Fundamental Truths

  • In war the best policy is to take a state intact.
  • Too Much is the Same as Not Enough
  • Fear is the Mind-Killer
  • All Warfare is based upon deception.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cameras and Me.

Let's make on thing perfectly clear.

I hate cameras.

Part of it may be that I am, to be charitable, the least photogenic person I know. I'm nothing to sing about in the flesh, but photos of me are almost universally awful. Whatever's left of my vanity doesn't need the abuse.

And then there's the fact that pictures don't fucking get it.

I saw the sunlight playing over the mountains behind town a few days ago. The trees with their fall colors, the undergrowth in its rich shades of red, lit by the powerful sun... And I know that any picture I took would merely be pretty. It would not capture what moved me to take it in the first place.

I also loathe the way people (myself included, lord knows), will strike poses and mug for the damned camera. Heaven forbid you should be caught looking like yourself. No picture of a person that isn't grainy security footage ever captures their real face- just the face they decided they wanted on film. And frankly, fuck that noise.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Because NO ONE demanded it!

My review of the Friday the 13th series, from start to remake, film by film.

Here we go.

Friday the 13th
The original, and the one that has the least to do with Jason Voorhes, the franchise's iconic monster. A fairly well-scripted little piece of work, and an example of something many slasher flicks neglect- The viewer is led to at least kind of like most of the victims, and all of them have lives beyond being impaled, stabbed, or otherwise doomed. These are people with plans for the future- plans which are, of course, fucking doomed. As anyone who saw Scream can tell you, the killer in this film is actually Jason's mother, Pamela Voorhes. Jason himself is presumed dead, having drowned years earlier. He does pop up to fuck with the heroine near the end, looking like a waterlogged, zombified little boy. We can therefore assume that this film regards him as dead or Undead, because he hasn't visibly aged since his drowning. All told, a pretty damn solid movie.

Friday the 13th, Part 2
And here we get Jason himself as the main man. The script still focuses mainly on the helpless chumps whose deaths are inevitable- one of whom, in a wheelchair, is killed so awesomely that they use his last ride with a knife in his head as stock footage for the rest of the series. Jason is reinvented as having survived his alleged drowning and runs around with a bag over his head, in the tradition of The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Jason is basically just a big, tough, normal dude (or so we are led to believe). He takes a hellacious pounding and is presumed dead at the end of the film. Not as good as the original, to be sure, but still pretty damn good.

Friday the 13th, Part III
The only reason anybody even remembers this one is basic sequential numbering. Oh, that, and it introduces Jason's hockey mask... about 75% of the way through the movie. While some token effort is expended on the victim characters in this one, the effort really falls flat. This also marks the first time we see Jason surviving anything truly unbelievable, but it's still attributed to his being an insanely tough mortal. An axe to the head puts him down, apparently dead. With that said, this third entry is a horrible clunker, with all of the right elements there, but in a bad mix.

Friday the 13th IV- The Final Chapter
This, in many ways, marks the first film in the series as it would later be perceived. Jason gets carted off to a morgue (an axe to the head can kinda do that) where he wakes up, kills some chumps, and wanders off. The victim cast in this is a little better than the last, but still nothing to write home about. Still, we at least acknowledge that some of them are people we sort of care about. This film also introduces Tommy Jarvis, who has the distinction of being the only non-Jason character to appear in multiple installments of the series... and survive. Jason does his thing, kills some folks, and then Tommy and his sister trick the big ox, get the drop on him, and basically hack his shit up. Jason is pretty emphatically dead at the end of this one- the "sequel shot" is Tommy's face as he hugs his sister in the hospital. Of course, since he's played by Corey Feldman, it feels less like dread and more like "what a funny-looking kid." Oh well. Still kinda fun.

Friday the 13th V- A New Beginning
Dear Christ does this one suck. Jason makes an appearance as hallucinations in a now young-adult Tommy Jarvis' mind, but he's not actually in the fucking movie. Nope. In fact, we're told he was cremated, and his ashes scattered. So we sit around this funny farm where Tommy's gone for therapy, while someone (we're supposed to think it's Tommy) runs around killing people. Had it actually been Tommy, it would have been predictable, but cool. But nope, we have some nutjob in a different hockey mask killing people for a reason they clearly just trumped up out of nowhere. Yes. Our killer isn't even a real character... nor are most of his victims- from here on in, they're purely caricatures who elicit no sympathy. This one isn't even required viewing for the series, because nothing that fucking happens in it is referenced ever again, aside from a throwaway line in the next film. It's not even a good movie in its own right- it's a crap movie cashing in on a franchise it's only part of because someone figured they could crap out a script in time.

Friday the 13th VI- Jason Lives
Apparently the folks at Paramount agree with my assessment of part V, because they quietly sweep it under the rug in this one. We open with Tommy Jarvis having gotten out of the institution, driving to Jason's grave in order to burn his body. So much for the cremation they referenced in Part V. So Tommy and his dumbfuck friend dig up Jason, Tommy loses his shit and stabs the corpse with part of a wrought-iron cemetery fence... which is then struck by lightning, resurrecting Jason. This is the first time he quite explicitly comes back from the dead. For some reason, Tommy has Jason's hockey mask- wouldn't that thing be in an evidence locker somewhere? I guess given the Undead Killer in this movie, I can let that bit of stupidity slide. So, Jason gets up and starts killing people. Tommy has a hard time getting anybody to believe him... and why not? They fucking buried a corpse which has been nice and dead for years before this fuckhead dug it up. Ah well. Tommy and his new girlfriend manage to lure Jaosn out into the lake and chain him to a rock, keeping him pinned and immobile under the water. Yay. Honestly? Dumb as it is, this may be my favorite "supernatural" Jason flick. It's dumb in the right ways.

Friday the 13th VII- The New Blood
Since things weren't dumb enough yet, this flick introduces a telekinetic chick to serve as Jason's foil. She dredges him out of the lake (which, you know, nobody should have been allowed near, what with the undead killing machine stuck out in it). He slaughters some people whole she grapples with Daddy issues before whupping Jason's ass via telekinesis, and dumping him in the lake. Again. Ugh.

Friday the 13th VIII- Jason Takes Manhattan
Possibly the worst of the films to actually tie into the storyline. This one is just idiotic. Amusingly, Jason doesn't "take" Manhattan until about three quarters of the movie has dragged by. Not only do we not care about his victims at this point, we now don't give a shit about the "hero" characters, either. They're bad rehashes of earlier characters, and by the time they're in New York, being chased by Jason, we share the locals supposedly cold-hearted indifference to their fate. The whole movie from the time the Statue of Liberty is sighted is one long, poorly-told joke about what jerks New Yorkers are. Oh, and apparently Manhattan's sewers flood with toxic waste every night. 'Cause, you know. Cities work like that. This one sucks so hard, it was explicitly not in continuity for the next film.

Friday the 13th IX- Jason Goes to Hell
We have no idea where the hell this one takes place in relation to the others. Part of that is because New Line, not Paramount, made it, and some of the intellectual property didn't make the jump. But there is no reference to anything except Jason's supposedly drowning as a child, his Mom killing some people, and his own alleged body count. The movie opens with Jason being blown apart by a S.W.A.T. team, and then it just gets weirder. See, Jason's body, it turns out, is just a shell. He's actually demonic. Or something. Anyway, some coroner eats his heart, gets possessed, kills some people, and then Jason jumps bodies a time or two. It's all very strange. In the end, some character we've never seen before this film says he has a magic knife that can kill Jason. He gets killed, but our hero manages to cack Voorhes, who dissolves. And then Freddy Kruger's glove drags the hockey mask down. This movie makes very, very little sense. But it's poetry compared to the next entry in the series...

Jason X-
Because, of course, Jason belongs in space. This movie is a total piece of shit, which I am proud to say I saw in theaters. Jason gets cryogenically frozen, thawed out in the future and, of course, starts slicing up teenagers in space. He gets blown to hell at one point, then gets rebuilt by futuristic nanotech looking like Super Shredder. Super-Jason fucks around, kills some people, then gets blasted out into space, and appears to be almost destroyed by atmospheric reentry. Or something. Honestly, this one was so goddamned stupid it deserves some kind of award.

Freddy vs. Jason-
Putting that behind them, New Line finally gave fans of the slasher subgenre what they'd wanted for ages... and did a way better job than Alien vs. Predator of delivering the goods. Oh, it still sucks- Kane Hodder wasn't cast as Jason because they wanted someone with "kinder eyes"- even though Jason still just basically kills everything in sight, making it hard to feel much sympathy for him. This is basically a Nightmare on Elm Street movie that happens to include Jason- Freddy carries most of the plot, and is seen as the greater menace. But what the hell, it's the fun kind of stupid.

And Finally-

Friday the 13th (2009)
This franchise went for a reboot, and high goddamned time. This flick is pretty formulaic, being sort of a group remake of parts I-III. Jason is definitely supposed to be a non-supernatural human in this one- he's portrayed as more sneaky and skilled than simply unstoppable. Not bad, but, as all remakes are doomed to, it broke no new ground. Some of the kills were noteworthy, but honestly, this one illustrates how little of impact the original would have had if it were released today.

And there you go.

Maybe next time I'll do another series.
Maybe not.