HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2now playing

bars

IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.

The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.

Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

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

 

 

 

 

 

**************************************************

 

bars

TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

MZNJ_New_TON

now playing

last house on the left

bars

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Classic flick is considered one of the earliest modern slasher films, though, it is more revenge thriller and doesn’t really follow the formula that seems to have become standard with the advent of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas and Halloween. The movie is produced by future Friday The 13th director Sean S. Cunningham and was the first feature film directed by future legend Wes Craven. The film is also one I got to see at a re-release in 1981 at my beloved Oritani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. With Craven’s recent passing, it’s time to revisit this flick that initially disturbed me on first seeing it on the big screen over thirty years ago.

Film tells a violent and vengeful tale of irony both cruel and just. Cruel in that two pretty young girls Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) and Mari (Sandra Cassel) head into the city to see a concert and just happen to run into two escaped convicts Krug (David A. Hess) and Weasel (Fred Lincoln) along with Krug’s son junior (Marc Sheffler) and the sadistic Sadie (Jeramie Rain). They are held against their will in the group’s apartment and suffer torment and rape before being taken bound and gagged up into a rural wooded area. There the torment and rape continues until both girls are brutally murdered. The just irony comes in that the four fiends responsible are not far from Mari’s house. Without knowing who they are, they trick their way into the couple’s home intent on more evil doings. Now inside, though, their identities are discovered and when the Collingwoods (Gaylord St. James, Cynthis Carr) find out who their guests are and what they have done to their daughter…there will be hell to pay!

Written and directed by Craven this is a raw and crude, but very effective flick. Some may see the events as convenient coincidence, but the ironies that brings characters to their fates are certainly effective. As first, it brings the sweet Mari and her more rambunctious friend into a snake pit where they both cruelly meet deaths they don’t deserve and then it delivers those responsible to the very doorstep of Mari’s loving parents. Movie plot device, maybe, but life can deliver such ironies as we all know. The sequences of the girls’ torture, rape and murder are still uncomfortable to watch after all these years as our villains are truly detestable and are enjoying their acts. All the more disturbing as that they are perpetrated on are sweet young girls who have done nothing to deserve it. When Craven’s script brings his four deviates to the Collingwood home, revenge is almost as cruel, but far more deserving…and that’s what makes this work. There is some disturbing violence and ample bloodshed, obviously, and it is an interesting portrayal of how grief and anger can turn good people savage…a theme Craven would explore again in The Hills Have Eyes.

Not everything is perfect. There is a subplot involving the antics of a bumbling sheriff (Marshall Anker) and his incompetent deputy (Karate Kid‘s Martin Cove) that is played for laughs and sticks out in an otherwise serious and brutal film. Also, aside from the perfectly placed ironies, it is a bit of a stretch that the Collingwoods could stay so cool in the presence of the murderers, even after they find Mari’s body. I also thought it a bit of a stretch that they would invite the four strangers into their home, long before they found out who they were, even if this is the early 70s. There are also some songs on the soundtrack…the music is by star David Hess who was also a singer…that don’t seem to fit the mood of what is occurring onscreen.

The cast are all fine for such a low budget flick. Cassel is sweet and portrays a good girl simply wanting to sow a few oats at a concert and Grantham is the more vivacious friend who wants to help her do it and have a good time. Both are very likable and Grantham in particular shows some strength as her Phyllis remains protective of Mari even during their ordeal. Our villains are truly detestable and contemptible. David Hess is an abusive and sadistic monster, plain and simple as Krug. A man who seems to know nothing else but violence and he openly enjoys it. Fred Lincoln is equally disturbing as Weasel a man who enjoys depravity and killing and at times seems more demented than Krug. Equally sadistic and heinous is Jeramie Rain as Sadie. A cruel woman who enjoys the pain of others and appears sexually perverted as well. Rain makes her very disturbing. The only slightly sympathetic characters is Junior, Krug’s son. As portrayed by Marc Sheffler he seems more a young man too afraid to oppose his father than someone who actually wants to be involved in such depravity…though go along with it he does. Rounding out are Gaylord St. James and Cynthis Carr as Mari’s parents, who seem like typical good-natured, all-American parents, which is all the more reason their descent into sadistic violence is so shocking when they seek to avenge their daughter’s murder. The two actors fit the bill well as a Norman Rockwell-esque family driven to deplorable acts of revenge.

So, yes this is a cult classic and an auspicious debut for a man who would go on to be recognized as one of the greatest horror directors of all time. It’s a crude film in many ways, but it is still effective, even if not quite as shocking as it was back in it’s day. There are some obtrusive comic elements and it takes a little effort to accept some of the ironies that set things in motion, but they do work. It’s a landmark horror and a solid career starting point for writer/director Craven and producer Sean S.Cunningham. Certainly recommended, but be warned, even after 40 years the flick still has some bite.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4) chainsaws…yup, 2 years before Leatherface, Last House made use of one!

evil dead 2 rating

 

 

 

 

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 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