Numerical ratings are at the bottom of the article.
Four years later New Line cinema had acquired the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise and decided to finally end the series. Their attempt was Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday and I suppose they were attempting to do this via sheer crappy film making. Not that there are not good moments, I love the opening to this movie for taking the most logical steps ever. Tired of an undead zombie killing tons of teenagers the government sets up a trap and uses dozens of cops to blow the ever loving crap out of Jason. This really should have been an ending to one of the films; death by an entire division of cops is far more awesome than being chained to the bottom of a lake. Alas, this is just the beginning and we soon learn that Jason is actually a mystical construct and is able to possess people who eat his heart. Luckily he also seems to be able to compel people to do so, because eating someone’s heart is not a natural impulse for me and, I assume, most people. We then meet a hapless hero, some of Jason’s more normal siblings, and a bad ass bounty hunter (he’s actually pretty cool, sadly he was dropped into this film) and we are told Jason can only be killed by one of his family but the twist is he can also regain his true form by possessing one of them. Most of this information is told during a scene in which the bounty hunter breaks the main characters fingers as payment for information. This scene made little sense to me but still, the guy is cool. In the end we get a mystical light show and also the necranomicon and dagger from Evil Dead and then Jason dies. And Freddy grabs his mask and takes it to hell and we all geek out a little bit.
This movie really felt nothing like a Friday film, the plot was more Halloween and the mystical stuff seemed more at home in Nightmare on Elm Street and then there was the necranomicon. None of it made much sense and it feels like they were trying to tie things together with franchises they didn’t even own yet. That said, I still like it better than Jason Takes Manhattan but not by much. But, there are some good kills and it gave us hope that one day Freddy and Jason would fight.
But first, development hell put off the match up, so after being seriously frustrated by delays Todd Farmer decided to make Jason X. He was worried that a new film would mess up continuity (God love him) so he took the only logical step: Cryo freeze Jason and have the movie set in the far future. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea, and they hyped a cyborg Jason who did actually look pretty cool. The problem is the movie just sucks. As a man slides slowly down a large drill bit he groans “I’m screwed”, one man is stabbed and comments that it would take more than one tiny scratch to kill him, so he is stabbed again: “That’ll do it.” He announces. The movie is full of horrible, over the top cheese lines and moments like that. At this point in the series a sense of comedy had invaded the films, but in Jason X it not only bordered, but flat out went into self parody and stuck a flag in the ground. I’ll give it props for attempting something new, and for the fact that Jason is his body count here by millions, but still at this point there have been three Jason films that I’m giving one star too. The next film would need to really rock.
And then there was Freddy vs Jason, now I’ve covered this one already, but I’m going to attempt to do so from a Jason perspective. The first few minutes of this film are totally Jason’s domain, the pointless nudity, the ditzy girl, and the stalk scene in the woods. But then ol’ Freddy creeps in and manipulates Jason into taking a hike to Elm Street. Freddy needs Jason to be his muscle and Jason provides it in spades. He is played well here, his look being taken down to the iconic necessities but still appearing put together and not too shabby. He comes off as huge and the visual and sound effects really enhance the visceral nature of his killing. The film makers manage to even make us have a small amount of sympathy for the character, rooting for him to win. And then they throw that in our faces. It’s awesome. They also do good on the promise of a Freddy vs Jason fight, giving one in each arena, and trying to take a logical approach to it. I now some fans have decried Jason having a fear of water, but again this is Nightmare territory. It’s not that in the physical world Jason has fear; it’s that in his mind, he fears the drowning that was such a milestone in his youth. That was his moment of fear, and Freddy uses that to go deeper and nearly get the job done. But then those meddling kids show up. But anyways, Freddy vs Jason is an awesome movie that works as a fantastic tribute to two great icons. Friday fans should be especially happy as much of the film carries a Friday tone, and Jason even gets a much higher kill number. Also, Katharine Isabelle is really hot.
And that was the end of the Friday franchise for six years. But then, in 2009 they decided to release a re-imagining of the series and this is where I’d like to tie things back around and lead off into a small anecdote. I said at the beginning of all this that I watched all of these movies with a friend, and after it was done I had a level of respect for the character and series. This is true, and I specifically meant parts two, three, and four. I had a long talk with this friend how it would be cool if they remain those three films, trimmed them up, tightened the action, and worked with Jason being a bad ass super hunter.
That is exactly what the remake is. Someone read my mind and decided to give me exactly what I wanted. In the remake Jason is not only a hunter, but he seems to be very clever and devious. He uses victims as bait to trap other victims; he stalks through the woods so he doesn’t have to run everywhere. Running is silly and it makes you fall down, Jason knows the woods, he doesn’t need to run. It’s all mind games and cruel efficient traps. I like this movie so much that I want to quite writing and go watch it now. But I will temper myself, because this film is not without flaws. About half the characters are bland to the point of confusion, the opening sequence runs too long, and they give Jason some crazy underground lair, and the ending is a bit weak. These things are annoying, but not crippling, and the characters that aren’t bland are pretty memorable and somewhat cool. And the asshole, he has one of the best moments that I will not ruin here. The remake is a leap in the right direction, and I would love to see a few sequels come down the line. However I have heard that this will not be happening, that the current economy won’t support it. But I say that with the exception of Jason X these films have all turned a profit, so give me a sequal!
Jason Goes to Hell: Features a powerful opening, followed by lots of random uselessness. 1/5
Jason X: Self parody and lots of cheese gum up the cyber works 1/5
Freddy vs Jason: An awesome tribute, and slickly made slasher 4/5
Friday the 13th (remake): Chips away the baggage and gives us a lean mean killing machine 4/5