Friday the 13th: The Legacy Part 2
Part one of this Friday the 13th retrospective last week covered the second through sixth films in the series which all featured Jason Voorhees as the central psycho. This week we pick up with part seven and the latter half of the original film series.
Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988) - Having Jason resurrected as an unstoppable monster had proven to be a good idea but it made finding ways of sustaining suspense in the stories difficult. For New Blood, Tommy Jarvis was out and a new adversary, the telekinetic Tina (who is basically an unlicensed Carrie without the emotional baggage), is introduced. After being chained to a rock and dumped in Crystal Lake at the end of the previous installment, an even more rotted Jason (who looks like he could fall apart at any moment), is revived by one of Tina’s misplaced psychic blasts and returns to his evil ways. All this, of course, leads to a fairly entertaining final battle between the Hockey Masked Hacker and the Mind Maid with Jason getting knocked around much more than usual. Unfortunately, this bright moment is spoiled by what could have been one of the best endings in the series when Tina’s dead dad, who drowned years earlier in an accident she blames herself for, rises up to join the battle. After being fish food for multiple years, Tina’s dad looks like he’s only been down there a few days and more people in the audience were laughing at the end of this one than cringing.
Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – As far back as the late 80’s, the concept of having Jason take on Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger in a big screen brawl was already being discussed. When the rival studios who owned the characters could not come to an agreement, Paramount rushed out Manhattan to keep fans from getting restless. This film was plagued by both budget and censorship concerns so what could have been a tour de farce down the streets of the Big Apple ended up as a pretty bloodless night on the Love Boat! After being awoken from watery slumber by the helpful jolt of a snagged electrical cable, Jason climbs aboard a cruise ship (wasn’t he in a lake?) filled with high school students and headed for Manhattan. Since the film was limited to only two days of exteriors in NY, most of the action takes place on the boat, which Jason ransacks to the point of sinking. The survivors finally row up on the island like turn-of-the-century immigrants with Jason in hot pursuit. After a few token street scenes and culture clash jokes, we get an even less comprehensible ending than the last installment with Jason, who now looks like a moldy jack-o-lantern under his hockey mask, bathed in an ocean of toxic waste that apparently gets disposed of nightly under the city!
After eight films and increasingly diminishing box office returns, Paramount Pictures decided to shelve the Friday the 13th film series. There were many rumors and several false starts over the next few years but the studio finally decided to throw in the towel and sold the franchise to New Line Cinema who still owned the rights to A Nightmare on Elm Street as well. With plans already underway to revive Freddy Kruger in a new film directed by his creator Wes Craven, a match up out of the question so they decided to give Jason a proper send off instead.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) - Ignoring any continuity from previous entries in the series, New Line starts off its first installment with a literal bang. Jason pursues his latest helpless frightened female victim into an open clearing only to be ambushed by a heavily armed FBI team. After blasting him to pieces with thousands of bullets, they finish the job with a LAW rocket that turns Jason into a pile of meat scraps. Sadly, the remainder of the film does not live up to the opening. In an apparent move to bring Jason into Freddy Kruger’s territory, a preposterous back story is concocted to reveal Mr. Voorhees as the host for a demonic entity that can switch bodies at will. This “demon Jason” hops from one body to another in a quest to be reborn through someone from his original bloodline, who also happens to be the only one who can finish him for good. Jason is supposedly dispatched to hell at the end but a disembodied knife gloved hand reaches out from the beyond to grab his hockey mask indicating a sequel was already in the works. Like the previous installment, the censor happy MPAA emasculated this film of most of its gruesome effects but they were restored for an unrated home video edition.
Jason X (2002) - Final Friday performed surprisingly poorly at the box office causing New Line to abandon the franchise for almost a decade. They still had plans to pit Jason against Freddy but they felt a tune up picture might be in order to get the hockey masked one back in the public eye. Bravely going where no serial killer had been before, they put Jason in cryogenic storage and launched him into space! After being thawed like a TV dinner aboard a space ship, Jason repays the favor by slaughtering the crew until he is seemingly stopped mid film by their resident cyborg. Another convenient mishap causes Jason to be rebuilt and upgraded by the ship’s nanotechnology system and now a new and improved version is on the loose. He finally gets chucked into space like a Hefty sack of trash but there’s always the possibility he could survive re-entry!
Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – You would think after at least fifteen years of planning that by the time Freddy vs. Jason finally made it to the big screen it would be the fight of the century but it wasn’t. It seems that Freddy Krueger has been forced into dormancy when anyone he could potentially victimize is rounded up and kept in a perpetually dreamless sleep. To stir up some new nightmares, Freddy resurrects Jason and sends him on a murder spree. Jason turns out to be a little too good at his job and soon starts killing teenagers faster than Freddy can feed on their fear. This leads to the title match and while it is fun to watch, it ends with the anticipated wink indicating nothing has been resolved.
Freddy vs. Jason may not have resolved anything for either character but audiences had their own ideas. The box office returns were good but did not live up to the blockbuster numbers New Line had anticipated. As a result, this did resolve the film series for both of these characters as no further sequels were made for either although both have recently been remade. Regardless of the outcome of Freddy vs. Jason, Jason is still the top slasher in film history with ten films to his credit (discounting part one where he only pops up at the end but including part five where he appears as a vision in Tommy’s mind throughout the movie) while Freddy only has eight and Michael Myers comes in third with seven (since Season of the Witch doesn’t count).