Friday the 13th Marathon (parts VII & VIII)

The marathon continues with the last two Paramount Fridays, which are both pretty horrible and feature what I shall term "Soggy Jason" since he spends a significant amount of time underwater between and during both films.
  • Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: After the high point in part VI, this seventh installment starts a precipitous decline. Like part V, I like the concept of this installment, but the execution is somewhat lacking. The idea of a final girl who exhibits psychic powers and thus proves to be a good match for zombie-flavored Jason is an excellent one, and the way Jason is defeated is actually somewhat effective. There is one classic kill that I'll go over in the extended entry (and that we'll revisit when we get to Jason X) and Jason's new (soggy) look is very impressive. I'm no expert, but you can supposedly see evidence of every bit of damage Jason took over the course of the first six films (like the axe to the head, the chains around the neck, the propeller to the jaw, etc...). From what I've heard, the MPAA really destroyed this film by making sure all of the gore was removed. I've seen bits and pieces of the cut footage, and that would have gone a long way towards improving the film because what remains is kinda plodding and stupid (this is, of course, not unusual for the series, but it is usually offset by boobs and blood, of which there is very little in this movie). This film is also notable because it's the first time that Kane Hodder played Jason. Hodder is apparently a fan favorite, but that might just be because he played Jason for 4 films. You can instantly recognize a Hodder Jason by the way Jason seems to be constantly heaving his chest as if he became asmatic in his old age. He also established a sorta visual OODA loop for Jason's movements, which sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. Ultimately, this is a pretty unremarkable film. Not the worst in the series, but probably in the bottom quartile. **
  • Scooby Doo and Jason (Robot Chicken, probably should have been posted next to Part V)
  • Jason on the Arsenio Hall Show
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (trailer)
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: And the series bottoms out in this eighth installment, which would be more aptly named Jason Takes A Cruise. The trailer for this film is actually pretty great (see link above), but apparently budget constraints forced the filmmakers to minimize filming in New York and they also had to deal with the MPAA censors again, thus nulifying most of the gore. Even so, the movie is just an atrocious turd. There are exactly three good moments in the film. First is when Jason is chasing Kelly Hu, and the film is sorta zooming in as Jason slams open some double doors. Second is when one of the kids, who has been established as a good boxer, decides to throw some punches at Jason. Funnily, Jason lets the boxer throw these bunches, and finally the kid tires himself out and Jason throws a punch that knocks the kid's head off. The head flies off the roof of a bulding, bounces down the fire escape and slams into an open dumpster, causing the lid to slam shut. It's the best kill in the movie (there is another interesting kill when Jason slams a burning hot sauna rock into some kid's chest, but the execution is a bit off). Finally, when they finally get to New York, our two heroic kids are being chased by Jason through the streets and end up in a little coffee shop. The final girl tells the waitress that she's being chased by a homicidal maniac with a machete, and the waitress says "Welcome to New York!" in a horrendously steriotypical New York accent (more on this incident in the extended entry). I know those three things sound pretty cool, but they only take up about 1 minute of screen time combined. The other 99 minutes are pretty excruciatingly bad.

    Jason in New York

    The big problem here is one of missed opportunities. First, 90% of the movie takes place on a boat (i.e outside of Manhattan), and even when they're in Manhattan, most of the time is spent running around unpopulated and indistinct alleys and sewers. Second, even when they do make it to populated areas like a subway or Times Square, Jason is intently focused on the two kids and mostly barely acknowledges anyone else in the city. This is most disappointing and a true betrayal of the core murderous tendencies of Jason, who should have been hacking his way through the entire population of Manhattan (this is something that the trailer sorta implied and a later film kinda gets right, so we'll revisit this discussion later). Finally, I know that continuity is not one of the hallmarks of the series, but still, what the hell is going on with the continuity of this film? So our final girl hero was traumatized by a childhood swimming accident where she encountered young-Jason, who attempted to pull her underwater. She's haunted by this incident and is hallucinating all throughout the movie, seeing young-Jason all over the place and freaking out. The problem is that young-Jason looks nothing like the real young-Jason from the earlier movies. I don't mean they changed the character design to make him more grotesque or something (that happens in every movie), they just grabbed some normal-looking kid. What the hell? The whole point of Jason was that he was deformed and had no hair, and so kids picked on him and camp counselors didn't care about him drowning. And then the ending. I like Devin Faraci's in-depth description of the ending:
    Which brings us right around to Jason's death. Killing the bad guy should be the highlight of one of these films - we're all rooting for him, but we also want to see him get his just desserts. I honestly don't think you should even start a slasher movie until you've figured out a good, unique death for your killer. Friday the 13th Part VIII certainly has the unique part down pat. At the end of the movie Jason chases Survivor Girl into New York's sewers where she learns that on the 13th of every month the tunnels are flooded with toxic waste.

    The filmmakers are now tying our disbelief to a rocket and trying to light the fuse. What the fuck kind of nonsense is this? Even people who buy the rest of the film's portrayal of New York City have got to sit up and wonder how they're expected to accept this nonsense. Watching the film again I began to wonder how anyone looked at the script and thought that this was a decent idea. Why not establish that meteors strike Central Park on the 13th of every month? Or that the Sanitation Department's Disintigrator Trucks hit the street on the 13th of every month? How do you decide which totally nonsensical and absurd and so pulled from your ass that it's still brownish plot device to use?

    However the filmmakers came to this brain-damaged conclusion, they went ahead and made it even worse. The final moments of the movie see Survivor Girl and her boyfriend climbing a ladder to avoid the wave of toxic sludge headed towards them. Meanwhile, Jason, who is just below them, looks at the wave and does two equally incredible things: he says, in a little boy's voice: "Mommy, don't let me drown again!" and then starts vomiting water. I don't even understand what the vomiting is supposed to signify - I heard that Jodorowsky saw this and thought it was, and I quote, "totally fucking weird." But it gets better: when the wave of toxic waste hits Jason (who, it should be said, has the appearance of a felt muppet once his mask has been removed), he promptly starts de-aging back to the Japanese kid with the thick head of hair. I am no expert on hazardous waste, but I will stake my entire reputation as a writer on this claim: Toxic waste will not de-age you. Ever. No matter what. If you believe that it will, or if you wrote this movie, I strongly urge you to go play in some toxic waste at your earliest possible convenience.
    Yeah, so this is a bad movie in almost every respect. Even the stuff I like about it is pretty bad (the highlights are mostly unintentionally funny moments) and I don't think there is any saving this movie. Again, this movie is conceptually sound, but there are a lot of serious problems in execution. It's just poorly made in every aspect and it represents the lowpoint of the series (which is saying a lot). *
More screens and comments in the extended entry...

Jason kills a girl in a sleeping bag by slamming it against a tree

The best kill in part VII is when Jason finds a girl in a sleeping bag, drags her along, picks her up by the sleeping bag and slams her against a tree, killing her. This was hard to catch with screenshots (it's very dark), but it's a great moment and it's referenced again later in the series in Jason X (we'll cover that in the next entry).

This psychiatrist is a douchebag

So in part VII, this psychiatrist pictured above brings the final girl back to a cabin on Crystal Lake where she accidentally used her psychic powers to drown her father. He's hoping that the powerful emotions will trigger her psychic powers because he's a douchebag and wants to get credit for the research or something. Anyway, he's one of the better victims in the series because you're rooting for him to die so horribly... alas, his kill isn't that impressive (though it may be a lot better uncut).

Jason and his weedwacker

Jason finds his way into a toolshed in this movie and thus becomes a big fan of using gardening and landscaping implements to kill people.

Jason unmasked

Psychic girl does some psyonic damage to Jason that causes his mask to come flying off and this is what we see. I have to give the makeup guys credit - this is a pretty cool look for Jason.

Jason is confused

Ha ha

I forgot about another moment I liked in part VIII. Our heroes escape from the cruise ship on a lifeboat and eventually make it to Manhattan. Jason, of course, was swimming along side them and also makes it to New York. As soon as he gets out of the water, he looks up and sees this hockey sign. It's a funny moment, which brings part VIII's acceptable runtime up to about 1 minute, 10 seconds.

Waitress: Welcome to New York

This is the aforementioned waitress who says "Welcome to New York" when told that the final girl is being chased by a homicidal maniac.

Is that Francis Ford Coppola?

I'm pretty sure the guy on the left is Francis Ford Coppola, engaging in an uncredited cameo (from the same coffee shop with the waitress above).

Well, that wraps up parts VII and VIII. Next up is the body-hopping part 9 and the spacetacular X. Stay tuned.