As time moved forward, there was seldom a year without a Friday the 13th film, but Paramount’s shameful golden boy couldn’t keep the top horror spot forever. He was met with diminishing box office returns, and was inevitably sold to the New Line Cinema, holders of Jason’s biggest competitor in the horror landscape: Freddy Krueger. In a way, it was a true Freddy/Jason showdown, which showed that, in the public’s eye, Krueger won. Today, we’re here to talk about the end of the Paramount era and the beginning of the (admittedly short) New Line Jason era. Today, we start with Jason vs. Carrie, or, as most call it…
Yep. Jason vs. Carrie. Crystal Lake vs. telekinesis. Why? I have no idea whatsoever. Supposedly, this was originally intended to be Freddy vs. Jason. Yep, all the way back in 1988, they were already considering that. I almost wish we got that instead of Nightmare 4 and Friday 7, but here we are. And how is The New Blood? Surprisingly, quite good. It’s ridiculous, sure, but it takes the (honestly, quite stale) series in a bizarre, unique new direction, and one that works by fully embracing its ridiculousness.
Tina, a young girl camping out by Crystal Lake sometime in the mid-70’s runs crying out of her house. Her parents are fighting. She gets into a boat, which starts out toward the middle of the lake, and her father runs to the dock, calling for her to come back. Tina, in a fit of emotion, destroys the dock with telekinesis, accidentally murdering her father. Why does Tina have telekinesis? Good question. Something something magic something. The point is that years later, she’s back at Crystal Lake with her mother and her therapist, and, trying to raise her dad from the lake, or something, she accidentally frees Jason Voorhees from his watery imprisonment. And then the film kicks off from there, with Jason murdering some cardboard cut-out teenagers in a cabin nearby before Tina and him show down in a battle of epic proportions. And it’s freaking amazing.
Are the characters forgettable? Sure. Is Tina a bland protagonist? Yep. Does the plot make sense? Nope, not at all. Does the film really ultimately have any value? Not particularly. Is it incredibly, stupidly awesome? You bet it is.
Jason Voorhees as a character is finally nailed down here. Everyone’s favorite Jason, Kane Hodder, makes his debut in this film and absolutely nails it. Here, Jason just seems not like he’s stupid, not like he doesn’t understand anything, but just like he’s really, really pissed off, about everything. And the character design is incredible here. It feels like Jason has taken damage from the previous 6 films, his mask is missing a large chunk, ribs are showing, his skin is a rotten gray, his face a skeletal mess, and he’s just all around the best-looking zombie possible. Here, look at this:
The film also has the best kill of any Friday the 13th film, this:
It’s awesome. And the telekinetic fight scenes are great, as well.
Unfortunately, The New Blood lacks any good characters outside of Jason, has a weak protagonist, and is ultimately not as entertaining as Jason Lives. However, as schlocky fun, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is immensely valuable, and earns an A.
Disappointing. That sums up a lot of my feelings on Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Really, really disappointing. The joke has been made aplenty, but here it is again: the film should’ve been called Jason Takes a Boat.
Only the final 20 minutes or so of this film take place in Manhattan, and a large portion is clearly not Manhattan, it’s Vancouver. The first hour and 20 minutes takes place on a boat. An anchor and electrical line revive Jason from his slumber, and he clambers aboard a boat to find two teenagers about to sex. This being a Friday the 13th film, he kills them before any naughtiness ensues, and grabs a convenient prank hockey mask used by one of them. Funny, it still has the Part III axe mark, even though it’s not the same mask.
From there, he takes an hour-long boat ride, killing some teenagers on some cruise or something. It’s not just that this portion of the film was not what was advertised, it’s that it’s boring. Like really, really dull, uninteresting, and boring. There’s nothing unique done with the boat setting, Jason doesn’t look as good as he did in The New Blood, the characters are even less interesting than normal, and there’s no gimmick to this portion.
However, once Jason actually Takes Manhattan, Muppet-style, the film gets so, so awesome so, so quickly. From Jason on the subway:
To Jason in Times Square:
To Jason’s stereo kick:
To Jason scaring off thugs:
To Jason punching this dude’s head off:
This section of the film is downright amazing. It’s exactly the sort of stupid, schlocky fare you’d expect from a film called Jason Takes Manhattan, and it indisputably works. Unfortunately, due to budgetary restrictions, we didn’t get a whole film of this. We didn’t even get good Jason make-up, I mean just look at this:
Limited by a tight budget, Jason Takes Manhattan never fully delivers on its promise, and stands in an uncomfortable midground between terrible and amazing. A dull film with moments of genius hampered by tightwad execs, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan earns a C-.
This is real bad. Not just as a movie, like most Friday the 13th films are, but even as a Friday the 13th film, this movie sucks. It’s not scary, it’s not fun, it’s not anything but offensive. It’s ugly, unpleasant, largely uninspired (pulling from the superior 1987 film The Hidden), full of baffling moments, inconsistent series continuity, irritating characters, dull protagonists, and baffling mythos. I mean seriously, what is the Necronomicon Ex Mortis doing in a Friday the 13th film?
Not only that, but Jason’s a worm. Yep, a worm. You heard me correctly, Jason is a freaking DEMON WORM. Okay, who wrote this?
The answer: Two TV writers and the man who brought you Texas Chainsaw 3D. And they thought this belonged in a Jason film:
The problem with Jason Goes to Hell isn’t that it tries something new; it’s that it fails so hard at achieving any semblance of quality, while also abandoning the schlocky, kitschy fun of previous installments, doing away with any sort of enjoyment. An unfunny, not-scary horror film that fails on any basis of merit or entertainment, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday earns an F.
Well, next time Jason goes to space. Yep, that’s happening. No more lake for this guy.
This is the point at which the Friday the 13th films basically stop providing any enjoyment whatsoever. From now on, it’s just total garbage. Oh, and Freddy vs. Jason. So I’ll be back next week to talk Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason, and the 2009 reboot of the series. Until next time, thanks for reading, and goodbye.