Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Ghoul Versus Friday The 13th Part III (Part 1)

Previously on Friday The 13th Part II...

PLOT TWIST! Jason's been alive the entire time... somehow. And he's spent his entire life hiding from his beloved mother... for some reason. I don't know, I've been watching that movie on and off my entire life and I'm still no closer to figuring out the plot. The film detailed Jason killing a bunch of camp counselors... for no real reason besides he's crazy? Rhaargh, that freaking movie!

Before it was decided to make a straight sequel to the first Friday The 13th, the producers were flirting with making it an anthology series where each movie would be a completely unrelated horror story sharing only the fact they took place on the same date. With Part III, they were planning to make it the final part of Jason's story because there's NO WAY audiences were going to keep watching these things right?

Friday The 13th IV: The Final Chapter (1984) – made $30+ million
Friday The 13th V: A New Beginning (1985) – made $19+ million
Friday The 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) – made $16+ million
Friday The 13th VII: The New Blood (1988) – made $16+ million
Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – made $9+ million
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – made $12+ million
Jason X (2001) – made $2+ million
Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) – made $90+ million
Friday The 13th (2009) – made $70+ million

With the exception of Jason X, which is fucking awesome and one of the finest love letters to Jason fans ever written, all of the movies made a decent to great profit. No matter how hackneyed and trite the movies got, no matter how much they ran out of ideas, people still showed up in droves to see Jason get his groove on. But, just to hedge their bets, the filmmakers decided the latest chapter better capitalize on the current trend at the time: 3D. Gah, just like the present. Are we just constantly doomed to suffer through Hollywood recycling everything over and over again? Answer: yes.

Thanks to a long forgotten movie called Comin' At Ya that kicked off the craze, 3D was starting to get shoehorned into more and more movies, Jaws and Amityville among them. This decision helped make Part III a runaway hit, as did it not only becoming the movie that finally knocked E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial out of its throne atop the box office, but it was the most successful 3D movie in history until 2003's Spy Kids 3-D. Critics once again harshed on it, but the producers didn't give a damn as they made over $30 million dollars off their budget of $2.5 million.

Steve Miner returned to the director's chair for this one, this time bringing in Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson into the fold to write the script. Kitrosser and Watson must have enjoyed writing about kids and camps, because in 1984 they'd unite again to write the screenplay for Meatballs Part II, which featured 100% less grisly death scenes. Kitrosser would return for the fifth installment to help co-write its story, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. We need to watch how these two fixed the clusterfuck that was the ending of the last movie, so slap on some dorky 3D glasses and get ready for A Ghoul Versus Friday The 13th Part III!

We open with the ending of the last movie being played, though things diverge when Ginny and Paul leave Jason's shack. We see Jason eventually start moving, which officially retcons the Jason bursting through the window scene as a dream Ginny had. One can assume Paul carried her back to the cabin where he eventually passed out and then awoke the next morning as paramedics loaded her into an ambulance. That's fine, this is one of the better retcons out there because CRICKEY was that ending stupid.

This brings us to the opening credits, which feature some hilariously bad 3D blocks of text as well as... DISCO MUSIC! That's right, we get a DISCO REMIX of the Friday The 13th theme. Hey, it was 1982, disco was still tangibly a thing. If you recall from my Hellraiser III review, when a horror movie tries to cash in on the popular music trend at the time, only GOOD THINGS can happen. The credits give way to the town near Crystal Lake, where a woman named Edna is watching a news report about the discovery of eight bodies at the camp. They show Ginny being loaded into the ambulance, saying how she's the only survivor albeit with multiple stab wounds. UMMM, what? Paul, anyone? What, did he just call 911 and split before they showed up? There was a rumour for many years that his actor, John Furey, stormed off the production after an argument which is why he kinda vanished at the end of the last movie, but that's been confirmed to be untrue in the time since. So I really have no idea what's up with Paul, but it doesn't matter since we'll never see him or Ginny again.

Edna hears a noise outside, looking through her window to her laundry line outside where she had just gotten done yelling at her husband Harold for being an idiot. Through the laundry we can see Michael Myers moving slowly- no wait, that's just Jason. Boy, they're not going to let these Halloween “homages” go anytime soon, are they? The Harold and Edna stuff goes on FOREVER, until Jason finally tries to get the movie going by killing both of them out in their garage. Thank you Jason, that was insufferable. We transition to elsewhere in the town, or maybe a different town since this series SUCKS at establishing anything, as we meet Chris, her friend Debbie, and Debbie's boyfriend Andy.

Chris is driving a town to pick up the rest of her friends for a little weekend getaway out in the woods because in the 1980s there was literally no other way to spend the weekend. In the back of the van is the fourth member of the party, a guy named Shelly. Fucking Shelly... if you know ANYTHING about the series, odds are you've heard his name mentioned once or twice. His is, HANDS DOWN, the most annoying character of the entire franchise and perhaps ANY franchise. I'll put him up against Jar Jar Binks, Skids and Mudflap, or even fucking Bella Swan any day of the week. He's the film's practical joker you see, and he's think he's HILARIOUS when in reality he's about as funny as cute puppies getting cancer. He introduces himself by wearing a Michael Myers-ish mask and sneaking up behind Andy to fake stab him in the back. Har-har-har.

Andy, who is Shelly's room mate and best friend, pulls him aside and gives him a stern talking to about fucking the weekend up. This proves that Andy is what we like to call FUCKING BRAINDEAD in the fact he thought bringing Shelly along for a weekend of sex and partying would ever, EVER be a good idea. Even funnier is Andy is setting up Shelly with his friend Vera, lovely woman who does all laugh is his face when she's introduced to me. Even Shelly knows how much he sucks and offers a weak apology. Nice Shelly, I don't feel sorry for you ONE BIT. Vera, played by Catherine Parks, is the only actor here that ever went on to have another major role, and even that's debatable since it was Weekend At Bernie's. As an interesting side note, Shelly's actor, Larry Zerner, went on to become a big time Hollywood lawyer and represented a side in the lawsuit against the Amityville Horror remake in 2005. This just goes to show that once you enter the horror genre, there is NO ESCAPE.

We're not done meeting our Future Victims yet though, because it turns out there's two more people in the back of the van: Cheech and Chong. Hold on, I mean Chuck and Chili, since Cheech and Chong would have been WAY too expensive to hire with his film's budget. With Vera in tow we're off to Crystal Lake, though a different spot far from the camp called Higgins Haven. Yeah, THAT'S gonna make a difference. During the trip we learn Debbie is pregnant, a plot point I've never really agreed with but we'll cover that later. Their trip is interrupted by an old man lying asleep in the road, who starts jabbering when they pull over to check on him. He warns them about... something, as he pulls a FUCKING EYEBALL out of his pocket to show to them. They leap back into the fan and go into light speed GTFO mode.  And in case you're wondering, this bit of What The Fuckery is never mentioned or brought up again, so I hope you enjoyed it.

They arrive at their cabin in Higgins Haven, where Chris walks into a cheap jump scare courtesy of her boyfriend Rick, who arrived earlier. I say cabin but it's really more of a farm, complete with a massive barn behind the house boasting a pulley system for bales of hay that I'm sure won't EVER be used for an elaborate death scene later. Rick, whose only character motivation is that he LOVES SEX, discusses sex with Chris for about five minutes until they hear a scream come from the house. Chris runs upstairs to find Shelly in the closet with a meat cleaver buried in his skull, which drew a standing ovation from this zombie... that is until it turns out this was all a prank he's playing. FUCK. YOU. SHELLY.

Everyone is pissed off by this, but especially Chris because it reminds her of an “incident” that happened at the house two years earlier. What the-?! Character back story in a Friday The 13th film? What madness be this? Vera and Shelly end up going into town to buy some food, where they run afoul of three leather clad asshole bikers named Fox, Ali, and Loco. The two teens quickly leave the store, where Fucking Shelly accidentally manages to back over the biker's motorcycles with his car because he's too stupid to know drive from reverse. Ali punches out Shelly's windows as he drives by, but somehow I have the feeling the bikers aren't going to let this go so easy...

Back at the camp farm place, we get one of the film's more infamous 3D shots as Andy plays with a yo-yo right into the camera. Yep, that's it. A few shots of watching a yo-yo fly towards us, and somehow it's STILL better than Saw 3D was.  The film throws us a bone as shows a brief glimpse of Jason watching everyone from the barn, because he's... bored? Why is he here, way out of his usual territory? For that matter, why did he go into town to kill Edna and Harold? Actually, for once I don't care because all this means is at some point we'll get to see him kill Shelly and that GLORIOUS moment will be worth sitting through any questionable story elements. Everyone drifts off to do their own thing, leaving the front of the house unguarded which is PERFECT timing for the bikers, who show up to cause some mischief. Ali and Loco siphon the gas out of Chris' van while Fox goes inside the barn to... do a whole lot of nothing and NOT get killed by Jason. You know, we're nearly 40 minutes in and things aren't exactly off to a captivating start.

When she's gone too long, Loco goes into the barn after her, finding her impaled to a ceiling beam by a pitchfork through her neck. FINALLY! Loco soon joins her in biker hell as Jason runs him through with a trusty ol' pitchfork. Ali is next into the death barn where he finds the bodies of his friends, grabbing a machete when he sees Jason across the room. Jason, who has taken a HUGE upgrade in the badass department, easily disarms him and hacks him to death with the blade. Alright enough excitement, we now return you to our boring as hell campers! Chris tells Rick her origin story, how two years ago she was attacked by an unknown grotesque looking man and somehow survived despite getting knocked out. Gee, I wonder who THAT could have been?

The Cheech and Chong ripoffs go into the barn to scare who they think is Shelly after they spot him entering, but find nothing in a HIGHLY vital scene. Vital to making sure the film hits a theater required 90 minutes, that is. Vera relaxes on the dock by the lake when a hand grabs her leg and tries to drag her in, but it's just Fucking Shelly playing another GUT-BUSTINGLY FUNNY prank. KILL THIS FUCKING PRICK ALREADY JASON! In the film's defense though, this scene does have a point as we see Shelly is wearing a hockey mask when he scares Vera. Hey, a hockey mask! That'd be a cool accessory for a slasher villain, is anyone else thinking that? She rightfully yells at him for being an immature moron, which hurts his feelings so he runs off to sulk. Aww, poor Shelly. You gonna cry now?