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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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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…
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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. This is just plain distracting when watched in 2D and wasn’t that great in pre-digital 3D either. The film opens the story formula up 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 a while to get going, but the last act does kick into gear. Having twice the budget than the last film, it shows 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. This is, however, also the film where Jason (the late Richard Brooker) not only gained his iconic hockey mask and look, but was also portrayed as the 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 a 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 than usual, including a three person biker gang and two hippie stoners. The young, attractive actors give these characters some added life, so they are more likable and a bit less cliche’ than in the previous entry.

Overall, this is an entertaining enough entry. It still can’t touch the first movie, but was better than 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. 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 I watched in it’s halls. -MZNJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) hockey masks

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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. 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 played by 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. It gives their deaths 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.

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks

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

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FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981)

The original Friday The 13th is a bonafide horror classic and it spawned a much beloved series with 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 at the time, I still followed the series in a theater till giving up after VII. Recently I have decided to return to the series and revisit the sequels and this is obviously the first I re-watched this after decades of not having seen it.

So how does it fair now? Part 2 was initially a big disappointment after the first movie, but has grown on me since then. It doesn’t quite match it’s predecessor, but is competently made and has it’s share of scares, suspense and fun. It follows the formula faithfully, with a new batch of counselors in peril. The second film opens with the first film’s final girl Alice (Adrienne King) about two 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 five 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, a bit by-the-numbers, but gives the film some of the atmosphere and suspense the series initially had until it ran out of gas later on. The kills are a bit 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 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 very likable heroine as counselor Ginny. She outsmarts Jason quite cleverly despite being scared out of her wits. John Furey is adequate but forgettable as Paul, her boyfriend and head counselor. The rest of the young cast are very attractive but basically stereotypes, who are just there to be lambs for the slaughter and as that they are fine. Lauren-Marie Taylor as sweet Vickie stands out, as does Kirsten Baker as the sexy, saucy Terry.

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 (Steve Daskewisz in costume and a mask-less Warrington Gillette in make-up) 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 added 80s nostalgia added to it and is one of the better sequels despite not quite having the gritty style and gory killings of Part 1Harry Manfredini’s iconic score is there to give it the Friday The 13th movie feel and it has a very attractive cast. As with the original, it comes complete with shock ending, though it seems a little forced here. Also stars Walt Gorney as crazy old Ralph, who should have taken his own advice.

3 hockey masks.

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JASON VOORHEES TO RETURN IN NEW FRIDAY THE 13th FLICK!

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The rights to the Friday The 13th series is back in Paramount Studios’ hands and they are wasting no time. The studio has announced a new Friday The 13th film will be released on Friday March 13th 2015 and while fans are celebrating the return of  hockey mask wearing horror icon Jason Voorhees, it is not clear whether this is the rumored found footage style flick that was supposedly being considered or some other kind of reboot/remake which is the current rumor. Either way you can be sure campers will be in peril come March 2015… amusingly, this will be the 13th Friday The 13th flick! Cue music… “ch, ch ,ch… ha, ha ,ha…”

Source: CBM

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

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FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

I have to admit I was never a really big fan of this series…though I appreciate them a lot more now than back then…even when Jason took over the machete in Part 2. I found them very repetitive and they got increasingly silly as they went on. The original is still the best and while it’s a solid 80’s slasher movie and did set the gore and body-count template for the slashers of that era, I don’t think it’s quite as good as it’s reputation suggests, though I still have fun with it and certainly recognize it’s significance in the horror genre and status as a horror classic. It also holds nostalgic significance to me as I can proudly say that I saw this in a packed house at the Rialto theater on Friday June 13th 1980, the day it takes place and it was filmed in my home state of New Jersey.

Friday The 13th tells the story of Camp Crystal Lake, re-opening after being closed for decades because of the drowning of a young boy named Jason Vorhees and the unsolved murder of some counselors a year later. A group of new, young idealistic counselors have begun to renovate the place despite warnings from crazy local Ralph (Walt Gorney) that “camp blood” is cursed and they are all “doomed.”  But there may be some truth to what crazy old Ralph has said and soon someone is stalking the camp ground and one by one the young counselors are being murdered in gruesome and horrible ways. Will any of them survive and just who is it that wants them all dead and why?

Director Sean S. Cunningham has a fairly basic directing style, but does create some suspense and scares, though Friday’s strength is more the gory kills with various sharp instruments than tension. He gives it a methodical pace, but that is intentional and how a lot of horrors at this time were paced. Harry Manfredini’s classic score helps a lot with the atmosphere and chills and Tom Savini delivers some really effective gore FX. The performances from it’s attractive cast, including Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer and a young Kevin Bacon, range from weak to adequate and there is some silly dialog for them to utter along with their screams. The characters are fairly likable, though not truly endearing, so that we really care about them. You can pretty much tell which of the young counselors is going to get it next with the suspense being more from in what bloody way they will meet their doom. But Friday The 13th is still a fun slasher and the final act gets pretty intense once our survivor meets the mysterious killer for the final confrontation, which is a bloody good time and the ending also set the standard for films having to have that shocking final scene to give audiences a last jolt before the credits role. I don’t consider it a classic on the same level as the film that inspired it, Halloween but, it is still a classic B movie horror in it’s own right and the film set the tone for 80s slashers with promiscuous teens dying gory deaths and body count becoming an equal element along with suspense and scares. It may not be quite as good as it’s given credit for, but it is an important film in the context of the era it was made and shaped the tone of what followed till Evil Dead and A Nightmare On Elm Street added their own style to the horror genre of that era. The 80s nostalgia also now helps add a lot of entertainment, too, as it is the type of horror that is rarely made anymore unless as a homage.

A great movie? … maybe not quite, but a damn fun slasher and an important horror nonetheless. In part 2 Jason took over and in part 3 he gained his iconic hockey mask and horror history was made. Always thought that Jason was a great horror icon that was never in a really great movie, though I did like Part 4 and the bloody fun Freddy v.s. Jason. The series quickly ran itself into the ground creatively and became more of a joke with increasing silly kill methods, telekinetic girls and trips to NYC and outer space in later installments. At least numerous gore FX technicians got to show their stuff. A recent reboot went back to the more serious roots, but was basically more of the same.

A solid 3 and 1/2 hockey masks… and yes I know Jason isn’t in this one and didn’t get his mask till part 3!

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Have to admit I had a crush on adorable Annie (Robbi Morgan) when I first saw this, but sadly she is the first to go.

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And who could forget good old Ralph (Walt Gorney), the crazy doomsayer who set a character standard for future horror flicks.

-MonsterZero NJ

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