The Things I Do for You

Posted: August 2, 2012 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, I hope you’re happy. I went and watched the whole Friday the 13th franchise just so you wouldn’t have to. Well, the whole thing minus the reboot and Part V. I’m pretty sure Netflix likes to think of crack dealers as their business role models, but I could be wrong (i.e., those were the only two not streaming).

Here’s the verdict: You can skip all of them, but Part VI and Freddy vs. Jason are worth a watch. Unfortunately, they’re best viewed in the context of the other films, so there’s that.

Part VI, though far from scary, was pretty great for a couple of reasons.

Number one: Because Thom Mathews. Need I say more? What? You don’t know who he is? Sad for you. Clearly, you’re not part of the Cool Kids’ Club. If you were, you’d have seen the Return of the Living Dead trilogy, in which he played two—count ’em, two—different people from Part I to Part II. He gets zombified in both, but it’s really the second one where he captures the essence of what pain it is to be among the returned living dead: “But they smell so good! So spicy!” Finally! An honest recounting from a true gourmet of how brains smell! And probably the only time a zombie ever talked its victim into giving up the goods.

Number two: Breaking the fourth wall—you’re doin’ it right. Not genius, mind you, but still intelligent. We’ll call it gifted. My favorite: “Why’d they have to go and dig up Jason? [Gravedigger looks at the camera] Some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment.” And the metadrama! The English major in me squee’d almost perpetually with delight.

Now, Freddy vs. Jason actually managed to scare me—mostly because of Freddy, but it still counts. The only time Jason ever scared me was when he jumped out of the lake at the end of the very first film. Anytime after that, he was mostly ridiculous, except in Freddy vs. Jason. I think because Freddy was able to literally turn Jason back into the deformed, tragically bullied child who was just terrified of water, the audience was able to get a glimpse of something human and pitiable, not the unstoppable-even-if-you-blow-him-to-pieces monster that we all know and are bored of by now.

I actually always wondered why “they” decided to pit Jason against Freddy. The two never seemed equitable to me. If anything, it should’ve been Jason vs. Mike Meyers. But, I guess they probably would’ve just left each other alone and gone on their separate killing sprees, which doesn’t really make for a compelling story. At any rate, I discovered the REAL reason it became Freddy vs. Jason and no other pairing: both franchises are owned by New Line Cinema. Plain and simple.

The thing I found most surprising while watching the films, though, is that Jason as we know him—visually, that is—isn’t actually a thing until the end of the third film. In the first film, he wasn’t even the murderer. In the second film, he wore a cloth sack over his head. In the third film, he steals his hockey mask from one of the kids he kills (Shelley—he was actually one of my favorites). I guess I had assumed that because his image is so iconic in the horror genre, he’d been that way from the beginning, like Freddy or Mike Meyers. He wasn’t, and I find that interesting in terms of branding. You’d think they would’ve wanted to establish the hockey-masked, machete-wielding version from the get-go, but that wasn’t the case here. You have to respect the staying power of a villain that remains nebulous until second film and then highly vulnerable until the fourth film.

So. There you have it. I’ve whittled the dozen films down to two for you. You can skip all the rest, as long as you don’t care about back story. Also, if you want to see Corey Feldman as a kiddi-poo and Crispin Glover at his least creepy/awkward, Part IV is worth a go too. I sacrificed a lot of brain cells in this endeavor. I hope you appreciate it.

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