Tag Archives: Franchise

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

13.8 poster

I had revised levels of hope heading into Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) given the two films that preceded it were some of the strongest in the series. Not only that, but Jason Voorhees rampaging through Manhattan sounds like an exceptional way to once again reinvigorate the slasher conventions that are so tired in many of this series’ films.

13.8.doobieUnfortunately though, whilst not a total waste of time, this film is nowhere near as fun as the premise and title suggest it should be. Mainly because the action does not hit the big city until right near the end, and our hockey masked bad dude picking high school kids off on a boat does not feel as fresh as it should. Clearly ‘Jason on a Boat’ was not catchy enough a title so they have to trick us into thinking it mainly takes place in New York City. The first couple of shots are promising, situating the action very much in a big city and featuring a montage of rats, junkies and muggings. A real urban jungle that should be a really novel place for a film in this genre. It still would be, because from there the film spends a good hour in far less interesting locations. The film has some of that massive 80s-ness going on though. In this one it is quite endearing rather than just embarrassing. A girl with a killer guitar and a final showdown in a sewer, complete with toxic waste, scream 80s to me, rightly or wrongly.

As a lover of practical effects... this is rubbish

As a lover of practical effects… this is rubbish

One thing that Jason Takes Manhattan does better than a majority of the other films in the series is deliver highly original kills (although they are too far apart). A guitar to the skull, a sauna rock to the guts and a good ol’ fashioned ripping off of the head are three of the delightful ways that teens meet their end in this one. The film though continues what I feel is a certain mean-spiritedness that reoccurs throughout the whole franchise. Victims are constantly set up as admirable, wise or on the verge of genuine happiness before being killed. Conversely the film makes some (genuinely tame and misguided) attempts to humanise Jason Voorhees. It is strongly intimated that he lets a potential victim go, after a very realist drugging and rape scene, which is probably the most intense thing in the franchise to date. Later, the utterly woeful practical effects and strange elephant noises that Jason makes during the film’s conclusion are meant to endear the character at least somewhat in the minds of the audience. Slasher films often do this with varying levels of success. I don’t know of one that has done it particularly successfully though, because no matter how the killers have been victimised, in the end they are out and about killing teenagers who have most of their lives ahead of them.

Far from being offensively terrible, Jason Takes Manhattan is above all just terribly formulaic when the dual settings of a boat and NYC should allow it to rise above the norm. But in this film the cool settings do not result in very much narrative flair which is a shame because the series did seem to be on the way up. In short, this is the best of the bad films in this really patchy quality-wise franchise.

Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught

Series ranking thus far:

  1. Friday the 13th Part VII
  2. Friday the 13th Part 2
  3. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
  4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  5. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
  6. Friday the 13th
  7. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
  8. Friday the 13th Part III

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Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

vii poster

Sadly dear readers, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) is an awesome slasher film, ruining my bulletproof Friday the 13th franchise being the inverse of the Elm Street franchise theorem you’ve been hearing so much about. Not only is this the best odd numbered film in the series, it is the best film in the series fullstop.

One noticeable feature of the ultra-enjoyable Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) was the incorporation of more supernatural elements than the series had featured up until that point. This film not only maintains that, but expands on it greatly, resulting in the strongest ‘final girl’ of the franchise so far. Initially the character of Tina Shepard feels like ‘Carrie White lite’, a nondescript teenage girl with the power of telekinesis that she cannot control as yet. The introduction of Tina is not promising. In one of her first scenes, she manages to reanimate Jason whilst her nose glows bright red… yes like Rudolph. However for the most part, her character provides something original for the film, interacting with what is a pretty cliché cabin in the woods partyin teens style set-up. Just as Tina provides the best central (non-Jason) character of the series, her love interest Nick is the best male teen character as well. There is a real care in his actions toward her and a genuineness to their interactions that is shockingly assured. This film and the previous one are less obsessed with mindless Jason murders and actually bother with a dash of story which is quite refreshing. They also get the tone both unique and right. Part VI had humour that hit the mark regularly whilst this one adds in a heap of supernatural elements and a main character that you genuinely care about.

The brilliant Tina

The brilliant Tina

In many ways, Tina Shepard is the first real ‘final girl’ of the series. There is a point toward the end where she actually runs toward Jason to take him on, going full Carrie on his arse. For me it was one of the most rousing moments of the entire franchise. She was the first really strong and forceful female character that stuck with me from all of these films. I think it is a shame that they did not build more entries in the series around the character as she is the most fully formed character we have seen and brought to life well by Lar Park-Lincoln. The design of these films has rarely been something I have felt the need to comment on. Credit where it is due though, the design of Jason in this one is utterly badass. His shirt is ripped and his spine and the back of his ribs are showing, which really plays up the supernatural aspects of this somewhat new Jason.

The supernatural powers of the character of Tina are a real point of difference for this film and help to make this film comfortably the most satisfying of the series so far. I have to say, I didn’t think any of these films would be as compelling as this film. But not only is Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood one of the most compelling 80s slashers I have seen it is also one of the most downright fun to watch.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Series ranking thus far:

  1. Friday the 13th Part VII
  2. Friday the 13th Part 2
  3. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
  4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  5. Friday the 13th
  6. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
  7. Friday the 13th Part III

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Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

A delightfully to the point tagline

‘Jason is going to kill you!’ – a delightfully to the point tagline

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) is a refreshing rebirth for the series. By both integrating itself into the rest of the series and having a sense of humour without being too ludicrous, the film is one of the most enjoyable films in the series.



In a change for the series, the opening of the film is atmospheric and genuinely scary. Riffing on Frankenstein (1931), the film opens in a foggy, dark cemetery, the vibe well and truly heightened by solid use of the soundtrack. Further inviting comparisons to the James Whale classic is the grave robbing that takes place in the early part of the film as Tommy (another ‘creepy not Feldman’) opens up the tomb of Jason Voorhees to ensure he is well and truly dead. Jason’s maggot infested body is one of the visual highlights of the series up to this point and the reanimation of his corpse (erm… spoiler, Jason comes back) is a wonderfully schlocky scene combining the slasher genre with some more supernatural elements. Specifically it is a bolt of lightning that gives Jason life, reinforcing the Frankenstein correlations even further. But it never feels derivative in that sense, rather it feels like a really fun homage. Another point of difference and a very important one for this film is that the kids actually make it to camp this year. That sets up the most intense elements of the film, which balance the humour this film brings to the table. This is taken some pretty intense and shocking places which is a change from the constant over the top body count with no real stakes that has occasionally featured in this series and also does in some parts of this film.  It also delivers one of the lines of the series when seemingly nearing death, one little dude enquires of another “so, what were you gonna be when you grew up.”

'Creepy not Feldman' mach 2

‘Creepy not Feldman’ mach 2

One of the reasons that the film does feel like a rebirth of the series is that it manages to engage with the earlier films, rather than completely starting over. The inclusion of the character of Tommy connects the film to number IV. Even though the series at this point has almost done away with bothering with narratives for the films (which is not always a totally bad thing, as in this case), that connection at least gives a sense of some narrative substance. At least one character in the film has some motivation. What this film does better than any other in the series and better than a vast majority of slashers that attempt to do the same, is inject humour into proceedings. When it works well in this film, which is a reasonable amount, there is an awesome and genuinely funny schlockiness that manages to avoid veering into the silly. Even those aspects which absolutely could be silly, such as the James Bond reference in the opening credits manage to avoid that.

As a general rule, slashers that also try and be funny are the absolute worst. Not so Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, which manages to maintain some focus on the slashing and not totally concern itself with making terrible 80s jokes.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Series ranking thus far:

  1. Friday the 13th Part 2
  2. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
  3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  4. Friday the 13th
  5. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
  6. Friday the 13th Part III

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Friday the 13th Part III

Starting off with that tweet sort of ruins any suspense I may have built regarding my opinion of Friday the 13th Part III (1982). That’s kind of apt really, because the film itself utterly fails to build any suspense as well.

A new dimension in terror is right... a new shitty dimension that is.

A new dimension in terror is right… a new shitty dimension that is.

After a really enjoyable second entry, I was excited to check this out, especially given I was under the impression this was a straight sequel to that film. I was mistaken though, because even though it unnecessarily rehashes the final five minutes of the previous film, this is not a direct sequel. I have no issue with a film franchise having films that are more or less individual. But for some reason, this series seems to revel in the fact that there is no continuity, which is a major downfall of this film. The plot is the same as the first two films. Teenagers go hang out by a lake. Teenagers get brutally murdered. The plot is so the same, they have even rehashed characters they killed off earlier in the series – there is another crazy old dude who warns the kids not to go up to the lake. The script is worse than just tired. It is numbingly terrible. None of the skill that is required to build a horror film is contained in it and as a result this is one of the cheapest and most obvious horror flicks I recall enduring. A large swathe of it just regresses into a lot of doors opening mysteriously and the film trying to trick you into thinking Jason is around, but ta-da, yet again it is just some random dude. If the script exhibited any suggestion of being able to build some narrative or conflict, the film would have had some sort of chance.

The starkest deficiency between this series and the Elm Street series of films I have just finished reviewing is that these are utterly incapable of building a character that you care about in the slightest. This lack of character building crucially extends to the creation of the all important ‘final girls’, who all kinda suck. The writing is all kinds of bad and the execution of the script is, if anything, worse. The title tune is uber-80s tripe that would have been better suited to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It sounds like a minor quibble, but the title track for a horror film needs to set the creepyarse tone, Halloween (1978) style, not totally detract from it. The acting is uniformly terrible, even by 80s slasher standards. I am writing this half an hour after I finished the film and I can’t remember one redeemable facet of any of the performances. However, there is still one more aspect of this film to talk about that possibly takes the cake as being worse than all the aforementioned rubbish – the fact that the film was shot for 3D and there are endless, utterly boring shots designed to take advantage of this gimmick. Obviously you could understand the odd axe or knife coming out of the screen. But the characters just keep holding random, moderately pointy household objects up to the screen. You can just see the shocked 1982 audiences right now ‘OH MY GOD THAT YO-YO IS COMING DIRECTLY FOR US’. Obviously the filmmakers were not to know how crappy these shots would look 30 years later. But I can’t let that distract from the fact that these shots not only do look exceptionally crappy, they are also repeated ad nauseam. I feel confident in asserting that not one of them would have looked halfway decent in 3D either.

13th 3 debbue

Yep, only three films in and they are already lazily recycling kills

Friday the 13th Part III is such a mess. I can think of possibly two positive things to say on this – some early sequences have such reasonable old school tension to them and the first scene where Jason rocks his famous hockey mask is almost awesome (but it’s not, so guess that’s not really a positive). The rest of the film is so poorly written and executed that I can’t imagine there being anything here to keep anyone interested.

Verdict: Schooner of Tooheys New

Updated franchise ranking below (no surprises where this one comes in):

1. Friday the 13th Part 2
2. Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th Part 2



13th 2 poster

After not enjoying the first film, I was not particularly enthused as I popped Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) into my blu-ray player. I have no real issue with bad films. I watch plenty of them and enjoy writing about a lot of them too. I have real problems both watching and writing about boring films though, and Friday the 13th (1980) was certainly that, at least for me.

13th 2 JasonThankfully though, this sequel is a definite improvement on the first film, even if it perhaps never reaches the heights of many of its slasher brethren. The setup is essentially the exact same as the first film. Set five years later, a group of camp counsellors again gather for training. Whilst not at Camp Crystal Lake, the new camp is a short distance away, actually on the same lake that Jason jumped out of at the end of the first film, scaring the utter shit out of absolutely everyone. You know the drill, the counsellors start to get knocked off, generally whilst either about to have sex, or having just finished up. Like the first film, though possibly even more so, there is little character development of the counsellors before they meet their doom. I am not really sure why they persist with this approach and utilising a much larger number of characters than they really need to. Especially since on the occasions they actually build up a character, it greatly improves the story. Thankfully though, this time the dialogue and interrelationships between the counsellors is much improved. You can actually buy the connections between them and they are able to convey the lust or love they are feeling a lot better in this film. This is equally down to an improved script and also the fact that the film is generally quite well acted. I really liked the ending to this film. There were some really original moments that actually worked, especially the ‘child psychology’ bits. It was good to see something new. I was also pretty excited to learn that the next film in the series is a straight sequel to this film, because the ending genuinely did leave me wanting more. Turns out I won’t have the same dread of putting part III on as I did with this film.

13th 2 axe wheelchair

Oftentimes with sequels to successful low budget films, you find they are rushed out to cash in on the success of the first and there are no improvements in terms of production values. Whilst you can still see that this is a cheap film, there is a definite step up in terms of the production. There is a lot of tight in camerawork used that helps to create a heap of atmosphere. You are always wondering what lies just beyond the edge of the frame, which is really effective. Unfortunately though, the film still relies on cheap ‘jump’ scares, rather than building to the kills through actual narrative, like better horror films do. Perhaps this will change in the series going forward, given that the identity of the killer is really set in stone now and there is not as much need to keep a sense of mystery around that fact. Most of the film takes place in a pretty stock standard camp setting, but there are small amounts of really cool set design in this as well, another improvement on the first film. The grimy, decrepit, homemade vibe of Jason’s shanty style shack in the forest looks great and like a place you would most certainly not want to find yourself. The score continues to riff on Psycho (1960), indeed there are again multiple allusions to Hitch’s film in this one, but overall it is better than the first, helping to set the tone and hitting all of the right beats.

Friday the 13th Part 2 is a marked improvement over the first film and a rare franchise entry that actually leaves you both satisfied and hanging out for the next film. It is still not a particularly scary film at all, but much improved writing and a slightly more committed approach to building a plot made this a far less boring watch than its predecessor.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Just like with the Nightmare on Elm Street films, I will be keeping an updated ranking with links to the earlier reviews:

1. Friday the 13th Part 2
2. Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th

13th poster

The contemporary marketing for Friday the 13th (1980) is quite interesting. The blu-ray copy I bought recently has cover art heavily emphasising the franchise’s iconic hockey mask, a mask that does not even feature in the film for one second.  It’s a strange franchise where the first film is not the most iconic of the bunch. After watching the film, I can sort of see why they have fallen back on this marketing strategy, as there is not all that much to be overly enthused about in this first entry in the series.

13th crystal lakeFriday the 13th takes place at Camp Crystal Lake, which is just about to reopen after a number of strange and deadly incidents saw it shut down.  As a group of horny young teens work to get the camp ready to welcome new kids, they start getting violently knocked off one by one. One of the concepts that determine how successful the narrative of a horror or thriller film turns out to be, is the way the villain or threat is revealed. In terms of mystery, there is obviously a big benefit of masking the identity of the killer as long as possible. But the downside of this approach is that it makes it harder to build a sense of that character and therefore the menace at play. Unfortunately the balance in this film is not quite right, veering to the latter of these two. There is so little character developed, no clues as to who is on this murderous rampage, that the audience becomes too disassociated from the threat. In addition to that, the core narrative is weak and neither builds any sense behind the crimes, or sense of character to make you affected in the slightest when yet another of the teens is murdered. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) was clearly a big influence on the film. The score feels like tracks that didn’t quite make the cut for that classic, full of screeching and pace to ratchet up the tension. The ending of the film, definitely the strongest section of the film for me, is essentially a reverse Psycho, cleverly inverting elements of that film’s iconic closing sequences. Throughout this period there is a richness in plot that was totally lacking up until then and it also puts the two best performers onscreen together. Whilst the conclusion was an improvement on the rest (including a great, but somewhat cheap shot near the end, which scared the shit out of me), it also presents some illogical moments that I found hard to let slide. The killer is so inept at the end, so weak and slow, that it seems inconceivable that they could have so easily killed so many other people.

13th bacon

Just like relatively close contemporaries Halloween (1978) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Friday the 13th would launch a massively profitable horror franchise, which continues more or less to this day. Despite those similarities, this film falls short of those two classics on a number of levels. For starters, even though they are of a similar vintage, there is something timeless in the first outings of Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. This film, with its cringeworthy 80s teen dialogue, does not hold up anywhere near as well on that front. Probably the one aspect of the slasher that this film does better than those ones though is the gore and kills. Throats are cut, axes meet heads and arrows fly. At times it does seem like the rest of the film is just filler before Tom Savini gets to weave his warped, bloody magic onscreen. Just as it shows its age, the film also shows its low budget roots as much of it feels like an episode of a TV show in the way it is shot. This is not totally true, the prologue shows some of what could have been, with a stylish kill incorporating slow motion, point of view shots and some cool use of stills. Overall though, outside of the use of point of view shooting, which is actually utilised better here than in most films which utilise the technique, there is little stylisation through the rest of the film. This film pushes the whole promiscuous teenagers getting killed cliché more than other films I have watched. I was looking for some sort of insight or commentary for this. But I couldn’t really find any. Sure it is explained from a plot perspective. In terms of connecting it to anything broader though, there was little evidence. Obviously a film does not have to make any broader point, but I think that some sort of commentary around the choice of victims would have perhaps made this a more satisfying film.

The star of this film is undoubtedly Tom Savini and it is plain to see why his reputation as a premiere ‘gore guy’ remains to this day. Unfortunately the rest of the film was pretty middling for me. The marketing suggests I need to wait around until Jason appears rocking his hockey mask. Hopefully he brings more than just a cool prop with him though.

Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught

Related beermovie.net articles for you to check out: Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

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