Friday, November 13, 2009


Well, Happy Friday the 13th to one and all! I love this picture of our buddy, Jason. I wish I had found it during the election. It's still pretty damned funny. And I do so love that slogan.

So, did you see any black cats today or walk under ladders? Did you break a mirror, spill some salt or say the real name of "The Scottish Play" in a theatre? Step on a crack and break your mother's back? Or maybe you left a pin on the floor, whispered "Bloody Mary; Bloody Mary; Bloody Mary..." 13 times into the mirror of a darkened room; invited a vampire to cross your threshold or gave the nazar, maloik or hamsa to a passing gypsy after you ran his mother down in the street because your wife was pleasuring you while driving (Really? Did I have to go there? Apparently, yes I did).

Of course, these days there aren't too many superstitious people left in the world (except maybe the Pope, Creationists and the head-shrinking tribes of South America) and to most people Friday the 13th has come to mean something else, entirely. Which is where Candidate Voorhees comes in, obviously.

I don't remember ever discussing the F13 franchise in great detail. I've seen most of them. A few are fair to middling and one or two are actually almost good. Most of them are simply 'celluloid bowel movements' (a phrase I've just now trademarked, so don't get any ideas). I know I've told you that when we got our very first VCR - a clunky, monstrously heavy old think with big push buttons like a giant cassette deck - the first movie my father brought home from the video store was the original Friday the 13th. I'd heard how horribly graphic and realistic the kills were, but I couldn't imagine anything more gruesome than Dawn of the Dead, and while the kills in F13 are pretty good, they didn't live up to the hype. I think Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles has the best death - skewered from under the bed with an arrow through his throat (and we'll talk about that death again when we get the film's antagonist). You all know the story. A group of horny young counselors gather at the soon-to-be-reopened Camp Crystal Lake. After a crazy old man on a bike warns them all that they're doomed, they indulge in alcohol, marijuana, strip Monopoly and premarital sex; four things to always guarantee an 80's slasher movie character's death (either each by themselves or in any combination thereof). Anyway... 20 years ago, blah-blah-blah... counselors having sex... yadda-yadda-yadda... Jason drowns... etc.; the real killer is Mrs. Voorhees. Now did you get a good look at Betsy Palmer? She's a tiny little woman approaching middle age in that movie. How the hell is she strong enough to push an arrow through a mattress and the back of Kevin's neck all the way through to the front? Seriously.

That terribly-acted first film featured some astounding effects from Tom Savini, but made no sense, really. And the rest of franchise never shied away from making sense, either. With the original killer decapitated (in another ridiculous feat of human strength on the part of actress Adrienne King), but the box-office revenues crying out for a sequel, Jason Voorhees (miraculously grown up, despite having drowned as a child) out for revenge for his mother's death in a weird, almost Oedipal role reversal. Jason wears a burlap bag over his disfigured head (it wouldn't be until F13-3D that he would don the now-iconic hockey mask), and it does feature one of the few film performances of the late and much mourned Tom McBride:

They get worse and worse as they go on, F13VIII being arguably the worst of the sequels:

What a lovely depiction of Manhattan, eh? And maybe even sillier, the franchise goes Sci-Fi in Jason X (one of only two in the franchise not to use the original title). Just imagine Jason as the Xenomorph in Alien, as the writers of this film obviously did:

And then they went right into Abbott and Costello territory with Freddy vs Jason, (the second not to mention the original) a combination of two franchises which had become such jokes, they couldn't even parody themselves well-enough to make a good movie:

One, two... New Line's comin' for you... (or at least your wallet, sucker!).

Then last year, the inevitable (and atrocious) re-boot starring "Supernatural" and "Gilmore Girls" hottie Jared Padalecki, who can't even be bothered to try and please his fans by taking off his shirt:

Needless to say, inspired by the surprising box-office successes of The Final Destination and My Bloody Valentine, a sequel to the re-boot is underway in 3D (yay?).

Anyway, I hope you had a lucky Friday the 13th. Mine wasn't awful (though my day job clients seemed exceptionally stupid and whiny, today - either they're getting worse or I'm becoming far less tolerant). Having fun talking about movies (even bad ones), more than makes up for it.

More, anon.

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