Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Weekend At The Lake

There's a remake/reboot of the seminal slasher film, Friday the 13th, coming to theaters on Friday the 13th (coincidentally enough), and to tie-in with that new theatrical release, Paramount is issuing new editions of the first three films in the franchise this week. I was sent copies for review, and my review will be posted sometime today in my bi-weekly column at Forces of Geek.

Because my review is over there, this post is more about some of the thoughts I had, while immersed in the genre over the weekend. Between Friday evening and Monday night, I watched Friday the 13th parts 1 through 3 (in 3-D!), Jason X, and a non-Friday slasher flick, the Norwegian production Cold Prey (a/k/a Fritt vilt, and also reviewed in this week's column).

Now, I've been into horror films since I was a teenager, but I was never a big fan of splatter or slasher flicks. I never saw a Friday the 13th until the late 90's, when I was in my Thirties, and that was one of the later, New Line-produced entries that most fans of the franchise despise. And it's not because gore bothers me – as a teen I read Fangoria almost as religiously as Starlog, and I liked the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks... and friggin' loved George Romero's zombie movies and Raimi's first two Evil Deads – it's just that I prefer my horror to have a strong fantasy element; I prefer monsters over psychos. (Of course, Jason Voorhees is a supernatural monster – at least he becomes one eventually – but I didn't know it.) I'm still not much of a fan of straight slasher (or torture) flicks, which is why I have no interest in stuff like Saw or Hostel, although I have come to appreciate some of the older movies in the genre, such as the first couple Halloweens.

So, what I'm getting to here is that I'd never actually seen these movies until this past weekend. My first reaction was that they didn't quite live up to their reputation – especially the initial installment – but by the time I got to Part 3 – and actually watched it in 3-D! – I was really having fun with the flicks. They aren't high art, but they are fun, and I can begin to see why the franchise has lasted as long as it has.

Anchor Bay Entertainment also sent me a Friday the 13th tie-in: a feature-length documentary retrospective of the entire series called His Name Was Jason, made up of interviews with nearly every actor, writer and director to work on the series. I have to admit that I now want to check out the entries I haven't yet seen. Part 4 looks bugnuts insane, and Part 7, which is the one with the telekinetic girl, looks like a hoot.

I don't think I'm going to suddenly start seeking out all the 80's slasher flicks I missed the first time around, but I'm certainly not going to shy away from opportunities to view the more highly-regarded ones. I remember being told that the original My Bloody Valentine (a remake of which is also coming out right away if it's not out already) is pretty good, so I'm planning to Netflix it soon.

I'm definitely open to suggestions from true aficionados, too.


Martin Powell said...

I'm not much of a fan of the slasher genre either, but I do genuinely admire Carpenter's first HALLOWEEN film.

Still, I remember watching most of the 80s slashers because that was what was playing on TV when we first got cable. Most of it was pretty dismal, but occasionally there would be something cool like THE HOWLING or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (which I still think is the scariest werewolf movie ever made).

The FRIDAY THE 13th series seemed kind of dull and mean-spirited to me. I confess that I don't remember them very well.

However, I do recall MY BLOODY VALENTINE being rather spooky in its gloomy haunted mine-shaft setting.

This remakes are troubling. Does this mean that someone is going to remake SAW and HOSTEL in just a few more years...?

Chad Carter said...

I grew up with cable in the early 1980s, when the Slasher genre was the ne plus ultra in Horror. I didn't much care for it. I even referred to it as "porn, with knives" because the basic set-up is exactly like porn, only the pennie is replaced with a machete.

Now, there was the occassional well-done Slasher movie. THE BURNING
with Tom Savini gore. The afterforementioned MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Also THE FINAL TERROR
As far as FRIDAY franchise, I kind of waned on them after 3D...and yet one of the best comic book series I've picked up are the first two volumes from DC Comics "Wildstorm" imprint
The second volume is an anthology by some talented people, and "How I Spent my Summer Vacation" by Jason Aaron (of SCALPED fame) is grand. Plus, the cover has a direct homage to a James Bama Doc Savage cover. Well worth seeking out.

El Vox said...

Fade To Black I remember from the 80's, sort of slasher. If you haven't seen Hostel or Saw, I'd say rent them. Saw was less torture, and actually had some plot twist, but after Saw II, I said enough, as it just got to unreal.

Here's some others, your mileage may vary:
Wolf Creek--Aussie Hostel sort of.

Inside-- abortion horror :)

The Decent--creatures in rubber costumes in a cave, fair, but for me predictable.

The zombie film done with Tarantino is worth a watch, I didn't care for his race car explotation film that much though. I forget the title.

Machine Girl--over the top Asian film.

Tokyo Gore Police--waaay over the top Asian horror.

I like the Masters of Horror series that was on TV, most of those are good.

Check out Hatchet--rockin' good time and funny has heck in parts. I'd recomend this before anything on this list, and it's low budget.
Then some of the Masters of Horror.