Watching Movies

Jason? Again?

Ol’ hack and stack is back

By John Chandler February 13, 2009

Sigh. If it’s Friday the 13th, it must be Jason. Yep, today is release day for the twelfth installment in the Friday the 13th slasher series, a franchise with more cinematic lives than Abbott & Costello. Since we’re now in our third decade of these movies (it was a mere 25 years ago that Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter, had the nerve to show its face), the equation has become carved in Hollywood stone:

Hockey mask + machete + horny campers no one cares about = gory deaths and major body count. The end. Did I mention the gloriously low budgets?

The endings don’t even have to be ambiguous anymore. We all know Jason will be back. No explanation necessary. The only question is, which garden implement will he choose to wreak havoc with this time? He’s even come back from hell, for Pete’s sake. Who is he? Orpheus? At the beginning of each film simply place the big galoot in the proximity of libidinous teens and let nature take its course.

My beef with Jason Voorhees is not that he’s a relentless, remorseless, killing machine. That’s a given. Thankfully, stereotypical movie adolescents (jocks, nerds, stoners, sluts, nice girl or boy) are not an endangered species. By all means Jason, have at ’em! Thin the herd! I particularly enjoy seeing youthful actors who go on to greater notoriety make dutiful early appearances as Victim no. 8 or whatever. Thus far, Kevin Bacon, Crispin Glover, and Corey Feldman have all done stints at Camp Crystal Lake.

My continuing disappointment with the dozen (and counting) chapters of this never-ending saga has more to do with boredom than body counts. It’s 2009! Haven’t we earned the right to shake things up creatively? Perhaps introduce another facet of this bucolic butcher’s identity?

For instance:

1. Jason the Eco Warrior: The guy lives in the woods! Couldn’t he dismember greedy land barons? Tagline: "When Crystal Lake goes condo, developers lose more than their shirts."

2. Jason Gump: The heretofore silent assassin learns to talk, dispenses folksy wisdom, and becomes a reclusive celebrity. Who kills people. Tagline: "Life is like a box of chopped up body parts."

3. Bride of Jason: I think this baby’s got potential to burn. For one thing, a romantic angle would bring in a whole new audience. Let’s say Camp Crystal Lake reopens, and a weird, ostracized girl perishes in some manner that denotes negligence on the part of camp counselors (they really need to vet these kids a bit more). Like Jason before her, Becky (or whomever), is improbably resurrected, resulting in corpses stacked like cordwood. Since they share common interests, it’s only a matter of time before Becky (or whomever) catches Jason’s eye and the two become one in their vendetta against the camping community.

You may well be asking yourself, "It’s just a slasher flick. Who cares?" Obviously not the endless parade of hack writers and directors that keep the Friday the 13th franchise alive. Couldn’t our own Gus Van Sant take a stab at the genre? His Psycho remake with Vince Vaughn demonstrated ample horror and suspense chops.

Is it too much to ask that our maniacs be given the opportunity to remove their masks and just be regular folks? If anyone has their own ideas for upgrades to the Friday the 13th series, by all means send them my way. And if any Hollywood suits want to option my story concepts, you know where to find me. I’ll be in the woods. Honing my gardening shears.

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