Blu Review – 4/5
Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th
Director – Sean S. Cunningham (The New Kids, Spring Break)
Starring – Betsy Palmer (Penny Dreadful, Friday the 13th: Part II), Adrienne King (Saturday Night Fever, Psychic Experiment), and Jeannine Taylor (The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana)
Release Date – 1980
Rating – 4/5
Tagline -“They were warned…they are doomed…and on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them”
It’s weird to sit here and type a review for a film as iconic as Friday the 13th but here I am. Like many horror fans, I grew up watching the Friday the 13th films. My introduction into the slasher franchise was Jason Goes to Hell when my uncle gave my mother the movie on tape along with Conan the Destroyer.
When I was in middle school I would finish watching the rest of the films in the series with my grandmother and uncle. I still have an appreciation for JGtH that most horror fans do not but, as I’ve said before, my taste in movies is very different than the normal horror fan. A few weeks ago I got the Scream Factory box set in and decided to dive into it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows an old camp that is being remodeled by a group of camp counselors for the upcoming summer camp. The camp was once home to a long running summer camp but the counselor’s neglect results in the death of a little boy. Now years later someone is picking these would be camp counselors off one by one. **Spoiler Alert**
Friday the 13th is a huge part of horror history and a defining film of the slasher sub-genre. Honestly, I would be more pressed to find someone who hasn’t seen the film over someone who just doesn’t like it. Regardless, it’s a huge part of horror history which is why I’m still shocked I was ask to review the 40th Anniversary Steelbook release.
The acting in Friday the 13th is what I often compare other slashers to. I sincerely love the cast of characters that we get. Sure, they are generic for a slasher but in 1980 there wasn’t THAT many to compare to. Not like the sudden wave to follow the summer after. The cast hams it up at times but knows when to bring the right emotion for what the scene calls for.
The story for this one is what I consider to be a slasher in it’s purest form. The early days of slashers followed a simple formula. We get a character that was wronged and then jump forward several years, or even decades, and then people die as a result. I absolutely fucking love this type of story. We get a hack and slasher film that feels like a whodunit type of flick. The twist is now iconic but first time viewers will never see the reveal coming. Sure, that does take the fun out of subsequent views but it is still a damn fine slasher to revisit.
Finally, the death scenes in this film are legendary. A few do take place off camera leaving it up to the viewer’s imagination but the ones we do get are memorable. Effects were handled by the legendary Tom Savini so they insanely fun. Overall, Friday the 13th is a damn near perfect but you are not here because you haven’t seen the film but curious about the 40th Anniversary release. The blu looks great. In fact, it’s leagues better than my DVD release of the film.
Friday the 13th Part II
Friday the 13th Part II
Director – Steve Miner (Warlock, The Wonder Years)
Starring – Amy Steel (April Fool’s Day, Tales of Poe), John Furey (Matlock, Baywatch Nights), and Kirsten Baker (Gas Pump Girls, Please Don’t Eat the Babies)
Release Date – 1981
Rating – 4/5
Tagline – “The body count continues…”
Most of you may be sick of my Friday the 13th reviews by this point but I’m just beginning. I spent last week and the weekend reviewing a few fan films and several porn flicks that share the Friday the 13th name. Most of the fan films were fun but the fuck flicks that I took a look at were just cheap porn films that wanted to cash in on the franchise’s name.
I’ve seen some very fun and punny porn parodies but these were not them. After I wasted some time on these I decided it was time to focus on the actual slasher franchise now. I reviewed the first Friday the 13th a few years back when I was sent the steelbook for review. After revisiting it for the umpteenth time it was time to spin the sequel from the new box set.
**Spoiler Alert** The film takes place sometime after the events of the first film. The film’s lone survivor is now living on her own when a man breaks into her home and kills her. We then move back to Crystal Lake and another camp on the other side of the lake is preparing to open for the summer. While jokes about Camp Blood run through the counselors they soon discover that Camp Blood is more than just a legend. **Spoiler Alert**
I used to love binge watching the Friday the 13th franchise when I was growing up. I absolutely loved this series but my ranking of the films often draws controversy from other genre fans. I like what I like. The first Friday the 13th is a slasher classic while I feel the sequel is just as good as the first film. Much like Carpenter’s Halloween and Halloween II, I feel that these two are on the same level and work perfectly when played back to back.
The acting in this one is pretty solid but there is room for improvements. We get some deadpan characters that are very serious while we get others that deliver some much needed laughs. Aside from Ralph in the first film, the “intentional” laughs are forced. However, the cast in this one delivers a more genuine comedic performance.
The story for this one is a continuation of the first film while, in a round about way, delivers the same story. We follow a group of counselors who are preparing to open a summer camp on the same lake murders took place. Almost all the same characters are rewritten from the head of the camp, his love interest, the horny counselors, and the comedian. The killer is obviously changed but the regurgitated story still works. Slasher fans want boobs and blood and the story works both of those in.
Finally, the film has several now iconic death scenes. The film uses both classic prop and camera tricks to pull off the kill along with some great practical effects. They are standard slasher kills which has been outdone but this is the beginning of the trend here. Overall, Friday the 13th Part 2 is just as essential for horror fans as the first film. It’s the first film to launch the iconic slasher Jason while solidifying he groundwork that would become the slasher formula. I highly suggest giving this one a spin if you are one of five people that have not seen it. The blu looks absolutely stunning. The audio and video are spectacular here.
Friday the 13th Part III
Director – Steve Miner (Warlock, House)
Starring – Richard Brooker (Deathstalker, Trapper John M.D.), Gloria Charles (Nation Lampoon’s European Vacation, Brewster’s Millions), and David Katims (Otherworld, The Invisible Kid)
Release Date – 1982
Rating – 4/5
Tagline – “A new dimension in terror”
The first Friday the 13th catapulted slashers to stardom. Their simple story and cheap production value made them extremely profitable so hundred of production companies decided to jump on the craze. The sequel introduced the now iconic Jason and made his name the face of the slasher sub-genre.
The third film tries to launch the 3D fad but failed while, inadvertently, making the hockey mask in the film the iconic face of slashers. Once I finished the first two I couldn’t wait to revisit this third installment of the film…gimmick and all.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group of friends who are going into the country to stay at a friends cabin. The home is located near Crystal Lake where she suffered an attack at the hands of a disfigured man (Jason). Now, years later, she is struggling to cope with the attack but is haunted by the memory. Her friends use this as a chance to have a weekend getaway. What they don’t know is that Jason has returned and now he has a knack for murder. **Spoiler Alert**
When the first film cemented slashers as a staple at theatres throughout the 80s, the sequel introduced horror fans to Jason who would be the face for horror for decades. However, it was the third film that gave him his iconic hockey mask. Until this point each film has severed as a stepping stone from the last. The 3D gimmick for the film may have it’s fun novelty moments but you can enjoy the film just the same watching the 2D release.
The acting in this one is fun. We get a little more livelier characters in this installment but the acting is still the same. The cast delivers some solid performances but the more horror oriented scenes does feel forced and overdramatic. Fans of slashers know exactly what to expect when they toss in a slasher and those cliched performances are what made Friday the 13th and it’s sequels so much fun.
The story for this one takes a step away from the previous films. We still follow people at Crystal Lake but it ties in Jason more while giving us more of the same clichés. The film takes what we already expected and spruced them up so to speak. The characters and how they die is what this one so much fun and why slashers are known for their body counts.
Finally, this one has several iconic deaths. Many try to make use of the 3D gimmick but they were still fun and cheesy. The practical effects are great for some and laughable for others but I wouldn’t call them bad. Overall, Friday the 13th Part III is not only a huge part of horror history but its a solid slasher. Sure, it doesn’t offer anything new for the sub-genre but it’s cliched deaths, characters, and scenery makes it a reliable slasher. I’ve always enjoyed this one just as much as the previous two films and the characters in this one are some of my favorite of the series.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Director – Joseph Zito (The Prowler, Bloodrage)
Starring – Erich Anderson (Dallas, Quantum Leap), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys, Gremlins), and Kimberly Beck (The Munsters, Nightmare at Noon)
Release Date – 1984
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “Friday, April 13th, is Jason’s unlucky day”
When you talk to other horror fans they always seem to have their favorite Friday the 13th film and they often look down at you if you don’t agree with them. Over the years I’ve realized that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is one of the fan favorites among horror fans. It is the beginning of the Tommy Jarvis chronicles and features Savini once again on effects.
Chronologically, it is another first, like previous Friday the 13th films, where we feature Jason dying for the final time. Honestly, I like it but it is far from my favorite of the series. It gets my respect but I can’t proclaim my love for it like others do.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the Jarvis family who lives in a cabin at the lake. A group of teens rent the adjoining cabin for a weekend of partying and sex. Young Tommy Jarvis and his sister are happy to have people their age near them but soon find themselves face to face with the hockey masked Jason and his favorite machete. **Spoiler Alert**
Most people love this film because it introduces the Tommy Jarvis character and has Tom Savini returning on effects. The Tommy Jarvis character is very important in the Friday the 13th mythos but I can’t justify that enough to say this is my favorite film in the series. Honestly, I don’t know if it would even make my top five. However, it is still a very enjoyable film.
The acting in this one is very consistent with the other films. However, the characters are not as memorable as some of the others from previous installments. The shopkeeper and Shelly from the third film, Ted from Part 2, and Crazy Ralph all stand out when you speak about these films and every movie has a stand out character up to this point. However, none really “stand out” aside from Crispin Glover’s dance. Even the Tommy Jarvis character blends into the story here. Important as he is he just doesn’t stand out like the previous films. The acting in solid but the characters are so cliched that they just blend into the background.
The story for this one takes the standard and true Friday the 13th slasher story and finally gives the character of Jason an ending…for a limited time. The movie once again delivers on the teens going to the lake that Jason calls home where he kills them one by one. With that being said, the film tries to give a sense of closure with Jason’s death. In 1984 this ending was a big deal but those that watched these films after that date knows this was very short lived.
Finally, this film takes us back to some great practical effects and iconic deaths. This film features some of the series most unforgettable deaths including Jason’s unfortunate demise. The effects are fantastic and this really set the standard for slashers from this point on. Overall, The Final Chapter Is another important installment in an legendary film series but I don’t like it as much as other fans do. It introduces the character of Tommy Jarvis and features Jason’s real death making it another important film up to this point but I couldn’t watch this one over and over like I can the first three films.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Director – Danny Steinmann (Savage Streets, The Unseen)
Starring – John Shepherd (Friday the 13th: The Series, Quantum Leap), Shavar Ross (Family Matters, Growing Pains), and Tiffany Helm (In the Tall Grass, Freddy’s Nightmares)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “If Jason still haunts you…you’re not alone”
When people think of the Friday the 13th series the fifth installment, A New Beginning, often gets criticized by fans. It’s very similar to Halloween III: Season of the Witch and how fans hate it even though it is arguably the best in the series. I’m tip toeing around the why these two are similar because I’m trying not to deliver a huge spoiler that can make or break this film depending on how you look at it. Regardless, this film is hated and it’s for a ridiculous reason. I actually enjoy this installment even though it’s doesn’t bring anything new to the series.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a teenage Tommy Jarvis (Shepherd) who is now part of a state run home for other orphans and delinquents. He is suffering nightmares from his encounter with Jason which as crippled his life. The others in the home with him give him a hard time but one of the young men, Victor, struggles with his anger and kills another resident. This sparks a chain of murders resembling Jason even though he is dead. Tommy and the others fight to survive before uncovering who really is behind the deaths. **Spoiler Alert**
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning doesn’t offer up anything new for the Jason mythology but it is a fun slasher that feels very much like a Friday the 13th film. Up until this point we were given something additional that stuck with the franchise in each previous film. However, Friday the 13th Part V just existed. The twist does turn horror fans off but I appreciate what they did with it at the time.
The acting in this one is probably my favorite in the film. Honestly, John Shepherd as Tommy Jarvis is the low point of the film. Feldman was perfect as Tommy in child form but young adult Tommy is a bit of a messy character that isn’t very likable at all. Shepherd is very underwhelming in his performance. Now, with that aside, the rest of the cast is probably my favorite of all the films in the series. I love all the characters in this film and I feel that this is, hands down, the best acted film in the franchise. The performances feel very genuine and the supporting cast brought a lot to the table.
The story for this one is a Friday the 13th film. We follow a killer who was wronged as he kills anyone and everyone that gets in his way. The kills in the woods and how the people die also are perfect for a Friday the 13th films. However, who is doing the killing is what turns most fans off to this film.
Finally, the deaths in this one are classic Friday the 13th style and they all rightfully deserve their own place among slasher history. Some has a little humor tossed in but all are very slasher inspired and brutal. The practical effects are solid and work very well for the kills. Overall, A New Beginning is deserving of the Friday the 13th name and those that don’t give it a chance are really missing out on this fantastic installment. I highly suggest checking this one out.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Director – Tom McLoughlin (Freddy’s Nightmares, Friday the 13th: The Series)
Starring – Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead Part II), Jennifer Cooke (Deadly Nightmares, V), and David Kagen (Freddy’s Nightmares, 21 Jump Street)
Release Date – 1986
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “Kill or be killed”
There has been many milestones with previous Friday the 13th films. The second film introduced Jason, the third introduced his iconic hockey mask, the fourth was Jason’s death and the introduction of Tommy Jarvis. Part V continued the Tommy Jarvis saga but did not introduce anything new to the film. However, Part VI: Jason Lives would be the turning point for the franchise while establishing Jason as the undead slasher that he is known for. The film is a lukewarm entry to the series but is still an important one.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Tommy Jarvis (Mathews) who is still obsessed with Jason after killing him at the end of The Final Chapter. He finds his grave and unearths it with plans to burn his body to set his mind at ease. He stabs the body with an iron spike before setting it blaze but lightning strikes it reanimating Jason and sending him on another bloody rampage through Crystal Lake that has been recently renamed Forest Green. **Spoiler Alert**
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is the turning point in the series where the films no longer feel like a slasher like the first five films. Instead, it recreates Jason and an undead and unstoppable force that can’t be stopped. Personally, this is where the franchise took a bit of a dive for me but it is still fun and has plenty of fans out there.
The acting in this one is probably my second favorite in the series. Thom Mathews is an amazing actor that not only kills it as Tommy Jarvis but has fans quoting him from his peformances in the first two Return of the Living Dead films. Feldman brought the character to life when he portrayed him as a child but Mathews is the Jarvis most of us think of. It’s a real shame he was not cast as Jarvis in the previous installment. The supporting cast is just as good with most of the characters more down to earth and serious. I do enjoy the more out there characters but this darker story would have fell apart if those comedic performances were delivered.
The story for this one takes Jason in a new direction and this portrayal is more well known among horror fans. When most people think of Jason they immediately think of the undead version. His rotten and broken hockey mask is just as iconic as his rotting body. Fans, at the time, loved this Jason which is why the franchise would have several more installments. With that being said, the film does start the beginning of stories that are little more out there and far fetched. Compared to the following films, this one is pretty grounded.
Finally, this film has several death scenes that features some top notch practical effects along with make-up effects. Jason looks amazing which would be one of the many factors that contributes to this look being his most iconic. Overall, Jason Lives is another solid entry in the Friday the 13th franchise. It re-established Jason in a different manner than the previous films but still delivers the slasher-esque kills that slasher fans enjoy. With that being said, the look and tone of the previous films is absent which does turn some of the fans off. I recommend it but it’s not among my favorite installments.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Director – John Carl Buechler (Troll, Ghoulies Go to College)
Starring – Susan Blu (Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, Deadly Weapon), Lar Park-Lincoln (Children of the Night, House II: The Second Story), and Terry Kiser (Pet Shop, The Golden Girls)
Release Date – 1988
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “On Friday the 13th, Jason will meet his match”
The time of milestones with the Friday the 13th is behind us. From Part VI forward we get outlandish stories and scenaries set against Jason killing people in brutal and inventive ways. When we move on from Part VI we enter Part VII which is more of a supernatural horror tale featuring psychics, ghosts, and an undead Jason. It is one of the more unique Friday the 13th films and probably one of my least favorites.
**Spoiler alert** The film follows Tina (Park-Lincoln) who is taken back to the cabin at Crystal Lake where her father was killed. Tina is telekinetic and accidentally killed her father when she was a child. Her doctor and mother bring her back to the same cabin in hopes to help her get over it. However, the doctor is hoping to use her powers to benefit himself. What they don’t expect is that her powers will free Jason who is chained and trapped in the lake. Once again we follow Jason as he goes on a murderous rampage. **Spoiler Alert**
A piss poor Friday the 13th is still better than most slashers. I love this series which should be evident from these reviews. However, I beleive that this installment is the low end of the franchise. It’s just so far out there from the original films that it almost doesn’t feel like a Friday the 13th movie. Hell, if you changed the killer it would have been a different movie.
The acting in this one went from the best acted in the series to one of the worst. The characters and the cast in this one has always made me laugh with their soap opera like demeanor and reactions. The characters are cliches of what you would find in most slashers but how the cast reacts to different scenarios always made me laugh.
The story for this one is just one absurd moment to another making this one feel less like a Friday the 13th movie and more like a late 80s Full Moon flick. We follow a woman with psychic abilities who struggles mentally with killing her father. We then have her dad who is dead but nota ghost or rotting, living in the lake that helps her at the end of the film. Honestly, I always felt that the writers were high as fuck when they wrote this one.
Finally, this one keeps it up with the death scenes. The kills are not as polished as the previous films but it still satisfies those looking for slasher deaths. The practical effects are solid but we don’t get anything we haven’t seen before. Overall, The New Blood is easily the most laughable entry in the series. It’s still a fun watch but it is easily the most out there entry in the entire series.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Director – Rob Hedden (Friday the 13th: The Series, Star Trek: Enterprise)
Starring – Todd Caldecott (21 Jump Street, Fear), Tiffany Paulsen (Daredreamer, Love 101), and Kane Hodder (Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Jason X)
Release Date – 1989
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “New York has a new problem”
When I was in elementary school I watched the entire Friday the 13th series with my grandmother for the first time, at least the movies that were released up to that point. I had watched Jason Goes to Hell several times before this but I had never seen most of the other films before. I was at my grandmother’s house for the night and one of the channels was running a marathon. We decided to check them out and I watched them and fell in love with them. They were all fun but I was so shocked by how much better most of the movies were than Jason Goes to Hell.
One that always stuck out with me was the 8th installment. Jason Takes Manhattan is never the Friday the 13th movie that fans talk about but I absolutely loved it. In fact, I would say that it’s probably my favorite in the series. I know it’s not as good as the other films but, to me, I have the most fun with it.
**Spoiler Alert** This one, once again, follows Jason as he is accidentally freed from his watery grave by a boat anchor. He then finds himself aboard a cruise liner going from Crystal Lake to the Big Apple taking students there as part of their class trip. **Spoiler Alert**
I know Jason Takes Manhattan is one of the weaker installments. It has a chaotic and unorganized story, it has some of the worst character out of the entire franchise, and there is a complete subplot that not only doesn’t make sense but it’s so absurd that most people can’t look passed but I fucking love it. With that being said, I’m not so self absorbed that I don’t know when something is bad. I know it’s bad but holy fuck do I have fun with it.
The acting in this one is easily the most lackluster of any of the films. The characters are flat and painfully cliched with the cast giving it a minimal effort. I watched a bunch of direct to video horror titles from the 90s when I was growing up and this movie puts a good bit of them to shame.
The story for this one is outlandish before you even toss in the sub-plot following the film’s lead who was almost drowned by the kid Jason in the lake. Yea, you read that right. The sub-plot follows the film’s lead, when she was younger, who was dragged under water by the child Jason…the same Jason that actually grew up into adulthood. Why, you ask? Because, fuck you. That’s why. It makes no sense but I guess they used it as a distraction to make everyone forget that Jason just boarded a cruise liner and is headed to New York. I know this is stupid and most fans hate this but I fucking loved him in New York. This was a welcomed change from the previous 7 films that was rather becoming stale. The outlandish changes in recent films didn’t really bring about change. The sub-plot should have been scrapped and the New York adventure should have been fully embraced.
Finally, this film still delivers on the kills. We get the standard slasher fair with plenty of blood, practical and make-up effects, and the best looking Jason to date. Overall, Jason Takes Manhattan is not the most original or important installment in the series but I will always have a soft spot for it. However, it is one of the weaker films in the series regardless of how I feel about it. I still recommend checking it out.