Monday, October 10, 2011

Series to Reboot: Pushing the Envelope of Credibility with Friday the 13th (Part 2)

The second part of the Series to Reboot articles covering the Friday the 13th franchise.  The first part is still available, should you need the background info.  Also it's just fun to read.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)- This one is a bit convoluted and was intended to be a restart of the franchise, hence the title.  The plot concerns an older (16) Tommy Jarvis, a mental wreck thanks to his previous encounter with Jason four years prior.  Tommy suffers from hallucinations, nightmares and delusions, all about Jason rising from the grave, stalking him, and killing.  Tommy is shipped off to a troubled teens halfway house, witnesses one youth murder another, then sees the return of Jason Voorhees, who kills the teens and people nearby, or really just anyone in the ZIP code, despite not being in his usual stomping grounds.  In terms of details this film differs from the previous films by having a very young character who is menaced, but survives; a final girl, a hoax killer, and a male protagonist who does not die (but does possibly become the new franchise).
TRIVIAL NOTE: This film features Miguel Nunez and Mark Venturini, who would also appear together that same year in The Return of the Living Dead.  Mark plays Vic, whose murder of Joey starts all this trouble and Miguel plays Demon, the cool dude who dies in an outhouse after eating a bad burrito and being impaled.
Overall Credibility: 9 (nothing supernatural occurs and there is a trick ending)
Series Credibility: 9 (The timeline has been moved 4 years forward from the previous film but the events flow logically from the previous film)
Killer: Roy Burns (EMT who masquerades as Jason Vorhees to gain revenge upon the teenagers of the halfway house where Tommy is living, his son having been killed by one of the troubled inhabitants)
Ending: Tommy sends "Jason" plummeting onto a threshing machine from a hayloft, finds out it was not Jason after all, and ends up in hospital.  The final scene suggests that Tommy, who has nightmares about Jason constantly, has finally "become Jason" and is going to kill final girl, Pam.  The credits roll.
This movie poster for Part 6 is great.  It hearkens back to older monster movie posters.  The gravestone and shadowed hockey mask say everything a fan needs to know. 
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)- This is the REAL restart of the franchise, or perhaps it is a RETURN to what people liked.  Either way you look at it, this is the film that moved out of reality in more ways than one.  Tommy Jarvis, crazy boy long since grown out of Corey Feldmanhood digs up Jason's corpse and, with the help of a lightning bolt, finds a resurrected Jason in his path.  Jason heads home to kill and a fun, if a bit over the top, film ensues.

Overall Credibility: 8/3 (If you accept that Jason is now a FrankenZombie supernatural killer, this is all credible, so really it gets two scores.)
Series Credibility: 4 (The timeline is set at 1989 at this point and it really ignores the canon of the last film; retcon maybe?...the point is it changes Tommy Jarvis and Jason and thus damages the series and its place in it, or maybe not, since Tommy escapes from a mental hospital to dig up Jason...maybe part 5 was a dream...see the problem?)
Killer: Jason Voorhees (resurrected from his grave by a lightning bolt when Tommy Jarvis is stupid enough to dig him up.  This is the first appearance of undead Jason.)
Ending: Jason gets drowned.  Yes, the resurrected, effectively undead Jason, is drowned.  Well his rotten lungs fill with water, but since he is not "alive" he can't die.  The wiki says that Jason is attached to a boulder, helpless at the bottom of the lake.  Helpless.  Attached to boulder.  Superstrong, undead, can't get out of lake trap.  This film is where we start to explore the possibility that old J has a psychological fear of water.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)- This installment begins the WTF phase of the franchise.  The plot concerns a psychic girl whose psychiatrist wants to exploit her TK powers by freaking her out and shit at Crystal Lake where she killed her father when she was much younger.  So Tina, the girl, accidentally TK levitates Jason out of the lake which was all the old fellow needed to get his killing going again, apparently.  Basic routine from there, stalk, kill, stalk, kill, get into a fight with Carrie...okay, that's a twist, I admit.
Overall Credibility: 5 (We've added psionic powers to the supernatural elements now)
Series Credibility: 3 (So Jason is being held down by the power of water?  The "new blood" is presumably Jean Grey, errr Tina and she doesn't show up again after this film, so really this little venture in Carrieland is an amusing distraction at best.  Did I mention that Tina is let out of a mental institution to start the proceedings?  It's a bloody theme with this series, crazies fighting crazies.  I'm not sure that Jason isn't the sanest person in the series.)
Killer: Jason Voorhees (Still undead)
Ending: Jason gets drowned.  Again.  After having his mask torn from his face by mind powers, being set on fire, having the contents of a garage thrown at him and getting TK slapped around, he gets drowned.  By Tina's dad's rotting corpse holding a chain.  Yes, a puppet to her TK powers, but still.  It's like this time on the Challenge of the Super Friends where Batman, Robin, Green Lantern and Black Vulcan fell into a hole in the floor of the Hall of Justice and Batman said, "Great Gotham, we've fallen into our own escape-proof intruder trap!" and the others just believed him even though they could fly and shit.  Hell, Robin could have stood on Batman's shoulders and gotten out.  It was a hole.  They have superpowers.  Okay, that's what this lake is like for Jason.  It is the Camp Crystal Lake Escape Proof Psycho Killer Trap.  Thank goodness we have it.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)- Ghost horses galloping over my junk, but this is a crap film.  The bulk of it takes place on a boat on its way to New York City.  A small, but entertaining part, takes place on the mean streets of New York (and reasonable Canadian stand-in streets).  High point of the film, for me at least, occurs when the one guy, who is a boxer, can't run anymore (he ran out of rooftop) and decides, sod it, he'll fight the crazy mofo.  So he punches Jason a bunch until his knuckles are bloody then tells him to bring it.  Jason punches dude's head OFF.  It was nice to see somebody make a stand.
Overall Credibility: 1 (When you have to contrive a way to get Jason a new hockey mask, you know it has lost it, and honestly, why are these high school punks on a boat?)
Series Credibility: 1 (I don't want to talk about it, just look below to understand.)
Killer: Jason Voorhees (Still undead and presumably waterlogged by this time.)
Ending: Hang on, this is tricky and possibly the only "art school" ending in the series.  After a standard kids in a cabin (ship's cabin, legit twist) killfest we find Jason in Manhattan and people just aren't noticing his rotting arse.  When they do it is strange because it is the sort of gutter trash, drug peddling, gang banging scum you want to see killed and Jason does the killing, so you sort of like that.  Then its a chase through New York's famous sewers where a toxic waste bath turns Jason into...wait for it...his pre-teen self.  Little boy lying in sewer.  Is that a satisfying ending?  It's just so art school.

TIMELINE NOTE: F13 part 5 is primarily set in 1988 as Tommy has gone from 12 to 16.  Part 6 is in 1989, I think.  Or maybe not.  The Wiki says that Part 7 is set in 1989, only months after the previous film, so then that would make the previous film 1989 as well.  Shit.  Okay, so Part 8 is set one year after 7, and that means...sod it.  Given the ending does the timeline matter at all?

Stay tuned for Part 3 where we finally make it to the REBOOT and end this mess.
Let's be careful out there...keep those pumpkins lit.


  1. I used to really not like part 5 "The New Beginning" perhaps in a similar fashion to how "Halloween III" haters feel about Meyers not being there,... but time has aged Part 5 well for me. I love the absence of the real Jason and some dude acting as him and the Tommy storyline. They were going out there with it and I commend the filmmakers for the crazy chance.

  2. That was a good year for movies, really. Return of the Living Dead, F13 5, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2...okay, forget I mentioned that last one.