12 Movies A Slave: Doing Time At Friday The 13th’s Camp Crystal Lake
Being a massive cinephile, I thought it might be, for lack of a better word, “fun” to watch all 12 FRIDAY THE 13th films in a row and give some brief thoughts about them. I’m including FREDDY VS. JASON and the 2009 Remake as part of the series because I’m a glutton for punishment.
Now mind you, I have seen each one of these at least a half dozen times or more, so when watching them this time, I tried my best to approach the movies as if it were my first time seeing them. These are not meant to be heavy critical analysis of the films, they are simply fast and easy impressions to give you a quick review of their merit (or lack of).
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
I wouldn’t call FRIDAY THE 13th a seminal film, but it certainly is one of the most influential in the 80’s slasher genre. The thing that struck me most about this viewing was that the movie holds up better than I typically give it credit. It actually has a discernable plot with naturalistic characters that behave in a sensible manner. They arm and defend themselves and desperately try to survive and I found nothing egregious about how they behaved which lends some credibility to the fairly standard plotting.
Camp Crystal Lake is going to reopen after years of laying dormant due to a number of deaths that have haunted the place over the last decade. Having been dubbed “Camp Blood” by the locals, no one in the town wants to be reminded of the murders that have blighted their once peaceful hamlet.
But ignoring the warning, Steve has enlisted a throng of nubile young teenagers (including a young Kevin Bacon!) to finish it up. One by one the counselors are sliced and diced by a mystery killer in increasingly brutal and gory ways leaving just one to defend herself against the crazed lunatic. All in all, FRIDAY THE 13th is a decent film and worth seeing if you are a fan of horror and appreciate movies that have contributed to the genre over the decades. GRADE: 3.5 (out of 5)
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART 2 (1981)
I’m a little flummoxed by how to exactly review PART 2. There really isn’t a plot to discuss. For it being 86 minutes long, 6 of those minutes are a recap of footage from the first film via a nightmare that lone survivor Alice is having.
Once she is killed, the rest of the movie is just lambs to the slaughter, this time taking place at a “Camp Blood” adjacent, counselor training facility. All the characters are generic and one by one they get dispatched. This time the killer is Jason, crazed for revenge for the decapitation of his mother.
The few things that PART 2 has going for it is that the characters are still believable as actual human beings and it’s well shot with some honest to goodness visual flair. Steve Miner has a good eye for iconic shots and PART 2 has many of the ones most associated with the series. It’s brisk and doesn’t ask much from the audience but surprisingly the gore is not as graphic as you’d expect with many of the kill moments happening off screen or beyond the frame. GRADE: 3 (out of 5)
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART 3 3D (1982)
If PART 2 dispensed with the need for a story, PART 3 dispensed with the need for characters. They’ve been reduced to caricatures at this point and any semblance of caring for them has been slashed from the film.
There’s not much to say plotwise. New people come to Crystal Lake. Jason kills them. The only good that came from this movie is that Jason finally gets his iconic hockey mask. Yes, FRIDAY THE 13th newbies, Jason didn’t get his mask until the 3rd movie! Of course how he gets it makes absolutely no sense.
The make-up FX are quite well done here and Jason is menacing as his character continues to take shape over the course of the series. But it seems that the only reason this movie exists is apparently for the 3D gimmick, which is just that, a gimmick. GRADE: 2 (out of 5)
FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)
With a more polished look and presumably streameast a higher budget, PART IV is erroneously called “The Final Chapter.” Of the early films, I enjoy this one the most for the mere fact that they pull out all the stops as far as gore and… ahem… nudity.
Once again, there’s not much of a plot once the movie gets going. Line ’em up, so Jason can knock ’em down. That about sums it up. At least there was an attempt to humanize the characters; giving a few of them a backstory. Most of the drama centers around your typical teenage angst of “will I or won’t I get laid before the maniac chops me into tiny bits.”
Make-Up F/X gore-master Tom Savini, returns to the series to see the killer off in a blaze of glory. The F/X are particularly bloody in this entry and some of the best of the series. When Jason is finally unmasked, he truly is a vision of horror and his “death” is fitting and equally grisly. A step forward for the fading series and certainly one of the best it has to offer (which isn’t saying much). GRADE: 3.5 (out of 5)
FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)
The 5th entry in the FRIDAY THE 13th series is just plain dreadful and I don’t mean that in a good way. Jason is dead having been dispatched in PART IV. But Tommy Jarvis is still haunted by the events of that fateful night. People start dying at the group home he’s living at and they are being dispatched by a hockey-masked killer! But Jason is dead?! Has Tommy taken up the mantle?
Whatever cleverness this premise could have had evaporates after the first 15 minutes. Tommy is logically never really a suspect and when the killer is ultimately revealed it is so laughably obvious. On top of that he has absolutely no discernable motive for why he’s killing just about anyone who appears on screen. He kills more random people than those who supposedly deserve it. At least Jason had an agenda.
What’s even more irritating is that most of the violence is off-screen. There are barely any of the make-up FX that are the hallmark of the series and it gets tedious watching the umpteenth person get their throat sliced or just bloodlessly stabbed. For those who like nudity, it seems like there are more naked breasts in this movie than the others combined… and that’s the only reason I’m giving this film half a reel.