Posts Tagged ‘sean cunningham

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

05
Aug
10

Jason Goes to Hell: Every single one of us has a Jason inside

a Primal Root review

Jason just took a trip to Manhattan where he was melted into a little boy and was then sold by his handlers at Paramount to New Line Cinema…now what can we do with him? Let’s send that Mama’s boy straight to Hell!

Our man in Crystal Lake had been pulverising teenagers for well over a decade by the time Jason Goes to Hell was released in 1993. He’d been on countless misadventures, he’s battled telekentic teenagers, taken a trip to Manhatten, battled Corey Feldman and even been killed and brought back to life several times! Jason Goes to Hell is the 9th story of Jason Voorhees, and let’s face it, things had gotten a little tired. Four years had passed since Paramount’s strange choice of a  franchise swan song, Jason Takes Manhattan, was released  and now New Line wanted a shot at  making some cash off this monster and bring the audience something different.

"mother..."

And holy shit, they made something different all right. The film features Jason being killed within the first 15 minutes when a swat team goes undercover, draws him out and then sprays him wth automatic fire power and drops two nukes on him. No, it’s not a short film. Jason’s meaty chunks are collected and sent to a coroner who makes some wise cracks about how many bullets he’s been hit with and how dead as shit Jason is.

Then it gets weird.

Jason’s over sized heart (awww) starts beating, hypnotizes the coroner who then decides it would be a great idea to chow down on this goopy purplish black mass of nasty. Once finished, some fairy sparkles shoot out of Jason’s chunks and into the coroner leaving him possessed by the evil spirit of Jason…or, something like that.

Jason's heart typically serves 3 to 4.

Possessing a new meat suit Jason heads back to the Crystal Lake area to find some relatives so he can be reborn.  But this time, there’s a reward on his head offered up by a sleazy Inside Edition style show, and there’s one of the greatest badass characters to ever grace the series who answers the call. Mr. Creighton Duke (Steven Williams).

"She's only your girl 'cause she ain't had a taste of The Duke yet."

This guy is the epitome of cool. He’s a bounty hunter who’s been chasing Jason for years. I imagine, from the shadows, because we’ve never known about this guy till this 9th Jason film. Still, Duke is an imposing, powerful character and is one of touted as being one of the greatest professional bounty hunters of all time.  He knows everything about Jason Voorhees– what he is, what drives his evil, and most importantly, how to stop the madness once and for all. This is hinted at as he gives a Quint from JAWS inspired speech on TV. “I’ll get you the mask, the machete, the whole damn thing.” This guy is fucking cool as ice cold.

Jason Goes to Hell is one of the most complex, confusing and rule heavy films ever made within the slasher sub genre. In this movie Jason may only be reborn through a Voorhees. He may only be killed by a Voorhees. But not just any Voorhees, one using the super magic dagger…um, and Jason’s gotta keep hoping from body to body until he gets to a Voorhees because only Voorhees bodies can withstand that kind of evil very long without melting into what looks like liquidy pools of Hubba-Bubba bubble gum.

Jason Goes to Hell: Where Delicious and Disgusting Collide!

It’s all kind of ridiculous and overly complicated but I do give the young team of filmmakers who put Jason Goes to Hell together kudos for having the brass balls to make something so drastically different from the rest of the series that it was almost destined to be universally loathed by fans. I mean, you take Jason out of the movie, you introduce a ton of rules and mythology that was never even whispered about before along with Voorhees family blood lines that no one knew even existed and what do you expect?

But for me, I like those aspects.

The film, in it’s unrated form, has some of the most gruesome deaths the franchise has ever witnessed and some much appreciated extended gratuitous nudity…which of course, leads to a brutal blood  caked gut crunching death scene. As Jason stalks the abandoned woods of Crystal Lake he comes up a trio of campers two of which are enjoying some unprotected sex in their tent. As our cowgirl reaches her climax Jason stakes her all the way through her back, out the solar plexus and then rips her in half in and lengthwise with his spike. It’s a Ménage à trois Jason style!  It’s one death scene that delivers and then some.

Swingers beware! Casual sex with Jason = BAD IDEA

It has the feel of a high budget fan made sequel where someone came up with some of their own answers as to why Jason is who he is. Sure, Jason Goes to Hell isn’t a very well made film but it’s by far and away the most unique and original entry in the series. No one can argue that statement. It’s like nothing that came before and it’s like nothing that comes afterwards. It’s reviled by many of the franchise devotees and appreciated by some of us. Taking a chance with something so popular takes courage and I cannot help but find that admirable. Jason Goes to Hell might not be among the best the series has to offer but it’s definitely one of most interesting.

31
Jan
09

Top Kills of Friday the 13th Part 1 (First Rotten Review)

Hey gang! It’s The Primal Root here welcoming you to the Trash Cinema Collective’s very own blog. Check in every so often as I weigh in on Trash Cinema, bring you news and updates and rant about all things trashtastic.

Also, if you are a member of Facebook, be sure to join our Trash Cinema Collective group to get in on our field trips, screenings and parties.

Also, we’re starting our own web series where I will review and dissect a different Trash Cinema classic every month. Here’s out very first episode of The Primal Root’s Rotten Reviews where I count down my Top 13 Kills of Friday the 13th. This is the first half, where I list my picks for numbers 13-7. Check it out and let me know what you think. Just Click on the Friday the 13th poster below.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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