I am a hug fan of horror movies. My first exposure to the genre was during my teenage years in the 80’s watching slasher films. The 80’s were saturated with these types of horror films and one of the most popular was the Friday the 13th series. 12 movies in (with the most recent coming out in 2009) and more to come, this may not be the highest quality of entertainment, but clearly they are doing something right and it is one of my not-so-guilty pleasures. There was even a television show for a few years even though it did not feature the main character Jason Voorhees.
My brief opinion/synopsis on all 12:
Friday the 13th
The first movie is the best by far. Revisiting it many years later it still is effective and, at the time of the movie’s release, the surprise twist of Jason’s mother being the true killer was a clever way to go. It made the first movie more ‘real’ instead of having the indestructible killer that is featured from the second film on. This movie also featured a young Kevin Bacon getting a spear shoved through his chest in a classic gore scene. Overall, a great start to the franchise and a true slasher movie classic.
The second movie was also quite entertaining and featured Jason Voorhees taking over his Mom’s killing spree. I always get a kick out of the stupid teenagers in these movies getting hacked to bits by the supernatural killer. No matter what you may think of the horror genre, slasher films are morality plays in the sense that the sex obsessed and irresponsible teenagers always get punished by the murderer.
This movie was presented in 3D and it was delightfully cheesy as one would expect. An eyeball being unnaturally pointed at the camera and various other sharp weapons appearing to come right at you was just pure fun. Plenty of gore with teenagers dying left and right and continuing the trend of these movies being fun/guilty pleasures.
The Final Chapter
Yeah right. Even back then I think it was clear these movies were not going away any time soon. A very young Corey Feldman as Tommy was a highlight. At the end, when it seemed that Jason was done for (at least in this film), Tommy suddenly looks at the camera with an evil glint insinuating that he will take over the mantle of the titular killer. This was a pretty good entry in the series. The Tommy story line is pretty interesting and Feldman did a good job.
A New Beginning
We get an older Tommy who is being tormented by what happened in the previous film. Tommy keeps having dreams about Jason’s killing sprees and the movie keeps playing with the idea of whether or not the killings are happening or are just in Tommy’s head. At the end of the movie we get another hint of Tommy taking over Jason’s role with the infamous hockey mask covering his face. Not a great movie in the series, but still fun to watch.
We get a third film in a row featuring the character of Tommy and this time he is responsible for resurrecting Jason by attempting to kill him with a pole impalement that winds up being hit with electricity and waking up Mr. Voorhees. This one ends with Tommy surviving again and Jason being chained to a boulder at the bottom of the lake. None of the sequels were classics by any means, but the Tommy story line was getting a little stale.
The New Blood
This one discarded Tommy and featured Tina who had telekinetic powers to aid in her battle against Jason. It was an interesting way to go in the movie, but the movie got a little boring since the MPAA forced the filmmakers to cut out a lot of the gore which is the main draw of these films. The fake, over the top, gore scenes are the main draw for this type of movie and by neutering this film it doomed it’s success.
Jason Takes Manhattan
This is my favorite movie in the franchise. It is just plain silly with a good amount of over-the-top gore scenes throughout the film. When Voorhees finally gets to New York we see some truly goofy stuff like a decapitation scene that cracks me up since it if so blatantly unrealistic. A must watch.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday
Another “final” entry that was overall an okay movie, but the most memorable scene is the very last one where we see Jason’s hockey mask on the ground and suddenly, the infamous clawed glove of Freddy Krueger emerges and drags the mask down to hell. This was a total surprise ending when the movie was first released and I remember being overly excited at the prospect of a showdown between the two legendary horror movie slashers.
A movie that was surprisingly entertaining. The concept of a flash frozen Jason being thawed out in the distant future and going on a killing spree in a spaceship was quite fun. The movie did an excellent job poking fun at itself and the series and had some good death scenes. This is the only film in the franchise that my wife found somewhat entertaining due to the underlying satire.
Freddy Vs. Jason
It took a long time for this movie to come out following the ending of Jason Goes to Hell, but it was worth the wait. It was pure fun and it is incredibly cool to see these iconic villains in the same film together. My only disappointment is that Jason was not portrayed by Kane Hodder who not only portrayed the character in the last four films, but also vigorously championed this film. A bizarre decision by the film studio to say the least.
The Friday the 13th reboot was okay, but really unnecessary. Hollywood is reboot crazy at the moment and does not seem to want to slow down. They could have just continued the series, but felt the need to ‘re-imagine’ it. A total redo of the franchise was not necessary, but oh well, maybe the second reboot will be better.
The latest word is that there will be a new Friday the 13th television series. It should be interesting to see what they do, but it is clear that no matter how long these movies have been around and the quality, or lack thereof, this franchise is showing no signs of slowing down.