HAPPY FRIDAY the 13th from MONSTERZERO NJ!

4765413-jason_voorhees_machete

 It’s rare to get a Friday the 13th AND Halloween in the same month, so enjoy horror fans!-MZNJ

– MonsterZero NJ

bars

 

HAPPY FRIDAY the 13th from MONSTERZERO NJ!

4765413-jason_voorhees_machete

– MonsterZero NJ

bars

 

RANDOM NONSENSE: HAPPY 35th ANNIVERSARY FRIDAY THE 13th!

MZNJ_New_RN

now playing

Friday_the_thirteenth_movie_poster

The original Friday The 13th was released 35 years ago today on May 9th, 1980. I saw it on Friday June 13th, 1980…the day it takes place…at the long gone Rialto Theater in Ridgefield Park,N.J. It is now considered a horror classic and has spawned 10 sequels and 1 reboot and given us a horror icon in Jason…though his mom was the killer in this first installment. Happy Anniversary to a classic!

554917_339783889491962_817391709_n

Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney)

rialto interior_Sol Lang

The Rialto Theater where I saw in on Friday June 13th, 1980!

Source: MonsterZero NJ

bars

 

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

Fridaythe13th2009

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)

Remake…reboot…re-imagining…whatever you classify this 2009 attempt to breath new life into this time-warn series, Marcus Nispel’s Friday The 13th is basically just more of the same with a bigger budget and glossier look. It’s basically just another Friday The 13th movie that, once it briefly replays the series’ origins in it’s first few minutes, cuts to modern day and just becomes another entry in the series. As such it isn’t all that bad, it’s just that it gives us very little that we haven’t seen before. The film opens on Friday The 13th 1980 with a re-enactment of the final moments of the original film with a pretty and imperiled camp counselor taking the head off crazed Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) in self defense. We then cut to modern day where a group of campers, some of whom are looking for a nearby marijuana crop, enter the woods surrounding Crystal Lake near the old camp where the 1980 murders took place. Of course, the story of the massacre of the camp counselors by crazy Mrs. Voorhees and her subsequent death, is told around the campfire along with the tale of son, Jason who witnessed his mother’s beheading and now stalks the woods looking for revenge. Before you can say ‘sharp objects’, a mysterious figure wearing a bag over his head is slaughtering the campers one by one in gruesome fashion. Six weeks later a group of attractive young twenty-somethings are heading up to a house on Crystal Lake while Clay (Jared Padalecki) roams the town with fliers looking for his missing sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the previous group whose fate we saw moments earlier. Meeting at a general store Clay bonds with pretty Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), but earns the ire of the party house owner Trent (Travis Van Winkle). The group has also caught the attention of another individual, one whose has made this area his home and deals harshly with anyone who intrudes on his turf. While Jenna and Clay roam the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake looking for clues of Whitney’s whereabouts, a hulking killer in a hockey mask…and we do see him obtain this…starts to decimate the young party-ers in blood soaked ways. Will any of these unsuspecting young people survive the wrath of this very real and very lethal local urban legend?

Marcus Nispel does a fairly good job of bringing some impact back to proceedings that we are all too familiar with, but it is that very familiarity that is the film’s Achilles Heel as well. He does create some suspense and tension and gives some strength back to the stalk and kill scenes, but aside from a few new twists such as Jason living in an underground lair beneath Camp Crystal Lake and keeping Whitney as a hostage as she bares a passing resemblance to his mother, the film is basically just another Friday The 13th movie and we know what to expect even if it’s done well…right down to the ‘shock’ ending. It looks good, Nispel’s movies always do. The gore is top notch and very plentiful and the movie moves quickly once it gets going. As for the last act when these films generally kick into gear, Nispel gives us one that is fairly intense with a lot of action and gore leading up to the expected showdown between Jason and whomever is left.

As for the cast… Derek Mears, as Jason gives, the iconic killer a presence and this goes a long way to make things work, as his Jason is imposing. Leads Panabaker and Padalecki work together very well as the strong willed heroine and determined hero, respectively. The rest of the characters may be stereotypical for this kind of movie, but the attractive young cast give all their characters a little life and personality, so they are not just generic victims even if some do not have a lot of screen time.

As this series as a whole goes, this re-whatever probably ranks among some of the better sequels when all is said and done. It’s lively, and returns the series to it’s more serious tone and makes Jason someone to be feared again. It may not have the classic aura of some of the original entries and if it was the first of it’s kind, it may be an enjoyable, but forgettable horror flick. When grouped in with the rest of this classic franchise, it’s an entertaining and slick enough entry that manages to return a bit of the old thunder to a familiar format…even if it’s basically more of the same and adds little new to a decades old formula.

3 hockey masks.

friday 13 original rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: JASON X and FREDDY vs. JASON

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_JX_FvJ

bars

My Friday The 13th film retrospective is back with a vengeance with the final two films in the original series before the 2009 reboot…which we will cover soon…these two are certainly the most over the top of the series as one brings Jason into not only the future, but outer space and the last pits him against the Springwood Slasher himself, Freddy Krueger…

 

Jason_x

bars

JASON X (2001)

With the awful Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday not making that much of an impact, despite trying something a bit new with the franchise and being yet another entry boasting it was the series’ last, it was eight years before New Line tried to get the series going again in anticipation for their plans for Freddy v.s. Jason which was in development at this point, but not ready for production. Not sure why they chose this completely over-the-top approach to get Jason back in action, but the 10th Friday The 13th flick finds Jason not only in the future, but in space and turned into a cyborg as well.

The film starts out in 2010 where Crystal Lake apparently has a research facility and Jason is imprisoned there as the subject of government research into why they can’t kill him and why he can regenerate his body tissue so quickly…though from what I gather he is still a zombie at this point, so not sure how he is regenerating anything if he is dead. The arrogant Dr. Whimmer (legendary director David Cronenberg in a cameo) wants him studied, while Research Director Rowan (Lexa Doig) wants him cryogenically frozen after repeated attempts to destroy him have all failed. During an attempt to transfer Jason elsewhere, he escapes and kills everyone before Rowan tricks him into the cryogenic freeze chamber, but not before being wounded and frozen herself. We then cut to 2455 where earth is uninhabitable and a research ship filled with students, who are not unlike the nubile camp counselors and partying teens in previous installments, find Jason and Rowan and bring them back to their ship with intents of returning to Earth 2 with their find. Rowan is revived and healed and warns the crew to destroy the frozen Jason. A greedy professor (Jonathan Potts), however, sees dollar signs in making the infamous serial killer an exhibit and has no interest in seeing him destroyed. Jason has his own agenda and despite being thought dead, thaws out and returns to his old habits and starts slaughtering the crew…including their well-armed security force. Can Rowan and the remaining crew fend off the revived killer, or will their ship become a floating tomb?

This installment at least is smart enough to try to have a good time with actor/writer Todd (Drive Angry) Farmer’s silly script and makes no pretense in trying to be a serious horror flick. As directed by James Issac…a Visual FX Supervisor who did FX work for both David Cronenberg and Sean S. Cunningham, which explains Cronenberg’s cameo and being hired to direct this flick…the film makes a solid effort to have a fun with the outlandish premise and yet deliver at least some of the familiar elements that F13 fans look for. Unfortunately, Issac’s minimal experience as a director doesn’t give the film the vitality and faster pace it needed to really make effective use of the Sci-Fi imbued story. His directing is very by-the-numbers and the film only really livens up in the last act when Jason goes up against a female android, the KM 14 (Lisa Ryder) who goes all Ripley on the Crystal Lake juggernaut. This leads to a computer malfunction repairing Jason and turning him into an even more lethal cyborg. It’s these moments when the film really takes off and has a good time with taking the iconic character into space. It’s a little too late to really turn the film into a B-movie treat, but it saves it from being a little more then a head scratching curiosity. Issac at least knew his material was silly and it’s too bad he couldn’t have given it a little more spark till these scenes. Not that some of what came before isn’t entertaining, it just isn’t outrageous or fun enough to match the premise. Again…by the numbers. Issac’s approach is competent but very straight-forward and if you’re going to take Jason Voorhees into space, go with it and have a blast. Maybe…and I’m just guessing here…it’s simply because Issac’s experience is more technical and that’s how he approached directing it. The film needed someone with a more passionate touch. The gore FX are, at least, well done and there is enough to please fans.

The cast are fine. Lexa Doig makes a decent enough heroine as Rowan, but she really doesn’t become that endearing. Lisa Ryder steals the show as the spunky, sexy android KM 14 and the film could have used more of her. Peter Mensah makes a good impression as tough-as-nails and resilient Sergeant Brodski who bonds with Rowan, and Jonathan Potts is appropriately slimy as Professor Lowe. Kane Hodder returns for his fourth and final…at least for now…appearance as Jason and gives the character his needed presence and menace.

Overall, it is not the weakest entry, but certainly not one of the better flicks. I was moderately entertained and only wished there was more fun had with the premise like we were treated to in the last act. The film was not the success New Line hoped for, considering the 14 million investment they made on it and it barely made it’s money back. But Freddy v.s. Jason was on the horizon and that would become the highest grossing film containing Mrs. Vorhees’ baby boy thus far. Worth a look if you are a fan of this series and haven’t seen it.

2 and 1/2 hockey masks.

friday 13 2009 rating

plus

Freddy_vs._Jason_movie

bars

FREDDY vs. JASON (2003)

After quite some time in development, New Line Cinema finally brought two of modern horror’s most infamous icons together for a throw-down…and in my opinion it is a bloody blast of gory fun. The clever plot has Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) finally outwitted by the people of Springwood. His memory has been wiped almost clean from the townsfolk by a diligent policy of never discussing the nightmare demon and institutionalizing and medicating anyone who dreams about him. He’s powerless in his dream realm and quite unhappy about it. Not to be outwitted, Freddy has a nefarious plot to get back in action. He needs someone in the physical world to return to Elm St. and start killing again. The murders will obviously be attributed to him and once he is in the minds of the townsfolk and they begin to fear him again, his power will be restored. The monster he’s chosen for the job is a certain Crystal Lake resident. Freddy revives Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) and sends him to Elm St. to start a killing spree to which he will gleefully take credit. Jason picks the original Elm St. house to start his carnage, which is occupied now by a troubled girl named Lori (Monica Keena) and her widowed father (Tom Butler). Jason thus interrupts a get-together between Lori and some friends in gruesome fashion and Freddy’s plan is set in motion as troubled locals and the authorities think the Springwood Slasher is back. Freddy’s plan seems to be working fine except for two things he didn’t expect….One, Lori is a smart and resilient girl who figures things out a lot quicker than Freddy anticipated and rallies her friends to stop him. Secondly, Jason may have a kill-switch but not an off-switch and if he kills all the beleaguered Elm St. teens, Freddy will be back to square one with no one to fear/empower him. Now the dream demon has to not only foil Lori and friends from stopping him, but must now destroy the very fiend he set in motion. It’s monster vs. monster with Lori and her decreasing number of friends caught in the middle. Who will win?

As directed by Honk Kong filmmaker Ronny Yu, Freddy vs Jason is a lot of gory fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously, or expect it to be the least bit scary. The movie moves very quickly and Yu’s visual style is colorful, as with his Chinese films, but it is when these two modern horror icons finally lock horns that Yu’s HK filmmaking style really kicks in. The final battle is vicious and ridiculously gory like a Tom and Jerry cartoon by way of George Romero. When the smoke clears, you’ve had a bloody good time.

Yu also has a good cast with gorgeous Monica Keena making a sexy and smart final girl. The lively supporting cast features fan favorite Katharine Isabelle, as tough but cute Gibb, Kelly Rowland as smart-ass Kia, Jason Ritter as Lori’s ex Will, who has escaped from being hospitalized and drugged to prevent his dreams from evoking Freddy, with Brendan Fletcher as Will’s oddball bud and fellow hospital inmate, Mark. The supporting characters are all fun and likable and the cast members give them some nice personality to make it all the more effective when either Freddy or Jason take one of them down. The movie works very well because the cast of characters are endearing and our fiends are at their best. Obviously, Englund is at the top of his game as Freddy and he is given some fun dialogue and bits to chew on and serves as the main villain of the piece with Jason ending up being a sort of anti-hero or lesser of two evils. As Jason, big Ken Kirzinger gives him presence and menace and he holds his own against Mr. Krueger.

Sure some of the hardcore fan base may have been hoping for a more serious attempt at a legitimate horror with these two, but at this point, both characters have become more like anti-heroes and it would have been hard to take the bringing together of these two icons all that seriously. Yu chose an approach which never makes a joke out of it, but has a good time with the possibilities as does Damian Shannon and Mark Swift’s script which provides some clever touches such as Freddy discovering Jason’s only ‘fear’. The flick gets a lot of mileage and fun out of the legacy of both characters and the bringing them together for a fight. It’s a very energetic movie and is a blast of fun and works very well for what it is. The characters still have some threat and there is plenty of the red stuff spurted about as their paths cross and the make-up effects portraying the carnage is top notch. The production as a whole is very slick and and makes good use of it’s healthy budget. A really entertaining flick that deserved, but sadly never got a rematch. A fun blast to end the original series for both Freddy and Jason.

3 and 1/2 hockey masks.

friday 13 1980 rating

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

jason goes to hell

bars

JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993)

NOTE: As stated at the end of my Part 8 review, Horror You Might Have Missed will cover the rest of my Friday The 13th retrospective as the series would pick up in the 90s and 2000s under New Line CInema who bought the rights after Takes Manhattan. I consider anything after 1990 as more current and doesn’t fall under my nostalgia classification. -MZNJ

New Line Cinema bought the rights to the Friday The 13th series after Paramount gave up after the awful Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan and I’m not sure what their intentions were, as this is subtitled The Final Friday yet, it’s goofy climax implies we may not have seen the last of Mr. Voorhees quite yet…though they all sort of imply that anyway. Whatever their game plan, New Line’s attempt at continuing or giving closure to the warn-out series, delivered an awful mess that clearly stands as the worst of this series and not only succeeds in being even more awful than Takes Manhattan, but completely rips off the 80s cult classic The Hidden as well.

The ‘story’, if I can call it that, opens with a beautiful young woman (Julie Michaels) arriving alone at a remote cabin at Crystal Lake. Soon she is besieged by hockey mask wearing serial killer Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) and the chase is on. Jason follows her into the woods where he is ambushed and literally blown apart by a SWAT team…how many years did it take to come up with this plan? At the morgue, Jason’s shredded remains are being examined by a coroner (Richard Grant) who becomes mesmerized as Jason’s heart begins to beat by itself and, under some kind of trance, he proceeds to eat the heart and embark on a murder spree, including a fellow coroner and two security guards (one amusingly also played by Kane Hodder). We find out through bounty hunter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams)…a character that exists solely to provide exposition…that Jason wants to be reborn and he can only do that…or be destroyed for that matter…through another Voorhees. Where Duke gets his information while the rest of the world scratches it’s head over Jason’s invulnerability is anyone’s guess. Luckily this flick not only invents a half-sister, Diana (Erin Gray) for Jason, but a granddaughter, Jessica (Kari Keegan) and a baby great-granddaughter. Now Jason goes from body to body in the form of a slimy serpent-like creature trying to track his kin down and slaying everyone who gets in the way, in gruesome fashion…still with me?…So, now it’s up to Jessica’s super annoying baby daddy Steven (John D. LeMay) to try to save his ex and their offspring and destroy Jason’s heart so he may never rise again…unless the monster succeeds in being reborn first.

I really appreciate co-writer (with Dean Lorey and Jay Haguely) and director Adam Marcus trying to take this series in a different direction, but this barely coherent mess is hardly a good start. The story seems to be making things up as it goes along especially when it comes to Duke’s insightful and extensive information about Jason, which might have saved dozens of lives had he spoken up about 10 years earlier. Obviously the story adds facts and characters when it needs them to serve the plot, such as Jason’s heart only being able to be destroyed by another Voorhees…and a special dagger…though it never explains why there is so much supernatural hocus-pocus surrounding the suddenly plentiful Voorhees family, or where this special blade came from. As mentioned, the whole body to body ability of Jason in slimy serpent form is directly lifted out of New Line’s own classic The Hidden,which had an alien outlaw doing that in L.A. The tone of the film is all over the place with some sequences being dead serious or viciously gory one minute and then silly and downright goofy the next (such as the duo who own the diner). With it’s wandering tone, it’s hard to connect with the flick as it can’t make up it’s mind what it wants to be. The film then comes to a really silly climax that looks like it came right out of an episode of Charmed complete with cheesy TV level animation FX. When the surprise last scene comes, it’s the coolest thing in the flick, but at that point we are too dazed by the previous 90 minutes of nonsense that we can’t even enjoy the implications.

Except for TV vet Erin Gray, whose character has far too little screen time, the cast make very little impression with LeMay being super annoying as Steven…this dude needed a punch in the face…and Williams trying to act badass for a character that basically doesn’t do much else than talk and tell other people they have to handle things. Again, his bounty hunter exists totally for exposition purposes and despite his ‘too cool’ act, he is as useful as a steak is to a vegan. At least the gore FX people did a good job and escape this garbage with their reputations intact. Despite the return of Harry Manfredini, the films has zero Friday The 13th feel which isn’t helped by the fact that Jason appears for about 5 minutes in the beginning and then about just as long in the end. It’s an awful mess of a movie that’s last few seconds lends the only clue as to why New Line even bothered to purchase the rights in the first place…and they couldn’t even use the authentic laugh in the cameo. Awful crap and one of the lowest grossing of the series!

1  hockey mask.

friday 13 p8 rating

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

friday the 13th part 8

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)

Jason Takes Manhattan tried to shake things up even more in this slowly fading series by taking Jason out of Crystal Lake, but, as they say, you can take the serial killer out of the woods, but you can’t take the woods out of the serial killer. This is one of the worst of the series in my book and definitely the worst of the original Paramount series before New Line took over in 1993. The film opens with two horny teens in a boat on Crystal Lake. While they do what horny teens do, their anchor pulls and rips an underwater electrical cable which, when striking the chained and submerged Jason (from Part 7), revives him once again. After slaughtering the two teens, he apparently pilots the craft (quite a skilled zombie, isn’t he?) to what appears to be Nova Scotia or someplace and relocates himself on a larger party cruise ship filled with teens on a graduation trip to NYC. Obviously, Jason starts slaughtering the youths as the ship sails through a massive storm…didn’t the organizers of this trip check the weather reports?…and then pursues the survivors into Manhattan for the last act. Yes, Jason only takes Manhattan in the last half hour of the movie. Will they escape from the hockey mask wearing killer or will Jason finally get to live his dream of appearing on Broadway?… do we care anymore?

As written and directed by Rob Hedden (who?) this is simply an awful movie and as one of the longest in the series, a chore to sit through. The tone of the film is deadly serious and taking Jason out of his usual setting works against it, removing the series feel rather than freshening it up. The kills are bit more vicious, but since the characters are really dull and lifeless, you really don’t care about their fates. The plot is riddled with far more holes then acceptable in this kinda film. Jason not only seems to have intimate knowledge of the layout and working of a ship he’s never seen or been on before, but also seems to have the power to appear anywhere he wants at will…even in Manhattan. He always appears where the characters run to, despite never having been far from Crystal Lake all his life.

The cast are especially bland too. Leading lady Jensen Daggett as Rennie is cute, but doesn’t endear to us and her character’s fear of water is given a connection to Jason that makes no sense and ultimately has no bearing on the plot. Scott Reeves is lifeless as the son of the boat captain and Rennie’s love interest and the characters have no chemistry and it doesn’t click. Renown TV actor Peter Mark Richman is one of the chaperones and Rennie’s jerk of an uncle and his character is completely generic as the stereotypical ‘adult jerk’ and the actor does the best he can with a thinly written role, but to no avail. Jason is again portrayed by Kane Hodder who is doing this heavy breathing thing which makes no sense, as, at this point, Jason has been dead for sometime and has no need to breath…especially not like he has asthma. Is being away from Crystal Lake causing a panic attack? The rest of the cast, including a young Kelly Hu, are totally bland and forgettable. The most interesting of Jason’s victims is guitar playing metal chick, J.J. (Saffron Henderson), but she is the first to go. Good move.

Add to all this a ridiculously cartoonish…and as a Jersey boy who loves his NYC, a bit offensive…portrayal of New York City as a dirty cesspool filled with degenerates, drug addicts, gang members and toxic waste, and the film is a dull, lifeless affair that makes boring use out of it’s only new touch, which is setting a Friday The 13th movie on a boat and then Manhattan…which doesn’t work anyway. Why would Jason voluntarily leave the familiarity of the only place he knows as home? The segment in Manhattan just seems made up as it goes along…did we need to stop the film dead for an attempted rape of Rennie by stereotypical drug addict/gang members?…and even the ending is just plain dumb and if it had remained the last film, would have been a completely unsatisfying way to put the iconic Jason to rest. A really awful and dull entry with very little to recommend even to hard core fans of the series. Jason would stay at rest until 4 years later when New Line Cinema would purchase the rights and try their hand at breathing new life into a dead series. The series hit rock bottom with this one.

NOTE: as the following entries in the series would be made and released in the 90s and 2000s, the remaining Friday The 13th films will be covered under the Horror You Might Have Missed banner as, at least at this point, my cut-off for classifying things as nostalgia is the 80s.

1 hockey mask.

friday 13 p8 rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 6: JASON LIVES and FRIDAY THE 13th PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_F13P6_F13P7

bars

My revisiting the Friday The 13th sequels continues.  The sixth and seventh installments fit nicely together as not only do they connect, as most of the Friday films do, but, both were efforts to breath new life into the series whose popularity was starting to wane. Part 6 brings back Jason, but has a lighter tone and a more supernatural edge to it and part 7 tries to shake things up by pitting the homicidal juggernaut against a Carrie-like telekinetic girl. While both wandered from the straight-forward horror tone of most of the previous entries, they did provide an entertainment factor of their own…

Friday-6-Poster

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th PART 6: JASON LIVES (1986)

Friday The 13th Part 6 set out to fix the wrong direction taken by Part 5 and brought back Jason to the series. But it also brought the lightest tone of the series so far with many scenes played for laughs and a more supernatural element, as Jason is now basically a zombie being brought back from the dead…and quite by accident. But despite the far less serious tone, Jason Lives is actually a fun entry that might disappoint hardcore fans, but was entertaining on it’s own.

The story picks up with Tommy Jarvis (now Thom Mathews) still haunted by Jason and deciding that destroying his corpse (which is interesting as Part 5 claimed he was cremated) would put his fear to rest. He journeys to the grave site with bud Allen (Welcome Back Kotter’s Ron Palillo) who helps him dig up the killer’s body. In an angry fit, Tommy rips off part of the fence and stabs the corpse repeatedly leaving the metal fence post in Jason’s heart. But, a storm is brewing and the post is struck by lightening and like Mary Shelley’s monster, Jason rises from the grave and murders Allen. Uh oh! Now having revived the very fiend he set out to destroy, Tommy runs to Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) of Forest Green…actually a renamed Crystal Lake trying to escape it’s infamy…to warn about Jason’s return and, is thrown in jail by the sheriff who thinks he’s crazy. The sheriff’s daughter Megan (an adorable Jennifer Cooke) takes a shine to Tommy and this brings good news and bad news for the distraught young man…the good news is Megan believes him and wants to help him, the bad news is, she is head counselor at the new Forest Green campsite and a certain revived someone is on his way home, leaving a trail of bodies as he goes. Can Tommy escape the hard-nosed sheriff and save the camp filled with nubile counselors who just welcomed a pack of young children?…or, will they all be lambs to the slaughter?

As written and directed by Tom McLoughlin, Jason Lives may not be the intense return to gory horror that this series began as, but is actually a lot of fun despite being fairly void of tension and scares. There are a lot of clever touches and McLoughlin adds a supernatural element as Tommy feels the only way to stop Jason is return his body to the watery grave he originally came from, not to mention that he was revived as a zombie by lightening right out of an old-fashioned horror flick. There are a lot of chases and while the kills are bloody, they are fairly tame compared to some of the earlier installments. Most of the proceedings are done with a humorous touch or for outright laughs, but it is never insulting, nor does it make a joke out of the material. McLoughlin is having fun and giving the series a lighter entry, which is welcome as it does freshen things up a bit, though surely disappointing the real hardcore fan base. The director still manages to have some intensity and excitement and, to be honest, it may not be the horror we wanted, but it is a good time.

The cast are especially lively and seem to be having a ball with their roles. Mathews plays it straight as the hero trying to convince others they are in danger from a boogeyman most think is an urban legend. Cooke is adorable and hot as the sexy but strong-willed sheriff’s daughter, who isn’t afraid to rebel against her dad and break a few laws herself to piss him off. Kagen overdoes it a bit as the jerk of a sheriff, but the character is a jerk, so it works. The supporting cast, including 80s film hottie Darcy DeMoss, all give the characters some spunk and liveliness which obviously helps you to like them and gives their fates impact. The added mix of having little kids in the camp this time also adds a new element to play with, as one little girl keeps seeing ‘a monster’ at her cabin window…and of course they all think it’s a figment of her imagination. Ha!… joke’s on them!

All in all, this is an entertaining entry that has fun with the traditions of the series and of the horror genre in general from it’s mock James Bond credits sequence featuring Jason, to poor Tommy taking the blame for the killer’s foul deeds and somehow trying to return Jason to wince he came. It’s not perfect, obviously the lighter tone keeps one from taking the proceedings too seriously and thus it neuters the threat and fear factor quite a bit and even with some new touches, we have seen most of it all before. But it is still a refreshingly fun entry and it has a good time with and not pokes fun at the series. It also made Friday The 13th feel like Friday The 13th again and even Harry Manfredini has a little fun adding touches of Berloiz’s Symphonie Fantastique to his classic score giving this colorful entry a slightly more gothic feel. A great horror?…no. A good time…definitely. I also like this entry a lot because it is the most ’80s’ of the series with a number of heavy metal songs on the soundtrack…including three by legendary rocker Alice Cooper…and the clothes and hairstyles were at the height of 80s ridiculousness. Fun!

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Jason was actually played by two different people in this film. First by Dan Bradley, then when producers decided they didn’t quite like how he looked in the part, he was replaced by C.J. Graham. Scenes featuring both men are in the completed film. Also, director Tom McLoughlin got to ‘kill’ his own wife Nancy in the movie as she plays one of Jason’s first victims.

3 hockey masks

friday 13 original rating

 
plus

friday the 13th part 7

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD (1988)

With series box office and interest still on the decline, Friday The 13th Part 7  tried to shake things up, and in doing so, threw all attempts at keeping the series even remotely grounded out the window, by having Jason go up against a young girl with telekinetic powers. It was basically Jason v.s. Carrie and, to be honest, I liked the audacity of it and since Jason was already an invincible zombie, a psychically powerful, cute blonde wasn’t exactly going to make it any less far-fetched.

The story has troubled teen Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln) returning to a house on Crystal Lake (or is it still Forrest Green?) with her mother (Susan Blu) and her shady psychiatrist (Terry Kiser). Tina has a telekinetic ability that arises when emotionally distressed and years earlier during an argument between her parents, she lashed out at her father who was drunk and hit her mother and causes the dock he’s on to collapse, drowning her dad in the depths of the lake. To this day she is traumatized by guilt, but it is her powerful mind that the scheming Dr. Crews (Kiser) is after, not a cure to her woes. Across from their house is another filled with rowdy teens, there for a surprise party, including handsome Nick (Kevin Spirtas) who takes a liking to Tina. But after one of her sessions with the doctor, a distraught Tina rushes to the docks and tries to raise her father from the depths, but unfortunately raises Mr. Voorhees instead, who is still chained at the lake bottom, put there by Tommy Jarvis in Part 6. Oops! Now freed from his watery grave Jason begins to stalk and kill the party goers and pursue Tina and the members of her house, but this final girl has some weapons of her own and the slaughter can only lead to a showdown pitting telekinetic powers against undying rage…and garden tools. Who will win…if anyone?

This was one of my favorites of the series when I first saw it, although I found it wasn’t quite as fun as I had remembered it upon my recent revisit. This entry is directed by make-up FX man John Carl Buechler (the original Troll) and while he does a competent job, this particular flick, with it’s outlandish premise, could have used a more lively and colorful touch such as graced the previous Friday flick. Buechler returns to a dead serious tone and takes the material equally serious, but this is a film about a zombie serial killer battling a telekinetic teenager after all and begged for someone to take the story and run with it, Roger Corman style. I appreciate Buechler trying to give the series some of it’s dramatic strength back, but the story just doesn’t really live up to it potential with the deadpan approach. The climactic showdown between Tina and Jason is the only time the film has a bit of fun with it’s premise, but even that could have been a bit more creative…though it does have a few amusingly absurd moments. Despite that Buechler’s team did the make-up FX, the kills are very routine and we, for the most part, only see the aftereffects of Jason’s handiwork. Also, Jason’s ability to find completely random power tools is getting out of hand at this point and also betrays the more serious tone of the film. That and the formula is just basically getting tiresome at this point, too, another reason they just should have had a good time with the story instead of trying to recapture past gory glory.

The cast are OK. Lincoln is a brooding and troubled teen and does that fine. Kizer is a bit hammy as her psychiatrist with a personal agenda, but as the secondary villain, it works well. At least Kizer got the tone of the material and had a little fun with it. Spirtas is a handsome and adequate hero, but doesn’t have a real strong presence to make him really endearing and the rest of the secondary characters/victims are equally attractive and adequate as Jason fodder. And speaking of our iconic killer, fan favorite Kane Hodder would make the first of four appearances as Jason and cement his status as the quintessential Jason performer and Buechler’s look would become the favorite of Jason’s incarnations with it’s thick chains around the fiend’s neck evoking the Frankenstein monster. I still like this entry to a good degree, but it just wasn’t quite as fun as it certainly could have been and not as much a good time as I remembered it. Still one of the better entries, but not as high on the list as it was in 1988 when I first saw it.

3 hockey masks

friday 13 original rating

bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 and FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_F13P3_F13TFC

bars

As I’ve stated previously, I have been revisiting a lot of 80s horror flicks recently, especially some of the more infamous slashers and have set my sights on revisiting the Friday The 13th sequels. While I’m not the biggest fan of this series, apart from the first film, I have found my revisit has some nice added 80s nostalgia to them and that is adding a lot of fun to this horror series… plus some of these installments bring back memories of long gone theaters and fun evenings with friends. The third and fourth installments fit nicely together as they not only take place right after each other but, Jason now gains his hockey mask and fully becomes the character we all know…
Friday-the-13th-part-3

FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 (1982)

Friday The 13th Part 3 is a slight improvement over Part 2 but, still a mixed bag though it does hold some nostalgic importance to me as it was another film seen at my cherished Oritani theater in Hackensack, N.J. Released during the 80s 3D revival, sparked by Comin’ At Ya, the film was made and released in 3D and is filled with objects being thrust at the camera which is just plain distracting when watched in 2D and wasn’t that great in pre-digital 3D either. The film opens up the story formula somewhat with this chapter being set at a lake house and not a summer camp. This installment has pretty Chris Higgins (super cute Dana Kimmell) returning with friends for a getaway at her family’s house on Crystal Lake where 2 years earlier she survived an attack in the woods by a deformed man… hmmm, who could that be? It’s no stretch to guess that soon Chris’ friends and anyone else in the vicinity of the house start to be dispatched in gory ways by that same deformed man.

Steven Miner directed again and this time he does get a little intensity going, especially in the last act which is an extended chase with Chris going all final girl with Jason. The film does start out with a bit slower pace and takes awhile to get going but, the last act does kick into gear and having twice the budget then the last film, shows it with a slightly larger scale and more elaborate stunts. Miner also directs with a bit more of a humorous touch in this installment too, which works both for and against it. It gives it a bit different tone but, also keeps the first and second acts a bit light till Jason really gets going and things get serious. It does kinda take the edge off of the impact of the kills and atmosphere till the final half hour when the intensity kicks in. But, this is also the film where Jason (the late Richard Brooker) not only gained his iconic hockey mask and look but, was also portrayed as a bigger and stronger adversary that he remained throughout the series. He has a lot more of an imposing persona and more of his trademark relentlessness here than in Part 2. The kills are a little bloodier too, but, still not as gory as Part 1 and some of them are a little silly such as a character bringing a spear gun to a house on a lake.

The cast are again fine with Kimmel being my favorite of the sequels’ final girls. She is not only adorable but, makes a good damsel who is also feisty and resourceful and fights back with intensity. The rest of the characters are a little more colorful then usual, including a 3 person biker gang and 2 hippie stoners. The young, attractive actors give these characters some added life so, they are more likable and a bit less cliche’ then in the previous entry.

Overall an entertaining enough entry, it still can’t touch the first movie but, it was better then the mediocre sequel it followed. It also was fun enough to keep one interested in the series and awaiting the next adventure of Mr. Voorhees… which would be one of his best.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA:  There is a scene where the pretty Debbie (Tracie Savage) is reading an issue of Fangoria and opens the page to a Godzilla article. That is a nod from director Steve Miner who was planning to make an American Godzilla movie in 3D back in the 80s, well over a decade before the 1998 disaster but, the film obviously never got made. Too bad. It sounded better then what we got in 98.

UPDATE 2/8/2015: After a lot of deliberation and checking of release dates, I have come to believe that “Friday The 13th part 3 in 3D” may very well have been the last film I saw at my beloved Oritani Theater. If correct, Friday 8/13/1982 is the last time I was at this great theater and special place…and this, the final film. -MZNJ

3 hockey masks

friday 13 original rating

plus

Friday-the-13th-The-Final-Chapter-Poster

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is one of my favorites of the sequels and the one that comes closest to matching the original. The film saw not only a return to the more serious tone and atmosphere of the original film but, with the return of Tom Savini to the make-up FX duties, also brought back the more intense and graphic kills and gore.

This entry opens right where Part 3 left off with Jason (stuntman Ted White) and his victims carted off to the morgue from the Higgins place only to have Jason revive and escape but, not before gruesomely murdering two horny hospital employees. We then switch to two houses deep in the woods near Crystal Lake, one occupied by single mother Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and  young son Tommy (Corey Feldman), the other occupied by a group of partying youths on a make-out and drinking getaway. But, a certain someone has returned home to his stomping grounds and now has targeted both young partiers and innocent family alike. Will any of them survive his relentless rage?
This installment brought in The Prowler director Joseph Zito and he brings the suspense, atmosphere and intensity to the proceedings that made that 1981 slasher one of the more entertaining of the time period. He comes very close to providing an equal to the original Friday with what was supposed to be Jason’s final film. The kills are brutal as well and with Savini’s return, the make-up FX are quite inventive and gory. Zito leaves some of the lighter humor that appeared in Part 3 behind and it keeps the atmosphere taunt and foreboding as it should be. The film also added an interesting plot element in the character of Rob (Erich Anderson), who at first seems like a hunter/camper but, turns out to be the vengeful brother of a girl murdered by Jason (Sandra (Marta Kober) from Part 2) and he is now stalking the lethal serial killer with the intent of ending his reign of terror. One of the film’s few faults is the confrontation between these two could have been a bit more epic. The character of young Tommy (Feldman) being a bit of a geek/make-up artist also adds a fun twist to the proceedings.
As for the rest of the characters, this bunch are a lot livelier then most of the generic victims and with the inclusion of Crispin Glover in one of his most ‘normal’ roles as a shy teen and 80s movie fixture Judy Aronson as a one of the babes, we get a nice group of likable, horny teens to fall under Jason’s varied weapons and it has impact because we like them and the young cast give them life and personality. Also stars Hell Night’s Peter Barton as one of the party goers who meets Jason’s wrath and the score is one again by Harry Manfredini.
A really good entry in the series and by far the best of the sequels.
MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: There is a small mistake here in this installment. When driving past a graveyard, they spot Mrs. Voorhees’ tombstone which has her date of death being 1979. But, as we all know, she actually died on Friday June 13th, 1980 by having her head removed by final girl Alice in the original Friday The 13th.
3 and 1/2 hockey masks
friday 13 1980 rating

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

Friday-the-13th-part-2

bars

FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981)

The original Friday The 13th is a bonafide horror classic and it spawned a much beloved series that is still ongoing with another installment recently announced, but, personally, I was never that much of a fan of the sequels despite Jason being a cool and iconic horror character. I saw the first sequel at the Little Ferry Drive-In in 1981 and despite not being all that thrilled with it, I still followed the series in a theater till giving up after part 6 or 7, I can’t remember which. Recently I have decided to return to the series and revisit the sequels and this is obviously the first I re-watched after decades of not having seen it.

So how does it fair now? Part 2 is still a big disappointment after the first movie. It doesn’t even seem to try to match it’s predecessor and while competently made, it just lacks the scares, suspense and fun. It follows the formula faithfully but, without any heart or soul. The second film opens with the first film’s final girl Alice (Adrienne King) about 2 months after she survived the massacre of her fellow camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake and let’s just say finding Mrs. Voorhees decapitated head in her fridge is only the beginning of her problems. We then jump 5 years later where Alice’s fate is now a campfire story for a new camp opening on Crystal Lake not far from where the original massacres took place. The urban legend of Jason Voorhees still lurking in the woods provides spooky tall tales for a new group of nubile and attractive camp counselors until it becomes a horrifying reality when an unknown assailant wearing a sack over his head starts brutally killing off the young camp employees one by bloody one. Could it really be Jason returned to avenge his mother and will anyone survive?

Series producer Steve Miner took over from Sean S. Cunningham for the next two installments and his directing style is polished but, very by the numbers and the film does not have near the atmosphere or suspense of the first film. The follow-up really comes off as a cash grab sequel and it shows. The kills are also far less inspired and far less graphic and a few of them even happen off camera. What little make-up FX we see, are well done but, there is far less of one of the things that made the first F13 stand out… the gore.

The cast are fine with lead Amy Steel being a likable but, generic heroine as counselor Ginny and John Furey is adequate but, forgettable as Paul her boyfriend and head counselor. The rest of the young cast are attractive but, basically stereotypes who are just there to be lambs for the slaughter and as that they are fine.

There are a few nice touches and nods to the original that I won’t spoiler here and the flick does have the distinction of being the first film where Jason (Warrington Gillette) is the killer, though here he not only wears overalls and a sack over his head but, is average size and gets smacked around pretty good by Ginny in the last act. It wasn’t till Part 3 that he got his hockey mask and appeared as more of the hulking giant that he would remain till this day.

The film does now have some nice 80s nostalgia added to it and is competently enough put together to keep your interest but, the gritty style and gory killings of Part 1 along with it’s suspense and intensity are sourly lacking though at least Henry Manfredini’s iconic score is there to give it the Friday The 13th movie feel. As with the original it comes complete with shock ending, though it seems forced here. Not the best of the sequels but, also not one of the worst. Also stars Walt Gorney as crazy old Ralph who should have taken his own advice.

2 and 1/2 hockey masks.

friday 13 2009 rating

bars