Numerical ratings are at the bottom of the article; also spoilers probably exist, the movies are als old as me so for the classics I will likely ruin plot points. Sorry.
So now that Jason is finally and truly dead it seems there will be no move Friday the 13th movies. But wait, what’s this? Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, the fifth movie in a franchise initially meant to be a standalone and then intended to end twice already. The new beginning takes place five years after the last film, and now that I mention it lets have an aside.
The initial film was set in 1979, the second film began two months later and then leapt ahead by five years. Parts three and four took place in the following days, and now this film leaps forward by five years once again. So really the Friday series has nearly always been set in the future. Something to keep in mind next time you watch. Back to the reviews.
In this film the hero from the last movie is not adjusting to life well. He is having some mental problems; which seems acceptable, since a super hillbilly did try and kill him. Tommy goes to live in a halfway house with various other fodder. Soon one patient kills another and that sets off a whole slew of murders until we see Jason arrive once more. The survivors try and stop him, and once again Tommy takes out a psychotic goalie. This time it seems it was not Jason, but instead a copycat killer looking to avenge his son, so really it is part one all over again. It’s not a bad movie, and I feel it gets some hate for not actually featuring Jason, and fans hate it when they don’t get the exact same thing over and over.
Next up we get Jason Lives and it pains me to say that this is not the worst chapter in the saga. Tommy returns in this film, but not as the killer, which would have been interesting. Instead he apparently broke out of his current mental hospital, enlisted a friends help, and decided to dig up Jason so he could kill him once and for all. And he brought the mask with him. Tommy attempts to kill the dead Jason by stabbing him with a spear, and then lightning strikes and Jason Lives. And this begins the series’ decline into unwatchability. Jason is a zombie now and has super strength. The movie proceeds and begins bringing in some self referential comedy that was not wanted, but with a plot consisting of “let’s make him a zombie” was probably needed. Jason goes back to Camp Crystal lake, which has been reopened, and gets back to work; luckily Tommy enlists a sheriff’s daughter to help him and they stop Jason by chaining him to the bottom of the lake. I’m iffy on the comedic tones of this film, but I’m more upset that they didn’t do more with Tommy who really should be a raving loon at this point. All the same this one is pretty passable, but then so was Part Two so maybe Jason is just waking up.
If you felt that a zombie Jason was as silly as this series got, you were so wrong it hurts. In The New Blood we are introduced to a young girl who has telekinesis. Yep. Hoping to cure her she is taken from the mental institution and brought to Crystal Lake, but not Camp Crystal Lake. In reality her doctor is evil and wishes to use her powers for his own gain. Also, a group of teenagers have moved in next door and want to party. Apparently in the past this girl’s father drowned in the lake and she decides to try and bring him back with her powers. Instead she allows Jason to live again. He of course sets about killing people and in the end we get a fight between Jason and the TK girl, and it’s actually kind of cool. I mean after this long you might as well just go for random moments, it doesn’t make the film better, but if you are watching the series the effort at trying something new is appreciated. In the end she finally does bring her dad back and he traps Jason under the lake again and all is well.
Except Tommy, where did Tommy go? He’s never mentioned again; personally with the mental health facility mentioned I think this would have worked better with an increasingly batshit crazy Tommy running around. Also this makes the beginning of Kane Hodder’s supposed legendary run as Jason. Many fans cite him as the best Jason but I am inclined to disagree. With the ushering in of Hodder we get a slower moving Jason, one who seems to teleport all over the place. Its effect is far too comical. Also Hodder began to lay down rules, such as Jason not killing kids or animals. Apparently Jason has some sort of code of honor, which is BS because the character has murdered outside of promiscuous teens before. To me Zombie Jason was bad enough, but adding Hodder and his ego to the mix was a crippling of the series. Maybe I’m being harsh, maybe the movies themselves are more to blame, but it stands that the four films in which Hodder played Jason were terrible films.
And speaking of terrible films, Jason Takes Manhattan. Jason gets electrocuted by an underwater power line and comes back to life; he then climbs aboard the cruise ship that hit the power line and begins killing kids while they sail to New York. I don’t know, I just don’t know. When they get there the movie is nearly over and a lot of people die and then the remaining teens outrun Jason in the subway and melt him with some toxic waste. I don’t understand it either; I think this movie should be subtly retconned from existence, much as I have done with Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
And that’s my cut off for the classic films. The rights were sold after thins, and the movies that followed went in more and more random directions. So how do I feel about the original eight? I like the first four, and then they made more. Part five is not bad, and seven is kind of fun, but the ball got dropped majorly overall. This is a series that, while not as stupid as people think, does survive on quantity over quality.
Next time we will discuss how this series has been revisited and rebooted.
Friday the 13th
As a franchise: Because it can’t seem to die, and because the first four tell one large story 4/5
A New Beginning: An interesting take, that echoes but does not slave to, the original film. 3/5
Jason Lives: Jason kills paintballers, and Tommy serves as an idiot 2/5
New Blood: Carrie vs Jason 2/5
Jason Takes Manhattan: Stupid, just stupid. 1/5