Before there was Freddy vs Jason there came a concept that honestly we will probably never see again in a horror film especially in this day and age. We’ve done six Friday the 13th films, the last one we did we resurrected Jason and made him into a supernatural force. Let’s have him fight Carrie but we’ll create a new Carrie that we own and he’ll finally have a formidable foe. As dumb as that sounds it makes a pretty awesome Friday flick, which not only brought us one of the most definitive looks of Jason but the actor who would pretty much define him.
Young Tina Shepard has telekinetic abilities as well as visions of tragic things that befall people. She has had trouble controlling her powers ever since she was a young girl where she one day accidentally had the dock her father was standing on collapse on him after he had drunkenly abused her mother. Her psychologist, Dr. Cruz and her mother take Tina back to the scene of her father’s death in hopes to help her come to terms with what’s happened and to learn to control her abilities, but unbeknownst to them the scene of the murder just happens to have become the infamous Crystal Lake, burial site of Jason Voorhees. In the cabin next door to Tina is a group of teens who have gotten together to surprise their best friend Michael for his birthday and Tina begins seeing visions of their deaths. In a moment of despair Tina uses her powers to try and rise her Father from the lake where he was lost to her but raises Jason who had been tied to the bottom of the lake. With Jason free and a slew of people on his lake the body count rises culminating in a final battle between Tina and Jason as she must learn to control her abilities in order to survive the supernatural killing machine.
These movies aren’t known for their amazing character development or logic, but with the greatness that was Tom Mclaughlin’s Jason Lives one could hope that we would have characters that were as lovable and situations that were as funny to counter the extreme gore. Unfortunately here we get the dumbest most generic group of kids in the franchise as most of the character development focuses on Tina. However as you watch these kids act idiotic and say cheesy lines and they fit into their stereotypes you cant help but cheer when Jason comes knocking and slaughters them mercilessly with his machete and in one case ties them up in a sleeping bag and slams random dumb bimbo #2 into a tree killing her instantly. Classic Jason.
As twisted as it is if you’re a massive fan of the Friday series like I am in a weird way Jason is your protagonist. He is your force of nature come to punish stupidity and those who aren’t complete morons survive, in this case other than Tina you only care about Jason. John Carl Buechler has worked as a special FX artist on tons of films from Ghoulies to Nightmare on Elm street but the funniest thing about him directing this installment of Friday the 13th is he doesn’t like the films. His attitude of wanting to do something completely different than anything done in the franchise is what got him the job. He designed the look and prosthetic makeup of Jason himself in this film and gave an amazing attention to detail. He went back through the franchise to look at every single scrape, bludgeon, cut and piece of flesh torn off Jason to make his Jason congruent with continuity. This almost never happens in a slasher franchise and he even accounted for Jason being waterlogged at the bottom of Crystal Lake. The greatest thing Buechler brought to the table though was the casting of stunt coordinator Kane Hodder who he had worked with on the horror film Prison. Kane Hodder is the only actor to play Jason Voorhees more than once playing him four times consecutively and one of the first people to treat Jason like a character, giving him a specific movement and the now famous heaving breathing and ominous shoulder movements Jason has as he stares down his prey. Slow and direct as if he knows nothing will stop him.
After killing all the dumb-ass kids we finally get our Tina and Jason showdown, beginning with Tina controlling broken wires to electrocute him! We then get a full on brutal beating of Jason in her brightly lit cabin where we see everything perfectly as she tears the house down around him to stop him but he keeps coming. The best scene though is a perfect glory shot of all of Buchler’s hard work in designing Jason with all of his injuries. Tina has the straps on the hockey mask tighten on Jason’s head as we see puss, water and other viscous fluids emit from his head until the mask snaps revealing the horribly scarred visage of Jason Voorhees and it is glorious!
Probably one of the only Friday films with a slightly happy ending but well deserved by Tina for putting up the brutal fight. The only thing that bothers me honestly is she resurrects her father at the end to help fight Jason which is really weird and random. The worst part is Buechler designed a moss and worm ridden corpse for the father which he has shown off before and it looks awesome, but studio execs thought people would be confused about who the corpse was. Instead they got the actor who played her father to jump out of the lake with mud on his face. While that left something to be desired, Buechler gave us an awesome Jason and amazing fight complete with Tina using a furnace as a flamethrower. What else could Friday fans ask for in life? Kane Hodder will forever be the hockey masked maniac who stalks our woods at night and we have this film to thank for it.
10 More Days til’ Hallowen! Halloween!
10 More Days til’ Halloween! Silver Shamrock!