One of the three most popular horror franchises of all time (along with Halloween and Elm Street. Don't bother arguing, I already don't care), Friday The 13th was among the first popular masked killer films, and the impact it has left has been every bit as massive as the amount of movies in the franchise itself -- I think there are 12 total films, with a new one being released next year. They've been very redundant, sure, but they're still fun as mindless slasher entertainment. But isn't that all they were ever meant to be?
As I've been working my way through various horror series' for the very first time, I've found myself gravitating more towards the Hellraiser and Elm Street films (due largely to the incredible visual appeal and intriguing supernatural qualities), but I've been mostly enjoying the Halloween and Friday The 13th films as well, even if they aren't as fun for me. There just aren't enough differences between these movies or ingenious set-ups to make different entries in the series stand out, so I won't be making any top 5 favorite things about them posts...at least not this year.
The first 4 films in the series are all very standard, and none of them are really all that special, but I'll write a little about each film and which ones I like the most. So, let's start with the one that it makes the most sense to start with.
Of the first 4 films, this one is technically the best -- as could probably be expected from the first in a series that repeats itself this much. All of the following films had straight forward setups and execution, whereas this one doesn't follow around the killer and actually featured a twist ending: one that's bound to still surprise some people to this day. Also, Kevin Bacon is in it. The scares here are more fresh, but the lack of gore isn't as fun as future installments. The best actual horror movie of the first 4, but not the most entertaining.
They didn't waste much time to jump right into turning this into a series, getting started on the second film without so much as a moment's hesitation. And with an ending like the previous film, can you really blame them? We get the same basic "group of young people going to a summer camp get killed off one by one" routine (because DUH) and we still don't get to see Jason wearing his signature hockey mask. Probably my least favorite of this first grouping, but this one is still entertaining enough for fans of the genre.
The first appearance of Jason's hockey mask! This movie was made back in the day when filmmakers thought it would be cool to make the third film of franchises in 3D (just the year after this, Jaws 3D came out. Oh joy!), and as much of an eyesore as that gimmick was - especially back then - watching this movie is made all the more entertaining because of it. Watching movies shot for 3D in 2D is just funny. And I actually enjoyed some of the characters in this movie, too. This is a cheesy dumb movie that's probably worse than the previous 2 by most people's standards, but it's my favorite of the bunch.
This one is about as forgettable as the 2nd movie, but that one didn't have Corey Feldman AND Crispin Glover, who are both infectiously watchable. Especially when Glover is dancing. But this is just not too special of a movie as a whole, and now that I think of it this might be my least favorite of the first 4. There are no attempts to make it fresh or more lively, there is little to no humor to be found (apart from the aforementioned dancing scene), and the title itself in a big fat lie. Seriously, it wasnt even a full 12 months between this and the next movie. It was the shortest gap between releases up to this point in the series, because that makes sense.
Even though I haven't been having as much fun with these movies as I have with some of the other franchises, I can see why they kept making them. When you have an image/villain as iconic as Jason Voorhees, you're allowed to abuse the hell out of it. Besides, with the low budget and high gross of each of these movies, there really wasn't any reason for them not to keep making them. Maybe these aren't the most scary or satisfyingly gory horror movies out there, but they're great to watch in October as disposable Halloween entertainment. Check back in within the next week or two and I should have the next set of mini reviews up and ready for you.