Review : Jason X (2001)

This is it, folks ! I am concluding my Friday the 13th marathon with the final installment: Jason X, directed by James Isaac and released in 2001. It has been close to a decade since the last Jason film and the sole pupose of this new entry was for New Line Cinema to retain the rights while Freddy VS Jason was in development. And what do you do when you run out of ideas ? You send your main character in space, of course !

In the early 2000’s, Jason Voorhees is captured and held by the government in a secret facility, thr Crystal Lake Research Facility (what the hell is that and where does it come from and why do they keep inventing nonsense like this ?). After several failed attemps at killing Jason, a scientist decides to put him in cryogenic suspendion. However, the government has other plans and wants to study Jason’s abilities. Of course, Jason escaped and kills everyone except the scientist who manages to trap him in a cryogenic chamber. However, Jason manages to stab her, compromising the integrity of the chamber and freezing them both. This is just the opening sequence and it is quite fun and promises an interesting story. There is also a cameo from director David Cronenberg (what’s he doing here, I have no clue). I genuinely thought it was a good opening sequence.

Fast forward 400 years into the future and we meet a group of archaeology students find the bodies of Jason and Rowan (the scientist) and bring them back to their spaceship, which is on route to Earth II. Withe their super advanced technology, they manage to revive Rowan who warns them about Jason….but it’s already too late. The rest of the film is about Jason killing (almost) everybody on board.

While Jason X is not a good movie by any means, it is a huge improvement over the shitfest that was Jason Goes To Hell. First, Jason is actually in the movie. A lot. A Jason film starring Jason ? Thank you, New Line, for finally understanding that the main character is actually an essential part of the franchise !! Jason X has something that, despite its many flaws, makes it work : it knows what it is and doesn’t take itself seriously. While the jokes don’t always land, the film is filled with humor, sometimes intentional, sometimes not.

While the acting is bad and the majority of the lines is cringe-worthy, the cast seems to be having fun. Unlike the previous entry, Jason X is actually really fun and entertaining. Once Jason wakes up from his stase (for reasons unknown since it took complicated equipment to revive Rowan when Jason simply wakes up), there’s a kill every 5 minutes. While most are very simple, a few do stand out especially the first one on the ship where Jason puts a female scientist’s head in liquid nitrogen and then smashes her face into pieces against the table. This scene is awesome.

The characters, young students all obssessed with sex, don’t have much personality or intelligence. But, there’s so many of them that it gives plenty of victims for our friend, Jason. Unfortunately, I do have an issue with the look of pre Uber Jason. He looked terrible in Jason Goes To Hell but here, they didn’t get anything right : the mask is terrible, there is barely any make-up and you can clearly see Kane Hodder under the mask. He might be the worst looking Jason in the entire franchise. However, when he becomes Uber Jason, get ready for an extreme level of badass Jason. I love the design of Uber Jason, he looks amazing and I wish we got more of him in the film.

There is another scene that stands out, in the final act. The remaining survivors create an holographic simulation of Crystal Lake to distract Jason. There, he meets two female campers who claim to love alcohol, drugs and pre-marital sex. A fun hommage to the famous Friday the 13th formula. Of course, this turns on Jason’s “destroy horny teenagers” mode and he kills both by bashing them in their sleeping bags, another nod to a famous kill in the franchise. The scene is silly but really fun to watch.

Many people despise Jason X, but after watching Jason Goes To Hell, I like this final installment even more. Is it bad ? Yes, absolutely. But at least, it’s extremely entertaining and at this point, this is all I wanted. And there’s Uber Jason. Who in their right mind can dislike Uber Jason ? Check out the film, you’ll have a fun time.

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Review : Jason Goes To Hell (1993)

After an unintentional break into my Friday the 13th marathon, here is my review of the worst entry in the franchise : Jason Goes To Hell, directed by Adam Marcus and released in 1993. It was my first time watching the film. I knew its reputation so I was expecting mediocrity…but I didn’t realize it would be beyond mediocre.

First, let’s try to summarize the plot (as if there is one…) : Jason has been blown to pieces (more on that later) but we discover that his body is merely a vessel for a demon and his heart not only keeps beating but also hyptonizes anyone who looks at it into eating it. Confused yet ? Wait for the rest of this stupid story… So, Jason is now an entity (in the form of a weird worm creature) that jumps from host to host. Apparently only a Voorhees can either help him be reborn or kill him for good. And guess what ? It so happens that Jason has a half-sister…I’ll just stop right here because you get the idea : the script was written by morons who never watched a Friday film.

The film actually has a decent opening sequence which makes you believe you’re about to watch a typical Friday film. It opens with a young woman going to a cabin at Crystal Lake, she’s about to take a shower and the lights go out. Jason appears, all rotten, and chases her through the woods. All of a sudden, Jason is surrounded by armed forces who fire a thousand bullets at him…wait ! Are we getting a nice little twist ? Don’t get your hopes high, the fun stops right here. Since automatic weapons were not enough, they blow him up into pieces with air missiles. That’s right, freaking air missiles ! This is the moment you realize what you are watching is not a Friday the 13th film.

The film’s biggest mistake is that Jason only appears in it briefly. This movie is called JASON goes to hell. His name is in the freaking title !! I’ll take A New Beginning anyday over this pile of shit because Part V does have a Jason even if it’s not the real one. And I won’t even debate about it being subtitled The Final Friday when they pulled that crap once before with The Final Chapter (which is forgiven because it’s a great film). This is also where Jason looks the worst and Kane Hodder gives his weakest performance.

The whole mythology they are trying to force feed us is a complete failure. Jason has relatives who come out of nowhere, there’s a story about a dagger which becomes magical when a Voorhees holds it…need I continue ?

I don’t know who thought this was a good idea for a Friday film and I can’t believe Sean S. Cunningham (director and producer of the first film) participated in this debacle. The directing is really bad, the story makes no sense at all, the film is boring and Jason is barely in it. I honestly can’t think of anything positive or a bit reedeemable about Jason Goes To Hell. It is simply an absolute piece of shit which shouldn’t have been made.

At least in the previous entries, even the bad ones were at least entertaining. This one has nothing going for it not to mention it lacks any kind of gore or horror. Avoid it at all cost and let me do you a favor. I give you the only shot worth seeing in the entire film :

Review : Xtro (1982)

Second Sight Films sent me a copy of their brand new release of Xtro, arriving for the first time on blu-ray on June 18th, 2018. This limited edition boxset comes with a lot of special features including both the original and alternate endings, a documentary and several featurettes.

Xtro is an exploitation horror film directed by Harry B. Davenport and released in 1982. Surprisingly, in the midst of the Video Nasties era, Xtro managed to avoid being on the list despite being quite gory and sometimes even disturbing.

Young Tony is playing with his father in the garden of their cottage when suddenly, a bright light appears in the sky and seemingly makes Tony’s dad disappear. Three years later, Tony and his mother now live in the city with Jo, the mom’s boyfriend and Anne-Lise, a french au pair. Since her husband’s disappearance, Tony’s mother believes her husband simply abandonned his family. When the strange light returns and dumps an alien creature, slaughters and weird events start occurring, including the return of Sam, Tony’s father.

The first thing that surprised me with Xtro is…its release date. This 1982 film screams of the seventies : from the camerawork to the furniture and clothing, I couldn’t believe this wasn’t set in the 1970´s. I suppose England took a couple of years to fully dive into the kind of 1980’s we know.

Xtro is a surprising little gem regarding different aspects. First, I was expecting a rather mediocre exploitation B-movie but what I got instead is a well-made creature feature with a big emphasis on its characters. Xtro spends more time with the characters than with its creature. The result is well-crafted characters, with enough qualities and flaws to find them interesting. Though the story is not well written, I still wanted to find out what would happen to Tony and his relatives.

The creature, though not on screen enough in my opinion, is really well-made, proving once more that practical effects will always be better than any kind of CGI. This human-alien hybrid is terrifying and the few moments it appears on screen will make you shiver. For the rest of the film, Tony hangs out with different things including a murderous midget clown. Being terrified of clowns, you can imagine I spent most of those scenes hiding under a blanket. Overall, the scares in Xtro work really well.

Now, Xtro is known for one specific scene : a disgusting, disturbing, gory birth scene. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the alien creature impregnates a woman (in a fashion similar to Alien but way more disturbing as the creature seems to be enjoying the process) who then gives birth…to Sam, the father who was abducted three years earlier. It doesn’t make much sense but you probably won’t care because you’ll spend that scene trying not to vomit. It does indeed deserves its reputation of being extremely disturbing. That scene alone should have made Xtro a high contestant for the Video Nasties list.

Xtro is often incoherent and mostly all over the place. It is poorly written and yet, you can’t take your eyes off te screen. The less sense it makes, the more intriguing it becomes.

Why is Tony surrounded by clowns, panthers and toys which help him terrorize the neighbors ? How is Sam altered from being aducted ? What is all that sucking about (yes, you read that right) ? Those are questions we won’t get anwers to. And yet, you will for sure watch Xtro until the end, if only to try and make sense of it all.

Xtro has good characters and great effects but it is strangely a memorable film for its lack of coherence and some disturbing moments. I wish I could unsee that horrible birth scene but I am really glad I finally got to see this weird Alien rip-off which I’ve heard about for years but hadn’t seen until today. Xtro is definitely one of those weird movies you have to watch, even more so with Second Sight Films’ new release which has a great transfer (the image is clear but the grain is still present…I personally like my older films grainy).

📚 Goosebumps Project #2

This second haul is a rather small one as I only found three Goosebumps books. I went to a thrift store that I had never been to before which turned out to be a gold mine for vintage books. Each book is 50 cents so I got quite a lot but unfortunately, they only had these three Goosebumps titles. I plan on going to this store every month.

Above, you can the three titles I found : Why I’m Afraid of Bees, Stay Out of the Basement and Return of the Mummy. I am quite pleased because they are in excellent condition. By visiting only two stores, I already own 16 Goosebumps titles so I have high hopes that I will have the complete series by the end of the year.

Below is the corresponding titles and numbers between the French and American versions of the books.

logo-goosebumps

Chair de Poule VS Goosebumps

There will be less updates in the future as it is not worth it to write an article about only 2-3 titles. Next time, I’ll update you on the collection once I have found at least 10 new titles. Wish me luck !

Review : Friday the 13th Part VIII : Jason takes Manhattan (1989)

Another year, another sequel ! In 1989, Jason takes Manhattan, directed by Rob Hedden, was released. This is regarded as one of the worst sequels in the franchise. While this movie should have been called Jason takes a boat to Manhattan (as he only spends a third of the film in NYC), I don’t share the common dislike for this film. I actually like it. Sue me…actually, don’t, let me explain !

The film opens with two high school graduates aboard a boat on Crystal Lake. Apparently, staying on a lake known for having been the location of multiple massacres is a brilliant idea ! The boat’s anchor damages some underwater cables which shock Jason’s corpse and bring him back to life. The next day, a group of students is getting aboard the Lazarus on a cruise to New York City. An unexpected guest joins the teenagers and gets rid of them one by one until the boat reaches New York City, allowing Jason to…take Manhattan…sort of !

Let’s first address the elephant in the room : the title is misleading and, on the first viewing, will surely be a big disappointment. The majority of the film takes place on the ship and not actually in Manhattan. Jason arrives in NYC in the final act of the film. While I am indeed disappointed that the film is set on a cruise and not in the city, the short time spent in NYC is entertaining enough to be satisfying. I found the shots of Jason in Times Square and in front of a giant hockey billboard quite epic.

Now, with each sequel, the characters seem to get worse. With more sequels comes less character development. However, the main protagonists are a big improvement over Tina from The New Blood. Rennie and Sean are likable enough and not too annoying that you’ll enjoy following them trying to escape Jason. The others are just expendables and, as we are used to now, are just body count for Jason to have fun with.

Jason takes Manhattan has many flaws, several scenes makes no sense and yet, I found it really entertaining. The boat sails from a lake to the ocean…how exactly does that work ? Then, in New York City, apparently it is a common thing to find barrels full of acid in alleyways. These are only two examples of the silliness that occurs in this film.

The ending, while not as bad as The New Blood, is once again impossible to explain rationally. Now that we are on the eighth Friday the 13th film, it is quite clear that none of the directors and writers had any clue on ending any of these films.

I don’t understand the hate towards Jason takes Manhattan. Is it indeed flawed but I thought it wasn’t worse than some previous entries in the franchise. Jason, as portrayed by Kane Hodder, is still a badass and plenty enjoyable to watch. 

Review : Friday the 13th Part VII : The New Blood (1988)

Directed by John Carl Buechler, the seventh installment in the Friday the 13th franchise was released in 1988 and marks Kane Hodder’s first time as Jason Voorhees. He is the only actor to have reprised the role several times.

Jason Voorhees is still chained at the bottom of Crystal Lake. We are introduced to a new family living in area, Tina and her parents. One night, after abusing her mother and chasing her to the lake, Tina, who has telekinetic powers, accidentally kills her father. Ten years later and after years at a mental institution, Tina returns to Crystal Lake with her mother and her psychiatrist to face her past and come to terms with it. However, Tina accidentally (again…) raises Jason from the dead. 

I have many issues with The New Blood and the predominant one is the main character, Tina. She is annoying and constantly whining. First of all, while I understand she would be traumatized by having killed her own father, the degree of grief she demonstrates is unbelievable. We only have one single information about her father : he was violent and abusive. Knowing that, it seems unlikely that she, as she states herself, misses him greatly. While on the topic of her father’s death, the scene made little sense. It seems that he died simply from falling into the water as nothing hit him or trapped him underwater. He simply died…because he fell into the water…really ?

The other two characters surrounding her are just as poorly written : the psychiatrist is an asshole and his sole purpose is to be disliked (and trust me, you’ll hate that guy) and her mother is oblivious to the fact that this man is so obviously mean spirited and after her daughter’s powers. The teenagers next door are textbook slasher characters and I barely remember any of them.

However, there is someone who reedeems all these awful characters : our friend Jason ! It is the first tim Kane Hodder portrays him and it is clear why he is fans’ favorite. Jason has never been more badass than in The New Blood. It’s a shame Hodder is in the worst entries in the Friday the 13th franchise because he is possibly the best Jason Voorhees. He brings charisma and a menacing physicality to the character like we’ve never seen before. While he sometimes acts over-the-top, it never bothered me. He is definitely the highlight of the film…though that wouldn’t have been difficult to begin with. He still deserves all the recognition for making this movie watchable. His make-up is fantastic as we get to see him unmasked and there are a few epic scenes thanks to our hockey-mask wearing freak !

The New Blood is once again heavily edited and makes me wonder what is the point of watching a Friday the 13th film if we are denied the blood and gore. There is one aspect I didn’t like and it is again linked to the main character, Tina. I simply don’t like the fact that she has telekinetic powers. It feels like cheating ! The other final girls had to find ressources and inner strength to fight Jason, it would have been too easy to have superpowers (what is this, the X-Men ?). To make things worse, Tina doesn’t even use her powers for anything but move an object from point A to point B, which anyone could do without powers. She never does anything amazing or badass. Many have stated that this is Carrie VS Jason…but that’s disrespectful to Carrie.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy The New Blood because Jason is plenty entertaining but other than him, the movie doesn’t have much to offer. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is the worst in the franchise so far and is impossible to explain because no matter how you look at it, it makes no sense. Watch it if you have 80 minutes to lose.

 

Review : Friday the 13th Part VI : Jason Lives (1986)

Friday the 13th Part VI : Jason Lives, directed by Tom McLoughlin, was released in 1986. After the poor reception of Part V, the producers decided to bring back Jason Voorhees. On two occasions (Part IV and Part V), Tommy Jarvis was set up to be the new villain, they definitely dropped the idea and made him the hero in this new installment.

After the events of the previous film, Tommy Jarvis and a friend return to Crystal Lake to cremate Jason’s body. In an attempt in doing so, they unintentionally bring Jason back to life. Tommy tries to warn the authorities but nobody believes him and everyone thinks he is insane. Soon enough, Jason returns to his old habit of murdering anyone who crosses his path while Tommy is being accused of the murders. It is up to Tommy and the sheriff’s daughter who befriends him to pit and end to Jason’s reign of terror over Crystal Lake.

Jason Lives is definitely amongst the best Friday the 13th sequels, especially upon viewing it right after the mess that was A New Beginning. The opening scene is an hommage to gothic horror, specifically Frankenstein, with the lightning resurrecting Jason. It is the first time, and not the last, Jason is presented as a supernatural being with abnormal strenght and the inability to die. This might even be my favourite portrayal of Jason and I especially enjoyed his undead look. They also made the very smart choice of recasting Tommy Jarvis. Thom Matthews (from Return of the Living Dead) does a much better job than his predecessor ever did. Tommy has to fight on several front in this film : he has to face his childhood trauma but also the authorities who simply won’t believe him. This very frustrating situation makes Tommy a very strong character and a hero worthy of rooting for.

This sixth installment brings back the blood and it feels in the tradition of every other Friday the 13th films, unlike the previous one. I didn’t find any kill to be particularly memorable but they are all entertaining and well-made. They also added a new element which increases the tension : this is the first time there are children at the camp. Though I knew they wouldn’t dare kill a kid on screen, I couldn’t help but fear for the little ones when Jason was lurking around their dorm.

The highlight of the film is its fantastic final sequence. Jason is terrifying and determined to get rid of Tommy once and for all. There is only one thing that doesn’t quite make sense to me : Jason doesn’t mind the water at all ; I expected him to be reluctant and maybe even scared to walk into the lake where he drowned as a child (or didn’t drown, who knows). Apart from this detail, the scene is great. I’ve never been really scared of Jason, that was until I saw him underwater. What a great conclusion ! This is my favourite ending to a Friday the 13th film so far.

I highly recommend Jason Lives as it is one of the best entries in the franchise. I still enjoy The Final Chapter a little bit more but this one is a close second.