The Friday the 13th franchise holds a special place in my old, decrepit heart. I was around for its initial run, which makes me ancient, but also give me a different perspective on the series and what it might mean. Shout Factory has released a gorgeous box set of all the movies on individual Blu Ray, with most of the extras imported from other release versions, as well as a few new ones to spice up the mix. I’m going to be going through the movies, three at a time, doing a little walk down memory lane/review of each as I go along. I’m not going to be dipping into much talk about the Extras found on each disc, because I simply don’t have the time of day to watch everything in one go. So here are some mad ramblings from a big fan of the series. Hope you enjoy them!
Jason X One of the best of the series. You read that right. You’re welcome to fight me if you want, but you will lose. This one I didn’t see at the theater. It came and went quickly, derided by critics and fans in a “What were they thinking?” kind of way. I heard smatterings from people who said it was being judged harshly, so when it came out on video, I gave it watch (of course I did). Initially, I thought it was stupid, too. I actually kind of loathed it. And then that scene happened, when they try to fool Jason with some kind of hologram program, that he’s back in Crystal Lake. I got it, then. I went back and re-watched it and absolutely loved it. Here was a bunch of fans reigniting the spirit and fun of the franchise. It was wild, silly, gory, and crazy. Being the tenth film in the franchise, what had I been expecting? This latest viewing just confirms my thoughts. Much like Jason Lives, this one is a blast, and what more could anyone want? Creative kills, Jason gets turned into a cyborg, Jason fights an android…come on! I wish they had continued in this vein, that the subsequent sequels explored the idea of Jason In Space and all the adventures he could have gotten into. Alas, they did not, and as of now, this one remains the last great film of the series.
Freddy Vs. Jason is a movie I really enjoyed when it came out. I saw this one on the big screen and hooted and hollered along with everyone else. It was kind of like the good old 80s were back. Freddy was mean and funny, Jason was a killing machine (no longer played by Kane Hodder, which is an unforgivable move by the filmmakers; the dude playing Jason is fine, don’t get me wrong, but…), teenagers die, the story is pretty cool, so what’s not to like? Well, watching it again, I saw a lot of problems. First off, the teens are cloying and annoying. Did they really use a Jay-stoner-guy clone? I mean, he looks just like Jay. And all of them were written in that style that grew in the early 00s in the wake of the success of the Scream knock-offs: the kids are too smart by a half, too above everything going on. There’s a smirk to them, a knowing wink at the “modern” audience that they’re not as dumb as those 80s kids. Look and see. It’s much worse in the coming remake, but I’ll get to that. And Jason is afraid of water? WTF? Literally, he cringes in fear of flowing water, dropping to his knees and whimpering, and the very next scene he’s almost knee-deep in water dragging a dead body behind him, blithely unbothered. Come on. There’s the real reason Hodder wasn’t brought back; he wouldn’t have stood for that kind of shit. Jason is a lumbering ox of an idiot in this movie, a momma’s boy who is easily manipulated, who shows none of the purpose or personality of the other films. Yeah, the fight with Freddy is cool, and ultimately that’s all that matters (I suppose), but goddamn. This one didn’t hold up.
Friday the 13th So, seeing this when it came out, I didn’t hate it. A lot of people did. I thought it had the feel of a middling sequel; it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. Watching it again, I have to say, it isn’t very good. As mentioned above, the teens in this flick (not really teens though, are they?) all of have that annoying too-cool-for-school-above-it attitude. I guess that works with modern audiences (it shows how they are smarter than their parents and wouldn’t do stupid things in a slasher movie) but man, I wanted every one of them to die horribly. Yay to inclusive casting (I mean that sincerely) but every "funny black-guy joke" is obvious and telegraphed, and the stoner Asian guy is an embarrassing caricature. The only two worth a damn are the two P’s, Panabaker and Padalecki. They’re really good and I actively cheered them on. Jason is basically reduced to a mentally-deficient mountain man with mommy issues and a streak of John Rambo. So, he’s not very interesting. The kills are vicious and bloody, and that helps, but it’s not enough to save the movie. In the end, it’s okay but damn, what a downer of a way to end the series (so far).
Note: All of the movies in this Blu Ray set look fabulous. I mean, amazing. Even the more modern ones look better than they ever had. Also, what I’ve watched of the Extras so far has been fantastic. Most of them have been ported from other release versions, but there’s a few new ones in there to spice it all up. Kudos on a fantastic job!
Here’s hoping for more Friday, more Jason, and more fun movies in the future. I hope the people in charge of making the future films will embrace the enjoyment of the series and not try so hard to make it relevant or modern or “important.” Just let Jason loose, man. He knows what to do.
Jason X: ★★★✮
Freddy vs. Jason: ★★✮☆
Friday the 13th: ★★☆☆