Sunday, March 23, 2014

Movie Review: Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

After the box office flop that was Jason Takes Manhattan, Paramount decided to end it's run with the Friday movie series. It wasn't just because of disappointing run of Jason Takes Manhattan, it was because Paramount wanted to focus on bigger, better things since it was becoming a more profitable film company in terms of making academy award-winning films. So a couple of years later, the film series was picked up by New Line Cinema. This was, of course, a smart decision since New Line has ownership of Freddy and both the studios have been trying to pen a Freddy Vs. Jason movie for the past five years. Sean S. Cunningham, now a producer at New Line, set up a new idea for a Friday The 13th sequel instead since Wes Craven was already penning a 7th Nightmare On Elm Street movie to make up for the fiasco that was Freddy's Dead. It's been 13 years since his mega hit in 1980 and Sean S. Cunningham was, very publicly, embarrassed of how the series turned out. So, he decided to "end" the series, even though a Freddy Vs. Jason movie was just a mile away. Which gives me the burning question: Why pick up a movie series just to end it? Well, anyways, as I was saying, Sean wanted to find an inventive director to put the series in different direction. So, he recruited Adam Marcus, a friend of his son and who was FRESH out of film school. Was this a
good idea? No. No, it wasn't. It's one thing to have an ambitious film company who produce fantasy-laden horror films and another thing to have an even more ambitious director with no film experiences behind his belt.
And here we have Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. You want to know what I think about it? I don't know. I don't know what to think about this movie. It's very confusing and it leaves more questions than answers. This movie does have it's fans and yes, it's a watchable movie but it's still one of my least favorite of the Friday films.
First of all who the hell is Creighton Duke? There is no mention of this character in the earlier sequels and he just doesn't fit in the with the Friday The 13th mythology. And furthermore, how does he know of Jason's abilities, especially his body hopping one? (which I will discuss later) Oh but here's a topic that was quite debatable over the years.....Jason has a sister. Again, what is with the long lost relative plots? I just don't get it. I mean didn't Pamela say that Jason was her only child? I wish these people would stop ret conning storylines, It will only lead to plot holes and misguiding.
Oh but here's the real potboiler: what is with the body hopping? Okay, I can accept Jason having teleporting powers but this....this is just ridiculous. Ugh, I mean what were they thinking? And with that, I have nothing else to say.
Alright, I will give points to Adam Marcus for attempting to get the series into a different direction but at the same time, this is not a Friday the 13th film. The movies have always been trying to go into different directions yet still had the essence of a Friday the 13 film.
With it's plot holes and illogical sense of storytelling, I just can't put my finger on this one.

The majority of the cast is decent, especially the two leads and judging from the bad dialogue and stupid situations the characters are put in, the actors made it out pretty well, given what they're worked with.

John D. Lemay really stood out and he actually could convince you that he is a capable action star. As for the character, I liked that he is a regular Joe who happens to be in an unexplainable situation. There are some flaws to his character, he is mentioned to have been a dead-beat father who had made many mistakes in his life. But it all comes caving in once he is framed for murder, that's where he make a change for the better. The scene where he connects with his baby girl at the diner is a truly touching one and it shows that Steven knows what he has to do and try to be there for his family.

Just to add this, it's almost physically impossible for him to tackle a two-ton and considering Jason killed people with his bare hands, Steven is lucky he didn't get snapped in two.

Kari Keegan actually did a great job in her first major role. Although the character was underwritten, it was the actress herself that fleshed out the character, giving her this strong-wiled personality. There's really not much to say about Jessica since she is introduced halfway through the movie while much of the focus is on her mother Diane. She is one of the first or few final girls that isn't a teenager and is a mom. The filmmakers would later regret this decision because the character wasn't sexy as a mother. You know with stupid comments like that it shows how dumb the makers of this movie are.  I think her being a mother works because it has her fighting for her child other than her own life. But the character does do some stupid things like when she gets attacked by her possessed (current) boyfriend and once Steven saves her and explain what is going on, she flips out and doesn't believe him just when shit really hits the fan.

And here's another problem, SHE is the one who defeats Jason, even though she's really not the main character and there is no establishment of how she got her fighting moves. Just like Maggie in Freddy's Dead, she is a strong female character just not a very well-developed one.
Now to the two most important characters that are the most debatable:

Although Steven Freeman does a great job with the role considering what movie he's in, I don't know what was the purpose of the Creighton Duke character. There is no mention of him in the earlier films nor a reference. He just happens to be there, mainly so as a plot device. The script does explain the character's motivation of stopping Jason but in the shooting script they scrap it for some reason which doesn't develop the character in any way. He just comes off as some action hero knock-off with cheesy one-liners. The only person who knows of the Jason mythology is Tommy Jarvis; he was in three of the films, why not use him?

Erin Gray does alright but there were times where she was a little bland and it mostly had something to do with the filmmakers used her character. And in fact, she is an important character to the Jason mythology.....she is none other than....Jason sister! Dun! Dun! Dun! This was a pretty risky idea, knowing that in the first movie, Pamela outright states that Jason is her only son without any mention of a second one. My problem with this is there is no build up to it nor any mystery. Hell, Freddy's Dead used the whole long lost relative narrative much better and even that was executed horribly. They just thrown in the character without any explanation and the movie just wants us to accept it. Adam Marcus explains that Pamela Voorhees gave birth to Jason and Diana but had to give up one of them because she wasn't quite fit at time. But how do you give up one child to keep the other? I get the feeling that Adam Marcus gets himself confused. My theory is that she was a product of an affair Elias had since he was mean and abusive towards Pamela and this all happened before Pamela killed him or if Elias was still alive (if you count the scrapped Jason Lives cameo), maybe he got remarried. If the movie used this information I would've understand it more. And just as there is some build-up to the character, she is quickly killed off without any mention or resonance what so ever....
Now here are the more memorable characters:

I thought Joey B. was a pretty funny character. At first, I saw her as this irritating bitch but soon that was the charm about her. And the actress seems to be having fun in the role.

Then there's Leslie Jordan as Shelby. I have seen this actor in a lot movie and television shows but I would never stop to think that he would be in a Friday the 13th movie. He really show his comedic chops and steals the scenes alongside Joey B.

Robert played by Steven Culp is an asshole, plain and simple. Maybe even way above an asshole on sociopathic levels. He pretty much reveals his true colors by dialogue and that's pretty much the end of  him. His introduction is almost laughable. He is some sort of tabloid reporter who does stories on crimes apparently. But here's when things get ridiculous. He sends out a nationwide manhunt on national TV. How stupid is that? And eventually he does it for his own purposes. Which is even more stupid. But it's not like the writers gave a damn about this character anyway. But at least he rampages the rest of the movie possessed by Jason.

Last but not least you have the badass waitress. Sorry that I forgot her name. But I will give her the winning crown of Badass. This girl doesn't go without a fight and that's why she's awesome.

Finally, we get the debacle that is Jason....this is going to be a long one. First off, there is no exposition to his introduction. It's like the death by toxic waste in Jason Takes Manhattan didn't happened at all. The body swapping. What is with the body swapping? There is no rhyme or reason of Jason having this power (or any power, for that matter) in the previous movies. Apparently, Jason's mother was a witch who conjured up the necronomicon (that's from the evil dead movie series, people) and spilled the blood of the camp counselors to bring back her son rather than revenge. Well at least of what I assume. Again, this movie raises more questions other than answer them. We only get see the true form through a mirror in the eyes of his possessed victims. What? and for the first time in this movie series history, Jason speaks. Seriously, what the hell were these writers smoking? "Get The Hell Away From Her Ed" is his first real lines. Wow. Just Wow. But here's the real kick in the balls. Jason's true TRUE form is......

This demon crawly thing. So throughout all seven movies (with the exception of Mrs. Voorhees and Roy Burns in Part 5), Jason's true form was a demon creature the writers of this movie don't even explain. Ugh....and once he gets back to his regular form he come back with hockey mask and all. Stupid. Kane Hodder does what he does best but is barely in the Jason by the way. He does a few cameos here  and there but it's not worth mentioning. Then you have other characters playing "Jason" but it's just other actors trying to convey Kane Hodder signature moves. Even Kane Hodder himself wasn't comfortable with this.

The costume on Jason looks cheap. I mean it's something out of party city you could buy for $15.

And here we have the special effects and directing. I'm so sorry to say but this movie amateurish. Well, that's what you get when you have a first-time director. However, at least, the special effects are okay though most of them really cheapens the movie. Again, what is with the body hopping concept? I would say it would work better as a stand-alone film but it will only come off as The Hidden/Evil Dead rip off.
What was with the whole mystical aspect? The magical dagger, the stoned hands coming from the ground, the shiny glowy  things appearing from Jason body source....AGAIN, this raises questions than answering them.
Now for some trivia. The first draft involved Jason and street gangs  in LA. It's as stupid as it sounds. The test audiences complained there wasn't any t and a (what a surprise).

So the pointless scene of the three teens going camping and the two of three getting it on, which leads us to one of the most graphic sexual and violent scene in the movie.
John D. Lemay is the first and only actor to appear both the Friday the 13th TV series and the movie series, that if you count John Shepard, who did an episode on the TV series.
This was the second lowest grossing Friday The 13th movie and pretty much a disappointment to the fans.
I just didn't care for this film. I don't hate it like I used to but then again it's not something that's on the top of my list. This is not a Friday The 13th film at all. New Line just didn't care. If they actually put more thought into this, get a more competent, experienced director, and cleaned up the script a bit, this movie would have much more potential. Sean S. Cunningham would later regret this decision and rightfully so.
This movie is just a confusing mess and there's just nothing more I can say about it.
My Last Word: If you like it, good for  you. If you don't, you did me a big favor.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Movie Review: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

After the box office flop that was Dream Child, New Line decided to give Freddy his last bow. By this time, Freddy has turned into a caricature. From the commercialized Dream Master to The underperformed Dream Child, It seems that the nightmare series was going downhill. Who's fault is it,  you may ask? Well ever since New Line became more substantial, they thought they can cash in on Freddy but the result of that turned him into a big fat joke. Needless to say, one of the producers thought they could chime in and direct the last feature film. And her name is Rachel Talay. I don't know if she was the sole reason of how Freddy became this burned out wisecracker but she did write, produce, AND directed this movie. So yeah, she was responsible.
So enough chit-chat, let's see what I think of this: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Well, it's sad to say that Freddy Krueger, the man who traumatized half my childhood and made a name for himself by being this dark, weird figure, is now no scarier than a bunny rabbit. There are some fans of this movie since some don't mind the jokester Freddy but for me (and everyone else, I might add), It's an insult to the whole series. It has none of the intelligence or innovativeness that the series have.  Although, there are some cool moments of the movie, most of the time I felt like I was watching a bad, cheesy episode of Tales From The Crypt.
Okay, the plot is engaging enough (although, very ridiculous) but again, it's executed horribly. The thematical elements are strong such as child abuse, molestation, and being a child of a serial killer, yet it doesn't leave with much impact. It just felt out of place for a movie like this and I think these kinds of heavy topics would've been used much better in a more darker, deeper film.
And lastly, I didn't get the whole Freddy having a daughter, just didn't work for me. I always saw Freddy as this outcast weirdo, the creepy janitor who stalks his prey from afar. Him as a family man isn't much to convince. I just don't understand how they keep ret coning the long lost relatives into these slasher villains' histories. I just don't get it. There's more to come trust me.
I really don't have anything much to say, so let's move on shall we?
Here's the story: It's been ten years ( that's either 1999 or 2001, whatever how you see it) and Springwood, once an idyllic society, has almost turned into a ghost town since the murders of all the children and teens at the hands of Freddy Krueger. Only one teen remains and that is an amnesiac named John Doe, who is constantly suffering nightmares from the dream stalker. Once he sleepwalks his way to the streets of an unnamed city, he is soon under the care of Maggie Burroughs, a child psychologist. When John tells her of his ordeals, Maggie begins to piece the puzzles to her mysterious past and starts to have vivid dreams of her lost childhood. So, Maggie and John go back to Springwood to recharge his memory while keeping an eye on the troublesome trio from foster home, Tracy, Spencer, and Carlos. But once the mystery is solved, all hell breaks loose and Freddy is waiting for a long-lost relative to come home.....

The cast was decent enough, although the characterizations of the characters is left up to debate once their vulnerabilities are on display. It is used more as a gimmick rather than overall development. It just doesn't give us time to get attached to these characters.

Now let's get to Maggie. She is a bit underwritten but the filmmakers wanted to add mystery to her character but it just doesn't work for me. Once her mysterious backstory is revealed.....SPOILER ALERT! She's Freddy's daughter, it's not very effective and I wish it was handled much better but considering how bad the writing is, I wasn't expecting much. There's one thing to have a strong female character but then there's another way of developing that character and how the filmmakers developed Maggie is a bit shaky.

We see that she's a smart, capable woman at first but then by the climax, she suddenly gains excellent fighting moves but the film never gives time to establish that. There were times where she came off a bit cold and bitchy, which was hard for me to get attached to the character. Although, I think Lisa Zane is a decent actress, I wish she would convey more emotion, especially the flashback scenes. Usually it goes back and forth of how weak the character is written or how bland the actress comes off at times. To be fair, Lisa Zane is hit or miss,  however, Maggie is one of my least favorite of the nightmare heroines.

Doc, As I would like to call him, was a tad much better written character, even though, he's only this messiah type who spits out exposition but I did like the scenes where he put Maggie in her place when she gets all stubborn and defiant (I'm sorry, sometimes Maggie's superior , cocky attitude annoys me). He also seems to be an equivalent of Neil in Part 3 and he also uses his wits to defeat Freddy Krueger. He seems to be the brains of the operation and not Maggie.
Yaphet Kotto  does a fine performance on this movie and is one of the better actors. He takes the film seriously but it's a shame that the film don't take itself seriously.

John Doe played by Shon Greenbalt is hit or miss for the character and the actor. By the start of the film, John is introduced as the main character. As the movie goes on, we take interest in him since he is the last elm street teen and is trying uncover his past. Most of the time when he is investigating with Maggie, John begins to believe that he is Freddy's son, which is confusing since the two years before the lynch mob incident, which is around 1968 or 1969, would take place in 1966, which would make him at least in his thirties instead of his teens. But anywho, as the film goes on, this is where John's character development wears thin. Most of the time, it's just padding, him being trapped in the dream world and Freddy playing with his head.

And so you know it, he's dead. This is where the story falls short. We have gotten so interested in the character and wanting to know more about him and then, Boom!, it over, there's no revelation, nor any backstory, he's just a plot device. This sort of scenario was handled much better in Part 1 and Part 4 but in this, it's just a lame attempt of building John up as a decoy protagonist. Shon Greenbalt did an okay performance but the bad dialogue he has to work with, wavers him down a bit. If the script and character was better written, his acting would've been a lot stronger.

Tracy, played by Lezlie Dane was, to be honest, really annoying to me. Throughout the movie, she yells and screams, always looking for a fight, and jumps around like she's on pep pills. But then our sympathies are with her when it's revealed that she was sexually abused by her father. I wish they could've handled this a lot better since this only used for Freddy to highlight her fears and insecurities. And it's kind of uncomfortable to use a such a heavy subject in a so-called horror-comedy but the revelation gives us more character development, giving us a reason why she has such a tough exterior. Lezlie Dane is a good enough actress but again if the character was written better, we would've been invested in her more.

Carlos is shown to be a comic relief among the three kids. Not much development  on him but at least the actor is charismatic. His revelation, unfortunately, is not taken seriously as Tracy's. When has suffered abuse from his mother who has rendered him deaf in the ear. This time the dream sequence is played for laughs rather than drama. Again, it just doesn't feel right to use a subject like this for comedy unless the filmmakers are trying to be crude about it. But anywho, although Carlos isn't the prominent character of the movie, he still is the most memorable.

Spencer, played by Brekckin Meyer in his first role, is a well-known slasher stereotype: The Stoner. Now I never thought a character like this would end up in a nightmare movie but it's interesting since that type of character would be in some sort psychosis, which Spencer ended up in. He does have a subplot at least. He has an emotionally distant and demeaning father, which is why he is so dependent on drugs and mindless video games. Again, there's nothing to say about Spencer, only is that he is a stoner and that's what gets him killed. And trust me, it's probably the most ridiculous death scene I've seen a horror movie.

This movie has made Freddy into a big, huge joke and I'm not going to hold back.

Once I saw him flying on a broomstick, I was like wow, this was the same guy who scarred half my childhood and now he's some burned out comedian with lame one-liners. He is the absolute worst in this movie and probably the most annoying character by far.
So basically he kills all the kids and teenagers of Springwood, which was a pretty weak plot point, it leaves him with no motivation or plan to back up whatsoever. But oh wait, he does have a motive. He wants, in fact......World Domination! Because every town has an elm street! The producers are just making him more and more into a hammy cartoon villain and this film takes the cake. The backstory was the only, at least, interesting aspect of the movie. It goes from his childhood to his adult life to his "death." But it never dwells deep into enough to keep us invested and to be honest, the television show handled the backstory much better. They also seem to retcon his reason for kidnapping and killing the town children. His reason behind is that since the townspeople took away his daughter, he'll take their children as well. It just seems clunky and it's like the film is trying to paint Freddy as sympathetic when he is ABSOLUTELY not.

Okay what was with the Dream Worm Demon creatures being in control of Freddy's powers? it just doesn't make sense. Who's idea was to even add that in there? You see this raises a lot of questions because all this time, I thought Freddy always stood alone when it came to using his dream powers but apparently it was the Dream Demons all along. How F-ing stupid! and the special effects on the creatures are pretty lackluster and cheap. is this a muppets movie? Furthermore, that should've explained this in the earlier movies but the concept STILL would've been hilariously ridiculous.

And one more thing, Freddy's makeup looks like chewed up bubblegum. Definitely his worst makeup. Where is Kevin Yahger when you need him?

Now, the directing is okay. It definitely has that dream-like quality like in the early nightmare films but it still feels like I'm watching an overly long TV episode. One thing that bothered me though, was how Rachel Talay wanted to have the same humor of the show Twin Peaks, which was popular at the time. The point of that show's humor came from the quirkiness of it's characters yet still had very dark undertones. The humor in Freddy's Dead is nowhere near that. It is a full-on live action cartoon and it's just unbelievably tepid. And trying to establish the quirkiness or weirdness of the adults of Springwood is over-the-top with bad acting. It's like they're ripping off the show rather than paying homage to it.

Okay, I will admit the special effects are cool but this time it is used for humor than horror. Soon in time the special effects begin to falter as it dwells deep into cartoonish buffoonery.

Most people say that Carlos's death is the best but then again it's still seem like I'm watching a Looney Tunes Show.

From Spencer's Death By Nintendo Glove

To John Doe landing on spikes, none of the scenes had any tension or suspense and none of it is any worth praising about.
Trivia Time! Peter Jackson once tried to pin a script, a draft called Dream Lover, which indeed was a much interesting script than this but decided to go with screenwriter Michael De Luca and Rachel Talay. Bummer. The concept would've involved a more weaker, vulnerable Freddy and this would've worked much better to see that side of Freddy but oh well, it is what it is.
There was also another script involving a grown up Jacob Johnson (from Part 5) and the dream police which consists of the fallen dream warriors: Taryn, Kincaid, and Joey. I read the script and trust me, it's as cheesy as it's sounds.
And here's my little Trivia moment. This movie was released on September 13th, which is my birthday and in the opening scene it references The Wizard Of Oz, which was my favorite movie as a kid. So you have a horror villain that scared me most of my childhood, a movie that I cherished during my childhood, and then it all comes together on my birthday. Isn't that a coincidence?
The movie was successful enough but I'm thinking pretty much got tired of it and it went down quickly.
This is a disappointment. I mean a huge downfall to the quality of what the films should've been. This is why you shouldn't let a producer, especially an executive from a Major Motion Picture Company, take over a faltering movie series. What was once a potential horror franchise with a clever and scary concept is derived with over-the-top special effects, lazy writing, and a killer that just won't shut up.

And I forgot to mention, what was with the 3D effects? see that's exactly what I'm talking about! There was just no reason for it. Rachel Talay would later direct Tank Girl, a movie that was supposed to be serious in tone but turned out to be a goofy mess just like this movie.
This definitely put a nail in the coffin for the series and Wes Craven was deeply embarrassed, eventually turning the franchise around in his next movie.
Surely, the worst nightmare. Period.
My Last Word: It's your choice. If you like it, good for you. If you don't, thanks.