Thursday, October 13, 2011

Series to Reboot: Pushing the Envelope of Credibility with Friday the 13th (Part 3)

This is the final installment of the Friday the 13th franchise Series to Reboot articles.  It's been a rough road, but I promise this will make more sense than the last set of films did.  Mostly.  The first part is still available, as is the second, should you need the background info.  Also they're just fun to read.
What a great poster, there's a gleaming hockey mask, a strange worm-thingie and some fire.  The best bit is how JASON and HELL are in a huge font and the subtitle is tiny underneath.  The image alone tells the fan what this is, which is as it should be.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)- My favorite F13 film and also the first of the New Line Cinema F13 films (previous films were Paramont).  This film just stepped off to the left of the previous films, made up a new concept of Jason being a demonic entity that wears bodies like suits and needs to be reborn through Wilma Deering.  The film begins with a FBI sting operation that blows Jason to bits, THEN the movie really gets going with Jason hopping bodies, killing, and working his way toward the ultimate battle which, of course, sends him to HELL!  This movie really was what it said on the tin...until Jason X reopened that tin.
There are so many good things about JGH:TFF (let's just call it Final Friday, okay?) including bounty hunter Creighton Duke, twho is like Captain Quint in Jaws, the way that Marcus et al attempted to stay away from using actors that were familiar to the franchise (save for Kane Hodder who played Jason in 7 and 8 and John D. LeMay, who was Ryan Dallion in Friday the 13th: The Series) and in the process scored Erin Gray of Buck Rogers fame.  The film really is a non-stop roller coaster ride, unlike films that get labeled as such and suck.  There is good action, good gore, excellent kills and Kane Hodder as Jason bookends, since for the most part Jason is a variety of actors or a puppet worm-thingie.  This film revealed that Jason had a sister, who has a daughter, who has a daughter who is the illegitimate child of her boyfriend (John D. LeMay) and Jason needs to get into one of these Voorhees women to be reborn.  Ironically, only a Voorhees can kill him.
TRIVIAL NOTE: This film is a party of in-jokes, tributes and riffs.  Writers Jay Huguely, Adam Marcus and Dead Lorey really had fun with the script rewarding horror movie buffs with nods to Halloween, TCM, and the Evil Dead films.  This film is worth the viewing just to play 'name that reference'.  Director Adam Marcus was a long time friend of producer Sean Cunningham's son, so the whole thing is like a 'family' project and that enjoyment shows.
Overall Credibility: 7 (It is full of supernatural, but it is sort of comedy too, so that's okay)
Series Credibility: 10/5 (I realize this is waffling on my part, but if you accept that all this time Jason has been a demonic entity that "wears bodies" then it is completely possible to accept his being undead, drowned, electrified, and generally killed but not ever dead)
Killer: Jason Voorhees (First in his rotted form, then possessing a coroner, then a deputy, then reality TV arsehole, then a different deputy, then a little worm thing, then into his dead sister's hoo-hoo to return as a full-powered ROTTING UNDEAD JASON again)
Ending: Jason needs a Vorhees female to be reborn, trying to get into the body of his grandniece (he ends up worm-forming it into his dead sister, comes out full powered and begins to humor Stephen (John D. LeMay) by having a fist fight.  Jason's niece is given a magic dagger by the bounty hunter that she needs to kill her uncle because only a Voorhees can do the job.  It's much better than it sounds, really.  Jessica stabs Uncle Jason in the heart, heaven opens up its light and demons rise up to drag Jason into HELL!  Credits joke ending has Freddy's gloved hand burst from the ground to pull Jason's hockey mask, left topside after his dragging to Hell, under the earth.  OOOhhhh.  Because of that ending fans began to discuss the coolness of, the possibility of, the very real 'could be' of a Freddy versus Jason movie.  So logically that should be the next movie, right?  It's the only logical choice, right?  So the next film in the series was...

Jason X (2002)- So that is X as in 10 and X as in "the unknown" and both apply equally to this film.  This film is set first in 2010 where Jason is being frozen in cryostasis.  This film introduces a concept  that would become very important to the film that followed, the idea that Jason has super cellular regeneration powers (and yet is stuck as a rotting corpse?).  Jason kills some people and gets frozen, bringing a scientist chick with him.  Fast forward to 2455, a field trip to the now dead Earth involving college students and SPACE MARINES, brings Jason into the future where nanites turn him into a cyborg Jason for the film's final act.  Scriptwriter Todd Farmer, who also penned My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Drive Angry pulls out the Aliens   goodies with Space Marines, Cyborgs, and a Gynoid.  This film is fun to watch, just don't overthink it.
Overall Credibility: 6 (It's sci-fi and horror blended.  By setting it in the 25th century Todd effectively allows himself to use any classic space tool he needs, including cryostasis, and nanites)
Series Credibility: 1 if you watch it before Freddy vs. Jason, 3 if you watch it after (Let's face it, the series has lost all credibility at this point.  None of this could even remotely happen.  We aren't even in the POSSIBILITY realm, much less PLAUSIBILITY, however it keep the Jason mythos going with some fine in-jokes and nods to previous canon)
Killer: Jason Voorhees/Cyborg Jason Voorhees (He starts as regular undead Jason, then gets blown to chunks and helpful nanites use available metal to make him into a cyborg.  He's pretty badass after that.)
Ending: Jason is, presumably, burned up entering Earth Two's atmosphere.  This occurs after the Space Marine Sgt. Brodski grapples Jason while wearing an EVA suit and the pair of them fight as they enter the atmosphere.
Clip and Save; Collect Them All!

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)- This is canonically the film that follows Final Friday in that the story is continued in it, but it came out after the 2002 release of Jason X and fills in the story gap that exists between Final Friday and Jason X.  This film features Freddy, stuck in Hell, tricking Jason, also stuck in Hell, into just leaving Hell.  Yep.  Regenerating his body and going to Elm Street to kill kids so the kids will think Freddy is back and that will give Freddy the power to return for real.  A bunch of stuff happens and finally one girl gets the brilliant idea to bring Freddy to the 'real world' so Jason can kill him.  At Crystal Lake.  So Jason will be happy.   And stay there.  Things go, more or less, as planned.  Freddy finds out Jason's psychological weakness is water and since Freddy's is fire...
Overall Credibility: 4 (The film meshes the Freddy mythos with the Jason mythos, and since Jason has been undead and in Hell, this is not a problem really)
Series Credibility: 1 (This film has left reality far, far behind, unless it is all a nightmare, which I suppose it could be...)
Killer: Jason Voorhees/Freddy Krueger (Jason kills so that Elm Street kids think it is Freddy, then Freddy does some killing, then they fight or something)
Ending: Follow along, it's kooky.  Freddy abuses Jason in dreams, but then Final Girl Lori pulls Freddy out of dreamland to face Jason.  They chop each other up in a battle reminiscent of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman then Freddy sends Jason into Crystal Lake and Jason rises up and impales Freddy with his gloved, severed arm, then Lori beheads Freddy and Fred and Jay drown.  Or so it seems...

Friday the 13th (2009)- REBOOT ACHIEVED
The franchise was pretty much done by the time Freddy vs. Jason came out.  When a new F13 was announced it could have been disastrous, but it was announced as a reboot, not a remake, and early press said it would combine elements of the first 3 films.  This it did, and did it well.  The reboot was an enjoyable film for me, as a fan of horror films who has seen the release of every previous film, if not seen them when released.  It was both a modern slasher film, suitable for the current CW audience (Jared Padalecki, who co-stars in CW's very successful Supernatural series is a ready made audience grabber as the male protagonist searching for his missing sister at Crystal Lake {echos of Part 4 with that}) and simultaneously a "classic" Friday the 13th film in form and feel.  Fans of the originals will appreciate the way that Jason begins with a baglike face cover but obtains his iconic hockey mask as part of the film.  The victims are not as likable as the teens in the original Friday the 13th, but they aren't completely one-dimensional either.  Ultimately it is a satisfying horror movie and a decent reboot.
Let's face it, the series needed a reboot.  What had begun as a tight horror/thriller about an insanely grieved mother exacting revenge for a crime in the past, that then gave way to a deformed, soulless killer who still plays by the rules of reality ultimately became some supernatural zombie killer cyborg thingie.  Which is cool, but eventually led to mocking of the premise itself.  The reboot was the only way to bring Jason back to the place he needed to be, the legendary killer of "Lake Blood".
Overall Credibility: 9 (I would have given it a 10, but it is just a bit less realistic than the original.  We can question how Jason has been able to survive for so long if he is mentally disabled, but otherwise it is all possible, plausible and credible...well until the final stinger ending)
Series Credibility: N/A (This is a reboot, so it is not part of the series canon, but it does reset the canon, and it keeps all the important elements.  Honestly it resets the series credibility to 9)
Killer: Jason Voorhees (Mentaly retarded, but physically huge and powerful, this is a living, breathing, in his 30s and looking to kill Jason.  NOT A ZOMBIE.)
Ending: After an exciting chase through Jason's subterranean lair, Final Girl Whitney and her brother Clay, dupe Jason using Whitney's resemblance to Jason's mother (Part 2 callback) and dispatch Jason with his own weapon.  They dump him in Crystal Lake but as they sit on the dock resting Jason bursts through grabbing Whitney and...ROLL CREDITS!  Stinger ending, Jason from the Lake.  Classic.

TIMELINE NOTE: Jason X states that Jason was captured in 2008 (this being said in 2010), so we must reason that Freddy vs. Jason takes place prior to 2008 as Jason must get out of Hell first, where he was put at the end of Jason Goes to HellF13 p. 8 is set in 1990 (I think) so let's just assume that Jason Goes to Hell is set in 1993, the year it released.  Thus Freddy vs. Jason can comfortably be set in 2003 (year of release), not that it matters at all.  Friday the 13th (2009) is basically set in its year of release, but moves the time line forward a bit for back-story purposes.  Since it is a reboot, it does not have to follow the time line.

And that's it everybody.  The Series to Reboot for Friday the 13th franchise in 3 bloody parts.
I enjoyed it, I won't lie.  It feels good to catalog this madness and pass judgment from a position of false authority, don't it.

Until next time, keep your pumpkins lit.

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