/writing phase.
Every now and then a film slips through the cracks. For the longest time, that film for me was Friday The 13th Part VI, but in the case of this blog, it was Part V: A New Beginning. As it turns out, even though I’ve seen this movie a time or two, I didn’t remember too much about it. Since I’m working on a Friday the 13th-based list for a freelance gig and the site is lacking a review, I figured it was high time I remedied that.
This film seems to pick up where Part IV left off with the return of Corey Feldman’s Tommy Jarvis, but as we quickly find out, it’s all a a dream taking place in the head of an older Tommy (John Shepherd), one who’s on his way to a camp for emotionally troubled teenagers. Things get heavy pretty quickly as one of the patients straight up murders another with an axe in an early scene. From there, it seems like Tommy’s biggest fear has come to life and Jason is back on the hunt. But, as many fans of the series already know, it’s not really Jason this time around, it’s SPOILER the true father of the patient murdered by axe earlier in the film.
I did a little reading about this movie and, apparently, the original idea was to have Tommy Jarvis somehow take over as Jason in this film, but that’s not wound up happening. Instead, we’re treated to some wildly confusing dream-within-a-dream-within-a-possible-dream stuff at the very end that left me scratching my head a bit.
As a whole the movie’s a mix of interesting and kind of pointless. Without getting too much into the idea, the film explores the effect of a killer like Jason on the world he lives (unlives?) in. He’s such a powerful figure that a man pushed to the edge will take up his identity — or a facsimile of it — and try to continue on his murderous work, targeting any number of random victims. On the other hand, since the movie doesn’t actually feature Jason — just people altered thanks to his existence — it feels a lot less important.
At the end of the day, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning feels a bit like one of those comic book crossover tie-in issues that aren’t completely necessary to the larger story but do feature an interesting aspect of the larger story. Cast-wise you’ve got an okay mix of oddballs, but most of them are pretty one-note. Meanwhile, the kills are serviceable. Not the best of the bunch by far, but probably not the worst.
By the way, I’ve just got to take a few sentences here and talk about how awesome Shavar Ross is as Reggie in this movie. If you’re like me, you might remember him as Dudley on Different Strokes (I will not spell that title the “correct” way based on grammatical principle alone). He’s not only more emotionally balanced than all the older kids around him, but he pulls some pretty impressive moves at the end of the film to take out Faux Jason, including hitting him with fairly large piece of equipment.
Awkward Jayden Smith “freestyle” aside, this video of his dad reuniting with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribeiro is a wonderful thing to behold. I bust out the Fresh Prince theme song, no kidding, at least once a week much to the chagrin of my wife.
Brian Cronin attacked one of the weirder arcs of comics I’ve ever read in his Abandoned Love column on CBR about the Justice League Task Force character Mystek who was apparently in the process of being sold by writer Christopher Priest to DC. when the deal went south and he killed the character. That’s all news to me!
I am very much looking forward to the July 10th premiere of Camp on NBC.
Chris Columbus directing a big screen version of Patrick Jean’s short film Pixels sounds like a fantastic idea. Plus, writing that last sentence lead to me rewatching Pixels which is, in and of itself, a fantastic idea. (via Collider)
THR reports that Paramount and Warner Bros. made an interesting deal recently. To get Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar fully under their roof, WB gave Paramount their share of a potential South Park movie and the Friday the 13th franchise. Hopefully this means a new chapter in the Jason Voorhees series.
It was fun seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone together in Expendables 2, but that movie’s a little goofy. I’m hoping Escape Plan is a bit more serious. The poster I saw on Collider is pretty rad.
Whoa, Amazon created something called Stroyteller, a program that allows you to upload your screenplay and create storyboards. I wonder how my slash script would turn out?
Stephen Merchant has a new show coming out on HBO called Hello Ladies. This is a good thing for humanity.
Francesco Francavilla‘s Batman 1972 – -dubbed Batploitation, though I personally think it should be Batsploitation — is amazing. This should be the next series of DC Nation shorts!
So behind on links again, but after a few trips, I think I’m going to be back on point (I hope).
I’ve done lots and lots of writing lately. I wrote about Nowhere Men, Point of Impact, Where Is Jake Ellis?, Star Bright and the Looking Glass, Multiple Warheads and Black Kiss II! Whew, that was a lot of writing.
Do yourself a favor and check out my pal Rickey Purdin’s new blog VHS Notebook. He watches movies, takes notes and draws, it’s a wonderful thing.
The question at the center of my pal Sean T. Collins’ review of Earth One: Batman over on TCJ is an important one that more comics need to ask: Why does this comic exist?
I don’t truly know what it means to be discriminated against or outwardly hated, but I do completely agree with this editorial by Lucas Grindley over on The Advocate when he says that homophobia is not a political issue, but one that can threaten a person and their families. People need to stop worrying about what’s going on in their neighbors’ bedrooms and start worrying about the starving, dying people all over the world.
Okay, on to less serious stuff. Everyone saw the BBC‘s latest preview of Doctor Who Series 7, right? It looks raaaaaaaaad.
I’ve been watching a ton of Olympics this week and will most likely do so next week as well. As such, I found this AP article about the decaying structures built for the Athens games to be quite interesting. What DO you do with an outdoor Olympic pool when all the people go home?
Oh man, there’s gonna be color versions of Scott Pilgrim? Oni‘s trying to get more of my money!
Flea released a digital EP of all original, weird, emotional soundscapes? Yeah, I downloaded that, now I just gotta listen to it. (Rolling Stone)
The possibilities of DreamWorks buying Classic Media are close to endless and very, very exciting. (THR)
I love reading interviews with Pat Carney from The Black Keys, like this one on Rolling Stone. I like how that dude doesn’t buy into the fame.
I’ve been slow on the uptake when it comes to Wreck-It Ralph, that is until I read this LA Times article about how the filmmakers scored rights to all those classic video game characters.
Denis Medri’s Steampunk Spider-Man characters look so cool, it would potentially get me to read something about Steampunk. (via Project: Rooftop)
Beau Smith suggests more comics have a little fun with their books. I agree their needs to be more humor in comics.Final Girl Stacie Ponder created this fantastic Casual Friday Jason Voorhees shirt. I like it very much.
Speaking of Final Girl, her next FG Film Club selection is Deadly Blessing which is great because it’s on Netflix Instant AND already in my queue. Now I just need to 1. remember, 2. find time to watch it and 3. write about it by August 13th. I CAN DO IT!
Finally, I was really saddened to hear about Tom Davis’ passing. He was such a huge part of SNL, one of the pillars of my concept of comedy. (THR)