Written on: October 22, 2013
Spoilers: Lots... But, seriously, who cares? If you actually want to watch it, and are phenomenally purist about not having crap spoiled for you, avoid this. Otherwise, this might help give you more to giggle about if you ever find yourself stuck watching the movie. Oh, there’s also a spoiler for the 1st Friday the 13th, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. Unless you are 100% unversed in trite slasher horror tropes.
We were at a hotel in Kansas City last week. Setting aside how dazed a car trip all the way across Kansas makes you, we’d been wrangling a toddling baby the night before and sleep was a stranger. What to do under these circumstances? Well, AMC was running a Friday the 13th marathon and I couldn’t really picture myself watching any of those movies under better circumstances.
I saw the 1st one under similarly bored and convenient circumstances when I was 15... and, suffice to say, I was several times more bored as a result. I mean, I actually watched it.
There’s always been the possibility, though, that I was too easily bored at age 15. If I rattle off a list of horror movies I watched around that age, and the reactions I had, it’d look like this: Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (god that was stupid, but I did enjoy the 1st and 3rd movies... the 2nd one was too much of a snoozefest to even aspire to stupidity), Shocker (boooooring), Hellraiser 3 (totally hokey), The Serpent and the Rainbow (interesting, even though the end was hokey), Deadly Friend or Neighbor or whatever the heck it was (GOD that was stupid AND boring).
Just to prove I was capable of thinking beyond “God that was stupid and boring” at that age, I watched The Company of Wolves shortly before my 15th birthday and it’s still one of my favourite movies. I have never forgotten that you should beware of naked men running through the woods...
Plus, I’d probably been shown Halloween about 500 times as a much younger kid so I didn’t have any great need for 100s of crappy remakes. And, as noted in my John Dies at the End (book) commentary, my personal favourite as a much younger kid was Phantasm. Who cares how rich in 70s cheese Phantasm was? It was a good, creepy, weird movie!
But obviously I did seem to reach the boring/stupid/hokey verdicts often, which is enough to make me wonder if I sometimes reached them too easily. For instance, I’ve been reliably informed that Hellraiser 3 was (whereas I simply thought it was hokey) soooooo hokey that it was funny. I also rewatched some of that one on the same day in Kansas City, but I was too busy explaining horror tropes (and my 15 year old reactions) to my daughter to pay much attention to it (plus I was out of the room a lot).
I was also explaining horror tropes, and especially stupid slasher film tropes, to my daughter during the beginning of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Before she could no longer contain her excitement and fell asleep, anyway. Just the basics like “Since those 2 are having sex first you know they’ll be killed first”... though after a trip out of the room I returned saying “Well... it is ‘The Final Chapter’, maybe they managed to do something as innovative and shocking as killing someone else first by then...”. Bruce agreed that he never would’ve seen that coming. But, no, they didn’t brave breaking the habit.
At some point my daughter asked about some dumb hopeless klutzy bimbo thing the lead female character did. Naturally that required explaining that the lead females always need to be idiots, fall down a lot, fumble any keys they’re holding, etc. Oh, wait, that part came up when we caught the tail-end of the 1st Friday the 13th and I idly commented “Gee, too bad she can’t just get out of the car that won’t start and run away from the psychopathic killer who is slowly limping toward her”, etc etc, and as it got worse my daughter couldn’t help but ask why the character was so stupid.
I admit I ruined schlock for her by showing her too many better quality movies. This dawned on me when we showed her Evil Dead 2 and she couldn’t properly appreciate intentionally silly schlock making fun of unintentionally (or less intentionally) silly shlock. Oops!
The commentary about people having sex so they can get killed was definitely early on in this movie. My daughter was in the shower when the next couple to have sex (in the shower!) and thereby declare themselves prime murder victims appeared on screen so, when she came out, I got to tell her the SHOCKER that the guy watching the reel-to-reel film got killed before they did. Probably because he’d been waving around a girl’s panties and acting like a sexual deviant while the first guy to have sex/be killed told him about his exploit. Yeah, I suppose they need to clear out everyone connected to the first sex act before they can move along to the second sex act. Keep things tidy!
When I told my daughter about this “shocking twist”, she calmly said “I think I may need to calm down” and then promptly fell asleep to the lulling sounds of a deeply boring movie. I’d already told her she could watch Killer Clowns From Outer Space if she wanted to see a movie that managed to not become completely stupid after beginning with the “kill the fornicating young couple” formula. Because, you know, it has clowns in it so of course it’s scary. Plus, I own the DVD because I genuinely like the shadow puppet scene.
Now that 5 sexual deviants (aka people who have sex or want to have sex) have been cleared out, I need to introduce the 3 characters who didn’t have sex. One, naturally, is the lead female bimbo. Another is the guy who makes the slasher film faux pas of hanging out with the lead female bimbo, probably because he’s too timid to get around to asking her to have sex with him. And then there’s a kid. I felt we could assume they wouldn’t kill the kid off because they weren’t really bothering to show any of the killings to any extent that might bother anyone and therefore killing a kid would be deemed way too bothersome. Or they wouldn’t kill him because they had seriously phenomenally stupid other plans for the kid (they did). Or both.
Anyway, it all leads to the one scene that was so pricelessly stupid that I’ll always cherish the memory of it. It’s a moment of true art, I tell ya!
At some point these 3 are at a house next to (I think) the house where all sex partakers and accomplices have already been killed, and they’re freaking out thinking “Jason’s back!”. Their phone line is cut, which leads to 2 brilliant decisions. 1. “Let’s leave the kid here alone, even though the cut phone lines are making us paranoid that Jason’s about to break in and kill us. We can always be stupid enough to think locking the door will prevent him from breaking in, if it makes us feel better.” 2. Deciding to enter the dark house with a front door that’s been hacked up with an axe in their quest for a phone to use for notifying the police that they suspect Jason is back and in the area.
Either that was one of those times when I needed to wander off rolling my eyes, or it was while Bruce was reading aloud about the person who played Jason (or who would have, I can’t recall the details since the upcoming scene was so mind-blowing and chased everything else out of my brain) insisting that his name not be in the credits because the film was such complete crap (and that Tom Savini only deigned to help out for the sake of killing off the Jason character)...
Either way, next time I looked at the movie I said “And now why are they choosing to explore the dark basement of the house everyone’s been killed in?”. Well, as I’m sure you can guess, the dark basement is the dying place for “guy who makes the mistake of hanging out with the lead bimbo”. Yeah, despite my facetious rhetorical question, I saw that one coming. What I didn’t see coming was the beauty of the scene!
It’s dark, we’ve established that, and Lead Bimbo is near the top of the stairs. She has about the same perspective we have. Despite the darkness, we can tell that, uh, Hero Guy is pinned to the wall and Jason’s arm is making stabbing motions at him repeatedly. It’s easy to feel that such a scene requires no explanation, but we mustn’t forget that Lead Bimbo has about 1 brain cell and it therefore falls to a guy with 3 brain cells to help her out. So he overly calmly calls out...
“He’s killing me! He’s killing me! (pause) Run!” (Or was it “I’m being killed!”?). Wow. I’ll be repeating those lines for the rest of my life, even if I need to paraphrase them. Bruce had some sort of misunderstanding, maybe he missed the moment due to still reading digs on the badness of the movie, and thought the line was in some way intended to be a pathetic call for help. I clarified that, no, it was intended as a heroic “He’s killing me! and I don’t know why my tone of voice isn’t changing while he’s stabbing me over and over, but He’s killing me! and I know you’re too much of a bimbo to figure out what to do with that info so... Run!”.
I asked Bruce how someone manages to come up with a scene like that and he provided an unnecessary explanation of how Hollywood films are practically written by committee. That neither answered nor altered my question. No matter where that dialogue came from in rewrites, did someone have the brilliant flash of “Wow, I just thought of a scene that’s so overwhelmingly stupid that it’ll be the one scene people actually remember from this piece of crap film!” or (which would be disappointing for me, but the movie’s end made it a more plausible option) did someone actually manage to think this was a touchingly heroic scene that would make everyone sympathise with the dying person?
The former was the possibility that had me questioning, in admiration, how people manage to come up with such scenes.
I was satisfied. The movie had officially been an experience. So around that point I started playing a game on my DS, but I still looked up occasionally to ensure that I wouldn’t feel like I’d failed to give the movie something resembling a fair chance. The next thing I remember seeing and exhaling in disgust over was Lead Bimbo returning to the basement on the off-chance that all of that stabbing wasn’t really killing Hero Guy as much as he’d thought it was. Which, naturally, led to lots of being chased around by Jason.
By this point (she jumps through a window around then, or maybe I have the order completely wrong... or maybe that was the “sex in the shower” girl...) we’re probably all hoping she’ll do the world a favour and kill herself lest she later chooses to procreate at a time when Jason isn’t around to save us from the furtherance of her gene pool. But she does manage to have one more great moment!
She finds a hatchet and proceeds to... whack Jason in the hockey mask with it over and over and over! Eventually she accidentally misses the mask and therefore does a little damage. Does she learn from this happy accident? Oh, no, of course not. You can later also see her pummeling the hockey mask with her arms!
Okay, I admit it, she does have one better moment of breaking a TV over his head. Clearly she must’ve been aiming for his hockey mask and the TV just happened to be a little too big for only hitting it.
Sooner or later she has the brilliant idea of leading Jason to the kid we’ve forgotten about, so she can make sure he’s okay or use him as a shield or whatever, and fortunately he’s more on the ball than she is. Unfortunately that’s because of their ridiculous idea for what I can only assume must have been an attempt at a moral ending to this tale.
I can’t remember how Jason goes down, because I was too busy sputtering about Lead Bimbo being more horrified over seeing his deformed face than she was by seeing him killing people and by almost being killed by him. Obviously the sight of his face meant the hockey mask came off and could therefore no longer be the sole target for anyone attacking him.
But then he’s on the ground, everyone but Lead Bimbo is awaiting the obligatory moment when it turns out he didn’t die easily and he proves it by twitching or sitting up. In this case, he twitches a finger. The kid flips out and beats him to death. I’m thinking “Good job, kid, now set his body on fire just to be certain”.
Lead Bimbo, OTOH, has a moralistic meltdown about the kid’s primal murderous reaction and thinks he’s in dire need of psychiatric help. Well, sure, he probably is... he has just been through a trauma after all (and appears to have enough brain cells to be aware of it)... but let’s review. Not only has Jason been killing people left and right, not only would he have killed both her and the kid if the kid hadn’t gone nutso in clear-cut self defense, there is also the fact that Expositional Not So Hero Guy had explained to Lead Bimbo that last time Jason died he turned out to be not so dead after all and violently disappeared from the morgue.
Given all of that, one would think the rational choice for handling his body would be to in some way insure that it can never move again. Empty all guns in the house into him. Stab every knife in the house into his body. Pour acid all over him. Set him on fire. Got any explosives? Spread his ashes to every corner of the world just in case they can re-bond and form Jason again. Why didn’t Tom Savini recommend this to ensure the death of the character?
I think I’m a fairly moralistic person, overall, (stop laughing, damn it, I’m serious) and I’m not keen on violence in real life... But this is fiction, and it is fiction where it’s been established that this particular psychopathic murderer is undead or whatever and pretty darned good at getting back up to kill again. And, even if that wasn’t established in this particular film, which it was, it was well enough established in plenty of other similar films. Setting the fictitious angle aside, I’m still hard-pressed to picture moralistically freaking out about a freaked out kid managing to be so primally violent under the circumstances of knowing a potentially undead serial killer is about to kill him unless he freaks out and kills the killer as well as he can be killed.
While Lead Bimbo was in hysterics ala “Oh my god how could you do such a horrible thing?” (even though they’d be dead if he hadn’t) I was having my “Oh my god they’re going to equate this to being just like Jason and insinuate that this kid is next in line for being the new Jason” reaction. Typing that caused me to suddenly remember the part where the kid shaved his head to distract Jason so they could bring him down. Oh yeah. Did all of that make sense in a way I’m unaware of? Does Jason have an established psychological issue about remembering his young self with a shaved head that was in a movie I didn’t see? No, I don’t want to watch it if it exists.
Eh. I had some berserker moments in self defense when I was younger. It’s a scary way to remember yourself being, but it was necessary enough at the time and (though I fortunately never killed anyone, or even managed to hurt anyone too badly) I can’t recall ever becoming a psychopathic serial killer as a result of it. I mostly recall being afraid that such a thing could happen again, for the same reasons as it had before. And that pretty much made me, you know, want to avoid being in similar situations again.
And, c’mon, seriously, this was Jason he was berserking on. Do we really need the “If you berserk and kill a psychopathic undead killer you’ll become a psychopathic killer” moral to a story that can only be called a “story” in the most generous sense? Who knows, maybe a Producer was overwhelmed with fear that teenagers watching the movie would be so afraid of sex leading to death that they would mimic the scene in a fit of repressed sexual frustration. I suppose there is always that possibility.
Verdict: Fuck it. You probably already did but, just in case you didn’t, watch the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre instead. You might actually have moments of being scared about what could happen to the lead female in that one! But, if you’re bored and have a convenient opportunity, do go ahead and watch the “He’s killing me!” scene because I can’t even begin to do it any justice in my attempts to describe it.
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