Sunday, October 01, 2006

Friday the 13th Parts 5 and 6

Because ain't nobody gonna tell me how to live my life, I spent my Saturday morning watching movies that have no business being seen in the light of day.

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is an awful movie. Not B-movie awful, but beyond that and into the realm of C-level. Awful beyond words. Just...awful. I've always heard that about it, but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The main negative about A New Beginning is the major tonal shift. The movie is just all kinds of goofy. Whereas Fridays 1 through 4 retained a certain amount of gravitas (yes, I did just equate crushing a head in the bare hands with a solemn sense of dignity), A New Beginning is the first of what I assume to be several "slapsticky" Fridays. The characterization is all silly, and there are very few that the viewer actually roots for.

Additionally, this film is all about the missed opportunities. The murderer has two (2) chances to off somebody when they're taking a dump, but instead he waits until they're finished. Ever the gentleman. He also passes on the option to kill two teenagers as they're screwing (and to slaughter a child--come on, he's done pets!). In fact, all of the kills are relatively tame, and there were no moments that shocked me in their awesomeness.

Not a lost cause, though. This is the first film in the series to forego the montage of previous films, instead opening in media res. The sheriff is played by the poor man's Bill Pullman, who is already the poor man's Alec Baldwin. There's a fencing duel between a machete-wielding killer and a chainsaw-wielding heroine. And then there's Reggie the Reckless.

Reggie is a sassy black kid and the true hero of the movie (fuck you, Tommy Jarvis). Following the Temple of Doom formula that adding a whip-smart child sidekick makes any movie worthwhile, Reggie the Reckless drives a hay baler into the murderer and is the only character in the series thus far that can look Jason in the mask without flinching.

There aren't many worthwhile kills (most of them were simple stabs), but there are some that didn't leave me yawning. A Fonzie-wannabe takes a road flare in the mouth. Happily, the comic relief is clotheslined by a sword while he's hooting and hollering on his motorcycle. One mental patient gets her face snipped in half with pinking shears, and another has his head crushed by a tightening belt.
Whether or not the movie sucks, it is worth watching for one reason alone: A New Beginning brought us one of the best lines in cinema history. "You big dildo! Eat your fucking slop!"

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is better. It takes the viewer back to Camp Crystal Lake--and more importantly, to the real Jason. The kills are much more inventive and much more grusome in this sequel than the last, and this is Jason at his best yet--completely invulnerable to the tools and weapons of man.

What's wrong with this movie is, again, the slapstick nature of some scenes. The first four movies gave off the aura of fear in the woods. This movie is full of self-referential "humor" throughout. One character says that she's "seen enough scary movies to know" to run away from a masked man. Another looks directly at the camera and says, "Some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment."

The most horrifying thing about this movie though--and hopefully something that won't be repeated in the five movies I've yet to see--is a ridiculously silly death. One paintball player is thrown into a tree, and when he slides off an enormous smiley face is left where his head hit. A GODDAMN SMILEY FACE.

Thankfully there's a wealth of good stuff to offset the bad. I love the fact that Jason's maggoty corpse is Frankensteined back to life by a bolt of lightning. The invincible Jason is a lot more fun, I think, than the old, shitty Jason of old. I've never heard it before, so I'm going to assume that whoever wrote this script coined the term "farthead." And Alice Cooper's theme song is absolutely brilliant.

And then the deaths. Not a full return to the glory of the first three sequels, but there were some moments of gory brilliance in Jason Lives. Jason punches a guy in the chest and comes out the other side with a still-beating heart. A woman is speared right through her open mouth. A crazy old drunk (see: self-referential humor and the word "farthead") is stabbed in the throat with a broken bottle. A head is twisted clean off of a woman's body like a bottle cap. And the troublesome sheriff is folded in half--hamburger-style, not hot-dog-style.

There is a stand-out in this film though: Jason has snuck onto a camper. The driver has the music blasting so loud that he can't hear his girlfriend's panicked screams for help. Jason pulls her into the bathroom and smashes her face in the wall, until...well...

Imagine this, except on the outside of a frigging camper.

Kick-ass. Jason Voorhees will return in...Thunderball.

RELATED LINKS

The official Friday the 13th site
Camp Crystal Lake fan site
X-Entertainment's article on Alice Cooper's F13 music video

1 comment:

Jackie said...

I saw you on X-E lamenting about the lack of vegan pepperoni. Lightlife and/or Yves makes a vegan pepperoni. The Acme supermarket sells it by me, but if they don't have it, check out a Whole Foods. Whole Foods will definitely have it. It's pretty good, too. My carnivorous sister finds it a suitable substitute for the dead animal kind.