Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MRQ IX: the "Friday the 13th" series

This is a special round of Movie Review Quickies. This time out, I tackle the entire original Friday the 13th series, Parts I-X. I know it's ambitious, but I give you my thoughts on the series as a whole, its progression, and the quality of each chapter.

I'd keep this in my back pocket for October, but that's cheap and a long time off. You should definitely read on if you're thinking of renting any of these, or if you want the opinion of an expert in this genre and time period.

I know, I know, even this effort is kind of scary! It clocks in at over 5900 words, so I doubt many people will (or should?) read this in one long run. I'll make it easier for you, ok? Anytime I'm overwhelming you with my sheer incredibleness, you can just count to 10 with me, ok? Give it a try : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Let's do this.

1 - Friday the 13th - Seven young people look to re-open a camp site in Crystal Lake, New York. The locals, of course, say the grounds are cursed. After all, a young boy drowned one summer just before two counselors were killed... But these stories are discounted and the kids get about their jobs, not knowing how much trouble they're in.

It's a perfectly decent horror movie, if far from from great. It is a good example of late 70's horror, and displays many conventions that will dominate 80's horror. Still, I don't know what life 1980's "Friday" has for repeated viewings in the modern age (parties? Halloween marathons?). It grows even harder to separate a lack of quality from the constraints of the time - and how experienced today's audience is...

Really, the series opener establishes the repeating aspects of a cursed place, young kids, screwing around, and painful death. It carries these elements through, creating nice tension as we focus on the virginal, clever young woman who might survive. The relatively slow pace works in its favor, and the picture is competent job at what it sets out to do.

Then again, I used to find the "Halloween" 1 & 2 scary for a long time. I know none of those three would have that effect on me today, but I can remember watching "Ft13th" for the first time and finding it effective. In this case, the deaths are far less powerful than the real hallmark of "Friday," which is the same thing that made John Carpenter's series work so well: the frantic escape sequence.

Ah, the first time! "Frantic escape sequence not sold separately..."

Whether it's Jamie Lee Curtis or Adrienne King (scared into obscurity by a real-life stalker), the viewer is sucked in by sudden, incredible danger. The soundtrack kicks in, the attack starts, and we're in the headspace of a panicky, good-hearted person who's faced with angry insanity.

Much like "Halloween" and the amazing standoff in the kids' house, there are temporary escapes that give the audience a chance to breathe (while heightening the tension) as well as adding to the character's resilience. This is really the element that made the picture work, and that sold the series for a long time.

Think about it: each of these moments - running to hide in a pantry or going upstairs - still represent a temporary victory. Most of us know that we wouldn't respond perfectly to a sudden, dire threat from someone who wiped out 5 of our friends. Alice just managed to survive 2 quick attacks from a mass-killer! Go, Alice!

To that extent, "Friday" takes its (actually quite impressive) "escape" sequence and ties it right into character; our heroine slowly goes from terrified and helpless to fighting back. Those scenes also start to explain the story and reveal what's really going on. This, combined with the decimation of the campers, makes it sort of like a perverted take on an Agatha Christie novel (I'm thinking "And Then There Were None," aka "Ten Little Indians").

Even where it has aged poorly - like the fighting scenes - the imperfections of "Friday the 13th" shouldn't ruin the experience. In fact, the clumsy battles really do play out realistically. It's clear that you're watching the sort of movie that's meant to be seen by a large, youthful, summertime audience. Anyone who was scared by "Blair Witch" should be able to get caught up in the film-student look and feel of this first horror entry.

How did this turn into a franchise? Simple math: according to this Wiki table, Part I cost 550k and made $40Mil in the States. The next 7 installments cost between $1 and $5 Million, and Parts II-VI made between $19 and $36 Mil, and even VI-IX made $14-16M. The investment-to-profit ratio was simply too good to ignore.

There are two things I'd like to highlight as "treats" - the first is the ongoing, whispered sound cue "Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch... Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch... Ch-ch-ch-ah-ah-ah-kill-kill-kill!" I've never before or since found a film a with a sound cue that seems like talking but isn't, and isn't heard out loud at all, but also isn't part of the soundtrack. What is it, aside from creepy and sort of dumb? Is it the killer's thoughts?

Another treat, is the end. I won't spoil anything, because it is horror-film-wise, bloody perfect. Horror was meant for scenes like those...

And, before I forget to mention it, for any film buff, seeing Kevin Bacon's as fodder in one of his first films is a huge selling point.

2 - Part 2 - For a movie that largely followed the pattern established by the original, it is actually better than its predecessor. What pattern?

A group of moderately-naughty but industrious young people roll up to Camp Crystal Lake, a supposedly-cursed place that was shut down due to a violent tragedy years earlier. They have shown up to revive the defunct business. They receive a warning from a local nut, there's talk of "the curse," and even a recap/flashback of the series so far (really?).

"Part II" uses familiar elements, like Crazy Ralph and the young would-be counselors, but it goes in a different direction. I'm a huge fan of the opening bridge to the first picture; it has a great tone, and establishes the villain's nature for the rest of the series: the second you let your guard down, you might have only a moment's notice before you're gone.

Oh Ralph, why didn't they just listen? A subtler approach would help...

In what ways is this film superior? It serves up the token annoying guy nicely. It gives us a nice big cast, and spends real time letting us get to know them, giving a lot of "quality time" to the characters. The "boyscout" lead is even more preposterous than in Part 1. In short, unlike many horror films, Ft13-2, credibly establishes its environment. It's been so long since I've hoped a horror character wouldn't die!

You actually get a reasonable handle on their personalities and can easily develop opinions about the parts. I'm actually disappointed when some characters snuff it! All in all, more than enough care went into making this more than a simple slasher.

Again, this picture relies heavily on its extended escape sequence. It works because, as in the first film, it's really quite startling and spooky. It's the sort of thing that could happen in a dream, and the atmosphere helps lull you in...

3 - Part III - The 3D is generally silly, but it's not actually a problem. It does inspire the picture to be gruesome and bloodthirsty. There some genuine and unintentional laughs, and this third flick does have some of the most memorable murders. I would say that this

is enough to earn it a lot of fan-worship. It's way worse with the sound; his death-cry is appropriately... wrenching.

I think it's fair to say that more effort is put into the body count and spare number of 3-D shots. The story finally moves away from young kids reopening a camp, which is great. But now it focuses on a girl who goes to her childhood home with 6 friends in order to confront her memory of having been attacked in the woods by a stranger who turns out to be Jason.

Pretty stupid, right? I understand that they want to film in the lake - it's an easy excuse for nudity, which was pretty much required of movies like this at the time.

Of course, a franchise can't always keep its hallmarks from becoming predictable or unrewardingly-repetitious. Even if the cast and crew have great artistic sensibilities, no one can promise that for the writers/director/best boy grip of a third or fourth installment. My friends and I have always enjoyed the tropes in "Part III," but they might be too much for you.

As a collective audience, we get:
a warning from the mentally ill
a bunch of young jerks who want to start up a camp despite the location's tragic past
a fatal sex scene
the jerk who you hope buys it early on
the recap/flashback (still preposterous now that we're 2 movies in)
the "omigod he's going to get me, let me just keep escaping" sequence
the trouble with locals.

Of course, those last four - especially the jerk (Larry Zerner as "Shelly") - stand out. This particular biker gang has no reason to be hanging out by Camp Crystal Lake, but at least they're mixed-race and -gender. They also dress like members of Sho-Nuff's gang in "The Last Dragon."

Actually, now that I think of it, the escape scene isn't as fun or engrossing as in the first or second parts. The end is really uninspired, too - sort of a cheap groaner, really. Still, there are several "classic kills" that really help make this film into a crowd-pleaser. It helps that the best come fairly close to the end.

I have to note: this is the movie that introduces the mask. From now on, we have a clearly-defined murderer - he's either terrified of showing his face, or he's in love with hockey. It is here that Jason went from a C-list horror figure to a top shelf, if low budget, name.

I know that's asking you to accept a lot. I know that the series could be interpreted as an attack on Canadians. Even if it were, it worked. This piece of "flair" (oh yeah, it's flair) gives the series' lead a real identity to recognize and play with, and helped establish "Jason Voorhees," who you've surely heard of.

The series began as a horror/mystery plot, its rage-fueled sociopath (?) hacking up everyone in the woods. The later two entries certainly tried to keep the mystery vibe going, but soon the biggest question is "how does our villain keep coming back?" That unique mask helps make Voorhees into the James Bond of slasher films.

The mask will be shot, punched, burned and have a machete swung right at it. Time and again, it will be buried - underground or underwater - with Jason. He always comes back, no matter how hard the beating, and he always brings that mask with him. We'll rarely get to see Jason's face, just before wishing that we really hadn't.

4 - The Final Chapter - Technically, this is a mess. The entire start feels like a straight lift from "Halloween II" - both take place just after the prior entry, both have their killer running through a hospital. At least this pic continues to bring the story away from the series' infamous Camp.

Here, it's just silly teens on a weekend getaway. They head out to the Crystal Lake area of Upstate New York (why? I don't know), make friends with the local Jarvis family, get up to some inappropriate fun, then find their vacation (and lives) completely @#$%-blocked by Jason.

What does this shift mean for the series? A renewed focus on the 80s "death-n-boobs" mainstay. If you scan through the names of 1980s horror, you'll find dozens of titles that highlight: camps, slumber parties, sororities... Now, I've never been to camp, but I imagine that the point to all of these is the same - there will be multiple girls around, and you'll be seeing people make out/strip. It's like a super-motif for the whole decade...

This installment has some strong points, though. For one, "Part 4" is a great source of kitsch and irony. For another, it actually has two players you'll know. Everybody loves Corey Feldman (as Tommy Jarvis), and this early role is surprisingly meaty and creepy. He's nutty and committed.
And hyper-weirdo Crispin Glover ("Jimmy") is firing on all of his cracked cylinders! If his behavior is one big performance or joke, he's really using a Kaufman-esque style. I love knowing that this movie came out nearly 14 months before "Back to the Future" gave us George McFly. I like rooting for the poor kid, and I'm not sure if it's fantastic or tragic when a movie like this gives us genuinely likable characters that find a measure of happiness.

I have no words for his moves. Or her ludicrous clothes.

Are we supposed to hope that they might survive Jason's onslaught, or get a kick when they're cut down? Does the movie care about operating like a fairy tale, scaring kids off of bad behavior with a myth about an unstoppable killer?...

As crazy as it seems, "TFC" builds a lot of tension as the body count rises. Some people, like "stoned idiot #4" and "horny jerk #3" really earn audience anticipation. Better still, there's a great escape sequence and it's followed by something phenomenal in a horror film: they pay off all the character stuff doled out during the film.

This leads, in part, to the series taking a different tack toward stopping Jason; it's silly and insane, but still very fun. Tricia Jarvis herself reminds me of "Halloween II." This strong normal girl has a mom and little brother Tommy to worry about, which gives her more baggage than prior "Friday" heroines. She also dishes out the most amount of damage to date.

It's worth pointing out that this is the first film that undoubtedly sets Jason up as something inhuman. It's set up at the beginning, with Jason somehow surviving the end of "Part 3." Tricia's desperate fight at the climax also establishes it. J just keeps on comin'...

It's easy to get distracted by the irony of the title and that this was supposed to be the end of the series. What I find odder still is that the next two pictures will focus on Tommy Jarvis. Yes, somehow a man becomes a hero in a horror series, as well as a recurring aspect of Friday IV-VI.

This picture earns its respect, despite being more fun in a "John Waters" way than other Ft13ths. The end is rightly in keeping with its own themes and development, and fits nicely into the horror genre.

You can also watch this tolerable top-kill-recap.

5 - A New Beginning - Generally considered one of the worst; it's hard to argue the opinion, too. To tell you the standard reason why people hate this movie would be a massive spoiler. Sorry for being a tease, but if you'd even think of watching "Friday the 13th V," just rent it and take your chances with disappointment; you'll grow as a person.

Tommy Jarvis, the now-grown up kid from "The Final Chapter," and this film's lead, is not in the best shape. His savage defense of himself and his sister didn't go over well - he's a mental patient. "ANB" is set out more like a murder mystery. Tommy is sent to a halfway house for other troubled people, and murders start happening and omigod they're not even in Upstate New York anymore! How could this be?

This time, Voorhees - or a copycat - got out to beautiful California! Could Jason have learned how to buy Greyhound tickets? Did he read Kerouac and get inspired? Did he *gulp* get a driver's license?

Considering the stability of most of the players, everyone's a suspect, even Jarvis. He seems to be a nice kid, but I gotta admit, he was pretty weird before he went all "kill, kill, kill." And he still has creepy hobbies like spooky masks, sudden scares, and quick kidney punches when threatened.

By this point, the series really has become the early version of those "Saw" movies: the audience is supposed to be watching to see how the bad guy's gonna mangle some people. "Part III" and "TFC" definitely went for theatrics and spectacle, so this movie focused even more on inventive murder sequences.

I can't deny that the film upped the ante for gruesome death, but it also becomes pure junkfood. Are we supposed to be in a theater, shouting for Jason to grab pruning sheers instead of a pitchfork, or just using his hands? I know it'd be cool if there was a thesis or point, but this is a working-man's film, largely aiming for the cheap seats.

I like the way Jarvis is played. I know I said lil Tommy sucked before, but I shouldn't rag on someone's hobbies. He's actually stable, all things considered, and the kid went through a lot. It's one thing to do something awful, it's way worse to have no one believe you because you went buck-wild to stop a superhuman serial killer. Right?...

Tommy is well-played; a 20-something on the edge, somebody who has a nice punch, but only when appropriately provoked. "ANB" also takes advantage of the new setting - in this case, a mental wellness retreat - but probably just as lead-in to mystery and nudity: sigh, one girl's a nympho, and no, her illness is never used to develop her character or make us think she's a killer...

Nothing can really make this a satisfying movie, though. It certainly tries, with a return to the more complicated "escape ending." I could be annoyed by the answers provided in the close, or the ending which isn't that good and strongly recalls "Part III."

In thinking about the way it all ends, I choose to focus on the quality of the very last moments. It's a genuinely creepy scene and there sadly isn't enough of that in horror; or this series, considering that it's over 800 minutes long...

6 - Jason Lives - The beginning is classic, with a straight-up Frankenstein riff and a James Bond-style credit sequence.  It makes me howl.  It's hard not to like this movie, and its lame 80's misunderstood loner plot.

HAHAHA! Is that it? Jason paralyzes you with laughter, then cuts you up?

The story once again centers on Tommy Jarvis, played now by three actors in three movies. Tommy has had a rough life, partly from bad luck and partly because he hasn't learned the obvious lesson life's trying to teach him: stay the hell away from Upstate New York.

Tommy takes a friend out for the classic horror purposes of digging up a cemetery at night. Jarvis is afraid that his old enemy might rise from the grave, so wants to give the corpse a good ol' dismemberment and cremation. Considering that he was sent to an institution for defending his family from a superhuman killing machine, Tommy's not really to blame and it's probably good therapy.

Everything about the atmosphere is perfect, from the thunderstorm to the camera angles. I really can't imagine why any town would bother to bury a murderer's corpse whose identity is only local legend and whose family is gone, but fine... Tommy opens the right casket, impales the body with a steel fence post (?!), prepares to burn it up - and then lightning strikes. Our killer is now officially a powerful, durable, smart zombie. Way to screw up, Jarvis.

Of course, while the film embraces the supernatural in a way that it never had before, it also returned to the trappings of the Camp at Crystal Lake. At least we (a) finally see the place fully-operational and (b) get many more potential victims from it. Finally, the audience gets so many people that the body count can't be "total - 1" - which is important.

It's more scary for the audience when we don't know who will or won't die, don't you think? And, conversely, I feel it's less scary when you know from the start that there will only be 1-2 survivors. There's a lot of children around for the first time, and it actually creates a lot of tension.

Tommy seems so sure that the first thing Jason will do is return to that crummy campsite, that he races off to reduce the body count as soon as he can. What he finds is a meta-plot that will be mirrored in the Nightmare on Elm Street Series: the town has tried to bury everything about their bloody past! It's even renamed itself to "Forest Green;"you'd think they'd know not to name a town after a color!

This brings Tommy straight into the sights of the nutjob sheriff and his demented deputy. For some reason, Upstate has cops straight out of the "I'll break your taillight and bust you for it because I don't like your face" playbook; it's funny to watch how unhinged they are. Tommy switches between the out-of-control crusader and the reasonable, oppressed hero.

The out-of-control characters, the "ring of fire" ending, the unexplained reverse-king-arthur method of saving the day - so much of this is just stupid enough to play right. The series of survived attacks and escapes were more bombastic than usual, feeing inspired by an episode of "MacGyver."

7 - The New Blood - This is my favorite "real Jason movie" of the lot, partly because I love a hero who gets to go toe-to-toe with the baddie. After 6 entries of Jason suffering minimal harm or even nuisance, it's a smart move to have a character who can unload on his ass. If you think about it, he hasn't even been shot at many times, and he's in perfect hunting/farming territory.

"Ft13th" does turn away from "the Jarvis era" (*snort*) and goes back to the familiar - a female protagonist. It does make it a bit new this time, as the women who came before were mostly good at just escaping Mr. Voorhees. Following up on the supernatural motif that wasn't truly adopted until "Part VI," this one gets to hit him, and hard.

Kane Hodder is wonderful (with no irony, I mean this) in his first time wearing the goalie gear. As absurd as it sounds for a masked and mute role, you can actually observe and notice his performance, and he's very very good.

At this point, "Ft13th" is clearly a C-list movie in terms of budget and ambition - despite the fact that a series with this much longevity always gets at least B-list attention. Mr. Hodder is obviously a professional, and you should be able to see how he cemented himself as "the one and only Jason." I can only assume he wore all different makeup for the classic and unexpected unmasking scene. Wow + ick.

It's worth noting that this "Friday" also sidelines Jason for so much of the picture! This film takes "Part V" and rides off its motif of "normal human evil at Crystal Lake." You might not believe it, but this has a major impact on installments "VIII" and "IX." This is helped along by decent acting and an out-of-left-field plot that reminds me of "The Fury" or "Scanners."

It makes a certain sense. To some extent, it's easier to focus on characters who can, y'know, talk. For another, we're more familiar with the sorts of everyday nastiness that comes from manipulative and confused people. It's much less common to face an unstoppable, hulking murderer in a goalie mask. It also helps build anticipation for that same unyielding killer.

The sleeping bag murder is possibly my favorite death scene in any movie ever. That sequence alone is a guilty pleasure of mine...

Wow. Just... wow.

8 - Jason Takes Manhattan - This movie misses the mark by a lot. It also looks and "feels" cheaper and of lower quality than the entries before "Jason Takes Manhattan." Still, you'll probably have a good time if you're in the mind-set of movies 5 & 6; the picture almost plays out like a comedy of errors involving a murderer stalking a teen group each and every one of whom is a spaz and/or idiot.

Still, Ft13th Pt. VIII does everything with a little comedy and nuttiness, and it commits to that. As such, it feels very much like the spirit of 80's horror is still kicking here. 80's horror wasn't always made to terrify audiences with dark and gritty murders - they were there for fun teen stories, combining scares with laughter.

In this case, it's more a case of sadistic assault, partly calling back to "Part VII." The "evil human," Peter Mark Richman, shares part-time antagonist duty with Big J. He's obvious, so he's always a pain. The make-or-break point is his Machiavellian arc, so OTT that you'd think he was struggling to control a billionaire heiress. It's amazing, really. And creepy.

The characters are broad and stereotypical; some are wish fulfillment fodder, I guess. Somehow, the sheer nuttiness of it plays well: my friends love the boxer's scenes, and I'm always freaked out by a relative/chaperone who is a total nutjob crazypants to an incredible degree. It's amazing.

To its credit, "Part VIII" makes the movie build up to - and use - the Manhattan setting. I have to say I love the trip back in time, though I don't know if it'll matter to non-Natives. The punks using a ghetto blaster in Times Square, the diner full of disinterested, busy cynics... It's sweet.

There's also a real effort on the part of the filmmakers to give a "Breakfast Club" vibe to the cast and their interactions. I respect that.

At least the producers try their crazy-ass best to make this a far-ranging narrative, It's like the Iron Man Competition of slasher horror, and the running time is almost worth that alone. Also, the NY Harbor Scene is fantastic - I love the way the boxer says his line. You'll know it if you've seen it...

9 - Jason Goes to Hell:The Final Friday - ... was actually a pleasure. It's meta beyod belief, and it did this before the Freddy and Jason reboots, so it comes off as (& is) self-aware in all the right ways. I guess that makes this a perfect cult movie, especially since I love Steven Williams, the actor playing bounty hunter Creighton Duke.

If there's any part of the movie I love even more, it's Creighton Duke, the deliciously ironic and snarky bounty hunter that Williams plays. This is from Duke's bigtime tv interview early on in the pic:
Robert Campbell: I'm going to say a couple of words to you and I want you to say the first thing that comes into your mind.
Creighton Duke: Okay.
Robert Campbell: Jason Voorhees.
Creighton Duke: That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress, stickin a hot dog through a doughnut.
It's already great to see a self-referential Jason opener and subsequent slaying. It's quite another to throw a great role like this into the mix. If that quote wasn't enough to get you interested, see what Creighton does soon after entering Crystal Lake.

Like "A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead," this entry was meant to end the series, and also set out to explain and redefine it. If you're going to go out, go with a bang, and just retcon and rewrite whatever you please. Like "NoES 6," "JGtH:The Final Friday" focuses it's macguffins and storylines on family. Since both films did it, I have to assume that it was topical at the time.

It turns out that Jason Voorhees is not a boy who drowned and went kind of zombie-ish... JV is a demon and needs a Voorhees woman in order to be reborn at its full strength. Duke wants to find any surviving Voorhees females, as only they can kill Jason (with a mystical dagger, no less!). Former deadbeat boyfriend/dad Steven comes back to town just as Jessica Kimble née Voorhees is about to marry a bigtime reporter, and just as Jason starts to make his way home.

See what I meant? These writers are crazy!

For a Friday movie, the tone here is refreshing and it's carried through perfect. The producers were never going to get Wes Craven, Wes Anderson, or Werner Herzog to direct it, but they did fine. "JGtH:TFF" plays perfectly with the cliches of the series, then subverts them as thoroughly as possible. It's a surprising move, and it pays off beautifully.

It's an especially effective choice, given that the movie decides to re-write Jason mythos (god help us, it exists), while simultaneously playing with all the empty space in the story. For all we know, Jason is a slimy little parasite from hell that takes over a body and fills it full of superhuman strength, endurance, and malevolence. Or it's the reanimated corpse of a drowned teen. Whatevs.

The opening segment is also one of my favorites: it begins with a nubile young woman who follows all the ABCs of getting killed in a horror film. I also like the efforts to change the franchise around, even though it's a little dumb. The series had long-since reached a need for some variety.  This ninth installment added a lot of that, in addition to clever jokes, meta and otherwise. Honestly, an Ft13th with this many well-written and well-executed scenes is a surprise, and I would recommend this one above all the others.

10 - Jason X - I saw it, and I'm mostly sorry that I did. In part, what's wrong about the 10th entry is simple: everything about the verbal and visual style here is very new and modern, so it doesn't get the "nostalgia factor" to help gloss over its flaws and unwise choices. It's like having a 10 year old say, "no, teach me! Don't just let me win at chess."

Well, unless it's one of the kids from "Searching for Bobby Fischer," it's not going to go well. Here, an Ft13th movie really moves beyond most of the trappings of the series, yet most of the innovations come off as cheap or generic. It then also suffers from not getting any "extra credit" or "half-points" like the other entries do. That's two strikes right there...

"Part X" really needed those extra points. Although it adopts a weaker, louder version of the meta approach of "Part IX," it's still lackluster, and not especially creative. Nothing gives the movie a sense of being more than dtv fodder, and it backtracks on some of those differences (Jason ends up with a mask and machete). In that way, "JL" is like the 3rd Scream film - a few clever lines don't actually mean it's got anything to say...

Little victories pop up, like the murder that's a call back to "Part VII," certainly gleefully self-aware lines. Even several of the jokes are the kind usually made by fairly-clever people. The heavy use of CGI was a bad call, tho. And other aspects of the movie are so standard that the movie would broadcast live, not with an "Applause" sign, but one that reads "Sigh."

At least this flick made some efforts - these kinds of slasher pics have such bland and generic stars, usually. Here, the writers embraced the "super-freak" approach that the prior installments took toward the endangered teens. This pays off in spades and almost made this movie tolerable.

In particular, the "virtuous" female who takes on the bad guy is a crewman's sentient sex robot, and she starts kicking ass like a female version of Terminator. It almost makes up for the predictability of all the space-related murders that happen on the shop. And, unfortunately, dialogue, story, and credibility weren't "winners" here; neither were (a) scaring the audience or (b) maintaining a proper mood.

I'm especially shocked by the look of the film, considering that at $14 Million, it had almost triple the highest budget of any Ft13th to date. The next-most expensive chapter cost $5M, and that was number VIII, and it also looked kinda cheap. It must've all gone into decent-to-middling sfx, but the result was the same - it earned a profit of just $3 Mil.

As to 2009's Friday the 13th, I don't have anything to say. The reviews were atrocious, (34 on Meta, 25% on RT) and it made $65M in North America, and I had no desire to watch it, given the reviews I'd read. I suppose I might suck it up and review it here in the future, but I'd really need a good incentive to sit through a bad-but-expensive modern horror remake of something that wasn't world-changing the first time out.

So there you have the whole Friday the 13th Franchise, Parts I-X. It's a series steeped in T&A, blood, screams, and profits. Most of the entries were made for young crowds to cheer, scream, and throw popcorn, and the best of the them carry through on it nicely. It's a popular, but not great, part of the horror cannon, except in fits and starts.

How can I wrap up this massive MRQ? I'm so so tired of writing about this series. Maybe I should've finished this multi-month project on my vacation. Also, it makes me wonder what I would tell someone today who's never seen them. What would I say if a Friday the 13th virgin wanted to know if they should watch the series?

I'd note that there are lots of nice moments and scenes throughout the series. I'd tell them that Ft13th is a semi-low budget on-going horror staple. I'd add that only the 1st and perhaps the 2nd are "necessary" to understanding horror films (at least ones from the 80s).

I'd also say that if you actually liked horror/slasher films, you'd want to watch 4 of these - and beyond those (1, 2, 7, 9), you're gambling with your time. Anything else works far better for people who have a real love of horror, especially the type that dominated the genre in the 80's.

If you want to be spoiled to pieces watch this video.

No matter what, though, these are still just shlocky genre films. You can find better ways to spend your time, and if you're doing a film marathon for Halloween, you can find better, cheesier, scarier movies to satisfy whichever genre craving you have. And this is coming from a guy who watched horror marathons back in college...

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