DOC’S TRIP TO CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE – PART 2: Films 5 to 8

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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AND EXPLICITLY GORY PICTURES!

Tommy Jarvis is now a deeply traumatised teenager, very withdrawn and suffering from nightmares and hallucinations of Jason Voorhees. He’s sent to Pinehurst, a country retreat for troubled teens, but almost as soon as he arrives he witnesses more violence, as another teen called Victor kills another with an axe. Everyone is shaken and Tommy gets especially on edge. When more murders occur, committed by someone heading towards Pinehurst, the police suspect Jason even though he was supposedly killed for good….

The first time I saw Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning I was so disappointed with it because of its ending. It’s a controversial entry with many fans of the series, chiefly because the killer is not revealed to be Jason Voorhees. It’s somebody else wearing that hockey mask and killing teenagers, the real one only turning up in some dreams or being hallucinated, though of course the first Friday The 13th didn’t have Jason as the killer either and few fans complain about that. The fuss about this has rather clouded the fact that, while no match for the magnificent The Final Chapter, this is a highly enjoyable slasher in its own right. They went for a lighter, less menacing feel, with more humour, without quite crossing the line into turning it into a spoof. This was probably a wise choice to prevent the formula from becoming stale. However, one could also say that its need to be a slasher flick and continually be killing people off [this one has a total of 22 victims!] means that some aspects of its potentially quite interesting plot are wasted. Still, I personally feel that if there had been emphasis on the traumatised Tommy struggling with his sanity and the mystery aspect that now barely exists in the film because we’re led to believe that it’s the real Jason doing the killing, the film may not only have been better received by fans who instead felt cheated, but may very well have turned out to be one of the best of the series.

Director Danny Steinmann was originally going to write and direct a sequel to The Last House on the Left for Paramount, but this fell through so he was offered this instead. Martin Kitrosser’s script was based on an early draft for Part 3 and emphisised psychology with far less killing, but Steinmann brought in David Cohen and the two rewrote it to be more like a Friday film. Tommy’s opening dream originally had him attacking half the hospital staff trying to get to the morgue to find Jason’s body. Corey Feldman was to star but was by now too much in demand so he just had a cameo, while Darcy DeMoss originally got the role of Tina but was fired after refusing to perform a nude scene. It was cast under the title Repetition, and many of the actors in the film were not aware it was a Friday sequel and were then rather disappointed, though most seemed to have a good time on what was a largely cocaine fueled set. Steinmann really pushed the sex and violence, and it was associate producer Frank Mancaso Jr who ordered the cutting down of Eddie and Tina’s three minute love scene to almost nothing, and the removal of Tiffany being stabbed in the crotch. But this entry went back and forth between the MPAA and the filmmakers many times. A head bouncing six times was gradually whittled down to it only bouncing once. Around a minute or so of Martin Becker’s makeup effects had to be cut in the US, and the BBFC attacked it even more, the film losing nearly a minute in UK cinemas and almost a minute and a half on video. While grosses quickly died down once word got around that Jasan wasn’t the killer, it was still a hit. Steinmann was lined up to direct a further five movies, but was involved in a bicycle accident that almost killed him and never returned to filmmaking.

We open with a really good nightmare sequence featuring Feldman dreaming of Jason coming out of the ground and killing two fools trying to dig him up, and then there’s the axe murder at the clinic which is well built up to, overweight Joey offering to help two of the girls put the washing out before making the far bigger mistake of pestering Joey who’s obviously trying to work out some anger by chopping wood – and who now turns his axe to Joey. However, you hardly see anything, it being obvious that gory shots have been cut out. The sight of this unnerves everybody at Pinehurst, but especially poor Tommy who can’t stop imagining that he sees Jason. He’s like a coiled spring, quiet and withdrawn but prone to violent outbursts, and John Shepherd does a decent job in the part, helping to make him sympathetic yet also putting you on edge a bit, but the character’s neuroses could have been explored a bit more, as could the supposed problems of all the inmates of Pinehurst. As it stands they don’t seem much different from ‘normal’ teenagers, and the film spends more time introducing new characters in increasingly contrived ways so we can hve more kills. For example Reggie – the young kid whose grandfather is the cook – goes to visit his older brother Demon in his trailer, Demon is seen to have a girlfriend in the back, and- hey presto – we have two more victims as soon as Reggie leaves them. In a way this is one of the most cynical and mean spirited of the lot, but it’s filled with quirky folk often saying nonsense – even the cops tend to talk shit. Especially funny are the slightly crazy Ethel and her slightly crazier son Junior who live in the woods. “They’re all crazy” she screams at the cops about the teenagers, whilst constantly telling her son to shut up. Her objections to Pinehurst, a place where there are no guards and the inmates can do pretty much what they, represent a Friday film even attempting to comment on a social issue.

The huge number of deaths means that this is the fastest paced entry yet, it seems like there’s virtually a death every other scene, but there’s not much actual suspense, and terror is mostly missing from this entry – which means that the few moments that do have a real edge to them, like a frightened Demon trapped in the toilet, stand out. Of course yet again a body crashes through a window. The barn-set climax is reasonable but virtually just replays that of Part 3 and the revelation of the killer is just lame. He’s a very minor character who stares at the camera for a couple of seconds backed by a musical chord very early on in the film, looks at the viewer again a few scenes later, and then doesn’t show up again until at the end when we get a rather dumb explanation for why he’s been doing this killing. They could have had a good ‘guess the killer’ situation in this film but they obviously just couldn’t be bothered. And after that – well, again we have a closing act that goes on for too long – Tommy kills Pam, it was all a dream, then seems about to kill Pam again. Surely ending it with the first bit would have sufficed?

This was one Friday film which really surprised me in a good way when they finally released the US cut over here in the UK. The BBFC, obviously in a very bad mood, had even removed some nudity and shots of dead bodies. There’s perhaps not quite the variety of kills you may expect from there being 22 of the things – much of it is the usual knife, machete and axe mayhem – but we get also get a flare in the mouth, sheers in the eyes, and head crushing by a belt that binds the victim to a tree. I’m sure that more time was spent by the screenwriters of these films thinking up ever more creative death scenes than anything else. The bit before the sheers kill [of which we only see the aftermath] has a funny moment where the boy Eddie washes his face in a puddle after having sex. In fact there are chucklesome bits all over the place, some intentional, some probably not so but in a way even the latter add to the odd feel. The whole look of the film is different to its predecessors too. It’s visually a much brighter film, with even the night scenes looking absurdly over lit. Steinmann doesn’t bring much directorial style and doesn’t seem too bothered about creating tension either, though Pam’s flight from Jason in the rain is vivid and very well shot.

The eclectic range of characters are mostly well played, especially Carol Locatell as the nutty Ethel, she’s bonkers and not too nice too her son but is still somehow still likable. Melanie Kinnaman is okay as Kim though she’s probably the least well characterised heroine so far. Harry Manfredini came up with a very strong score for this one, with more complex variations on previous devices and even a melodic, if [perhaps appropriately fragmented] theme for Tommy, showing that he was growing as a composer. A New Beginning may be a bad movie in some respects, but it has a goofiness that is quite endearing, at least attempts a bit of drama, and doesn’t really deserve the short shrift it tends to get from fans.

ORDER OF SERIES SO FAR

1/ Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

2/ Friday The 13th Part 2

3/ Friday The 13th

4/ Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

5/ Friday The 13th Part 3

 

Still haunted by Jason Voorhees, Tommy Jarvis drives to Jason’s grave to cremate his body. However, after Tommy stabs the corpse through the chest with a pole, lightning strikes and Jason returns to life, not only undead but stronger than ever before. Tommy tries to tell the local sheriff Micheal Garris but he doesn’t believe him and locks him up. Some teenagers are heading for Camp Crystal Lake, now renamed Lake Forest Green, and are soon to have a load of young kids joining them. Only the Sheriff’s daughter Megan believes Tommy but how can she get Tommy free so they can get to the camp before Jason does….

Scream is generally credited with introducing a post-modern sense of irony to the slasher movie, but actually it was done partially before with this installment of the Friday The 13th series – which is probably why Tom McLoughlin the director and writer of this one was sent the script of Scream when it was called Scary Movie but turned it down. I guess that this review may be a little controversial, since Jason Lives seems to be regarded by many as one of the best of the series, and I know that my fellow HCF writer Ross Hughes has this as his favourite. But, while it’s certainly not an entry I dread watching when I make my way through the films, it’s never wowed me. This oh so clever genre referencing and mocking is something that personally I’m not too fond of – for a start it reminds me too much that I’m watching a movie and diminishes the scare factor – though there’s not that much of it in Jason Lives really. What hampers it rather more for me is the introduction of supernatural elements. Yes, I know that Jason has always been super strong and can survive a hell of a lot, but turning him into a zombie takes it too far for me. In fact we seem to be told that Jason has always been some kind of supernatural force, which to me just ruins much of what has happened before, but again, I’m aware that more than anything else it’s a matter of taste. Driven at a fast and furious pace. Jason Lives, is still a fun picture, and at last we have another entry that takes place on Friday the 13th, but for me some of the old edge is gone and the tone fluctuates too much – it’s mostly quite light, but there are a few genuinely frightening moments that seem out of place.

Initially this was to be a direct sequel to A New Beginning and have its surviving characters Pam and Reggie killed off at the start by Tommy as the new ‘Jason’, but Paramount encouraged McLouglin to almost ignore the fifth film which hadn’t been received too well and rewrite his script accordingly. John Shepherd was asked to play Tommy again, but he was an evangelical Christian who had reservations about returning to the series, and eventually went to seminary. After the first day of filming, executive producer and really the series honcho Frank Mancuso Jr decided that he disliked Dan Bradley’s appearance onscreen as Jason, so the rest of Jason’s scenes were performed by C. J. Graham. Filming took place under the shooting title of Aladdin Sane in Covington, Georgia, especially Camp Daniel Morgan. McLoughlin’s wife Nancy almost drowned whilst doing an underwater stunt where she had to hold her breath for ages. Mancaso requested that McLoughlin extend Sissy’s death and add three more kills. One of them was of Martin the gravedigger, which meant that a final scene of Jason’s father appearing by Jason’s grave in front of Martin had to be cut. Mancaso asked for some edits to the murders, then the MPAA were their usual nuisance and nearly 30 seconds had to be removed. It was the first Friday to not hit the number one spot at the box office and grosses were even lower than A New Beginning though it seemed to grow in popularity on video.

The atmospheric opening scene is actually quite similar to the opening of A New Beginning, right down to copying certain shots, though McLoughlin seems more inspired by other sources. Jason is revived in the same way Universal’s Frankenstein Monster was a couple of times, and he looks effectively horrid as a Lucio Fulci-esque zombie replete with maggots all over his face, but why on earth doesn’t he try to kill Tommy? Then we get a James Bond gun barrel style bit with Jason in an eyeball throwing a machete at the audience. Yes, it’s cool – but is this really what these films should be about? Then he starts his rampage, replete with hockey mask, killing off two counsellors, a honeymooning couple and the grave digger in quick succession, but Jason is shown so much that he just isn’t scary. There are lines like “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly”[ugh!], and even “some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment”, delivered to the camera and therefore at us oddballs who watch these films. No wonder this got better reviews from the slasher-hating critics than normal.

Jason heads for Crystal Lake and the police won’t believe Tommy, though thankfully the Sheriff’s daughter Megan, who all-but-comes on to him while he’s behind bars, has the hots for him so believes him even though nobody else probably would. She decides to free him from the local jail and help him, but could they be too late? It’s all incredibly pacy, Tommy constantly rushing around and McLoughlin ensuring that there’s no slow passages whatsoever, and the series gets its first car chase. The ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ stuff thankfully lessens and even I liked things like “Cunningham Road” and “Karloff’s Grocery Store”. When Jason encounters four survivalists paint balling, their goofy dialogue and actions makes us feel like we’re in A New Beginning again, which to me is not a bad thing. But at times it doesn’t feel like we’re watching a horror film at all, which makes the odd really frightening bit seem out of place. In particular, there’s a truly chilling moment when Jason is stalking the camp and a little girl sees him by her bed. This has a real conviction to it, and shows that McLoughlin could have made a superb and very scary Friday film if he really wanted to. The climax is fairly well staged, with more things going on than usual, though it doesn’t quite have the edge of seat quality of the usual Friday finale – though at least we have an ending that makes some kind of sense.

The killings in Jason Lives are mostly done in a semi-comic, larger than life way, probably to avoid censor cutting – though that didn’t work. Three of the survivalists are decapitated with a machete at once, a guy is punched right through the chest, another is bent in half, a face is smashed into a tree leaving the bloody imprint of a face – it’s all very exaggurated and fairly bloodless, though there’s one really gruesome death, that of Paula, where you don’t see what Jason is doing to her but you see some blood spattered onto a window and soon after tons of gore all over the room. It’s a bit inconsistent with the general feel of the film. Interestingly this is the only film in the series with no nudity, though the sex scene, the camper van rocking as Cort and Nick go at it to music, is quite a funny one. This installment has a much more polished, slick look to it, and it’s probably better technically, but I dunno – I guess I prefer my slasher films to be grimy and cheap looking. And there’s still little room for characterisation. Thom Matthews makes Tommy into a really likable person, but wouldn’t it have been more interesting if the character was still a bit troubled? I do love the two young boys who provide some laughs in a few places, climaxing with one saying to the other: “Well, what you you gonna be when you grow up”? as they hide under a bed but still feel that death will come their way.

McLoughlin does a great job with certain scenes but not the whole. I will admit that having a generally higher standard of acting does help. David Cagen is especially good as the disbelieving Sheriff, though Jennifer Cooke isn’t really too good as his daughter – she just grins and pouts. C.J.Graham as Jason is quite uncanny with his movements, while the fact that you mostly just see him walking slowly also helps. Harry Manfredini’s score sounds a lot more conventionally ‘80’s’ with its slightly more advanced and much more prevalent synthesiser sounds, and only towards the end re-uses some older material, but he does rely rather too much on the first seven notes of the famous dies irae hymn. Alice Cooper’s songs go well with the general tone of the movie. In the end I admit that I probably sound like I’m being too hard on this movie – it is good fun, and I actually like it much more if I don’t think of it as a Jason film – but even after repeated viewings I don’t really understand why it’s rated so highly as a series entry by many. I can see folk who are just casual fans or even those who aren’t too keen on the series really liking it, but real Jason lovers? The love it gets escapes me. For me it doesn’t come anywhere near the fourth or even the second chapters. But then I’m weird.

RANKING OF SERIES SO FAR

1/ Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

2/ Friday The 13th Part 2

3/ Friday The 13th

4/ Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

5/ Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part 6

6/ Friday The 13th Part 3

 

Tina is haunted by an incident from her childhood where she killed her drunken and abusive father with telekinesis. She returns home to Camp Crystal Lake with her mother Amanda and Dr. Crewe, who seems to want Tina to use her anger to its limits as a kind of shock therapy. After another emotional fit, Tina tries to raise her dead father from the waters Crystal Lake, but instead revives Jason. When a group of teenagers arrive to party next door, Tina tries desperately to fit in, but is also precognitive and tries to warn them of their impeding deaths. Of course no one believes her and Jason is nearing the house….

I don’t think even die-hard fans of this series will argue against the point that, despite what other pleasures these films may contain, it’s more about the kills than anything else. And this is why Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood, or Jason Vs Carrie as it might as well be called, is a hard film to really judge, because the censors insisted on so much editing that its effect is severely blunted, virtually making it into the equivalent of a series of jokes with no punchlines. The MPAA truly showed their hatred of the franchise here, as well as their hypocrisy considering that some action movies of the time contained far more graphic violence. The New Blood is a slight improvement on Jason Lives to my strange eyes, trying a few new things to the series even if essentially it feels like The Final Chapter with Carrie plonked in – but I think that it would be much better with the cuts restored. The scenes are available but unsurprisingly Paramount doesn’t want to spend the money to try to restore them and put them back in the film. As for the gimmick of adding a girl with telekenesis who revives Jason – I’ve said before how I prefer this series when it’s non-fantastical, but obviously Jason Lives had now happened and this follow-up does do a reasonable job of placing the character in Jason’s world, while in my opinion it’s good to see a more serious tone return to the series.

Originally Jason was to battle Freddy Krueger, whose A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise from New Line Pictures had become more popular than the Friday The 13th films, and it was offered to Tom McLoughlin to write and direct as he had done with Jason Lives, but when Paramount suggested they release the movie in the US and that New Line release it overseas, New Line wouldn’t agree to it. After some flirting with associate producer Barbara Sachs’s Jaws-inspired idea of a corporate land developer covering up the previous massacres in order to profitably build condos on Crystal Lake, Daryl Haney was asked to script a more conventional slasher movie like The Final Chapter, which producer Frank Mancaso Jr said [probably rightly] was the best of the series. In the end a whole load of people including director John Carl Buechler wrote bits and piece though officially a made-up person called Manuel Fidello scripted the changes. Shot in rural southern Alabama near Bay Minette, the film had an eventful production with cast members who didn’t get on, others who got on very well indeed [most of the young men were gay!], drugs, run-ins with local racists due to the two black cast members, and alligators roaming around. Much Maddy and David material and a typical ‘Jason comes out of the water’ finale was removed, the latter partly because of Fatal Attraction. In fact the success of that and other films which used some slasher tropes but were more ‘respectable’ was blamed for The New Blood’s lukewarm performance – well – that and the MPAA cuts that even included removing some shots of Jason’s face – after which the BBFC also had a go including cutting some nudity.

After another recap with emphasis on Jason Lives, The New Blood opens strongly with Lisa’s flashback to her traumatic childhood event in which she runs away from her father beating her mother and ends up causing part of their built-in-water house to collapse and dad to drown. Soon after that we have Jason’s resurrection, which is quite atmospheric and creepy. He looks really impressive here – his clothes are rags and parts of him are starting to rot away, so it seems that this is taking place quite a few years after the last movie, though we’re never told this. This was the first time Kane Hodder played the role, mainly because Buechler pushed for Paramount to cast him after he ate live worms on the set of Prison. He did every one of his own stunts and would go on to make cinematic history for the longest uninterrupted onscreen burn [40 seconds] in Hollywood history. Jason soon disposes of two teenagers heading for the birthday party of one of them, then two campers, but there’s as much emphasis on Lisa. This is at times interesting, especially with the Dr. Crewe character, whose reasons for seemingly wanting to exploit Tina are a mystery for a while. The sequences of Tina trying to fit in seem a little half hearted though. Apparently her half of the story would originally have been made more interesting with the employment of some surreal dream scenes, but this idea was vetoed.

As in The Final Chapter we have some horny teenagers in a house which include a stoner, a mother and daughter in another one nearby, and Jason coming for them all. Again, one of the partygoers fancies the heroine, though it’s slightly more substantial here, and Lar Park Lincoln, despite obviously being a few years too old, delivers possibly the strongest ‘final girl’ performance in the whole series, she’s just very convincing – you feel her pain and anguish, and you’re really rooting for her in the finale. What with the lack of onscreen gore, things really hinge on the showdown, and fortunately it does deliver the goods, with Tina using various things to inflict damage. It’s really cool to see Jason have a load of nails fly into him, be clobbered by a severed head and electrocuted in a puddle of water.  But Tina’s father coming out of the water looking fine is silly [this was another change as he was originally supposed to be decomposing] and – I dunno – I miss the typical Friday shock ending.

While there’s some repetition in the kills – we again have an axe in the face, a head crushing and a fist through a stomach – there’s also some more creative ones, including a party horn stuck in an eyeball, gutting by tree saw and one of the best deaths of the whole series where Jason covers a girl in her sleeping bag and bashes her against a tree. The latter was possibly made more shocking by cutting it down to jut one bash against the tree, but elsewhere it’s frustrating –  you hardly see any blood and hardly any ‘impacts’, though Buechler added some shots of the dead bodies and a jump scare with a cat [the third in the series!] to partially make up for what had been lost. He stages things fairly well and his film has a consistent tone unlike Tom McLoughlin’s, though I don’t think his heart was in ‘stalk and slash’ and the movie also has a rather lush, soft look to it which is certainly appealing but maybe not the best approach for the material. Many of the characters in this one are not too likable, which makes it doubly disappointing when you don’t see them killed off properly. Especially nasty is Melissa, perhaps the most ‘bitchy’ female of the entire series. The way she uses a love struck sap called David to get back at Nick who has spurned her in favour of Tina, and just toys with him really makes you dislike her. Science fiction writer Eddie is the almost obligatory annoying person while Dr. Crewe turns out be genuinely villainous.

Sadly Terry Kiser as Crewe and Lincoln are stuck amongst some of the worst acting in the franchise, with some line delivery that’s almost painful to watch and hear. Kerry Noonan, who had played Paula in Jason Lives, actually read for the role of Tina without knowing it was a Friday film because it was called Birthday Bash. When she found out what it actually was it she was still happy to be in the film but Buechler chose not to use her. As for Hodder, he certainly has the required presence and his mannerisms are perfect, though when finally revealed the Jason makeup is almost laughable – how on earth could the MPAA have had issues with it? Harry Manfredini, who’d scored all the previous entries, was busy doing Deep Space Nine whilst this movie was being made, so Fred Mollin scored the film and incorporated some Manfredini tracks from earlier series entries. The trouble is, Mollin’s cheesy [if in their own way quite cool], 80’s style, synth heavy music jars badly with Manfredini’s compositions. All in all though, Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood is no disgrace to the series despite the attempts by the censors to ruin it, and is an enjoyable movie on its own.

RANKING OF SERIES SO FAR

1/ Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

2/ Friday The 13th Part 2

3/ Friday The 13th

4/ Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

5/ Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood

6/ Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part 6

7/ Friday The 13th Part 3

 

Jason is accidentally resurrected from his watery grave by an electric current and dispatches two teenagers on a boat. Nearby, the graduating class of the local high school is about to go on a cruise to New York on the SS Lazarus, chaperoned by biology teacher Dr. Charles McCulloch and English teacher Colleen Van Deusen. Van Deusen brings McCulloch’s niece Rennie along for the trip despite her aquaphobia, much to McCulloch’s chagrin. As they begin to set off, Jason climbs aboard the ship and soon sets about killing off everyone he comes across, while Jennie keep having hallucinations of Jason as a young boy….

I’m going to say it right now – I love Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan – even if I’m also aware that it’s actually quite bad in some respectsFor me this one is the ultimate guilty pleasure of the series, a film which is utterly cheesy, ridiculous and which doesn’t make much sense whether taken on its own or if you consider some of the earlier films, yet which is such an entertaining, fast paced ride that I can almost forgive its numerous idiocies. The most lighthearted of all the films doesn’t try to be anything else than a whole load of fun, and whilst it’s the longest in the series it certainly doesn’t feel like it, never having a dull moment in its 100 minute running time. What it also doesn’t have is any idea of reality whatsoever, or any sense, while the screenplay often seems to feel like it was made up as they went along. It’s also easy to feel cheated by the fact that Jason only arrives in Manhattan in the final quarter and doesn’t get very far. But I’m of the controversial opinion that it works better as a whole film than the previous two entries, despite the considerable stupidity on display.

It was originally intended to continue Tina’s story with her committed to a mental asylum and blamed for the murders in The New Blood, but Lau-Park Lincoln asked for too much money. Writer/director Rob Hedden wanted to set the first third on the boat containing the teenagers and Jason, than the rest in New York, leading to scenes on the Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden, The Statue Of Liberty, Times Square and other landmarks, but this was too expensive and the New York stuff got whittled down until it comprised just a twenty minute section incorporating about five minutes worth of actual New York footage. Los Angeles and Vancouver stood in for the rest and most of the film was shot on a boat which was half the size of the one originally intended due to a scheduling cock-up. Its initial marketing campaign, featuring Jason slashing through the “I Love New York” logo with a knife, was later retracted after the New York City Tourism committee filed a complaint against Paramount Pictures. The original scripted ending featured Jason being completely melted by toxic waste but they changed it so that if there was a chance of a sequel they didn’t write themselves into a corner. It was Kane Hodder [Jason] who nixed Jason kicking a dog. The actor intended to play Sean was sacked on the first day of shooting because he seemed too “gay”. The first cut was two hours and Hedden reluctantly cut twenty minutes of character stuff. The MPAA wanted around 20 seconds of gore removed and one kill [darts in the eyes] changed. The film was a considerable box office disappointment.

So let’s get the really stupid stuff out the way first- or let’s try to – and it begins almost immediately after the rather good opening which shows us locations that Jason would visit later on [though set to some poor soft rock]. After Jason has dispatched two teenagers in a boat, one of whom gives us a quick re-cap first, he’s somehow able to row the boat from Camp Crystal Lake in New Jersey to the Atlantic Ocean. Flashbacks to him as a boy shows him to be a normal looking child though some visions of him have him deformed [yet still looking nothing like he used to – did anyone on this film see or remember the first movie?]. We eventually find out that our heroine Rennie’s fear of water is due to a childhood encounter with the young Jason, but wouldn’t Rennie have been too young to go swimming back in 1980, especially as this is presumably before Jason first came out of the lake? Jason teleports. Yes, he teleports. I guess the rest of the boat stuff isn’t too dumb, but then – well – I personally haven’t been to New York, but I’m quite sure that you can’t row a boat past the Statue Of Liberty, arrive on shore without being stopped and find derelict slums and tunnels right by the water, throughout which you eventually get to the underground and can catch a train without being stopped. And why the hell does any underground pipe system get filled with toxic waste every night? And how come nobody seems particularly bothered by Jason striding around Times Square? And why – oh what’s the point?

Rennie and her story come across as a partial reprise of Tina in the previous film, though Rennie already had a boyfriend along for the ride. Sean is the son of the ship’s captain and gets an odd scene where his father asks him to take over steering and addresses him as Captain and Sean walks out in a huff – yet this is never addressed again. Jason is soon dispatching all and sundry despite a deckhand occasionally appearing to tell people that they’re all doomed like Crazy Ralph. As the body count increases very quickly indeed [this one has 24 kills!] there’s little sense of fear and the tone is fairly light, but the final scenes have an enjoyably relentless pace, as our few remaining protagonists, having got off the boat and rowed to New York, are chased by a Jason who seems more like the Terminator, killing everyone from punks to cops. I like the scene where Jason, who knows he looks terrifying, lifts up his mask to scare off some youths. For once he seems able to deal with people in a way other than cutting them all up, and I also like how Jason here doesn’t even always wait until victims are fully dead before moving on – though the mask that Hodder is revealed to be wearing at the end is even worse than the one in The New Blood.

While there are some very basic ones such as a strangling, some of the very numerous kills display a really high level of invention. They range from comical [being bashed by a guitar, a head being punched off in the film’s funniest scene involving Jason and a boxer who throws something like 30 punches at him and then dares him to do his best] to unusual [burning by a hot rock in a sauna, thrown onto an electrical system and fried] to simply nasty [shower stabbing by a shard of glass which was the most cut-down kill, harpooning where guts are removed]. A bit more gruesomeness was allowed to get through then in the last three films and it’s great. Perhaps it was because, as with The Final Chapter, this stood a chance of being the last one. Technically the film is sometimes a little poor, especially the shots of people in a rowing boat which make no attempt to hide the fact that they’re in a stage tank. As for characters, this one actually has a few more interesting ones than normal, such as J J the hard rocking chick, Julius the boxer, Miles the obsessive photographer who films everything, and a slightly nicer variant, in Tamara, on Melissa from The New Blood. She tries it on with Dr. Charles McCulloch so that Miles can film it, presumably intending blackmail, then spurns the love struck Miles. But because there are so many murders, you rarely get to know anyone.

Hedden does a really job of direction here, the whole film being full of cleverly composed shots and Hedden able to maintain a rapid pace very skillfully. Cinematographer Bryan England does really good work with the main setting with some interesting use of colour, especially during some scenes in the steering room which are lit by splashes of red, yellow and blue almost like a Mario Bava film. As Jennie, Jensen Deggett does an okayish job in a role which Pamela Anderson and Elisabeth Berkley also auditioned for. It was the parts played by Kelly Hu [Eva] and Sharlene Martin [Tamara] that were cut back most prior to being released and that was something of a shame in my view. Martin didn’t want to do her [non-explicit] nude shower scene until Hedden got naked as well! Fred Mollin totally took over the music for this episode and his synthesiser soundtrack is sometimes effectively moody but often sounds just like random noise and is sometimes rather annoying. This is really quite a random film – sometimes pretty good, sometimes pretty awful and sometimes just – well – random, but I personally find it one of the most enjoyable to watch.

RANKING OF SERIES SO FAR

1/ Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

2/ Friday The 13th Part 2

3/ Friday The 13th

4/ Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

5/ Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

6/ Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood

7/ Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part 6

8/ Friday The 13th Part 3

 

 

 

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2227 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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