Thursday 9 April 2009

His Name Was Jason...

Out of the collection of 'franchise slashers' - the main three being Freddy, Jason, and Michael (with Leatherface hovering around in fourth place - at least in terms of sequels anyway) - it has always been Jason Voorhees who was my favourite. Freddy is alright, but he's too based around quips and chit-chat, plus he turned into a joke far too soon - not to mention too large of a cultural figure, which is especially disturbing considering he's originally a child-murdering paedophile! Beyond part 3 there's bugger all point in watching a Freddy movie - I mean part 6's 'death by map' says it all really. Michael Myers, my second place slasher figure (tied with Leatherface admittedly) - he's silent, but deadly, with a penchant for heavy breathing behind an iconic, but creepy-as-fuck, mask. #1 rules, #2 is decent, #3 (while not including Myers or a Myers-a-like AT ALL) is surprisingly good, but then #4 comes along and it all turns to shit - shit mask, boring plots, and Michael Myers just becomes a pale immitation of what he once was. H20 vaguely increased the franchise's standing somewhat, but it was massively in debt to Scream, and then of course there was the 'sequel that dare not speak it's name' - Halloween 8. Nuff said really. However, Rob Zombie came along with his remake - and yes, it's most definitely a Rob Zombie movie, and while flawed and not up to the standard of Zombie's original effort The Devil's Rejects, I still dig it. One of the best things the remake did, was make Michael Myers scary again - he regained his standing as a formiddable foe, a position long since lost by shoddy sequels. Leatherface - well, TCM#1 is simply a genre classic of epic proportions, nuff said. TCM#2 is gleefully OTT in every respect. TCM#3 has its moments, but ends up drifting wide of the mark. TCM#4 ... "real sequel" my arse, quite frankly. TCM2003 - it was never going to be a patch on the original, and it wasn't - but you know what, I quite like it on it's own you know? The follow-up to TCM2003 was completely unnecessary though. Now - the main man himself - Jason Voorhees. He's got the coolest look, including his burlap sack hillbilly-ish outing in #2, he's got the second-coolest signature weapon in the shape of his trusty machete (nothing beats a screaming chainsaw, natch), he's got the coolest name, coolest signature theme (two echoed half-words and everybody knows who you mean), and the greatest number of cool sequels. Also of particular interest, Jason was merely talked about in #1, and then only seen in a 'final scare' dream sequence - it was his mother doing the slaying. Freddy, Michael, and Leatherface never had that to contend with that when they showed up on the scene. But let's just whip through the Friday 13th franchise with my brief thoughts, shall we? #1 - gore-ific fun. Teenage camp counsellors getting offed in the woods, Jason's crazy-ass mother, Savini's masterful gore effects, it really kicked off the 'slasher set at a camp' craze, and the introduction of Manfredini's fantastic score. #2 - Jason turns up, and rocks the burlap sack look with style. Classic kills, classic plot of - yep - camp counsellors in-training being picked off one-by-one, a cast of interesting-but-simple characters that you like watching - and well, a legend is born. #3 - 3D playfulness, Jason gets his signature hockey mask, funky themetune, it picks up right after #2, plus I got to to-and-fro a couple of emails with Larry Zerner a number of years ago concerning the alternate ending, which was cool ... mind you, Miner's directing skill seems to have taken a nose-dive since #2 as it's an endless succession of characters seeking out strange noises and being scared to do so because we the viewer knows something might happen - but they don't know, so why are they creeping around with a scared look? Plus the dialogue is awful, and that hippy chick's 'scared' moment is nothing short of laughable. However - Jason rocks up and you get basically 30 minutes of awesome to cap-off a kinda rocky flick. #4 - follows #3 directly which is just awesome, Savini is back, the characters are again interesting-but-simple (and genuinely entertaining), it looks great, Crispin Glover gets the best death - and dance, Jason gets killed, it looks fantastic, the woods are dark, scary and it's lashing down a storm when shit kicks off - which is how the franchise works best. #5 - aye, it's not good really is it? At least it still looks like #4, so this is the last time we'll see the night-time lit and shot in such as a way as they had been doing ... and, well, there is some nice totty throughout. Certainly the lowest point in the franchise thus far unfortunately. #6 - JASON LIVES! The birth of 'zombie' Jason, Alice Cooper on the soundtrack, pure OTT fun, Thom Mathews being thoroughly 1980s, and I have fond memories of watching it on Christmas Day many years ago (it was a present, along with...) #7 - Jason's best un-masked appearance - the effects are simply jaw-dropping - Kane Hodder's first character-defining entry, telekenesis is an interesting addition, some nice totty, a last hurrah for the 'kids having a house party' plot ... such a shame that it was neutered by the MPAA - the uncut footage would have made it much ballsier. #8 - the last properly good Jason movie, one could argue - although calling it "Jason Takes Manhattan" is a bit daft when it takes an hour to get to the Big Apple, and the whole 'kids voice, vomits lake water, turns into boy Jason' bit at the end was just stupid, and again the MPAA stuck their stupid nose in and neutered it - still though, this is Hodder's finest moment as Jason - the dude just rocks throughout - it's amazing how much joy you get out of him punting a ghetto blaster down the pavement ... everything in Manhattan rocks, if only they'd had some more cash to extend all that ... the themetune of "The Darkest Side of the Night" kicks ass, Jason's 'pruned and soggy' look is cool, it's nowhere near as shoddy as I originally thought it was when I first saw it as a teenager, and despite it's flaws I'm now quite fond of it. #9 - the gore is cool, and any time Kane Hodder is on screen I'm liking it ... then they come along and think 'outside of the box' and forget to bring Jason with them, so instead we get a bunch of twats we don't care about whatsoever farting around being chased by Jason's soul ... ugh ... then there's the distracting inclusion of a couple of Evil Dead references in the final act, Jason getting taken to hell, the utterly daft "Final Friday" moniker (New Line were never going to buy a franchise to kill it off, sheesh!) and the seed for a turd-festival "VS" mash-up happens. #10 - I enjoyed the idea of 'Jason in space', but converse to my thoughts 'then and now' on #8, #10 isn't as good as I once thought ... anyway, the final appearance of Kane Hodder who simply IS Jason is good, there's some nice kill gags, some interesting ideas (even though Uber-Jason doesn't look as cool as he should really). Freddy VS Jason - a spin off, rather than a franchise-follower in my view, it was complete gash when I saw it and I've never been back. Cringey Nu-Metal soundtrack, not at all scary, it's got 'that one out of Destiny's Child ... I think' in it, it's too slick, Kane Hodder isn't in it anymore and ugh ... I just didn't care for it at all ... at least it had Monica Keena in it though. Friday 13th 2009 ... well, you can see my thoughts on that here:

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