06.27.09

 

Friday the 13th (2009)

            Friday the 13th (1980; et al) as a franchise was always low concept in my opinion. Just like John Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th is really just the story of a killer who keeps coming back to kill for what ever reason. And I always thought that Friday the 13th was the weaker of the two. And the franchise really went off the deep end with serial killer Jason Voorhees getting into ridiculous situations such as visiting Manhattan, being sent to hell and battling Freddy Krueger among other things. John Carpenter had an edge to his slasher vehicle in the subtlety of his shooting style. Carpenter’s killer would appear sinisterly in the background, or suddenly from an inauspicious place. His use of light and style of filming became a standard of modern horror, where as Jason seemed to appear from nowhere, stand around and approach slowly so the victim could take him in. Jason has shed this habit a bit, and this new remake of Friday the 13th (2009) has benefitted. The creep factor of Jason Voorhees occasionally weighing his options rather than jumping out of shadows over and over again works. And really, that’s all that matters for a movie like this. So what we have is a story that has been told before, with more sophisticated filming. The scares are better in the realm of what the film is trying to accomplish. This remake cherry picks elements of the first few chapters and treats the story ark as if no one has been back to Crystal Lake in nearly thirty years, even though people have apparently been mysteriously disappearing. It doesn’t say much for the local law enforcement that they don’t drop by a deserted camp where people have been murdered once in a while to see if any missing persons were hanging around. As the filmmakers are trying a little harder, you now have to jump between your logic and the scares pretty quickly. “Why doesn’t she just run?” has been replaced with “could that have actually happened?” But for what it is, I thought the movie is worth watching. The only decision-making with regards to whether or not to see the film really lies in how much of a purist you want to be about the license taken with the original story. So, with that in mind, here is a list of elements from the franchise, old and new, that will either entice you in or warn you away.

Old elements returning in the film:

1. Despicable, self-absorbed college students go into the woods to have sex and do drugs.

2. Inhospitable, rural townspeople make you wonder why people would go near Crystal Lake in the first place.

3. Dead bodies are rigged to hang on the ceiling and fall when it is most likely to alarm a victim.

4. A man who has been living in the woods for thirty years since he was ten is capable of manipulating complicated electrical and phone equipment.

5. Machetes go “shliiing” every time you whip them out.

6. A dog scares someone.

7. One nicer, more tolerable girl thinks everyone else is acting like a jerk. Does she survive?

8. Jason really missed his calling as an archer.

9. We still don’t know what he eats.

Elements making their debut:

1. Intent to masturbate is now punishable by death. 

2. An African American survives for a while. 

3. Someone in the deep woods actually has a gun.

4. There is new insight into what Jason does with his free time. 

5. Jason seems slightly more bound by the elements of time and space. Did I say slightly? I mean slightly.

6. Everyone in a horror movie must now have a GPS that does not work.

7. Jason is a lot more resourceful with his terrorizing. Perhaps he has seen Saw.

8. Jason really missed his calling as a tunnel digger.

9. Finally, a hockey joke.

06.18.09

Last week while I was on the East Coast I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Mummies at their Brooklyn, New York appearance. At times, it can be kind of depressing to see your favorite bands getting together and sweating to the oldies, but the Mummies still got it in a big way. Maybe it’s the costumes, but their show didn’t show any wear for age. I was in front of the club early waiting for a friend when they all came out in full costume and casually strolled down the street leaving the residents of Park Slope slack jawed. Even knowing that they were going to be dressed up didn’t lessen the blow for me. Four men dressed as mummies walking down a busy street can be sort of scary even if you are aware of what is going on and people got out of the way fast. They played well and made a lot of Steve Martin Jokes. Really a perfect evening for me. I don’t even have that much fun at shows anymore, but I thought they were great. Definitely worth seeing if they come around again.

A band from Brooklyn called the Back CCs opened the show and played a furious rock and roll set in the vein of Teengenerate. Not knowing the band and having them smoke the way they did put the whole evening into a time warp for me; a magical night where you go to see an awesome band and find out about another awesome band. I was not able to find any recordings of them, but the Black CCs should be looked out for. I got a seven inch in the mail by a band from Brooklyn called the Ex-Humans and it was really cool too. Maybe rock and roll is  going to be ringing regularly from Brooklyn in the future. But I can’t be trusted, I am not much of a seer. I thought Starbucks would never catch on.

06.05.09

Drag Me to Hell (2009) 

Can you never go home? Going to the movies to see someone’s “return to form” is almost always disappointing. But Sam Raimi’s latest proves he has still got it in a big way. If you have seen the commercial, the plot is already established. If you haven’t seen the commercial, the tag line on the poster can catch you up. “Christine Brown has a good job, a great boyfriend and a bright future. But in three days, she is going to hell.” Brown (Allison Lohman) is a loan officer who denies an extension on an elderly (and gross) Hungarian woman’s mortgage.  The woman lays a heavy curse on Brown that you wouldn’t wish on anyone except perhaps a loan officer. I won’t give away the ending, but the ride is what is important here and Raimi has provided 99 minutes stuffed with dancing corpses, loud jumps, unreasonable blood spurts and goo accidentally flowing into orifices. Although it is sad that there is never a Bruce Campbell walk-on, (Raimi’s famous car does make an appearance), all the elements his fans would expect are there. Raimi seems to have re-defined his thing for a new generation. Hell is a diamond during a time when there seems to be no room for big budget horror movies with a shred of originality. Although we have seen some of this before, it comes across as refreshing. A real triumph for the genera and for the Raimi cannon. 


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