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Oct 16, 2012

REVISITING MOVIES: THE ORIGINAL FRIDAY THE 13TH SERIES, PART 1 (FRIDAY THE 13TH – FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING)



As an obsessive movie lover I see a lot of movies, more than the average bear.  While I enjoy the thrill of taking in a film for the first time, I also find the act of revisiting a movie – especially ones that I haven’t seen in a while – invigorating.

As time passes, a movie made 20 years ago may not change in terms of content, but the appreciation of such movies can.  Movies that were once cutting edge can now feel dated, or some that were reviled upon release can be a cult classic or play better than originally thought.

I revisit titles a lot.  It’s one of the main reason I am such a supporter of Home Entertainment.  The idea of having a wall covered with motion picture history or accessible through streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant and the opportunity to revisit those titles at any given moment allows these films to truly live forever.

This post is the beginning of an ongoing series where I revisit movies that I haven’t seen in a while, or perhaps revisited shortly after the initial theatrical run and not only discuss the movie and my initial reaction, but also observations on how these movies play after the passage of time.




It’s October and that means Halloween and horror movies, and while perusing the streaming options on Netflix I decided to marathon the FRIDAY THE 13TH series of movies – spanning from 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH through 2001’s JASON X (I contemplated including FREDDY VS. JASON, but decided to stick with the even number).

While there have been many films that have spawned multiple sequels, none were more noted for it than FRIDAY THE 13TH which like clockwork had a new chapter almost every year.  Most recently SAW carried on the yearly horror tradition, and now it seem PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (with a #4 opening this weekend) is the new reigning horror sequel machine.

Being too young to see many of these movies upon initial release, I first viewed them on VHS tape during high school while I was working as a clerk at a Video Store.  FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD had just been released on tape and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN was looming on the horizon so I decided one Christmas break to take in the series (best way to celebrate the holidays ever).  My taste in film wasn’t quite as defined as it is now given I hadn’t seen the amount of titles that I have now, and also was interested in the series because a girl I had a crush on had stated that they were her favorite movies.  So what better excuse to movie binge than to impress a female (which of course didn’t work, but at least I got to see the movies).

WARNING: There will be plenty of spoiler alers in these posts.  I will indicate so on major ones.  You have been forewarned.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)





When I first saw the original FRIDAY THE 13TH I was less than impressed.  Where was the cool looking, hockey-masked Jason I had seen from the ads on TV from the sequels?  Here was a movie where a bunch of teens at a camp have sex then get killed off one-by-one and not by Jason NO, [SPOILER ALERT] from his very angry mother  avenging the fact that  guidance counselors had let young Jason drown in nearby Crystal Lake where the camp was located.  Of course in 1980, moviegoers had no idea who Jason was at all, and the hockey mask didn’t even come into play until the third movie (more on that later) so they didn’t have the expectations of a homicidal maniac hacking up horny teens like I did.





So how did I feel watching the movie now, years after that initial disappointing viewing?  I liked it even less.  I can already hear the GASPS from die-hard slasher fans as they read this (I’m looking at you Rupert Pupkin of the Rupert Pupkin speaks blog).  I found I was strangely bored by the movie, although I was less annoyed that there was no hockey-masked killer because this time I knew what I was up against.

Oh and Kevin Bacon gets killed as well.





It’s a very straight forward and almost minimalist movie with teens showing up at the camp after being warned of death by a weirdo in the small nearby town (mimicked perfectly in the recent Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon CABIN IN THE WOODS) then being systematically killed by Mrs. Voorhees.  The killings here are more graphic I find than they are in the rest of the series, and of course there is the iconic moment [SPOILER ALERT] where Jason does appear from the depths of Crystal Lake to try and drag the one lucky teen who survives down with him, but overall I find this to be a very dull and un-engaging slasher film.




That would change though with my revisit of…

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)





Looking back on my original FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II rating, I hated it.  Again no hockey-mask (hey I grew up in Canada, what can I say….it’s in my blood) so Jason walks around with a sack over his head.  This second look at the film though, I found that I almost loved it.  With some genuine scares and pretty great (and again graphic) killings, Jason’s first full movie of killing off teens has a raw energy that the original lacks.  In this case, Rupert would be proud given that I believe this may be his favorite of the series (you can verify with him.  On twitter he is @bobfreelander). 




[SPOILER ALERT] When it comes to killing, Jason shows no favoritism as a wheelchair bound jock gets slashed without a second thought.  Funny too as the moment he appears on screen in the beginning, you just know he’s a goner.




[SPOILER ALERT] I especially loved the ending where the one remaining teen comes across Mrs. Voorhees rotting head and puts on her ratty maggot-infested sweater to try and convince Jason that he should put down his axe.  Quick thinking – especially for a horror movie teen.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (3D) (1982)





In 2012 3D movies are a dime a dozen (or should I say $3 a dozen given the surcharge we get to pay for the privilege) but in 1982 when the movies weren’t digital and 3D meant the cardboard glasses with blue and red lenses, it was a rare thing indeed – and especially great in the horror/slasher genre.  So many fun opportunities to make an audience jump out of their seats and the filmmakers play it up to the extreme.  A rattlesnake snaps at the screen, and eyeball pops out practically in our laps and knives, machetes and even a harpoon pierce the victims and then the screen. 




Part 3 is just pure fun, and even though the streaming print I watched wasn’t 3D you still get the idea knowing that it was 3D in the first place.  The film is available on Blu-ray Disc in 3D (but not Blu-ray 3D) complete with old-school glasses. 




Part 3 features the character named Shelly played by Larry Zerner, an overweight and insecure prankster that annoys everyone when he pretends to be murdered (but then eventually is), continually comments on how pathetic and ugly he thinks he is but then gets THE defining moment of the series when Jason picks up a hockey mask he was wearing and takes on the iconic look we know and love so well (and I finally get the Jason I expected). 




With 3 done, time to move on to the Tommy arc.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (a.k.a. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV) (1984)





You have to love a movie that is labeled as THE FINAL CHAPTER that is a part 4 of a 10 movie series.  Of course in 1984 they didn’t know how long this thing would go, and THE FINAL CHAPTER has a real dramatic ring to it. 




There is a family living on the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake (Mother, Daughter and Son, Tommy played by a very young Corey Feldman) and a group of teens show up for the usual weekend of drinking, skinny dipping and pre-AIDs aware unprotected sex.  With them of course comes Jason and his killing ways who this time [SPOILER ALERT] meets his match in young Tommy who channels Robert DeNiro from TAXI DRIVER by shaving his head (leaving weird tufts of hair) then hacks Jason “to death”.  This was the moment that always stuck with me from the entire series (well ok this and Jason rising up from the lake in the original movie).  It’s unique in that Tommy as a character has an arc through 3 films (played by different people although Feldman does make a quick appearance at the beginning of PART V).  The image of Corey Feldman in his insane state, hacking Jason and screaming DIE…DIE…DIE at the top of his lungs – not to mention Feldman is just creepy (and it seems even more so now) with his shaved head.




Oh and George McFly (a.k.a. Crispin Glover) gets in on the action as well.  He is saddled with a friend that constantly refers to him as a "Dead F#$%".  With friends like that who needs Jason?





FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)





I originally hated FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V.  I found that the filmmakers backed off a lot on the gore – with shots of Jason about to put his fist through someone’s skull then cutting away (the earlier films would have shown it) and not only that [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] it’s not even Jason but a Jason copycat with a lame excuse for doing it.




I dig the way they introduce and use Tommy.  So you have this messed up kid who had this traumatic experience and what do you do?  You send him back to the place that has a history of these events and where he had his worst experience which doesn’t really sound like helping to me unless helping means sending him into total insanity that much quicker.  Tommy shows up messed up, he is even more messed up by the end…he’s not even close to being heroic or cured.  The guy who gave young Indy his fedora in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE is the counselor here – and I kept waiting for him to tell Tommy “You may have lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it” while handing him Jason’s hockey mask (which of course when I saw this the first time LAST CRUSADE didn't exist yet).




You have to give the series credit – instead of continuing on with the usual Jason killing for no reason, they tried to take things in a different direction yet still kept the iconic “Jason” figure intact unlike when HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH went the mask route and took Michael Myers out of it altogether (and I happen to like HALLOWEEN III quite a bit).  Age has brought on a better appreciation of this movie and like #2, it rose up in the ratings ranks for me.




One odd thing – FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V was almost impossible to find.  Netflix had from the original through JASON GOES TO HELL but was for some reason missing 5.  Same situation on the Playstation network and on my cable VOD as I could find everything but.  Finally I tracked it down on my X-Box 360.  You’d think I would have this set on DVD – and almost did buy the box set which came with a mask - but now I might as well wait for a Blu-ray Disc release (NOTE: 1 – 3 are available on Blu-ray).  Perhaps these will come out on Blu-ray as part of that recent deal Paramount made with Warner Home Video to distribute around 600 of their titles.  That would make sense given that with JASON GOES TO HELL and on New Line Cinema took over the series and New Line is now just an elaborate division of Warner Bros.




Like the series itself, there will be a sequel continuing where I left off in the next week or so with FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES through JASON X.