Jeff On Jason: The Top Ten Friday The 13th Movies

Hey all, turning the blog over today to my friend and sometime collaborator Jeff Carter (his story of submersible terror, The Wager, appeared beside my own Tell Tom Tildrum in Tales From The Bell Club, and we’re working on an RPG together for Heroic Journey Publishing), whose blog, The Monster Compendium, can be found on my sidebar. Check it out – it’s a trove of obscure stuff from around the world, general geekery, and of course, all things Carterian.

Jeff, like me, is a horror movie fan, and he hosts our annual Black-O-Ween celebration, in which we view one or two African American themed horror movies from the golden age of blaxploitation (past showings include Blacula, Blackenstein, Sugar Hill, JD’s Revenge, The Thing With Two Heads, and most recently, Abby and The Beast Must Die).

For the past couple weeks he’s been viewing the Friday The 13th film series, which holds a dear place in my heart as the novelization of Part VI: Jason Lives by Simon Hawke is one of the first books I ever read that made me want to write.

As an end result, he’s put them in order of enjoyment.

Happy Friday the 12th.

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Howdy!

Ed’s posted a lot of movie reviews here, as well as his  annual Halloween list of must-see horror.  I thought I’d toss my hockey  mask into the ring with a list of the top ten Friday the 13th movies.

Not many movies get eleven and a half installments and a remake.  Few  characters can take that kind of punishment, but Friday the 13th has  Jason Voorhees, an unstoppable killing machine with an endless hatred of teenaged hijinks.  Having a lead character that wears a mask and  disposable casts of unknowns helps too.

So let’s take a look at the first ten, leaving out Freddy VS. Jason and the 2009 remake.

I reached these rankings through a complicated algorithm that tabulated  kills, scares, the ratio of serious to goofy, amount of Jason or other  core elements, cameos, and continuity.  And no, I will not show my work.

So here they are, from worst to best:

10) Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning

This movie has a lot of detractors, but the algorithm nearly spat this out for one fatal flaw:  Jason is not in the movie!

Just a guy

9) Friday the 13th Part 7: New Blood

This was a powerfully close tie for last place.  The story: A psychic  girl  accidentally uses one of her 9 million powers to resurrect Jason from the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake.  Most of the kills occur off screen, a  strange choice for a slasher flick.  In the movie’s defense, the MPAA  apparently cut it to ribbons before its theatrical release and then slashed it even more viciously for home video.  That being said, the end result is boring and inane.

8) Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

This movie was almost hallucinatory with its surreal, incoherent jumbled plot. Psychic visions, drug addled gangs of rapists, nuclear waste.  The Crystal Lake High graduating class take a cruise ship to New  York…from Crystal Lake? Via Canada?  I don’t understand the geography, but distances clearly don’t matter in this film.  Jason teleports,  TELEPORTS, more than once.

Why take public transportation when you can teleport?

Perhaps this can all be explained by a certain shift: Marijuana has been  replaced with cocaine as the drug of choice.  Don’t miss the cameo by a young Kelly Hu, who is tempted to snort up with the line “the night  time is the right time”.

7) Jason X

Many would say that this half sci-fi/half farce cyborg flick is the worst of the series, but  clearly the rankings say otherwise.  Yes, the movie was goofy and cheesy and cheap, but unless you were kidnapped and brought to a sneak  preview, you must have known all that going in.

The movie was set  in the distant future to avoid any continuity conflict with Freddy VS.  Jason, which was being developed at the time.  So let’s talk about  continuity – in my algorithm, continuity not only addresses the  preservation of the established timeline, facts, and use of core  elements, but also the broader scope of the Friday the 13th events and  their impact on the wider world.

In this future world Jason is still infamous.  Scientists and soldiers both want his body for his  amazing regenerative properties and black market collectors will pay top dollar for such a gruesome piece of history.

The movie is campy  and self aware, and I really liked it.  I must confess that I had  thought it would be higher in the rankings than the extremely silly self parody of Part 6, but the algorithm does not lie.

Look for the cameo by Director David Cronenberg and a fun performance from genre veteran Peter Mensah.

The highlight is a clever gambit by the space students to distract Jason: a holodeck simulation of Camp Crystal Lake, complete with vapid,  indestructible teenagers.

Jason is going to work out some issues.

6)  Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives

This was a relaunch after the supposed ‘Final Chapter’ Part 4 and the  failure of Part 5.  This was also a parody, an inevitable stage in the  cycle of any genre.

The ‘kid who would be Jason’, Tommy Jarvis  from Pt. 4, digs up Jason’s grave to destroy his remains.  Jason is brought back to life by  lightning.

Jason has now transformed from tough, super strong mutant to indestructible  super zombie.  A magic ritual of sorts is also used to ‘bind’ and trap  Jason at the end, hinting at the mystical nature of Jason’s past.

I didn’t care for this one.  The forced attempts at humor undercut any  sense of horror.  I don’t need a movie to parody itself, I can mock it  just fine, thank you very much.

There is a nice nod to another long running series in the intro that I rather liked, however.

“The name’s Voorhees. Jason, Voorhees.”

5) Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter

Now we’re talking.  This movie had a lot of meat for the algorithm to chew  on: Cameos (Crispin Glover! Corey Haim!), Core elements (fighting Jason  with psychology!) and tons of kills and scares.  In the continuity  department, we see Pamela Voorhees’ tombstone and the character Rob, who is seeking revenge for his sister who got killed in Part 2.

“I’m YOU, Jason. And you are cool, so I popped my collar.”

4) Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes To Hell

I know people hate this movie like O.G. Star Wars fans hate Return of the Jedi for its ewok shenanigans.  Fortunately, the algorithm is beyond  your petty emotions.  It’s all in the data.  Consider the cast: Erin  Gray (Buck Rogers!) as Mrs. Kimble nee Voorhees, Steven Williams (21  Jump Street! X-Files!) as the world’s most ruthless serial killer hunter and John D. Le May, who stars in this movie AND the Friday the 13th TV  series!

This movie has world building in spades.  It features the  Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the ACTUAL book of the dead from the Evil Dead  movies!  Jason is such a well-known terror that the FBI forms a special  task force to lure him out and destroy him with overwhelming firepower.

When they succeed (or did they?) the entire country watches TV news reports  about the incident with relief.  One local business celebrates with a  “Jason is Dead” sale and special hockey mask shaped burgers.

I could totally go for a Jason burger right now

This movie suffers from a lack of Jason – after the FBI blows up his body,  the evil energies that inhabit his body begin to leap from body to body, seeking a body with the cursed Voorhees bloodline that can either  resurrect or destroy him.  This is another stage in Jason’s life cycle,  from deformed child to hulking freak to super zombie to this, the dark  scion of a strange occult ritual.  Fortunately, Jason is in the  beginning and end of this movie, and does a lot of crazy killing in  between.

The final cameo opened the movie up, in a big way that  blew the minds of horror fans everywhere:  after Jason is destroyed by  his ancestor with a magic sword/knife/demon broadsword, Freddy Krueger’s glove bursts up from Hell to snatch the iconic hockey mask.

MIND…BLOWN.

3) Friday the 13th Part 2

Taking the bronze medal is part 2, a strong sequel to the original with an  almost perfect score on continuity and core elements.  Jason steps out  of the lake and onto the center stage, killing teenagers and preserving  his mother’s rotting head and grody sweater on an altar.

Some people put their mother on a pedestal. Some put them on an altar.

A savvy co-ed dons the crusty sweater at the end to mess with Jason’s  mind.  The only core elements missing are the machete and hockey mask – at this point Jason is rocking a sack with an eye hole in it.

The bag-heads soon switched to fat suits, but it was not until they adopted gangsta personas and renamed the group CB4 that they reached stardom.

This movie also has the original harbinger, crazy Ralph.  This colorful  local warned the teenagers in the first movie to stay away from Camp  Crystal Lake.  They didn’t listen, but crazy Ralph was so iconic that he became part of the slasher genre formula.

“It’s got a DEATH CURRRRSE!!!…and many scenic bike paths.”

2) Friday the 13th 3D

Ah, back when all movies with a part 3 were in 3D.  It was a simpler time.

This movie exploited the full potential of the third dimension more fully  than James Cameron’s AVATAR.  Seriously, if it could swing, float, jump, fly or pop out at the audience, it was comin’ atcha.  Not just spear  guns and pitchforks, either.  Yo-yos, popcorn, snakes, EVERYTHING.

Comin’ Atcha!

The tone was a little more silly, but only to pump up the cheap thrills.   There was plenty of scares and violent, creative death to go around.   Jason finally gets his hockey mask here, which is why part 3D gets the  silver medal.  The only thing missing is Jason’s mother…

1) Friday the 13th

The origin story of the most gifted, prolific and hardest working slasher  in history.  We learn who Jason was, meet his devoted mother, and learn  our way around Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees, is easily one of the most original and compelling characters of any  slasher film.  That wild eyed old lady in the christmas sweater with the blade?  She’s fueled by grief, maternal love and righteous fury.

“Kee Kee Kee Kee…Kah Kah Kah Kah can only truly be whispered through dentures.”

JAWS stopped night swimming. This stopped lake swimming.

This movie ends with the only image from the series as iconic as the hockey  mask: the slimy body of a freakish child erupting from depths of a  watery grave.

——

Jeff C. Carter’s most recent work in print appears in AVENIR ECLECTIA Volume 1, now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.  Get more Halloween stuff at his blog Compendium of Monsters and say hey on Facebookand Goodreads.

Great White Horror In Tales From The Bell Club

No, not sharks.

In all the Four In The Morning and Prometheus excitement, I missed telling you all about the release of Knightwatch Press’ very cool horror pulp anthology Tales From The Bell Club, featuring my short story Tell Tom Tildrum and edited by Paul Mannering. It also features The Wager, a yarn of un-fathomable submersible horror from my good friend and sometime collaborator Jeff Carter.

You can read about Jeff’s story at his blog here.

Take a look at this great cover…

The premise of Tales From The Bell Club is that there exists a upscale private club, much like the world famous Travellers Club, Mycroft Holmes’ Diogenes Club, or the Cobalt Club (to which Lamont Cranston belongs in The Shadow series). The Bell Club’s sole requirement is that prospective members must have undergone some personal horror and agree to share the tale.

All stories are set in an era ranging from the early 1900’s to the mid to late 1930’s – the ‘golden’ age of adventure and pulp.

My own offering is called Tell Tom Tildrum, a reference to the old English fable, The King ‘O The Cats (special thanks to Jeff for pointing out this tale to me and giving me a springboard).

For sake of context, in The King ‘O The Cats, a gravedigger witnesses a body of feline pallbearers carrying a small casket in which lies a dead cat in state, with a golden crown upon its head. One of the cat onlookers notices the gravedigger and tells him to tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum is dead. The terrified and bewildered gravedigger returns home to his wife and relates the strange tale, but despairs that he has no idea who Tom Tildrum is. At that point, their housecat, who had previously been sitting on the floor supping milk from a pan, rises up on two legs and declares;

“If Tim Toldrum’s dead, then I am the King ‘o Cats!”

And leaps through the open window to go scampering down the lane toward the graveyard.

My story concerns the application for membership in the Bell Club of one Captain Howe, an arrogant, racist and cruel veteran of the King’s African Rifles, the British colonial suppression of Africa, and the Great War who settled in the Wainhoji River Valley in Kenya and made a living as a safari guide and big game hunter for the notorious Happy Valley Set.

The Happy Valley Set was a scandalous collection of aristocratic young British ex-patriots and American socialites living in the shadow of the Aberdare Mountains whose promiscuous sexual and narcotic exploits were nefarious throughout the 20’s.

The Happy Valley set: L to R: Raymond de Trafford, Frederic de Janze, Alice de Janze (with two of her husbands) and Lord Delamere.

The colony was founded by Hugh Cholmondeley, the 3rd Baron Delamere, who became one of the region’s first white land owners and was instrumental in drumming up homesteaders from among the wealthy British peerage. Interestingly, he also was the first to coin the term ‘white hunter’ (he employed both a Somali hunter and a white man named Black, and so began referring to them as ‘white hunter’ and ‘black hunter’ respectively). An eccentric but dogged character in his own right, Lord Delamere was instrumental in pushing modern agriculture into Kenya. He also frequently drove golf balls onto the roof of the Muthaiga Country Club, and then clambered up after them.

One of Lord Delamere’s friends was the notorious officer and sometime ornithologist Lt. Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, who as a captain in the KAR singlehandedly crushed the eleven year Nandi uprising by calling its leader, Chief Koitalel Arap Samoei to a truce and then shooting him dead while in the act of shaking his hand. He then ordered the chief’s companions machinegunned to death (my Captain Howe is the trigger man on this). T.E. Lawrence described Minertzhagen as being ‘so possessed of his convictions that he was willing to harness evil to the chariot of good.’

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen

There is an amusing anecdote about him, probably fictional, that he met Adolf Hitler in his later years and was bemused when the fuhrer raised his hand in the sharp Nazi salute and declared ‘Heil Hitler!’ Supposedly Meniertzhagen returned the salute and said, ‘Heil Meinertzhagen!’

But back to the Happy Valley Set.

One of the most famous members of the Set was American socialite Kiki Preston, an heiress of the Vanderbilt family. Nicknamed ‘The Girl With The Silver Syringe,’ she was famous for her public use of morphine, cocaine and heroin, and was an avid big game hunter, along with her cuckold husband, Harvard alumn Gerry Preston. Sort of a roaring twenties version of Paris Hilton – famous, or rather infamous for her extravagances (and not much else).

Countess Alice de Janze with Samson

Indina and Alice

In a similar vein was Countess Alice de Janze, another American socialite nicknamed ‘the wicked madonna,’ married (ostensibly) to Count Frederic de Janze. She spent her days playing the ukelele and caring for her tame lion cub, Samson, and her nights with The Earl of Erroll, Josslyn Hay (who some say wound up murdered by her hand in the early nineteen thirties), or any number of men and women. Alice was an unpredictable firebrand who kept her marriage entirely open. Yet when her paramour Raymond de Trafford bowed to pressure from his traditional Catholic family and announced he would not marry her after she left the Count for him, she shot him in the stomach in a Paris railway station, then turned the gun on herself (and ‘shot herself gently’ according to one newspaper). Both survived, and Alice got her way. She and de Trafford were married a year later!

Idina Gordon

Lady Myra Idina Hay nee Gordon, nee Wallace, nee Sackville (at one point wife of the aforementioned Josslyn Hay), hosted wild, cocaine and alcohol driven wife-swapping parties at her mountain home, Clouds. She was renowned for greeting visitors as she emerged dripping from her immense green onyx bath.

Now against this background, my Captain Howe, very much in with the in crowed, describes to the shadowy members of the Bell Club an incident in which he led a party of socialites into the bush after a wounded lion with eight Maasai askari hunters, and stumbles across something much more dangerous.

The basis for the weird in my story is the legend of the watusimba.

In the 1940’s, there were reports of young women who were enslaved via narcotics to East African witch doctors, forced to live in cages and given raw meat (sometimes human) to eat. These women were supposedly given lion skins to wear and claw-like weapons, then directed as assassins against the witch doctor’s enemies. They were known as watu Simba (or invariously, simba mtu), or were-lions.

Another story I took inspiration from was that of legendary big game hunter George Rushby, who as game warden of Taganyika, was called to deal with a pride of twenty two killer lions who killed and eaten approximately 1,500 people in the districts of Njombe and Singida. Battling not only killer lions, Rushby came face to face with local superstition as well, as the villagers believed the lions were magically directed by the will of a local witch doctor, Matamula Mangera, who was called The King Of The Lions.

Here’s an excerpt –

“It was an intimate party. Only myself, two gents with their wives, eight askaris…ah, that is, guards, culled from the Maasai, and about fifty Kikuyus, including the cook, bearers, and horse trainers. Quite a small entourage, really, for a hounding party.”

“Huh-huh-hounding pah-pah-party?” asked another of the unseen audience, this one a man, younger than Bertrand, it sounded like, and a bigger stutterer than Moses.

“Yes sir,” I said. “Like your fox hunt, but we use gundogs. African Lion Hounds. Bloody beautiful animals, stiff ridgebacks and fine red coats, like proper British soldiers, bred for the purpose. They flush ‘em out, keep ‘em at bay till we can come up with our Express Rifles and blast ‘em.”

I took a sip of scotch and went on.

“Anyway, the dogs had surprised a lioness with her kill, and they surrounded her. You could hear the barking and her roar way at the back of the train, a real hullabaloo boiling over. She killed two hounds by the time we got to her. Big, yellow thing she was, magnificent, her shoulders and her whiskers painted red with blood. Gerry shot her first with his .404 Jeffrey, right there,” I said, pointing to my own left shoulder. “Clipped her just enough to make a blood trail for us to follow, really.

Of course, most of the Maasai wouldn’t follow. They’re against killing a lioness unless out of necessity.”

I recalled arguing with the Maasai, when Kiki and her husband Gerry and Malcolm and Bernice rode up to see what was the bother.

It was barely noon, but we were all of us drunk already, and Kiki and Bernice were giggling as Gerry sloshed most of a bottle of gin over the lip of her glass, it being deucedly hard to pour on horseback.

“What’s all the hubbub, bub?” Gerry snickered.

I waved my hand dismissively at Leebo, the headman.

“Ah, these black devils don’t want to chase her. Something about the area they don’t like. They’ve just got a thing against killing females.”

“Aw, that’s so chivalrous of them,” Bernice remarked, pouting her lips. She reached down and patted one of the bearers’ heads, even though it was the askari who were refusing.

“Yeah, knights in shining loincloths,” Gerry remarked.

“Won’t kill females,” Malcolm grumbled. “How little they understand the fairer sex, eh Ger?”

“I think it’s sweet,” Bernice said, now twisting her finger in the African’s curls. “Tell b’wana,” she cooed silkily, to the man’s obvious embarrassment.

“It’s bibi, for you, you numbskull,” Gerry snickered, shaking his head. “Bea, you’re scandalous. What’s it gonna take to get them moving, Cap?”

“Well the bearers’ll stick with us,” I said, “but half the Maasai won’t go.”

“Bullshit!” Gerry snarled suddenly. “We’re payin’ them aren’t we? Listen up, you apes….”

“Oh, let ‘em be, Gerry,” Bernice said, knocking back her glass and wiping the hand that had been stroking the Negro’s head on her khaki riding pants. “They wouldn’t be any help anyway.”

“She’s probably right, Gerry,” I allowed. “No help at all’s better than reluctant help in this case.”

“Oh but I so wanted a lion skin for the sitting room,” Kiki whined.

“I don’t know, tootsie wootsie,” I said. “Going into the bush after a wounded lioness with half the askari…”

“Can’t you all just see me laid out on a lion skin in front of the fire?” she mused, stretching suggestively in her saddle and lacing her fingers beneath her chin like a calendar girl.

“Can’t I!” I grinned.

“Oh brother,” Bernice said, rolling her eyes. “Theda Bara over here.”

“Well let’s send these wogs packing, and press on, chums,” Malcolm said, draining the last glass and tossing it over his shoulder.

As I explained to Leebo the headman that I was discharging him, Kiki let out a wail.

“What’s the matter?” We all of us asked at once.

She was rifling through her bag and I knew right away what it was, because the hard little velvet lined case that contained her famously silver syringe was already in her hand.

“I don’t have anything! Not a bindle!” she screeched, throwing things out of the purse.

“Aw, daddy’s little hop-head can’t get snowed for the big bad lion?” Bernice sneered.

“Shut up, you bitch!”

“Now now,” said Malcolm.

“Kiki,” I said, “you don’t really wanna go after a lion on that stuff do you?”

“That’s easy for you to say, Cap, you’re already plastered,” she snarled.

“Oh and you’re not?” Gerry prodded.

I knew I was. I had lost count of the bottles we’d left lying in the bush behind the train. Wine, scotch, absinthe, vodka….

“Well I’ll just have to go back and get Beryl to fly toNairobiand get some more,” she said, turning her horse around.

“Hey Kiki, what about the lion?” I called.

“Oh bring it back for me won’t you, Cap? I’ll give you a big kiss!” she called over her shoulder as she bounced away.

“Better give me more than that,” I called after her, watching the swell of her hips.

“Hey, that’s my wife you’re talking about, you limey profligate,” Gerry grinned, his eyelids wavering.

“I’m surprised you got that word out in your condition. Go catch her before she rides off a cliff,” I said.

He smiled and winked at me as he turned his horse toward the back of the train.

“Bag her for me, Cap.”

“Clean up your mess, you mean,” Malcolm shouted after him as Gerry joined the sacked askari heading home with their spears over their shoulders.

“Yes,” I chimed in, “if you’d of shot straight to begin with we’d be back at the Count’s laying around playing sheik andShebaright now.”

“Gimme a break, chum,” he said in parting. “I’m drunk.”

“Well,” said Malcolm, once they’d gone. “A hunting we will go.”

—–

You can pick up Tales From The Bell Club here, and see the old gang get what’s coming to them…

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Bell-Club-Paul-Mannering/dp/098787473X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339736986&sr=8-1