Posts Tagged ‘Friday the 13th

10
Dec
12

V/H/S: Found Footage Feast of Fear

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a Primal Root review

V/H/S is one of those lucky horror entries who’s sails get caught up in a wind of hype and praise from the horror community, a community ravenous for something worth a damn in this genre that, when not about people eating other people’s shit or featuring a cast made almost entirely of guests from the current horror convention circuit getting torn into chunks by a mad man, is remaking films from decades past and transforming masterpieces into dumbed down fodder for the masses.  So ravenous are they, that V/H/S has become the toast of the community at the moment. Over hyped? Maybe a bit. But V/H/S sure is a fun little anthology film.

Basically, V/H/S, is a found footage horror anthology period piece. It tells six separate tales by different filmmakers all taking place in the mid to late 1990’s.  It’s about two hours of none stop shaky cam footage that will give ‘The Blair Witch Project’ a run for it’s money in stomach churning motion sickness department.

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The central wrap around story of V/H/S features a group of college age hooligans and criminals who tape their Jackass inspired shenanigans and sell them to online distributors. Now, who would pay good money to watch a bunch of twenty something assholes break the windows of abandoned houses and sexually assault random women to show their bare breasts in parking garages is beyond me. But these jerks, the rapist criminals, are our protagonists.  We follow them as these scumbags as they are sent by a mysterious party to break into the residence of an elderly man and retrieve a tape. Easy enough, right? HA! Wrong! If it were that easy we wouldn’t have a fucking movie!

Bizarrely enough, these bros find what looks to be the old man’s lifeless corpse upstairs in a recliner with several TVs flickering snowy static in front of him and surrounded by mountains of VHS tapes. Seems they have their work cut out for them.  So, as these jerk-o’s have never seen a horror movie before, they decide to split up and leave one man behind to review tapes. This feels like the flimsiest of premises, but I’ll take it. Not sure if this even warrants a *SPOILER ALERT*, but the old guy ain’t so lifeless.

Let us get to our TALES OF TERROR!

*SPOILER AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!* I will try to keep things as vague as possible, but the basic premise and plot points to many of these stories might be spoiled if you read the below synopsis. Just a heads up.

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First up:

‘Amateur Night’ tells the tale of a trio of guys who strap one of their buddies up with a pair of now-trendy, ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ spectacles equipped with a hidden camera as they head out to enjoy a night of drunken debauchery and date rape. The three central male figures all come off as totally legit, obnoxious, collegiate horn dogs who generously rent the seediest of hotel rooms for taking advantage of the two drunken young ladies they’ve picked up. Honestly, the behavior of these young men is far more disturbing, in my opinion, than what happens to them. They gather around, dicks out and at the ready for gang banging, but as they soon realize that the one they undress, a troubling, mousy “girl” with wide creepy eyes, matted dreads, and a nervous way about her, is something they couldn’t have ever imagined. Out of all the tales in V/H/S, this may possibly be my favorite as it utilizes the hand-held, “found footage” aspect in a clever way and beautifully illustrates how being a completely loathsome, gutter-feeding, tool can literally bite you on the ass. These are the type of dudes who seek power and validation that they have penises via lording control over women, but in the end, they get a horrific taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of someone (something) else looking for validation. One of the cherries on this blood-soaked cake, is in the pretty awesome and grueling final chase scene climax that film-makers of ‘Amateur Night’ managed to put forth. Ultimately, this story works because it doesn’t shy away from its racy subjects of desire, power-mongering, and douchery comeuppance dealing with everything directly, brutally, and unflinchingly.

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‘Second Honeymoon’

These two are married? How old are they, 23? And they are on their second honeymoon? Eh. Okay… This one tells the story of a (very) young married couple driving through the desert. That’s pretty much it. It was strange to find out these two are married since they come across as an awkward, unlikable couple who don’t seem to get one another and might have just started dating a couple months ago. The wife is creating a video diary of their road-trip, which, as we watch it in it’s uncut form, comes off as more of a negative comment card than a tribute to their affectionate good times. She does little more than whip the camera about and complain about where she is and what she’s doing. Yeah, this is the woman you wanna travel with. Her husband is just as unbearable. Anyway, she gets her fortune read for a buck by a redneck buckaroo version of the Zoltan machines at an old west tourist trap, and it makes mention of reuniting with a loved one. That very night a strange woman knocks on their motel room door in the dead of night asking for a ride in the morning. Who is she? What does she want? Why does she like breaking into hotel rooms, filming folks with their own cameras, poking people in the butt with her switchblade, and pulling lame, elementary school pranks on them while they sleep? Who knows! Sure, it builds some much-desired tension, but the stories’ load is blown a bit prematurely, and doesn’t have much weight as it is as we don’t know these characters very well and from what we do gather of them we don’t like, anyway. The story ends leaving the audience hanging with their questions, which is just fine.  These people are dull, and you’ll probably be ready to move on.

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‘Tuesday the 17th’ is a cool concept where a young woman takes some of her friends out to the woods where, in the past, she had encountered a Jason-esque killer who brutally murdered her buddies. Only thing is, he is either invisible and can only be seen through the video camera’s view finder or he is actually conjured to life via the actual presence of the video camera. It is never explained, but the effect of the killer as a humanoid shape appearing on the tape in scratchy glitches, a visual distortion, works well and is pretty damn eerie. The presentation of this killing specter is this story’s greatest asset.  It’s an idea worthy of a feature-length movie but, as it is, the whole thing comes off as a tired Friday the 13th clone as the love-child of Jason Voorhess and ‘The Ring”s Samara stalks down some dumb, canned-character kids in the woods. Despite a cool set up, the story rushes to it’s conclusion and falls apart, as a result. I can’t help but wonder what it could have been had it been fleshed out.

VHS - Emily Ghost

‘The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Young’ is an intriguing story about a long-distance relationship taking place over video chat as our heroine experiences a haunting and some kind of mystery growth under her arm… It’s a nifty little ‘Outer Limits’  style yarn that’s relatively satisfying. I couldn’t help but wonder how great this story would have been if captured in the format of a normal film narrative as opposed to found footage. Our main girl is remarkably sweet, likeable, and attractive with a vulnerable but outgoing quality to her. Although her beau says he’s working out-of-area for his business, we cannot help but wonder about the nature of this curious long-distance relationship. Does anyone else sense some early commentary possibly co-dependence, manipulation, and abuse in the relationship? I wouldn’t put it past this one as all motives are made clear by story’s end. As it featured a great leading lady  who didn’t annoy the ever-loving shit out of me, ‘The Sick Thing’ was a nice change of pace.

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‘10.31.98’ is right up there with ‘Amateur Night’, vying as a favorite of the anthology. Four surprisingly charming and likable college age fellows, one dressed as a Nanny Cam (teddy bear with a built in camera. CLEVER!), traverse across town to find the Halloween party they were invited to. When they finally come to the address where the party is rumored to be it seems the house is empty, but as they investigate they find they most certainly are not alone. These guys walk into a situation with no frame of reference, expecting the light-hearted frivolity, and come out with the worst possible scenario imaginable. Once they come across what appears to be a damsel in freaky distress the story explodes into an effects-heavy, supernatural nightmare, and works better in its brief running time than all the ‘Paranormal Activity’ films combined.  Matters escalate in the blink of an eye and the guys react with righteous bravery, putting their lives in peril to save a young woman whose life seems to be on the line. This welcomes us to one of the most well-played shocks of the whole film. These guys aren’t out to take advantage of anyone, they don’t act like drooling, poon-hounds. It’s Nice Guys vs. Pure Evil delivering chuckles, anxiety, and, by story’s end, pure terror closing V/H/S out on a high note.

Oh, and the ineffective, brain-dead wrap around of the original tape-retrieval asscapade? Well, they all die. The End.

*END SPOILERS!*

In the final analysis I enjoyed V/H/S, despite myself.  It’s got a bit of everything, post-modern horror, supernatural, psychological serial killer, the whole shebang. It’s almost like a sampler case featuring several of horror’s most beloved sub genres, and when these stories are at their best (see: ‘Amateur Night’, ‘10.31.98’)  they work pretty damn well. At their worst, they still have some cool ideas to dig into (see: ‘Tuesday the 17th’, ‘Second Honeymoon’).

V/H/S proved to be an entertaining collaborative experiment that spins some imaginative tales.  By no means a masterpiece, V/H/S is a creepy excursion into the macabre, the supernatural and the rewindable.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

29
Jul
12

The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Ep. 25: Deathstalker

Hey Gang!

WHEW! Sorry about the wait! It’s been a crazy few months since I last reported back to you with a Rotten Review.  I never expected for things to get crazier than they did when I reviewed From Beyond and  accidentally went dimension hopping with a tentacle sporting dominatrix chick,  learning the fine art of optical cavity oral sex, battling tentacle creatures from Hell and stimulating my pineal gland…All Root ever wanted was a quiet evening behind the purple counter at Tallahassee’s last standing video rental store, Video 21.

Alas, I soon realized as I always do,  there is NEVER a quiet night when there’s Trash Cinema to be watched.  So, in the latest Rotten Review adventure, prompted by a strange customer clad in nothing but a chain mail banana hammock and a double bladed axe, I decided to check out an all time favorite, low rent, down and dirty, sword and sorcery, blood soaked, magic fueled, TnA heavy pieces of Trash Cinema Gold, 1983’s  ‘Deathstalker’!

So come along with me and let’s check out some of our Trash cinema heritage and try to survive a little bit of spacial displacement.  It’s all in a days work for The Primal Root!  Prepare yourself for: Mutant Beatles, people so sweaty they look like glazed doughnuts,  multiple molestations, topless large breasted sword fighting, simultaneously funny and disturbing gender bending, giant pig monsters, lots of wrastling, homoerotic overtones, hardcore parties, bloody Mortal Kombat,  bitter filthy Muppets in caves and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head as I recuperate! And what would a Trash Cinema event be if you didn’t make some new friends? And, holy cow, did I make some incredibly sexy, and brutal ones this time out!

So, without any further a due, I present to you the latest exploits of your buddy Root in The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 25: Deathstalker!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/96762262″>(NSFW) Deathstalker (1983) The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews Episode 25</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user24396091″>Kevin Cole</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

05
Mar
12

Rape Squad aka: Act of Vengeance (1974)

a Primal Root written review

Okay, we’re getting into a touchy area right now with Rape Squad, the 1974 Rape/Revenge exploitation sleaze fest. Hell, the title alone is enough to make one uncomfortable which may explain it’s alternate title… The rape/revenge format is one of the very few film genres that still disturbs me. I can watch a whole camp full of horny counselors get hacked into chop-suey and laugh my ass off but watching the depiction of anyone, woman or man, being sexually violated always chills my blood and makes me sick to my stomach. It’s probably the last form of violence you can film a fictionalized reenactment of and it will chill my blood.

That being said, the first act of Rape Squad is some pretty harrowing stuff. We are introduced to Linda ( played by the very lovely Jo Ann Harris) who is briskly established as running her own food truck and works with horses. It’s not ten minutes into the movie before Linda is attacked in the middle of the night at the stables. Jack, the man who rapes her, she later finds out is known to the authorities as “The Jingle Bell Rapist” as he always demands his victims sing the popular Christmas carol as he rapes them. Jack seems to be a little obsessed with the holiday season as he is constantly overheard singing carols and compare stripping his rape victims to unwrapping presents. Even stranger, it looks like he’s committing his raping spree in the middle of summer…a little explanation as to why this psychopath is so caught up in the yule tide cheer would have been appreciated. One thing I now know, there’s something REALLY creepy about someone not only forcing sex on you AND making you sing while they do it. It’s some pretty sick, disturbing shit. Not only that, but Jack dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wears a hockey mask and comes off looking like a rape happy, jail break spawnage of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. I’m sure those two are truly disappointed in their son…

The rape scene goes on for what feels like forever as Linda repeatedly fights for her life and escapes the clutches of her attacker several times before finally being brought down and violated. Jack likes to boast that he’s the best and Linda should thank him for kicking her in the face, slapping her around repeatedly and then raping her. It’s all very rough to take and it gets just about as bad as Linda faces the aftermath of having to go down town to the police station to report the crime. She is questioned about the details of the attack (were you drunk? Did you try to resist? Did you provoke the attack?) by a male detective in front of about a dozen perps and fellow lawmen. It’s grueling and extremely uncomfortable to watch as the traumatized young Linda does her best to put up with this disrespect (there’s not another female in sight) before finally justifiably laying into the detective about how she’s being treated like the criminal for having being dressed in a kind of Daisy Duke Lite ensemble when she was assaulted. Of course, she is labeled a bitch and sent to the doctor to undergo a rape kit.

The doctor lays Linda down and repeats the lines “Thata’ girl” and “Take it easy” as he probes and examines her vagina. It’s cold. clinical and the patronizing language the doctor uses makes the whole sequence feel as if Linda’s being raped all over again. The camera stays focused on Linda’s face as she fights back tears and bears the psychological and physical pain. The test results show no traces of semen so now the police assume she made it all up. And, the cherry on top of the insensitive police department sundae arrives as Linda is leaving the station and an officer makes the offhanded comment “Gee, I wish that would happen to me. I’d just sit back and enjoy it. HAR, HAR, HAR!” Linda stop dead in her tracks, gets in this assholes face and verbally turns him into mince meat. It’s really a pitch perfect response to his idiocy and must be seen and heard to feel it’s impact. It’s one of those little monologues where you want to get up and cheer.

The police do nothing, another woman’s house is broken into and she is, like Linda, slowly, methodically, brutalized by the same hockey mask wearing, carol singing, sicko that stalked her down the night before. The police hold a lineup held behind protective chicken wire (WTF?) and all five of the previous victims assemble in order to identify their rapist. This line up turns out to be a waste of time set up to illustrate how impossible the detective’s job is of tracking down the Jingle-Bell Rapist and even harder it will be for the victims to identify him. (“Well, shoot, guys! This case is just too damn hard! We should probably just give up.”) The victims join forces and create an all woman team they call “RAPE SQUAD”! They start taking martial arts lesson replete with a montage of them repeatedly whacking a sparing dummy in the ballsalogical region, creating an emergency phone line for victims of sexual predators, and providing chaperon service to the apparently all male police station so that victims might have a woman present while being asked “So, were you asking for it, miss?”

The RAPE SQUAD learns how to disarm the offending weapon. It's basically like squashing two Cadbury Cream Eggs and flattening a Jimmy Dean cocktail weeny.

Not only that, but they manage to turn the tables on all manner of sex abuse scumbags from dirty night callers whom they accost in dark alleys, strip, shame, and threaten with law suits to angry horrifically scrawny slap happy pimps whose cars the RAPE SQUAD savagely beat with hammers and then crush their testicles and then kick them in the head till the lose consciousness. They even go as far as to go home with forceful, cocky guys to see if they might be the kind to date rape someone. Once the arrogant would-be raper makes their move, the RAPE SQUAD, moves in to destroy their apartment, beat ’em up, tie em down and dye their cock and balls Smurf Blue so they are marked and identifiable if they should ever raise their dicks to rape anyone.

The ladies kick ass and take names all while indulging is in a few totally nude sequences, one of which they go and dip themselves in a hot tub and discuss their plans to begin the RAPE SQUAD. It’s exploitation, pure and simple, and it;s to be expected. They dealt with the worse case scenario of the rape and it’s aftermath so disturbingly well that a little bit of the ladies getting naked and showing off how comfortable they are with themselves and their bodies is kind of commendable. Either that or I am trying to justify the filmmakers for inserting some titillating submerged full frontal nudity and luscious bobbing breasts in order to play to the crowds baser instincts…The hell with it, it’s an exploitation film and that nekkid shower/hot tub scene is integral to the plot! They just finished kung-fu practice, damn it!

The final act of the film bring the RAPE SQUAD face to face with their rapist as he leads the five of them into a final showdown in a dilapidated, abandoned zoo. The final battle is pretty hardcore and even a bit subversive, bloody, and savage. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how The Jingle-Bell Rapist managed to stay so well hidden while wearing a bright orange jumpsuit and blazing white hockey mask…Well, anyway, when the final conflict finally happens it ends up being a match between the rapist and RAPE SQUAD ring leader, Linda over the fate of the Squad and to deliver vengeance onto the individual who scarred the lives of so many woman…

I smell an act of vengeance a'brewin'.

Rape Squad aka Act of Vengeance was a far better film than I was expecting. The subject matter is handled with great care and some fantastic performances are given. The stand out being Jo Ann Harris as Linda who gives everything she’s got and really sells her rage, shame, trauma and eventual strength and triumph over her aggressor. She basically carries the entire picture and is one very talented actress for an early 70’s sleazy exploitation picture. I really do admire the first parts of the film dealing with Linda’s attack and the horrible aftermath. It feels earnest and like the filmmakers really wanted to make a point as to how horrifying the act of rape is and that victims of this crime should be treated with far more care. I mean, it seems almost unimaginable that those sworn to serve and protect would be so callous towards someone whose just been sexually assaulted. still, I’ve heard many accounts of just such thins happening to women who report being attacked and raped and, if you ask me, I would much rather be stalked down and murdered by a Jason Voorhees style slasher (yes, even the spear gun impale through the dick death from The Final Chapter) than go through what Linda does.

It’s only when the film switches gears from the rape to the revenge plot that it delves a bit into the campy side. Like I said, there is an extensive nekkid hot tub scene and some preventative rape violence that I cannot help but assume were played for laughs. Especially when they beat the living hell of of an angry pimp that looks like a skeleton wearing my grandma’s old wardrobe. But without the intensity of the rapes and the ordeal that happens being illustrated so effectively, I doubt the RAPE SQUAD’s actions would be as crowd pleasing as they are.

Rape Squad is not exactly a sexist film…nor is it a feminist film. This is a really odd package deal. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was pleased how all aspects of the picture were handled. It’s an exploitation film that falls into the usual cliches but not before grounding things in stark, cold, reality and showing us the dark side of violence and ignorance. Rape Squad aka Act of Vengeance is an above average grindhouse flick well worth checking out if you’ve got the fortitude for this type of endeavor.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

16
Aug
10

Friday the 13th: Look what you did to him!

a Primal Root review

Friday the 13th is the film that sparked the match. Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre had put down the kindling and soaked it with gasoline but it was Friday the 13th in the summer of 1980 than set the fire which became the slasher sub-genre that would define the decade and would pump out a near constant stream of sequels for just about all of those 10 years.

Although incredibly successful there is the small tragedy of the affect all those sequels had on Victor Miller, Sean Cunningham and Tom Savini’s original piece. As Friday the 13th became an ever popular franchise of films with entries reaching into the double digits they have, in a sense, watered down the impact of Friday the 13th. What people lose sight of is just how good and even scary the original Friday the 13th is. With so many stories told of Jason, imposters, trips to Hell and trips to Manhattan, Friday the 13th kind of gets crushed under all the weight of the strange tales that unfolded afterwards.

The simple concept of isolating some teenagers at a secluded summer camp where they could no be reached by any adults, where they must fend for themselves, was ingenious. Many of us spent summers in these mildewed, moist and rickety old summer camps being tended and tormented by counselors who weren’t much older than us. It;s something many children and teens can relate to and it feels organic. Kids with responsibilities but still trying to bekids and have fun.

And we aren’t dealing with some group of unlikable morons this time around. These are intelligent, funny, and self reliant young people. Sure, they smoke a little “grass”, have premarital sex and even partake in a rousing game of strip Monopoly, but they also talk of neutralizing nitrates, creating delicious vegetraian meals where one will get all the protean they need, and also notice the change in weather patterns. Not sure if this makes them smarter than the usual batch but there sure aren’t any characters here calling one another “Dead Fucks” while typing into imaginary computers or commenting on how their casual sexual partner “Hardly Sweats at all.” I doubt those guys would even have a remote idea as to how to run the Emergency Generator.

This distinction makes the sequential murder of each counselor that much more frightening and impactful. No one wants to see these fun loving, relatable kids die. Let alone in such a grisly and graphic fashion. Sure they mess around, but they risk life and limb and give their all to save their fellow counselor, NEd, who looks to be drowning. Revealed later to be a woefully unfunny practical joke. Especially to a certain killer gazing on from the woods.

Friday the 13th also functions as a “Who-Done-It” murder mystery. Although, it’s a film tat totally cheats at this scenario. Several red herrings are introduced but they are all killed by the end of the movie only for the real killer to drive up put of nowhere and confront ALice, our final girl, under the guise of trust.

It’s the warm, and completely disarming actress Betsy Palmer who identified herself as “Mrs. Voorhees, an old friend of the Christie’s.” The audience looks at Mrs. Voorhees and she seems pleasant, personable and like she wouldn;t harm a fly. But you feel something might be off. Maybe she’s a bit too happy. A bit too inviting. That there’s something much darker just under the surface.

Palmer delivers and knock out of a performance as Mrs. Voorhees who is revealed to be the vengeance seeking mother of a former camper who drowned at the camp in the 50’s due to horny, negligent counselors. “They weren’t paying any attention. They were making love while that young boy droned! His name was Jason”  It’s one of those reveals that slowly and effectively builds the dread. We learn of Mrs. Voorhees’ lose, her sense or despair and tragedy. And we can feel her pain. Why she has snapped and decided to wreak vengeance on this camp and anyone who tries to open it again. Because every time the gate to the camp opens she relives her lose, all the pain comes flooding back, and she must avenge her son and prevent the lose deaths of other children by punishing those who are trying to bring those youths back to the spot of her son’s passing.

The final chase is frenetic and crazy as hell highlighted with some great vengeful one liners from Mrs. Voorhees as she stalks and battles the terrified Alice. It all culminates with an excellent showdown on the beach where Alice gets her hands on Mrs. Voorhees’ machete and knocks her mother fucking block off. It’s a surreal and graphic effect by master Tom Savini, where toothpicks are visibly holding the head on, Mrs. Voorhees has hairy man hands, and the neck pops open the opposite way from where the blade makes contact, but these strange screw ups make the whole thing even more jarring to the audience. It all feels like a nightmare.

And who can ever forget the sting in tail ending? After a long night of bloodshed Alice has survived. Having left the the blood caked beach of the lake to take off into the secluded safety of the water itself in a canoe she wakes to find the local police on the shore calling out to her. Her ordeal is over. She has saved herself and the cavalry has arrived. The music swells, ALice looks hopeful, and then a rotted, zombified mongoloid rises from the depths of the lake, wraps his muddied, decrepit arm around our heroines neck and in slow motion drags her under the water.

It’s an obvious steal from Brian DePalma’s film adaptation of Carrie, but it works in spades. the first time I saw this on VHS in the safety of my living room I nearly put a dent in the ceiling I jumped so high off the couch.  Sure, Alice wakes up later in her hospital bed safe and sound. When she asked about the boy, Jason, who dragged her under water, the sheriff replies “We didn’t find any boy.” As if this is supposed to bring some comfort. Did Alice dream this? Hallucinate it? Was it some sort of ghost? Or was it really Jason, whose body was never recovered from the lake?

It’s a terrifying image. One that sticks with the viewer long after the credits roll and the lights come up in the theater. Much like Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th is about the ghosts of our past wreaking havoc on our lives today. The mistakes and tragedies of our collective pasts revisited.  Every camp has a legend like Jason or Cropsey to keep the young people who make up the population there in check. They are morality tales, where those who do wrong will always pay. The past is in stone and cannot be erased. And for some they will never forget. And that these skeletons. no matter how deep they are buried, have a way of resurfacing. They will one day return to us and bring those days back to life.

Friday the 13th is a very affecting and entertaining horror film but it is also a dark and sad tale of vengeance, insanity and lose. Mrs. Voorhees’ rage is an understandable one, but it is clear this deep sense of personal tragedy has caused her to lose her mind. She was a mother and a cook once. She was a good person. The counselors are also all very good people and have much to contribute to society in their own way. They might be young and a little naive but they haven’t harmed anyone. Now, every single one of them is dead because of one terrible day that took place decades earlier. Due to the same act that brought Jason into this world. The same act that was the cause of his death. An act of love.

Friday the 13th is one of the finest examples of the horror films produced in the 1980’s.  It’s a machine the builds the scares and delivers them with glee but is also grounded in a a relatable reality and heartbreaking and believable tragedy. It;s a film well worth revisiting. And when you do, try to forget Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason, and even Friday the 13th part. Forget the whole franchise. Just pop in Friday the 13th and take it as a stand alone, independently made horror film and you’ll find a strong horror films that stands up on it’s own two legs.

Happy 30th Birthday, Friday the 13th.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

11
Aug
10

Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning or The Wages of Chocolate

a Primal Root review

****SPOILER ALERT!****

People hate this film’s guts. They despise it. It’s ridiculed by critic who already can’t stand the franchise and hardcore fans alike. From what I understand a lot of the anger and resentment stems from the fact that Jason is dead and  there’s a new killer in town…who dresses just like him and uses the same M.O. The film takes on a rather tacky and obvious murder mystery “who-done-it?” approach in the same vein as the original Friday the 13th, but in the case of A New Beginning, none of it really gels.  But unlike Friday the 13th, where the killer isn’t even mentioned before she drives onto the scene and introduces herself, part 5’s new killer is introduced with all the subtlety of a tack hammer to the face. If you watch this movie for the first time and don’t pick out EXACTLY who the killer is it’s time to go by to grammar school ,junior!

It’s an oddly paced wreck of a film but what it lacks in talent infront of and behind the camera it makes up in glorious, all American, SLEAZE! A New Beginning delivers it in spades. So much so, you leave feeling dirtier than usual after viewing a Friday the 13th movie. Maybe it’s due to the fact the film’s director, Danny Steinmann, helmed a few porn films in the 70’s…

I have a feeling this is why I love A New Beginning so much. It’s mean spirited, caustic, vulgar, has the highest body count in the franchise at 22, three sets of boobs including the awe inspiring set exposed by Ms. Debi Sue Voorhees, disgusting rednecks who scream constantly and compare one another to dildoes, several dozen red herrings, a twenty minute final chase sequnce featuring a hot blonde in a wet t-shirt,  the use of the dreaded “C” word, the list of filth is endless and MAN does it make up for whatever else is lacking.

Tommy and his imaginary friend.

We follow Tommoy Jarvis, our hero from The Final Chapter, who is in his mid twenties but I am guessing is supposed to be an remarkably well built and ripped 16-17 year old, who is on his way to some hold over hippie mental institution where they hand out axes to psychotic teenagers and send them on their way. See, it’s a trust system. Not sure if that’s your best approach with a bunch of horrifically unstable youths…but what do I know, I never went to college.

One Slashed Into the Cuckoo's Nest

This adds a level of  sadness to the proceedings knowing that the majority of this film’s victim pool is made up of mentally ill people. Folks who are handicapped. Watching them try to deal with their issues, whether it be a speech impediments, doing the robot or being constantly horny, really adds gravity to the proceedings.

So, of course, a young fat crazy guy gets hacked to pieces by Suicide from Return of the Living Dead over a harsh argument revolving around a chocolate bar. Isn’t this always the way? Anyway, fat kid’s dead, Suicide goes to jail  and the paramedics pick up the meaty chunks. One paramedic in particular seems kind of shocked by this whole thing. A paramedic named Roy who the camera stays on as he does a menacing take towards the camera….HMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

It totally can't be Roy.

With our inciting incident behind us we are introduced to our rag tag group of mentally unstable youths, residents and vacationers. Most notable is our young, black protagonist Reggie who supplies all the one screen talent in this film along with his older brother, Demon, who doesn’t wipe after taking a shit, is played by Spider from Return of the Living Dead , and has a lovely singing voice to go with that Jheri Curl.  These two guys steal the show (along with Debi Sue Voorhees bountiful breasts) even if Demon’s time on screen is fleeting.

Reggie should probably ditch the hysterical deadweight named Pam.

Reggie is visiting his grandfather who is the cook at the mental institution. Again, is this the kind of place to send your child? I mean, someone was chopped to bits there…you’d think they’d send him home or something. But in the end, A New Beginning has much to gain from the poor parenting that has sent poor little Reggie the Reckless off to this halfway house death trap in the middle of the woods.

There’s a far bigger pool of possible victims, and in a  very rare occurrence in the series, a kiddy pool full of possible killers which allows for a bit more plot than usual. But, as I mentioned earlier,  there’s also a hell of a lot more blood shed and naked bodies this time around as well. It’s a strange concoction that so many people hate. However, over time I have grown quite fond if this , the absolute TRASHIEST film in the entire ever lovin’ franchise.

New Guy knows how to make an entrance.

A New Beginning was the bridge between the original four part Friday the 13th series and story arch and the return of Jason as the unstoppable zombie juggernaut in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th part VI. It was a time when Paramount had no idea what to do with the series. By the end of this installment it seems like Tommy Jarvis is ready to don the mask as the heir to Jason’s slasher throne, but alas, it is never to be. The fans stayed away from The New Beginning in droves after finding out Jason wasn’t actually in the movie other than appearances in dreams and hallucinations. So, the movie bombed and gave way to the resurrection of Jason Voorhees and Tommy would again be the hero which brought the fans back to theaters.

It’s sick, twisted, leering, gross, violent, crude and downright shameful. But it’s also a whole hell of a lot of dark, slimy, evil fun. For those of us who like our slasher films gratuitous, unintentionally hilarious, and unapologetically nasty, you can’t do much better in this franchise than Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.

The Trash Cinema Collective Loves You, Debi Sue!

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root

11
Aug
10

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood or Raising Kane

a Primal Root review

The New Blood was, coincidentally, the very first Friday the 13th movie I ever saw. As a child I was completely forbidden from watching these kinds of films. Sure, I could be traumatized by Speilberg’s JAWS and Hooper’s Poltergeist, but the insanely fun Friday the 13th series was OFF LIMITS.  I think it’s because my Mom didn’t want me seeing bare female breasts. Now look what kind of complex that’s created.

Anyhoo, my first recollection of Friday the 13th part VII was  building up the courage to walk into the theater as a child and just catch a glimpse of what all my friends on the playground were talking about. I don’t recall what I was at the local Winter Haven, Florida movie theater seeing but I had gotten up to go use the boy’s room and it was on this unchaperoned venture I summoned up the courage to walk into the theater for my first ever taste of Friday the 13th.

And oh man, did it deliver. It was that moments towards the end of the film when there are hardly any teens left. Just our telekentic star Tina, love interest Nick and uber bitch, Melissa. I walked into that darkened theater to see Melissa open the door to leave Tina’s cabin only to have Jason firmly plant an axe right in her face and chuck her across the living room over a TV and into a wall.

and a horror nerd is born. Winter Haven, Florida. 1988.

My blood ran cold and my little first grade self finally knew what everyone was talking about. I was frozen in place, eyes wide, jaw on the floor. I felt terrified but excited simultaneously. My mind spun, my pulse raced as soon as my heart began beating again. Jason had the two remaining kids trapped in this house and I couldn’t bear anymore so I bolted back to my correct theater to sit next to the safety of my Mom and watch the rest of Who Framed Roger Rabbit or something.

I was fascinated with a hockey masked, undead, monster from hell.

It wasn’t until Friday the 13th Part VII was shown on USA when I was in 6th grade that I finally saw it in it’s entirety and was my favorite in the series for years.  The kills are brutal even if they were equally brutalized by the MPAA. Jason looked scarier than ever in this incarnation. His decomposing body allowing for cracked ribs and a rotted spinal column to protrude. This look has become my favorite incarnation of Jason, hands down. And for the first time in the series, Jason is pitted against another super natural force that gives him a run for his money in the form of Tina, a troubled and traumatized teenage girl returning to Crystal Lake to confront the demons of her past.

What is it about The New Blood that I love so much? It’s not my favorite in the series anymore and it does have a good amount of sentimental value, but why is this one so high on the list?

One of my favorite sequences in the whole film is the excellent opening montage which had become a bit of a staple in the franchise to keep the audience up to speed with what happened in previous installements. The Final Chapter had a pretty sweet opening montage but The New Blood’s is by far and away the best of the series. Walt Gorney, Crazy Ralph himself, lends his considerable voice talents to retell the legend of Jason Voorhees as footage from previous films are viewed. Some with audio, others are eerily silent. It’s the perfect opening to the film that gets me pumped every time.

"People forget he's down there. Waiting."

Much like one of the most heralded entries in the saga, The Final Chapter, The New Blood focuses on the drama going on in two separate households. There’s Tine, the hysterical and overly dramatic teenage heroine who hates her given telekinetic gifts. Her screeching, hardcore mullet sporting mother, Amanda. And pure evil psycho therapist, Dr. Cruz who is looking to exploit Tina’s powers. This trio has taken up residents in their old lake side abode where Tina killed her Father with her untamed mind bullets about a decade earlier. Yeah, this ought to prove incredibly soothing and therapeutic to the already on edge Tina. Especially after she brings Jason back to life after mistaking him as her Father. Was her Dad into hockey?

Damn, that Power Mullet's sexy as Hell!

The lake house next door has been rented out by a group of teen cliches in order to throw a surprise birthday party for their friend Michael. There’s the geeky guy, the stoner guy, the fun slut, the bitch, the token black couple, everyone is accounted for and then some. Needless to say, I was surprised to see even one of these faceless meat sacks make it to the end credits.

Might as well tattoo "Dead Meat" on their foreheads.

And there’s the little matter of the man behind the mask. Professional stunt man, Kane Hodder, steps up to bat for the first time as the legendary Jason Voorhees and he knocks the ball out of the park and embeds it in the cranium of some poor schmuck 5 miles away. Kane Hodder uses his body to emote whatever is going through Jason’s maggot riddled mind and he does it masterfully and like none other. He uses his shoulders, his breathing, his head movements to reveal levels of Jason never previously seen. Sure, these layers are primarily pissed off and blood thursty but Kane does it with gusto.

Kane Hodder and The Primal Root have a moment at Spooky Empire.

There’s also this fantastic sequence in a shed where Jason is looking for his potential victim and spots her through the slates in a wooden wall. It’s a frightning moment seen from the perspective of the victim, Maddy. Jason is fucking pissed and frustrated throughout the duration of his screen time with a kind of , “Well, it’s a dirty job but someone;s gotta do it.” swagger that immediately endears him to the fans. I still say this is of Kane Hodder’s best of his four Jason performances. He makes the character his own and has always given 100% to the character.

The last thing you ever want to see when hiding from Jason.

And the kills are fantastic in concept even if they are cut down tremendously by the ratings board. A party horn shoved into a young woman’s eye! Two axes to the face! Jason crushing a guys head to the size of a walnut with his bare hands! Weed whacker to the gut!  And, of course, the now iconic sleeping bag death that the mere mention of makes Friday fans all warm and fuzzy inside.

Foreplay. Jason style.

Friday the 13th part VIII is an exercise in excess. There’s just so much bloody, supernatural, horrific fun to be had it’s kind of mind blowing. Levitating severed heads, full on underwater female crotch shots, Maddy’s EXTREME makeover, kittens hidden in closets, bloody psychic visions, “I got a date with a soap on a rope.” I could  go on all day with the little things I love about The New Blood.

It a crass-tastic slice of late 80’s trashy slasher cinema fun.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root

09
Aug
10

Friday the 13th Part 3 or When I Began Rooting for Jason

a Primal Root review

Oh boy, Friday the 13th Part 3 is really a mixed bag of trash goodies. It was the 1983 film that ushered in the brief Reagan era 3-D craze. And ever since it’s theatrical run, until recently, every copy you came across was the 2-D version so there’s dozens of shots where things like poles, snakes and eyeballs come lunging at the camera. Seeing this movie for the first time on Cinemax when I was all of 12 in an age before the internet was widely available I had no idea this was originally shot in 3-D and thought it was the weirdest damn thing I’d ever seen. Was this some filmmaking technique I’d never heard of? Why the hell are so many of these shots from the victims perspective? Why is EVERYTHING lit?

Of course, now I own a copy that includes the 3-D gimmick, but I still prefer watching this sucker in 2-D. It’s just so much more fun. And less headache inducing.

But a film should be judged on it’s storytelling merit rather than how well the gimmick works and Friday the 13th part 3 feels a little off kilter as an entry in the original 4 part series of Friday films. And this begins right out of the gate with Harry Manfedini’s retooling of his affective trademark score into a catchy disco track which plays over popping 3-D credits. This does not evoke any kind of dread but it sure does make me want to shake my booty. Not exactly what I was expecting going into a Friday the 13th flick.

The Heart Warming "Shitting" Scene.

Picking up hours after the events of Friday the 13th part 2 this film features a new, drastically different looking Jason. No longer a slim, hairy, sack headed redneck, J-Man has at some point that day shaved, changed clothes and pounded some weight gain shakes as to be more formiddable this time around. Jason is fucking BUILT in this installment and looks like he could pick you up and break you in half over his knee. Quite a change from the string bean Jason of Part 2.

Anyway, after stalking and murdering the most disgusting white trash couple in Friday the 13th history (yes, even more so than Ethel & Son in Part 5. At least we didn’t have to watch them take a graphically noisy shit.)  who wonder around their home and general store as the evening news reports on the events of the previous film (they mention the victims being killed by an “axe wielding maniac” though Jason never uses that particular tool in Part 2. Just sayin…) and provide a little peek into their generally sad and desperate existence. Then they are both killed. It’s a cathartic moment.

Thank you, movie!

The next day we are introduced to our new cast of machete fodder. There’s Debbie and Andy, our fun loving couple who really enjoy fucking. They enjoy it so much, in fact, Debbie is established as being in the early stages of pregnancy. Now that’s an unusual bit of character development. There’s Shelly, our obligatory practical joker and douche bag extrordinare. And behind the wheel of the Scooby Van transporting our motley Crew is female lead, Chris, who may as well do a take to the camera and introduce herself as the final girl.

They pick up their Hispanic friend Vera who looks pretty Caucasian to me. Anyway, as they pick her up it looks as if the Scooby Van has spontenaously combust as smoke bellows out the open windows. Upon closer inspection it’s just their hippie stoner friends, Chuck and Chili, in the back sucking on their bongs.

"What's a weekend in the country without sex?" Andy asks a profound question in Friday the 13th Part 3.

Our band of misfits are heading to Chris’s Father’s cabin, Higgins’ Haven, out near Crystal Lake.   They arrive and Chris is grabbed by the throat and pushed up agaisnt a wall by Rick, her tool of a…boyfriend? Fuck buddy? Perverted brother?  Who, when Chris screams and runs away from the giant lug exclaims, “Did it get cold in here or is it just me?” What a charmer. Girls throw themselves at assholes like this nowadays. Just take a look at the Friday the 13th remake!

Later, Shelly and Vera incure the wrath of a trio of bikers (two of which are BLACK and have speaking roles! Another series first.) who manage to track them back to Higgins’ Haven and ratchet up our victim pool to 11. The bikers are all killed under the cover of mid-afternoon in the Higgins’ Haven barn s they attempt to burn it down. By nightfall, we join up with Chris and Rick as she describes a horrifying encounter she had with a giant behemoth in the woods with a head like a melted Milk Dud that took place a couple summers ago. Jason stalked and attacked Chris in the woods, but the strange thing is, no one knows anything about Jason in this flick. In fact, his name isn’t even mentioned. Not once in the entirety of the part 3.  This adds to the slightly obtuse feeling of this third entry.

On tonight's episode of, "OUCH! My Balls!"

Soon, all our leads begin dying. Shelly puts the moves on Vera to no availe so he decides to jump out of the lake at her with a spear gun while wearing a hockey mask. Believe it or not, this also fails to make Vera want to have sex with him. Shelly goes off to pout and get slit open thereby giving Jason his now infamous hockey mask. Vera is speared in the eye by Jason in a scene that showcases the INCREDIBLE 3-D effects. Andy gets chopped down through the genital zone as he does a head stand (YOWZA!) and his baby’s Momma gets impaled through the back after an nearly nipless shower scene. Later Chuck gets thrown into a fuse box and Chili gets impaled with a fire place poker. I’m not sure if there’s another Friday the 13th film that’s so remarkably heavy on females being fully impaled on phallic objects.  This is another weird strange moment that sets this sucker apart from the litter. For better or for worse.

Eventually Chris and Rick make it back to the cabin to find it in disarray and no one around. Rick goes out to investigate and gets his beefy, uber masculine head popped like a zit by Jason sending his eyeball soaring towards the audience in what might possibly be the the single most knee slappingly funny death in the series. Rick is such a jackass it’s truly a pleasure to watch this happen. In fact, this is probably the first film in the franchise where the majority of the characters are unlikable dickheads. The only characters I even kind of sort of care about are Debbie and Andy and you know they are meat grinder ready the second you lay eyes on them. they like to have sex, are nice people, and they both look good without their shirts.  The rest of the characters are all self centered jerks who no one in the audience can be compelled to root for. It’s a tradition the Friday the 13th franchise would carry on from part 3 to the bitter end and rebirth in 09.

Rick's got an eye on you. I'll be here all week.

Chris eventually finds herself all alone against a powerful wind storm that has erupted outside, blowing open doors and windows and causing her to cry and scream like a baby. She cries out for Rick’s help because she can’t close windows by herself. Rick pops up as his corpse is cartapulted through the living room window and Jason makes his grand entrance.

Now it’s on.

Chris and Jason run about the property as she knocks him on the noggin’ with logs, trips over rocks and drops from a rafter temporarily knocking Jason out with her ass. It’s one of the more ludicrous final girl chases in the series and therefore one of the funniest.

Jason shortly after Chris's patented Ass Attack. A move never performed again in the Friday the 13th series.

Eventually Chris gets the upper hand and sinks an axe into Jason’s melon sized cranium which puts him down for this outing.  Chris then goes canoeing into Crystal Lake where she is haunted by nightmares of Jason and is then attacked by…Mrs. Voorhees? Who rises from the bottom of Crystal Lake, head reattached, grabs chris by her tits and pulls her overboard. Not since the end of Jason Takes Manhattan have I offered such an enthusiastic WTF?  What the hell just happened?

Whether it truly happened or it’s another hallucinatory nightmare is never explained as Chris is lead to the back of a police cruiser and looks to have completely lost her fucking mind.  It’s not a great way to end the movie but it is an ending…I guess.

Mrs. Voorhees' attack prompts an O-Face from Chris.

With Friday part 3 the series really figured out what worked. Young people and edged weapons. If we have these two elements fans will return. It’s one of the clunkiest entries in the series and it shows. The whole movie feels as if it were just thrown together haphazardly with little  to no forethought.

But this weirdness, this lack of attention to GIANT plot holes and simply tossing out huge chunks of character development that are addressed and then never ever resolved or mentioned again, kind of  hysterical in a mind bogglingly moronic sort of way. In a franchise not known for it’s intellectual attributes Friday the 13th part 3 is among the dumbest in the series.

It’s big, it’s dumb and it’s intensely trashy.  It’s my least favorite of the pre-Resurrected Jason films but it’s still a damn good bit of fun. The lackluster 2-D, 3-D, gimmicks go a long way to making this entry a laugh riot.

Stay Trashy,

-The Primal Root




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