Friday the 13th Part 6 (1986)
The third and final installment of the Tommy Jarvis trilogy (with each movie featuring a different actor in the role) goes out with a bang. Thom Mathews is by far my favorite protagonist in the entire series. This Friday the 13th flick has everything you could want from one of these splatter films. To begin with, Jason is brought back to life when his grave is struck by lightning during a botched attempt to dig up his worm covered corpse and destroy it once and for all (even though in Part 5 it was said he had already been cremated…) This Jason is played by C.J Graham who moves around with a strange gracefulness. This movie is more comic bookish than scary. Most of the kills are all played for laughs, such as a triple decapitation, or the “Don’t leave home without it” scene where a dead character’s American Express card floats in a muddy puddle. Add to that a cast of mostly tolerable teenagers, and a great 80’s rock sound track featuring Alice freakin Cooper and you have one of the stronger installments in the series. This may have been the first Friday the 13th movie I saw as a child and was the one that got me hooked on the series. In between Part 4 and Part 6 it appears Jason used his vacation time doing some commando training, because this movie sees him sporting a tactical weapons belt and he has pinpoint accuracy with throwing knives. This is a far cry from the oafish lumbering “retard” who wore filthy overalls and a pillow sack over his head in Part 2.
Official Score: 3 Stars
Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988)
Until the 2009 reboot, this was last traditional Friday the 13th movie that would be made for over two decades. Every movie after this featured an outrageous gimmick of some kind such as Jason in New York, Jason in Space, Jason as a body jumping Hell Baby (yeah…) but here it’s just good old hockey puss in his natural element, near Camp Crystal Lake dispatching with another horny band of teenagers, and what a horny band of teenagers it was this time. I believe this movie had the biggest cast to date in terms of disposable twenty-somethings. They were all as forgettable as usual. There’s a blonde “bitch” character named Melissa who was quite hateable, and the token nerd Eddie. The main premise of the movie however was kind of a deal breaker for me. Tina Shepard is a patent rip-off of Carrie. She uses her telekinesis first to raise Jason from the watery graves, and then in the finale uses it to bounce him around like a ping pong ball. I know it’s a little beside the point to complain about logic in one of these movies, but absurdity of the final fight between the main survivor and Jason knocked this one down a peg. This movie is helped by the first appearance of Kane Hodder in the role of Jason though. Kane is definitely the most natural Jason to have ever dawned the mask.
Official Score: 2 stars
Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
The last of the original Paramount series, this movie suffers from a couple of things. First of all, the budget for the movie was drastically cut, and so many scenes that were to be set in New York, such as Jason in Madison Square Garden, Jason in Central Park etc, had to be cut, and more scenes of Jason on the cruise ship were included. So for the bulk of this movie it is basically Jason takes the Love Boat. When he finally does get to the Big Apple though there are some fun scenes such as Jason vs. some would be rapists, and Jason scaring away a street gang. All the usual stock characters are back, and they are dispensed with in brutally creative ways such as a guitar to the head, flaming sauna rock through the gut (ouch, ouch, ouch) etc… For the most part I found this movie fairly solid for the genre and the change of setting worked to break up the monotony of the premise, this time on its eighth trip around the barn. The weak parts for me were the dream sequences featuring young Jason haunting the main character Rennie (Jensen Daggett) who had apparently been nearly pulled underwater by Jason when she was a kid on Crystal Lake. Kane Hodder is here in his second outing in the role and again he absolutely nails it. His version of Jason is the most nuanced. Everything from the way he breathes to the brutal way in which he snaps a persons necks gave me chills as a kid. Whenever I had nightmares of Jason Voorhees as a kid, it was the Kane Hodder version to be sure.
Official Score: 2 ½ Stars
Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes To Hell (1993)
This was the first movie of the series to be filmed by New Line Cinema, and boy did they take some liberties here. Like I said in one of the earlier reviews, this was basically Friday the 13th’s version of “Halloween 3: Season of the Witch”, that being a disconnected mess that has almost no continuity with the rest of the series whatsoever. Although for continuity freaks, this movie is the set up to Freddy vs. Jason (which took ten years to finally come to fruition) but was ultimately followed up by Jason in space instead. In this movie a lot of backstory is introduced. Jason, this entire time apparently has been body hopping (thus explaining the different looks between films) and each time one body is destroyed, the hell baby/still beating heart of Jason has to be consumed by a fresh carcus so the mayhem can continue. In this movie, only a fellow Voorhees can kill Jason. Not to worry though, as this movie supplies Jason with a heretofore unknown sister, niece, and an infant second niece. There is plenty of gore and carnage to go around, but nearly enough Jason for my tastes. Just a strange, strange movie. I applaud the bravery here to try something different, but this whole storyline just felt so contrived. Creighton Duke was a hoot though. I would gladly watch a serial killer hunting series revolving around that guy.
Official Score: 1 ½ Stars
Jason X (2001)
The folks at Digital Dream Door have this movie at number 35 on their list of the 100 worst movies ever made. In his review of this movie Roger Ebert echoes the meta qualities of a quote of one of the characters who, right before being eviscerated by a giant space vacuum screams “This sucks on so many levels!”… I have to say while I agree that yes, this movie is not good in that traditional sense of the word, for what it is, I thought it was a hoot. The premise is pure science fiction baloney, and at no point is any of this taken seriously. Jason going crazy on a space station is weird enough on its own, but Jason in a simulated reality of Crystal Lake was an even bigger hoot, and don’t even get me started on Robo-Jason. This movie had me in stitches the whole way through. The gore and carnage is in full effect here. Kane Hodder, in his ( as of now) final appearance in the role of Jason Voorhees gets to smash a frozen face into smithereens, impale someone onto a giant corkscrew, and even inadvertently causes the destruction of an entire freaking planet! (So much for keeping track of body counts here…) As much flack as it gets, I just can’t hate this one. It’s a low quality movie to be sure, but it’s my kind of low quality movie, one with a sense of humor and that clearly has a certain amount of respect (deserved or not) for the series as a whole. Oh, and the robot chick was hella-hot.
Official Score: 3 stars