Friday the 13th in Retrospect
So, there they are: all twelve flicks that make up the Friday the 13th franchise. Sure, they’re not all gems, but there’s a reason that F13th is one of the highest grossing franchises in Hollywood. Heck, if you include a cost vs. profit look at the series, it’s even more lucrative. And sure, most of them get slaughtered by the critics. But let’s be honest, if I listened to the critics, I’d be avoiding the entire genre.
And sure, they’re not perfect. How many times can you watch an oversexed teenager be slaughtered by a pissed off goalie? The answer, for me at least, is one hundred and eight. But if you’re not a “dead teenager” connoisseur, I can see the arguments. The plots are derivative, the actors are untested, and the effects are, often, the high point of the film. Those arguments are often valid.
But at the same time, can’t we make the same claims against other genres? You’re really going to tell me that the romantic comedies don’t use the same formulaic plot? Or that the actors in the
80’s action flicks spent their summers doing Shakespeare? And sure, the effects are awesome, but if you take the gore out of a quality chapter of the series – Part VII is very edited, for example – that doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie. And if you take the effects out of Thor or the Matrix Trilogy, what are you going to get? Something that looks like this:
I’m not saying these are masterpieces. The Friday the 13th series is a piece of cathartic escapism, a highlight of the slasher of yesteryear. I dig them, not because they’re the best movies I’ve ever seen, but because they highlight a fear that everyone has – death – and gives us power over it. Don’t want to die, simple:
And don’t ask where the corkscrew is.
Lastly, in case you’re wondering how I’m spending my Friday the 13th, here’s what I’m checking out:
- Friday the 13th The Final Chapter (Yeah. Starting with that one. See how awful that title is now, producers?)
- Friday the 13th Part VI
- Friday the 13th part VII
- Jason X
- Freddy vs. Jason
There you have it: ten-ish hours of Friday the 13th goodness to get you through one of the best days of the year. Any particular reason? Sure, I’ve got plenty of them. You want to celebrate Friday the 13th, you’ve got to have Jason, meaning the original and Part V are not on the menu. Likewise, Jason without his mask is just not right for the day, so Part 2 is down for the count. Part VII and Jason Goes to Hell shouldn’t be forced on anyone, so they’re out. Lastly, I’d skip Part III. Sure, it’s not awful, but I’m looking to have fun on the 13th. And these puppies are about as much fun as you can have with a machete.
The Friday the 13th series stands as one of the tent poles of horror cinema, for better or worse. If you ever have the urge to check them all out, go for it. If not, just keep Mr. Voorhees in your thoughts this Friday.