Friday, February 25, 2011

Something Rank (#10-9)

4 Icons, 36 Outings, Innocuous Screencaps

Previous Entries:
(#36-33) (#32-29) (#28-25)(#24-21)
(#20-17) (#16-15) (#14-13) (#12-11)

(#10) Jason Lives:
Friday the 13th Part VI

"Why'd they have to go and dig up Jason?
Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment."
-- Local Wino

Maybe it's about time the Friday franchise became self-aware. With what little substance exists in the extraneous tits and lobbed heads, there's substantial wealth of material for mockery. Jason Lives then cleverly uses its self-referential side as a precursor to Scream. A fanboy film that loves its source material and still seems to get the joke. There are rules one must abide by in order to successfully survive a Friday film: don't drive through the endless backwoods without car maintenance, never openly harass a man wielding a spear, and tend to the children before taking your top off.

"So, what WERE you gonna be when you grew up?"
-- Emotionally Scarred Camper

Tommy Jarvis is free from the mental ward but still babbling his mad tale of backwoods brute Jason Voorhees. An attempt to put Jason to his final rest sees him reanimated and back in the habit. That habit, of course, is serial murder on epic scale. Jason's hardly interested in the hunt, more the capture and the inevitably gratuitous kill. His kills here, as inspired and ironic as they are, hardly hit the series standard for gore. Joyfully there's still plenty of fodder in the new class of Camp Crystal Lake and its dependably sex-hungry staff. Besides, it's more shocking to see actual children at this point than it is to see Jason split someone in half. The protective counselors opposite Tommy's age-old vengeance make for a tighter setup than most Friday films. Action-packed, amusing and aggressively violent, Jason Lives brings back this series' pulse after a less satisfying New Beginning. Jason ends up back in the lake where he began, a soggy mutant with some serious mother issues. At least now he's in on the joke.

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

1) A Fulci sort of Friday

2) Local Legend Cleans Up State Park

3) Bond. Jason Bond.

My Thoughts Exactly...

(#9) Halloween H20:
20 Years Later

Revenge is a dish best served when your series has gotten stale. Michael Myers finally finds Laurie Strode for their twenty-year family reunion. There will be heavy drinking, harsh memories shared, and maybe even... closure. Mr. Sandman brought Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) the dream of being a babysitter forever brutalized by a boogeyman brother. Their first meeting was that fateful, seemingly endless Halloween night that began on the backstreets of Haddonfield, Illinois, and ended up charred on the walls of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. That last attempt at bonding saw Laurie stabbing, torching and shooting out the eyes of her immortal brother. Indeed blood is thicker than water.

Bright and bookish Laurie Strode is now an alcoholic, pill-popping mother, but also headmistress of a posh private school. Haunted by ironically thematic visions of her past, Laurie remains broken by her brother's tendency to kill everything she loves. Michael Myers is at least gracious enough to wait till his nephew (Josh Hartnett) turns 17 before doing so. It's a bloodcurdling reality for Laurie, but a boisterous one for fans.

Steve Miner is an unofficial posterboy for this countdown, having created three of the better franchise films. He's responsible for fan favorite Friday the 13th Part 2, the stupidly sensational and sensationally stupid Friday the 13th Part III, and this mildly historic sequel. Miner's films are taut, but certainly tinged with less elegance than John Carpenter's classic, which nowadays seems almost untouchably pure. H20 at least tries to place suspense and story equally amidst the savagery. Also some gracious but appropriate appearances from the likes of Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Janet Leigh, and (why not) LL Cool J.

Much credit for this sequel goes to the hand of writer Kevin Williamson, still off the height of Scream's success. While it does mean hyper-verbose teens, it also means a solid premise fully tied to the film which it pays tribute. There's notably more soul to this script, with Laurie Strode's arc among the more rich in Final Girl history. Jamie Lee Curtis's creation has far surpassed her character's seeming simplicity, giving Laurie a tenderness that only empowers her more. Her strength is human and her humanity is her strength against an unstoppable evil. By the time these icons reunite (and yes Laurie Strode deserves that credit), it's a chilling and exuberant moment worth the twenty year wait. There's poignancy caught even in the void of Michael's gaping eye sockets. The vision of a horror legacy back in full throttle. "I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare," at least every twenty years or so.

Fan-Baiting Nostalgia:

1) Sassy, chain-smoking nurse Marion Chambers Whittington.

2) The original, more maternal Marion Crane.

3) Dr. Loomis has been framed!

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

1) Stocky, chalky and stalky.

2) Reunited and it feels so good much like decapitation.

My Thoughts Exactly...

Up Next: #8-7

A mother's failed vengeance.
A son's heady interior design.

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