29 October 2015

October 29th

The Walking Dead 5.16: "Conquer" directed by Greg Nicotero
Rick dropping a dead zombie in the middle of the meeting that was to decide whether to exile him or not is bad ass. And, not a bad way of convincing the pampered wimps in Alexandria that they need bad ass help. I imagine season 6 will be about encountering Negan's group -- the Wolves, I'm guessing, are what they are in the TV show -- and hopefully also contacting other safe zones in order to build up the army needed to defeat him. Should be good watchin'. I love this era in the comic stories.

Friday the 13th (2009) directed by Marcus Nispel
Derek Mears as Jason
13 Feb 2009
Freddy vs. Jason XIX: Jason Reborn
Remaking a Jason movie is not a big deal. Continuity never meant much in the original series, anyway, so pushing the reset button doesn't really lose us anything important. As long as there's a big guy wearing a hockey mask killing people around Crystal Lake, I don't really care.

Last time I watched this one five years ago, I didn't like it. I think I was too harsh. To be sure, this is a different version of Jason than we've seen before. He is the Jason from Part 2 made angrier and perhaps more realistic. He's created an underground shack underneath Camp Crystal Lake to live in, has set up alarms and traps on the property, and steals kerosene from a nearby farm when needed. He is the uber-mountain man, surviving on his own away from civilization. As I wrote in my Part 2 review, I've come to like the wild man version of Jason and it's nice to have him back after years of zombie Jason.

Though not quite as dreary as Nispel's Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, this is a darker movie than any of the other Jason films. Jason himself is meaner in this film than he's ever been. That sounds incredibly silly when discussing a man who has killed people by crushing their heads in his hands, but I think it has to do with the speed at which Jason kills. He's slower here. He wants people to suffer before they die. Instead of banging a girl in a sleeping bag against a tree to kill her, he ties her up above a campfire and slow-roasts her. Instead of instantly killing a guy when he throws an ax at his back, Jason merely paralyzing the poor man and uses his screams as bait for the other people hiding in the house.

My guess is that this change, more than anything else, is the source of people's dislike of the remake. I can understand. I'm an '80s slasher fan. I like my slasher killers to be more on the inventive side and less on the torture side of things. But, it's not the 1980s anymore. I don't think we can recapture that kind of fun and light slasher movie from when the SFX guys were kings. Technology is different and society is different. I am not opposed to trying something different with an old character as a way of keeping him alive in our culture's consciousness.

I think this change to Jason, for the most part, works. The big guy with the hockey mask looks very imposing and frightening in this film, confidently navigating his territory to clear it of invaders. You know that if he catches up with a character, they will have a very bad time of it. Though. at times, things feel a little too close to Texas Chainsaw Massacre for my liking. His underground layer is a little too Sawyer family for my taste, as is the old lady who mysteriously warns Clay about the woods.

If this ever does start a series, this isn't a bad place to start. Beginning with a super-serious take on Jason makes it much more difficult to jump into the self-parody era that slasher sequels always end up in. I cannot imagine remake Jason in space at all. That's probably a good thing.

Favorite Character
Trent (Travis Van Winkle): he was such the perfect douchebag character, I can't help but admire him. C'mon, who didn't love the bit where he screamed like a little girl when Jason was chasing him outside?

Favorite Sin
Hunting for a mythical field of weed.

Favorite Kill
Amanda (America Olivo), who, while still wrapped in her sleeping bag, is strung up over a campfire to roast.

Jason's Mood
"Git off ma land and leave me alone!"

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) directed by Samuel Bayer
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy
27 Apr 2010
Freddy vs. Jason XX: Freddy Reborn
Speaking of super-serious takes, that's also the direction New Line took with the remake Freddy. I also hated this one when I last watched it five years ago. I think I was too harsh with this film as well.

There is no way anyone is ever going to be able to touch Robert Englund's performance as Freddy. He is a huge reason the character became so phenomenally popular. But, Englund has retired from the role. If we want Freddy to continue, like Dracula or Frankenstein, he needs to be recast. Further, the character needs to be re-imagined a little. Any new actor attempting to do a Robert Englund-as-Freddy impersonation is going to be hated from the first frame of film. And, Englund already covered the silly aspects of the character, so the only sensible direction to take Freddy is towards darkness.

Man, did they ever. This Freddy is absolutely loathsome. It was easy to cheer for old Freddy when he was, for example, boinging idiot stoners around in a video game nightmare. Anyone cheering for remake Freddy is a psychopath. The guy is now a full-on child molester who used to work at a pre-school. His main goal in the film is to keep his favorite child awake so long that she falls into a coma, allowing him to play with her forever. You should hate the villain in a horror movie and Haley's version of Freddy makes this very easy.

I think this was a great direction to take the character. What if one of those skeevy-looking molesters whose mugshots we see on the news was granted infinite powers in the dreamworld? This film, more than the original, answers that question. Haley's Freddy lacks any of Part 1's maniacal insanity and instead has a clarity of purpose that is just as disturbing in such a creature.

On the other hand, Rooney Mara sucks in this film. Supposedly, she hated filming it so much she almost quit acting altogether. You can tell. She's a disgrace to the name "Nancy" and her dull performance drags the entire movie down.

My other large issue with the film are the references to the original. Any time they went out of their way to copy of bit from the original movie, it was horrible. Freddy stretching the wall above Nancy's bed? CGI crap. Freddy's glove between Nancy's legs in the bath? Where's the dragging down into the darkness part? Kris's death? Scarier in the original with Tina. Nancy seeing Kris in a bodybag being dragged down the hall? Creepier in the original. Had they just cut out all of the references (sadly, including Nancy herself) and confidently did their own thing for the entire movie, it would've been much improved.

Still, I feel like they got a lot right. The relentlessly dark tone of the film matches the new Freddy perfectly and makes the film scary in a different way than the rest of the series. "Why are you screaming? I haven't even cut you yet!" is actually my favorite Freddy line from any of the movies. The idea that prolonged insomnia would cause micronaps is brilliant, and is great way to have Freddy stalk the characters throughout the finale.

In the end, I think this version of Freddy was so incredibly dark that it had no chance of spawning a new series. Folks just don't want to watch a no-longer-merely-implied child molester torturing teens. That's fine. I'm sure Freddy will return in some other form eventually. Meantime, it was interesting to see this take on the character.

Favorite Character
Quentin (Kyle Gallner): the real hero of the film who replaces the largest useless Nancy as the guy who knows what's going on.

Favorite Sin
Saying "screw calling the police" and burning to death the guy who molested your child. There's no chance he's getting off on a technicality here.

Favorite Kill
Jesse (Thomas Dekker), who gets a razor glove shoved through his back and out his chest. But that doesn't kill him, as Freddy says: "Did you know that after the heart stops beating, the brain can function for well over seven minutes?" Easily the most disturbing kill in the entire series and a very clever use of the dreamworld.

Freddy's Mood
Filthy and very angry.


  1. The F13 reboot has a bunch of stuff to like, but as per usual, misses on execution. I think the opening is rather great. The old lady warning Clay about the woods could have been an interesting take - picture the locals knowing all about Jason, but tolerating him because they hate tourists and jerky kids, almost like collaborators, could have been an interesting twist. Jason isn't just mean, he's shrewd. There's intelligence behind his stalking, but they don't take that far enough.

    And this might just be wishful thinking or nostalgia talking, but it would have been nice to at least reference the old sountrack, just one ki ki ki, ma ma ma, that's all I ask. It's annoying that they haven't been able to get the series back off the ground though. I'm always in the bag for more Jason.

  2. They actually did use the classic Jason sounds... just for the briefest second when he first spies the mask in the barn.

    Agreed on the townsfolk... something to explore in the part 2 they seem to never get around to making?

  3. I'm a fan of the Friday remake, since it's less of a remake and more of a new Jason movie. I agree that he's meaner in this film but that just fits the tone of horror at the time. (And still?) I also like that Travis is basically the villain of the film while Jason is this quasi-neutral hyper-violent force of nature.

    I remember the Elm Street remake recreating many of the iconic scenes from the original in less interesting ways. I also remember the ending being super-lame. They pull Freddy out of the dream and then just slash his throat. Big whoop.