21 October 2015

October 21st

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) directed by John Carl Buechler
Kane Hodder as Jason
13 May 1988
Freddy vs. Jason X: Mind Over Matter
This was my favorite of the series for a long time. It has a great cast of kids who are fun to watch: the sci-fi-dreaming Eddie, the nerdy girl Maddy, the ultra-bitch Melissa. There's a human villain in the form of Dr. Crews, which is a nice idea to mix up the series a little (and it's fun to cheer for his death because he's such an ass). Tina, with her Carrie-like telekinesis, makes for an interesting character and a decent idea for battling the physically-unbeatable Jason. While I think I like Part 4 and Part 6 better these days, this is definitely close behind. 

I love the look of Jason in this one. His time underwater has rotted him even further. Through his now-tattered clothes, we can see his exposed spine and ribs and kneecap. He continues to wear the chain Tommy threw around his neck in Part 6 for the entire movie. Part of his mask has broken off and we can see his messed-up jaw underneath. The guy looks monstrous.
This was also Kane Hodder's first go as the man in the mask. The guy is a great self-promoter -- I got to experience one of his patented choke-holds at a convention once! -- and has become the face of Jason in the fan community. I was skeptical, though, of how different his performance would be after just watching 7 other actors in the part. Yep, you can tell. Hodder has this distinct way of carrying Jason that makes him look like an absolute hulking beast. He oozes physicality in this movie and gives Jason an unstoppable aura.

"It's got a death curse!" Maybe Crazy Ralph in Part 1 was right? Maybe it's not Jason or his mom or Roy... maybe it's the place itself? Maybe Crystal Lake is the source of this evil? How else can we explain the plethora of monsters the lake produces? No, Jason is not the only one to emerge from Crystal Lake after death. In Part 2, Jason's mother's corpse jumps out of the lake. In this one, Tina's father does the same. There's something in the water. Something ancient and evil and corrupting... I think I just got an idea for a Friday the 13th-equivalent to New Nightmare.

Favorite Character
Eddie (Jeff Benett): the sci-fi geek with the crush on a girl way out of his league. Enjoys sitting around in his tightie-whities while opening another person's birthday presents. One of those sentences is too close to home...

Favorite Sin
Forcing a horny boyfriend to collect firewood before sexy times can commence.

Favorite Kill
Judy (Debora Kessler), beaten against a tree in her sleeping bag. Too bad this was censored for home video, but Jason X will make up for that a little.

Jason's Mood
Force of nature.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) directed by Renny Harlin
Robert Englund as Freddy
19 Aug 1988
Freddy vs. Jason XI: Failure of the Dream Master
I've always liked this entry quite a bit. Whenever I feel like popping in a Freddy movie, this is one I'll often grab. It gets back to the basics of series: Freddy is invading the dreams of high school kids -- who are in high school, not in an asylum; and Freddy is taking over their dreams, not their bodies -- and it's up to one girl to stop him. As is slasher tradition, it kills off the survivors of the previous movie at the beginning and pits an entirely new group against the dream demon.

Morally, once she realized what was going on, Alice should've killed herself. It's impossible to live without sleep and every time Alice slept, she allowed Freddy access to another victim. Rick and Debbie's deaths are the result of her unwillingness to consider this extreme option. In fact, the deaths of every single child in Springwood -- as we hear about in Part 6 -- would seem to be all Alice's fault. Maybe you could argue that Rick and Debbie were a small price to pay in order give Alice the power to defeat Freddy... but we all know he'll never be permanently killed. I think trapping him in his own rules -- his revenge is finished and there's nothing left to do -- was the best option.

As a plot device, this was a clever twist for the series. "Whatever you do, don't fall asleep... because one of your friends will die and you'll be fine." I don't think they used it to its full potential, though. With Nancy in Part 1, you could see the stress she carried as she struggled to keep herself awake. Imagine her if she had Alice's problem: Nancy would've been a basketcase, The less emotional Alice barely shows any response to this horror at all. The film is more interested in showing her toughen up as she absorbs everyone's powers (hey, look at Alice's new karate abilities!). I also don't think Lisa Wilcox is particularly good in this role and more could've been made with it with someone like Heather Langenkamp, as well. In fact, forget Part 3. This should've been the real third movie with Nancy in Alice's place as the Dream Master.

Favorite Character
Rick (Andras Jones): probably the most likable character in any of these series. A great brother to Alice. A great friend to Dan. A great boyfriend to Kristen. Because of his sister's unwillingness to end her own life, he gets to experience the unique pain of being turned into a meatball and eaten by Freddy. Dude did not deserve this.

Favorite Sin
Making out with a dream demon so intensely that you have a fatal asthma attack.

Favorite Kill
Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), who was dully stabbed in the guts by Freddy. But, he went out like a man, looking Freddy in the eyes and promising, "I'll see you in Hell."

Freddy's Mood

Freddy's Nightmares 1.01: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1988) directed by Tobe Hooper
Premiering just a couple of months after Part 4, Freddy's Nightmares was an anthology series like Tales from the Darkside and the like. The twist was that Freddy himself hosted the show and sometimes -- but not often -- an episode would be about Freddy. This episode is the most notable of the series, as it begins at the end of Freddy's trail in which he is let free due to a legal technicality.

The show is filmed in a very "TV-like" manner. Shots are static and tend to cut between three angles. The acting is sub-par. The music sounds like someone tooling around on a Casio keyboard. Coming out in the days long before The Walking Dead, there's no gore or anything particularly scary. In short: it's bad.

Still, there's a weirdly creepy vibe running through the episode that is somehow effective. For one, they never show living Freddy's full face. Most of his face is always obscured in shadow or fog. The most that we get are close-ups of his mouth as he speaks in his Freddy voice. The story is actually pretty disturbing: a psycho kills and mutilates 20 kids in a small town. After a 2-year manhunt, he is finally caught, only to be let free because the policeman who arrested him screwed up. This is a parent's nightmare and I don't blame them for their reaction. Tied together with the aforementioned Casio keyboard music -- which seems to shrilly drill into your head -- the whole show feels a lot darker than any of the movie sequels.

Strangely enough, once Freddy is burned to death and transformed into a dream demon, the show is a lot less effective. One large issue is that Freddy decides to pursue revenge against a couple of the adults responsible for his death. That doesn't work. The idea that innocent children would pay for the sins of their parents is one of the many genius bits that Craven came up with to make the Freddy story so memorable. Freddy giving a grown-up policeman nightmares about going to the dentist is several orders of magnitude less interesting.

I hate that they ignored Part 1 and created their own continuity here. Where's Donald and Marge Thompson? Donald buried the body and Marge hid his glove... they're sort of important. For that matter, where's younger versions of Nancy, Kristen, Glen, Kincaid, Joey, etc, etc? Would it have been so hard to tie the show into the film series a little better?

While the series is currently tied up in legal rights issues, you can still watch this episode here in VHS quality.


  1. I'm a big fan of Friday Part 7. One of the entries that really embraces the fun of the series.

    On the other hand, I'm not a fan of the Dream Master. On my last viewing, Alice struck me as a really ineffective heroine. The film also features my least favorite death scene: Invisible Freddy kung-fu? Considering the rest of the film's kills are pretty over-the-top, that one struck me as seriously lacking in imagination.

  2. Definitely agree: Alice is a boring protagonist and the deaths are lame (which I why I had to choose Kincaid for favorite... no way I'm picking "turned a girl into a roach"). Still, there's something about Part 4 that captures that sweet late-'80s slasher vibe. It works despite its shortcomings.