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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday the 13th(Original)

Well another week, another movie. I was expecting something called Spring Break Massacre, but Netflix lost it or something, so they sent me the NEXT 2 movies in my queue, neither of which is a slasher. So, I threw in the towel, and decided to make good on my threat to start whittling down my Netflix Instant Queue. In that defeated spirit, I bring you the original Friday the 13th(the one I watched a while back was the remake), ma,, ki, ki... SPOILERS up the wazoo!!

The movie opens on the same Transylvanian countryside that Intruder featured in THEIR opening scene. Full moon, fog, the whole 9 yards, man. We're told that it's 1958, and it sounds like The Osmonds are being castrated in one of the cabins on Camp Crystal Lake. While the counselors are inventing Karaoke Night, the camera guy gets bored and goes to another cabin with a sign on it reading "Foxes". Maybe it's that weird movie that starred Kristy McNichol in the early '80's. Wait, was she nude in that one? I may need to add it to my queue...

The camera guy starts looking around at all the sleeping kids. It's like a Labor Day sale for Michael Jackson! (now THAT would make for a scary movie!) Before he can kill any little kids with his Camera Guy Powers, we switch back to the Counselor Choir. Yeesh. These folks look waaaaay too wholesome to inspire Jason's wrath. 2 of them, whom I'll refer to henceforth as Barbie and Gay Ken break away from the main group, probably to do each other's nails and talk about boys. Nope, they smooch for a bit, until Barbie tells Gay Ken that he sounds "special". Wow, so she wants to get it on with a guy who rides the short bus? Nice. Aim for the gutter, Barb, and you'll always win!

Anyway, Gay Ken decides to see if he can fit Barb's entire face in his mouth. He nearly succeeds, but "someone" decides to disrupt them. The camera guy kills Gay Ken with his camera, which he sticks into Ken's gut. The girl, who makes a face that resembles a cross between Mason Reese(anyone old enough to get THAT reference?) and Yoda, throws boxes at the camera. She opens her mouth so wide, you can see her tonsils. The camera freezes on her face, and then the titles come up, and break my monitor. We get what looks like closing credits, which would make this the shortest movie in the franchise. With a body count of TWO, no less! Yayyyyyyyyyy, see ya next week!!

Oh, wait. I guess there IS a whole movie to watch. Gosh, who knew? Next thing, you'll be telling me that Kevin Bacon is in this...uh, whoops...

Okay, enough horsing around. So this chick with a backpack, Annie, asks a dog for directions to Camp Crystal Lake. I shit you not. When that doesn't pan out for her. she stops at a small diner to ask for directions. Other than a lot of blank stares, the locals don't offer much help until a guy who looks like Hoyt Axton offers Annie a lift to the campgrounds.

On their way to his vehicle, the pair are accosted by one of my favorite characters in this franchise, Crazy Ralph. The remake didn't have a Crazy Ralph, which is a hame, because he's just a batshit-crazy dude. He tells Annie that if she goes to "Camp Blood", she'll never come back. It's an interesting way to pick up chicks, maybe it works.

Anyway, the guy giving Annie a ride asks her how much she knows about the camp and the guy who runs it, Steve Christie. When she admits to knowing very little about the camp itself, he relates to her the full story of the couple we saw in the opening scene in 1958: There was a boy who drowned in '57, named Jason. Big shocker, huh? Well, that drowning was followed by a series of mysterious fires, a sewage problem--basically, every time someone tries to re-open the camp, bad stuff happens. Annie laughs off his stories, and she gets out of his truck at the Mohavian Cemetery to walk the rest of the way.

We then meet Marcia, Ted and Kevin Bacon. Marcia and Ted seem okay, but Kev looks a little, oh, "footloose". Maybe he heard a stir of echoes, after Marcia revealed she's having a baby? Okay, okay I'll be serious...ish.

They drive into camp and meet the gayest lumberjack any film has ever featured, the aforementioned Steve Christie, and his able-bodied sidekick Alice. He tells them all that he wants to get started right away on getting the camp fixed up for business, as campers start arriving in 2 weeks. Then, despite his denim short-shorts and neck kerchief, her tries a pick- up line on Alice. When that doesn't work, he attempts some sincerity, begging her to stay until Friday. She buys the nice act, but he blows it by fondling her cranium. Yeesh. You might want to get that forehead disinfected, Alice...

Alice gets away from the slimy tentacles of Steve to tell another character(Alan? I dunno, I missed his name when she met up with him) that the camp's new cook, Annie hasn't arrived yet. Geez, where was she hitchhiking from, Brazil? We see a few more camp counselors who are nameless meat-targets waiting to die in this scene, followed by a great fake-out: A chick is setting up archery targets when an arrow sails past her into the one she just finished putting in place. The killer? Nope, it's her boyfriend playing a prank. Nice.

Annie by this time has been picked up by an unseen person driving a jeep. She tells the unseen driver that she's heading to the camp. She makes some inane chitchat about goats, and notices that the driver has missed the road to Crystal Lake. Annie starts to freak out and jumps out of the jeep as it begins speeding up. She takes off through the woods, and the driver pulls over to chase her. See, this is why I never discuss goats with strangers. She trips about 47 times, to give the killer time to catch up. Smart thinking. The killer manages to get ahead of her and corners Annie at a tree, slicing her throat open. Fade to white.

The next scene shows that most of the counselors have taken Steve's advice to work hard very seriously, by deciding to go swimming in the lake. As they decide to go back to work, one guy, "Ned" begins drowning. Working together, they find Ned and drag him back to the dock, where he attempts to make out with the girl giving him mouth-to-mouth. Anyone else getting tired of the fake scares yet? And why couldn't they have been their the day Jason drowned?

In the following scene, Alice is unpacking her stuff and sees a snake by her feet. The snake disappears under her bureau as Bill, a counselor armed with a machete arrives. As he reveals what a useless doofus he is, the rest come rushing in to "help". Help consists of knocking furniture and making helpful suggestions like, "call the snake". After hitting it with pillows(did they think it was a girl at a slumber party?), Bill chops it up a few times with his trusty machete and a joke is made about serving the snake for dinner.

A local cop swings by. He's looking for Crazy Ralph, and his dialogue is so cheesy he gave me lactose intolerance. They all take turns making fun of the guy, and he eventually leaves to go buy himself a Fonzie jacket. Did the script get switched with Meatballs when I wasn't looking? As luck would have it, Crazy Ralph is hiding in the kitchen pantry, waiting to scare Annie to death. He tells them that he was sent by God to warn them that the camp, and by extension all of them, are cursed. Well, at least he was nice enough to warn them. I wonder if he's related to Crazy Dave in Plants vs. Zombies?

Moving on....After Crazy Ralph rides away on a Huffy 10-speed, the counselors discover that the power's out. Three of them decide to go find the generator, including The Baconator. They start it up with no trouble, while I re-check the Netflix sleeve to see if I'm still watching Friday the 13th. Seriously guys, where's a psychotic camp-killer when you need one? And no, Kevin Bacon doesn't count!

Later that night, Kevin Bacon and a girl from the porno movie set next door, Marcy, wander off for some serious snugglebunnies, while the dorky "comic relief" character watches. Before he has any time to go read Sylvia Plath and buy some razor blades,he sees movement in a nearby cabin. Being in a slasher flick, the idiot decides to investigate. Yeah, THAT never turns out to be a deadly mistake! He goes into the cabin just as Kev and Stripperella finish their canoodling and head back toward the main camp. The sex must've sucked, because they actually discuss the FRIGGIN' WEATHER. After a very long-seeming discourse on rain and dream interpretation, a storm does spring up. They agree to save the weather-talk for another time. THANK YOU!

Kevin and Marcy get to one of the cabins the counselors are using for living quarters, but find it empty. At the thought of people coming in at any second, they get all hot 'n' bothered and make out some more. As they study each other's anatomy, Alice and the others are holed up in the main cabin, complete with a toasty fireplace. The 2 girls get sick of hearing Bill practicing his guitar lessons, which makes me realize how much funnier this woulda been if he had a trumpet, or a trombone maybe. Seriously, imagine the same scene, with a more obnoxious instrument played out of tune. It's funny, right?

Anyway, they put down the guitar to start a game of Strip Monopoly. The rules are simple: when you land on an owned property, you pay with clothes instead of cash. Imagine what landing on Free Parking would get them! Boy, life was a lot more fun before video games, huh kids?

Kev and Marcy are screwing like rabbits. During their lovemaking session, neither one took notice of the corpse in the bunk above the one they're on. How could they have missed it? It's the guy who went cabin-exploring earlier, with a biiiiiiiiiig gash across his throat. The movie switches briefly back to the Monopoly game. Double sixes, boy howdy! Luckily the movie hears my pain, because we return to Kev and Marcy just in time to see him making a tit-grab. Nice job, Bacon-meister. Sadly, it's the last action he ever gets, because--

Aw, DAMMIT, we're back at the Strip Monopoly game again! Bill lands on Baltic and loses a shoe andOHMYGODSOMEBODYPLEASEDIEFERGODSSAKE!!!!!! Somebody heard my cries of anguish, because we get back to Kev. He starts to smoke, and a hand darts out from under the bed and presses down on his forehead, while the other hand drives an arrow up through his throat. What is this movie's thing about throats?

Marcy, after all this time, has arrived at the camp's showers. She ducks in there to get out of the rain, which boggles my mind. If she wanted a shower so badly, and was naked in her previous scene, why not just stand outside for a few minutes with a bar of soap? I mean, she obviously didn't care if anyone saw her while having sex, so why the hell not? Instead, she gets a shirt wet on the way to the shower, which seems kind of pointless.

Oh well. She gets killed in this scene anyway, so it makes no difference. Marcy hears a sound, goes out of the shower to explore, and washes up at the sink. She hears noises again, this time in the shower area she just left. While Marcy peers into empty shower stalls, the killer comes up from behind her, and plants an axe in her head. The axe gets removed, then re-planted in her face. Ouch, talk about your splitting headaches.

Since the movie rewarded our patience with two pretty nasty deaths, we have to go back to Strip Monopoly for more torture. Actually, by now it's getting good: everyone except Alice is down to their underwear. They panic when the front door blows open, but it's only the storm. Unfortunately, the door kills the atmosphere, and they decide to stop for the night. Alice and Bill stay behind to clean up, while the other girl slips a raincoat over her underwear and heads back to her own cabin. Cool, maybe the killer's planning to get them as they separate!

No such luck. We get to rejoin Steve, who is having a warm meal at a place called, simply, DINER. Really creative. Is it next to MOTEL and GAS STATION? Although the homely waitress tries to entice him into staying(she looks like Larry King and Sally Jesse Raphael's love child), he tells her he needs to return to the camp. Despite the lousy weather, Steve hurries away from the Waitress from Hell.

The girl who left the Strip Monopoly game arrives at the bathroom cabin, blissfully ignorant of the stack of bodies that has been piling up in there all evening. She leans over the sink to brush her teeth, and a shower curtain sways a little bit. She turns around, but nothing is there, so she quickly brushes her hair and puts her rain poncho back on. Nothing happens. I actually considered watching the lame-duck remake of When a Stranger Calls on FX at this point, but I ultimately decided to keep going.

Steve isn't so lucky. With all the rain, his jeep's engine gets flooded, and he can't get it started again. Lucky for him, one of the local yokel cops drives up and offers him a lift. While he accepts, Strip Monopoly Girl is getting ready for bed, reading a paperback before calling it a night. Boy, between the Strip Monopoly, swimming, drinking, sex, and general tomfoolery, when do these dweebs have time to WORK ON GETTING THE CAMP READY TO OPEN IN 2 DAMN WEEKS??? God, I hope her death is painful.

It is. She hears something outside, grabs a flashlight, and decides to go back out in the hurricane of the decade. She stumbles around a whole lot, before SOMEONE switches on the fusebox, illuminating the camp. Blinded by the light, she's wrapped up like a douche in the middle of the night. No? Okay, she backs away, right into the archery targets. Then, she screams!

Before anything, you know, SCARY, can happen, we switch back to Alice, who contemplates throwing the godforsaken guitar into the fireplace. Go, Alice! Before she gets to make me the happiest man in the world, Bill comes back in from the cold. When she tells him that the lights at the archery range came on, he decides to go exploring. To her relief, she gets to go along. D'oh!

The go looking for their friend, and find a bloody axe under her bedsheets. Then they go to Kevin Bacon's cabin, and find it deserted too. Going to Steve's office yields the same results, so they break in to call for help...just as we, the audience, are shown that the phone wire outside the office has been cut. Now they start getting worried. Alice and Bill try to flee in a red truck, but the engine's flooded, prompting Alice to suggest that they should just hike back to town. At night. In the midst of a thunderstorm.

Steve and the cop are heading back to the camp, and the cop, Tierney, tells Steve about the town's run of bad luck with deaths and accidents. Steve laughs it off, but a call comes in for a squad car to respond to a serious road accident, giving Tierney extra ammunition for his superstitions. Steve walks the rest of the way, and finds someone at the campground's entrance. He approaches them, and appears to be attacked before the scene cuts off.

Bill gets up during the night to go and see if he can fix the generator. He tells Alice he's going, but she's fast asleep. Bill lights 2 lamps, leaves her with one, and heads out. As he's busily repairing it, Alice wakes up. She finds the lit lamp and figures out what he's busy doing, so she decides to return the favor by heating up some instant coffee for him for his return. She putters around the stove, she leaves to get non-dairy creamer, she pouts--and nothing happens to her.

Disappointed that the killer has ignored her, Alice tries to make herself an easier target. She leaves the nice, warm cabin and goes for a walk. When she gets to the generator, she finds Bill's raingear on the floor. She also finds Bill hanging out...literally, she finds his arrow-filled corpse hanging on the door of the generator cabin. She freaks out and tries to barricade herself in her cabin. She ties the door, she piles every possible piece of furniture in front of it, you name it. Sucks if the killer's already in there, doesn't it?

She then does one of the dumbest things in the entire movie. She starts lingering near the windows. Now, granted, this movie may be the grand-daddy of the genre, but I'm willing to bet that anyone who saw this when it was first released thought to themselves, "Hey, stay away from the windows, ya dumbass!"

As expected, a body comes crashing through the window she's near, giving the killer access to the cabin now. Alice then gets a sleeve caught on the stove and loses her jacket, because she hasn't mastered the art of "Oh, I better simply unsnag this" yet. She sees headlights outside and assumes it's Steve coming to rescue her. She spends a week moving all the stuff away from the door she blocked, and rushes outside.

Ain't Steve. DUH. It's a woman, Pamela Voorhees. Alice tries to tell her about the corpses, but Pammy isn't scared. I wonder why? When she sees the first few bodies, she puts on an act of damn-near William Shatner-level melodrama. She then tells Alice that she warned Steve not to re-open the camp. And then, she tells Alice, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, "The REST of the story!"

The year before the 2 camp counselors were killed at the beginning, a young boy drowned at the camp. "His name was Jason." She blamed the counselors, because they were too busy having sex and partying to see what was happening. Mrs. Voorhees hears Jason calling for help, and she tells him that she is helping him, which is quite disturbing to poor Alice. Jason was her son, and he had several "special needs" that made it especially important not to let him wander away unsupervised. Oh, and today, Friday the 13th, just happens to be his birthday.

Alice realizes now the trouble she's in. As Mrs. Voorhees goes bananas in front of her, Alice dashes for a weapon and settles for a fireplace poker. She swings it a few times, knocking Pammy out, and runs out the door.

We then get the scene that EVERY slasher movie has: the discovery of the bodies. But hey, this movie did it first, right? Alice finds corpse after corpse, and screams her head off. That wakes up Jason's Mama. Pamela sees Alice in the distance and speaks in Jason's voice, urging her to kill Alice. In her own voice, Pamels tells him that she will. Pamela gets the electricity back on, just as Alice arms herself with a shotgun. Which is unloaded.

Pamela finds her and tells Alice that she knows the gun isn't loaded. She then gets into a slapight with the girl, like The 3 Stooges on acid. Alice gets flung around a bit, before punching Mrs. V in the gut. Yay! She follows that with a right hook to the jaw, and Howard Cosell declares a TKO. Alice runs away before Pam can recover.

But recover she does. And boy is she pissed! She skulks around the camp, searching for her final victim, who is actually hiding in plain sight. When Pam has passed her by, Alice emerges from her hiding spot and goes back to her cabin. She turns all the lights out, which sorta defeats the purpose of not alarming the crazy lady who's hunting for her. She then tries out a few hiding places before deciding to make a better effort.

"Making a better effort", it turns out, involves trapping herself in the pantry right before Pam comes back. She holds the door shut, to convince Pamela that it's locked, then lets go when she leaves...which we all know, she hasn't. As Alice is relaxing, we see the doorknob start to twist. Luckily, Alice sees it as well, and starts looking again for a way to defend herself. She settles on a frying pan, just as Mrs. Voorhees crashes through just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. HEEEERE'S PAMMY!

As Pam swings wildly with a machete, Alice dodges and then whacks her good with the pan. Not content with a simple escape, Alice wastes 17 hours moving around the slumped-over body. She stumbles out to the lake, where a lone canoe is sitting at the edge of the water. What do you do after finding your friends slaughtered and having the killer chase you around? She just sits there. And waits for Mrs. V. to attack. Which she does.

They wrestle for a bit, looking like the worst Laverne&Shirley madcap brawl ever. Then Alice gets her hands on the machete and beheads Mrs. Voorhees in what is an iconic(and gruesomely awesome) image in slasher-film history. Great effect, right down to the bloody neck-stump and the hands flailing about. And none of that crappy, cartoony CGI shit.

From here, you probably know the rest, but I'll finish it off anyway. Alice takes the canoe, drifts toward the cener of Crystal Lake, and stares lazily into the water. As the music swells, Jason emerges from the water as a decomposing corpse and pulls Alice, screaming, into the lake. It's a dream sequence, and Alice is being attended to by cops and paramedics. When she asks what happened to Jason after he emerged and grabbed her, she is told that there was no boy at the scene. THE END of the movie, but the start of a franchise that has lasted for 3 decades.

Friday the 13th is a great, old-school slasher, but not without its flaws.For one thing, the kills take awhile to get going, which is unfortunate. Second, it's great to just watch for some fun scares, but there are a lot of plotholes and logic-lapses throughout. Things like Alice not just trying to escape when given the chance, or the hands of the killer being much more masculine than they should be, given the big reveal towards the end. Also, if the "ma, ma, ma, kill, kill, kill" sound is simply a part of Pam's psychosis, why is it heard in each of the sequels? Did every person Jason ever killed in those movies have multiple personalities too? And in the sequels(the first few, at any rate), why is Jason not yet a zombie? If he survived the drowning, doesn't that really negate the whole motive for Pam's killing spree, especially if it all happened 20-30 years before the main massacre in this film? Surely if he was alive for that period of time she had to have known. Or someone had to know, given his "special needs". A great prequel idea would be to explain that gap in time, and show what his survival entailed.

Eh, it's still a classic, so just enjoy the thrills and spills. 5 killer trees, because it started an entire wave of horror films in its wake. Oh, and what did this one teach me?

-Gore FX are always better as practical effects, rather than CGI.
-Kevin Bacon is the "Where's Waldo?" of actors.
-Never get between a mother and her child, if you want to live.

Next up is Spring Break Massacre, which finally came in just as I was editting this together. And I'll keep whittling away at my Instant queue, so maybe I'll get started on Friday 2 this week as well.