Six Weeks of Halloween: Week 1 - The Friday the 13th Edition

I stumbled upon Kernunrex's annual six weeks of Halloween posts a bit late last year, so I only did four weeks myself. This year, I'm prepared. This is my favorite time of the year, and like Kernunrex, I think it's a great excuse to explore one of my favorite genres.
When else can you impersonate another person all day and not be arrested? On what other day would it be socially acceptable to decorate your yard with imitation corpses? Only during Halloween do hollow, burning fruit look good on your porch. Most of all, Halloween somehow makes most everyone in the country a fan of my favorite genre. One day just isn't enough for this type of fun; I make it six weeks.
Excellent. To start things off, I watched some Friday the 13th movies. I've seen most of them before, but mostly only in pieces. Last year, I revisted the original, this year, I've revisted the next three installments.

Friday the 13th
  • Friday the 13th (trailer)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (trailer)
  • Freddy vs. Jason (trailer)
  • Friday the 13th Part 2: Though he makes a surprise appearance in the original film, this film is the first to feature Jason Voorhees as the primary villain. Alas, he has not yet donned his trademark hockey mask, instead sticking with a pillowcase with an eye hole cut out (this is rather less menacing, but it works I guess). Years after the first movie, a new campground is set up as a camp counselor training school and a group of teens arrives to learn... and DIE! The movie features some nice bits, including the trademark POV shots, creepy music, a nice campfire story about the "legend" of Jason Voorhees, and many ominous shots of someone's legs as they approach. There's a little more T&A here, but the kills became a bit stale (perhaps because they were running out of things to steal from Mario Bava's Bay of Blood). Strangely, a lot of people seem to survive this film, never to be mentioned again in the series. Other plot holes abound as well, a rather neat trick considering the simple plot. I know, I know, what should I expect? Not much, and this film obliges. Still, it's reasonable fun if you're into this sort of thing. **
  • Halloween (trailer)
  • Grindhouse: Thanksgiving (fake trailer)
  • Scourge of the Undead (fake trailer)
  • Friday the 13th Part III: Yet another group of kids vacationing at Crystal Lake run afowl of Jason Vorhees (in 3-D!). This film takes place right after the second film. Lots of news reports about the murders from the night before, and more people keep piling up. This film marks the first appearance of Jason's iconic hockey mask as well as Jason's uncanny ability with a spear-gun (I mean, he hit her right in the eye!) I watched the film in 2-D, but you can obviously see the bits that were meant to be 3-D, many of which are just plain stupid (i.e. a shot of a kid holding a baseball bat, awkwardly pointed directly at the camera). There are a couple of shots that would probably have worked well (the aformentioned spear-gun thingy was pretty cool, as was a nice eye-popping incident). Structurally, the film resembles the original in most ways, right up to the crazy old man giving warnings and the "surprise" ending (which just begs for a sequel). Altogether a better film than the second, but not much and still a little sloppy. **

    Jason finally finds his iconic mask
    Jason Voorhees

  • Jason Vorhees cameo on Family Guy
  • A Scooby Friday (Robot Chicken)
  • Horror Movie Big Brother (Robot Chicken)
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: The fourth film in the series is far from the titular "final" chapter, but it's also perhaps the most enjoyable and best produced installment since the original. This one picks up right after the third film, with the police carting off all the bodies, including the supposedly dead Jason. Obviously, havoc is wreaked at the morgue and Jason makes his way back to camp Crystal Lake, just in time for a new group of kids to arrive at their rented house for fun... and death! Unlike the no-name actors in the first three films (not counting Kevin Bacon), this one features two (count 'em) bona-fide C-list stars: a young Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover (just before his breakout role as George McFly - I don't know how I didn't put this together before now)! Visually, this film seemed to be more polished and less sloppy than the others. Of course, the film basically covers the same ground as the others. Lotsa dead kids, mostly dispatched in unimaginitive ways, and all the standard horror cliches. Oh, I guess the "shadow-death" (where a stabbing is shown with shadows thrown by lightning) is pretty cool, and it also has the scariest moment of the series so far: Crispin Glover dancing to some horrible 80s song (it's too insane to describe - watch the video)! Also worth noting is the truly epic amount of damage Jason sustains during the proceedings. Weasello recaps:
    Jason actually dies twice in this movie. Well, to be more precise, he begins dead as the last movie (sorta) ended. He comes alive in the morgue, however, and proceeds to: Get his hand sliced three times by a machette, get his hand cut nearly in half (between the fingers) by a machette, a machette slash/embedded into his chest under the left armpit, 16 hammer bashes to the head, 1 hammer claw embedded in the back of the neck, a computer monitor bashed onto head (and as a result, a few seconds of electrocution, even though the monitor wasn't plugged in), then... to trump all other injuries.. the trusty machette nearly cleaves Jason's head in twain, horizontally. It enters the left side of his head, stopping at about the nose, cutting right through the eyeball. Jason then collapses to the ground, and the knife gets pushed slowly through his head as it hits the floor. Jason then twitches a few times before being hacked at an additional 15 times with the machette. I fear he has finally "died."
    Of course, despite the title of this movie, the ending screams sequel. Ok, so not fine cincema, but one of the better installments of this series so far. **1/2
One of the most interesting things about the series so far is the surprising restraint that has been shown. Sure, the series is more violent and gory than, say, the original Halloween, but Jason barely appears in the first 30-40 minutes of most installments (and thus the kill count is surprisingly low), and you often don't see his mask or face until even later in the movie (in part IV, you don't see the mast until 1 hour and 9 minutes into the movie). Another interesting bit: there don't appear to be much in the way of guns in these movies. There are some projectile weapons, but it's mostly bladed stuff. Of course, later installments have lots of guns, but I'm surprised by the lack of guns in the first few installments. I've quite enjoyed revisiting the series so far, though I think I'll take a break to get some variety into the SWoH. Or maybe I'll just check out Sleepaway Camp. Heh. In any case, if you're a fan of the series, I highly recommend Weasello's fun writeups on E2. Well, that about wraps up week 1. Stay tuned next weekend for some Werewolf fuelled fun.

Also, since we're pretty early in the season, feel free to leave some recommendations in the comments. I have a bunch of movies in my queue, but nothing I consider very essential, so recommendations are welcome.