Tag Archives: Friday the 13th

Murder, She Wrote: The Prep School Years

deadlylessonsDEADLY LESSONS

2.5 Stars  1983/94m

“Kiss the girls and make them sigh. Hunt them down and watch them die.”

Director: William Wiard / Writer: Jennifer A. Miller / Cast: Donna Reed, Larry Wilcox, Diane Franklin, Ally Sheedy, David Ackroyd, Renée Jones, Bill Paxton, Vicki Kriegler, Nancy Cartwright, Deena Freeman, Sally Klein, Donald Hotton.

Body Count: 3

Laughter Lines: “If we get caught we’re dead… Sorry, poor choice of words.”


Look. At. That. Cast. Bill Paxton! Ally Sheedy! Diane Franklin! Sissy from Jason Lives! The future voice of Bart Simpson! Deadly Lessons is the TV movie that just gives, gives, gives!

The first words uttered tell us all we need to know: “I’ve never been to a boarding school before, but this is one of the best schools in the country and they’re giving me a free scholarship! I just hope the other girls like me!”

These come from Stephanie (Franklin) to her cab driver as they approach the prestigious Starkwater Hall prep, where she’s joining the summer session early along with a small group of other girls who need to buck up their ideas.

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Ally Sheedy, Vicki Kriegler, and Diane Franklin go corpse spotting

No sooner does Stephanie arrive, than one of bitchy girls is found drowned in the lake. Everyone says it’s an accident bar local detective Russ Kemper, who doesn’t take kindly to headmistress Miss Wade’s insistence that the school is not damaged by bad press.

Stephanie, meanwhile, begins to play detective, thanks in part to her obsession with a Clue-esque boardgame called Evidence. Suspects include the horse riding teacher, the stable boy (Paxton), other teachers, the requisite creepy handyman, plus all the girls who hated the victim, and victim No. 2…

There’s not a spot of blood to be seen in all of Deadly Lessons, it really is as if we’re watching Jessica Fletcher’s youthful memoirs for all the red herrings, questionable performances, and absence of violence. All that was missing was that judgmental shake of the head thing she did after the killer freely admitted how and why they did it – although in this case, the mystery is not so easy to solve.

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A pre-Simpsons Nancy Cartwright and pre-Jason Renée Jones

Without a doubt, the primary appeal is in the cast, from Sheedy’s pre-Breakfast Club rich girl, to Nancy Cartwright’s (Bart!!) unwanted over-eater, though you wonder how many highlight it on their respective resumes. This could be shown on TV any Saturday afternoon and cause zero offense. An interesting one time affair, but not a class you’d want to repeat.

No home video release (beyond a German one under the name High School Killer) has surfaced, hence the significant lack of artwork.

Blurbs-of-interest: Paxton was also in Night Warning, Mortuary, and later Club Dread; Jones was perky camp counsellor Sissy in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Horny Couple

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

This time around, it’s time to rip off your pants and get it on with THE HORNY COUPLE

sex-couple-1Overview: Prevalent in almost every slasher film ever made is The Horny Couple, a young, attractive union of heterosexual teen love who just can’t get enough of each other. They’re there to have sex and little else.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Hey, let the others go on to the campsite, we can hang back and have a little fun of our own here in the woods…”

Styling: Horny Couples are so far from the endangered species list that they are still presented in any form within the governing overlaws of teen horror: Be young, be foolish, be sexy. Almost a disco classic.

Thus, most of the kids in this category of SBC will probably not need many garments as their one true goal is to shed them and interlock their interlocking parts.

Hallmarks: “Sex, sex, sex, – you two are getting boring,” says whiny final girl Chris in Friday the 13th Part III to her friends Debbie and Andy, who respond: “What would a weekend in the country be without sex?”

This says it all – the young folk of slasher films are very one-track minded in this respect. They’re getting away from the adults for the first time in their lives (and last), once the pot’s all smoked, what else are they going to do? Teenagers think about little else, unless they are the Final Girl, who is clearly just going to study and maybe kiss Bobby, but that’s all!

afd-sexAnd the killer just sees it as sinful. Mrs Voorhees blaming horny counsellors for not keeping watch on a drowning Jason; the corpse in the bed prank that sends Kenny Hampson off the rails in Terror Train; right up to the “your Mom is a hoe” motive that fuelled the entire Scream series. No good will come of it, may as well die!

That said, not everyone who has sex in a slasher film receives a mandated death sentence: Ginny in Friday the 13th Part 2 gets it on with her boss but still saves the day, and Julie and Ray do it on the beach in I Know What You Did Last Summer. The unwritten rule seems to be that if it’s lovemaking rather than fucking, and it’s demurely behind closed doors (i.e. off camera) and no boobs are whipped out, it’s allowed.

Downfall: The Horny Couple die, more often than not, either during or just after sex. Very occasionally it’s before but, as these are commonly teen exploitation affairs, that results in little to no skin. However it does happen, take poor doomed Kelly in Prom Night for instance, indecisive about going all the way with her dickhead boyfriend, when she hesitates again (although top down and boobs out has already been noted), he stomps off to find someone easier and she cops a slashed throat. Minutes later in the same film, her virginal friend Jude does go all the way with her date, only for the two of them to be summarily killed.

fhm-coupleFriday the 13th exercises the trope at least once per film, from Jack and Marcie, to Sandra and Jeff being skewered during the act, Deadfuck Jimmy and one of the twins in The Final Chapter, Tina and Eddie, Nikki and Cort, Robin and David… It’s as bankable as sunrise.

What few variations there are may be if the couple are killed together, or one goes off for ice/food/bathroom, probably saying “I’ll be right back” leaving the other to die, or have them come looking when they never return… The combinations are limited, but very, very few of these couples are still breathing by the time the credits roll.

One notable exception is the couple in The Prowler, so backgroundy I’m not even sure they’re given names, but their to-the-basement venture for sex on a skanky mattress is not a one way ticket to the grave, instead it’s employed as a trick to fool the audience into thinking the killer is there, when in fact he’s somewhere else ready to pounce on another unsuspecting victim.

The Final Girl breaks down barriers... but still makes it out in one piece!

The Final Girl breaks down barriers… but still makes it out in one piece!

Genesis: Sex has always been taboo in slasher films, be it suggestion of sex that leads to death (Marion Crane ‘teasing’ Norman in Psycho), or going at it like dogs (the witless teens shish-ke-bobbed to the bed in Bay of Blood), it’s difficult to pinpoint where it would begin. Nobody in Black Christmas gets particularly jiggy, same for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but by the time Halloween rolled around, Lynda and Bob’s requisition of the Wallace’s main bedroom set in motion a tide of copycat scenes for almost every film that would follow…

Legacy: Teenagers haven’t given up obsessing over a few seconds of muscle contractions so why should it stop occurring in horror? In the 90s, when nudity was phased out in favour of characters with a little more to say than “let’s get wasted and try anal”, so too went scenes of horny couples being slain. Scream even reversed the trend by having the only thing close to a sex scene occur between the final girl and her boyfriend, and we all know how that turned out.

behindthemask-couple

…whereas this Final Girl goes against type and turns out to be the town bike.

Will it change? Doubt it. Youth obsessed Hollywood wants attractive teens to take their clothes off and then see them butchered. It’s a weird paradox considering the puritans who decry slasher films, yet those who ‘sin’ so vigorously are ultimately punished for their behaviour! As Julie James utters in the (on-screen) sexless I Know What You Did Last Summer: “It’s a fictional tale designed to warn young girls against the dangers of pre-marital sex!”

Quite a long review of Freddy vs Jason

fvjdvdFREDDY VS JASON

3 Stars  2003/18/93m

“Even a killer has something to fear.”

Director: Ronny Yu / Writers: David S. Goyer, Damian Shannon & Mark Swift / Cast: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Ken Kirzinger, Christopher George Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Lochlyn Munro, Katharine Isabelle, Kyle Labine, David Kopp, Jesse Hutch, Paula Shaw, Tom Butler.

Body Count: at least 24

Laughter Lines: “I’ve got some good advice for you. Coffee. Make friends with it.”


I’m just gonna say it: Jason came first, his name should be first. New Line, Schmyoo Line.

The concept of Freddy Krueger facing off against Jason Voorhees was every fanboy’s dream back in the 80s when it was first pitched. Though I always considered Jason vs Michael Myers as a more viable outing, as both exist in the ‘real’ world.

Back in 1988 when the concept was first suggested, squabbles between Schmyoo Line and Paramount knocked it on the head and, instead, Jason was pit against a telekinetic teenager in the seventh Friday, The New Blood, to ever-profitable but diminishing box office receipts, while Freddy hit his peak offing the remaining Elm Street kids in the then-ridiculously-successful fourth Elm Street outing, The Dream Child.

fvj-freddyAs the decade ended and people got bored of the same-old-same-old, Schmyoo Line purchased the rights to the Jason franchise and everybody supposed this would be the time the two would finally meet. But like a romance doomed to fail, it was still not meant to be, and, instead, Schmyoo Line ended both series in 1991 and 93 respectively, although Jason Goes to Hell was polished off with the coda of a razor-fingered glove dragging the hockey mask into the earth, suggesting anything was still possible.

In the 90s, when Freddy’s sire Wes Craven re-invented the slasher wheel with Scream, the idea was floated again. Although Michael Myers was rejuvenated along self-referential lines in 1998, audiences seemed to be more into earth-bound concepts of regular people going nuts and killing a bunch of folk, as witnessed by the you-upset-me motives across the Scream / I Know What You Did Last Summer / Urban Legend spectrum of loons. No room for dream demons and unkillable mama’s boys.

fvj-cornfield-stonersOnce again, the genre petered out thanks to the olde logjam effect, including the ill-conceived and ill-received attempt to put Jason is space for his tenth venture (eighth, if we’re going to be pedantic), which opened in 2002. However, something good clearly had come from all this (if anyone knows what it was, please write me), because in 2003 the fifteen-year-old idea only went into motherfucking production!

How? We squawked, how will Freddy and Jason exist in the same realm? From the gazillions of spec-scripts ranging from a cult that worships Jason to characters like Tommy Jarvis and Alice Johnson returning, the eventual choice was an impressively simple proposition…

fvj-freddy-markPeter Jackson – that Peter Jackson – offered up a script for 1991’s Freddy’s Dead in which the disempowered Krueger wasn’t scary enough to haunt anybody’s dreams and so teens sought him out in their slumber to kick his ass. Part of the concept held up; in FvJ Freddy has indeed been successfully banished by the residents of Springwood thanks to a concoction of Hypnocil-doping the teen population and never mentioning his name, so no fear can spread = no bad dreams = no deaths.

Irked by this resolution, Freddy engineers a plan of his own and, posing as Mrs Voorhees, resurrects the undead Jason, sending him off to Springwood to cause a bit of mayhem that will, he hopes, instil a near fear into the teen populace that will allow him to return and slash anew.

fvj-2picsThis all goes well until Jason continues killing anybody and everybody, and Freddy realises he needs to be removed from the picture. Caught in the middle of the mess is the usual group of mostly-doomed teens: Doe-eyed Lori, who lives at 1428 Elm Street, her BFF Kia (Rowland, of RnB shriekers Destiny’s Child), Lori’s until-recently institutionalized beau Will, and a few others who matter less, although special mention should go to their drug n’ booze loving friend, Gibb (Isabelle, fresh out of Ginger Snaps).

Freddy manipulates his way into destroying the town’s stockpile of Hypnocil that the kids make a bid for, and tranqs Jason in order to penetrate his dreams. The teens take Jason’s zonked body off to Camp Crystal Lake in the hope of bringing Freddy across to the real world (the same way Nancy did in the original that nobody thought of in any of the sequels) where they will hopefully occupy each other and leave Springwood alone.

fvj-trey-markThe final third of the films descends into WWE anarchy, with the two going at each other for what seems like an eternity of machete slashes, razor stabs, impalings, limb-removal, and even decapitation. It’s liberally bloody, increasingly wearisome, and 100% stupid.

While the film wisely adopts to parody itself before anyone else can, thanks largely to Ronny Yu’s direction after his mini-miracle with Bride of Chucky, it’s dumb even by slasher movie standards: Dialogue is persistently overwrought to explain what we can see occurring on screen as if the audience is going to be too mentally challenged to comprehend for themselves…

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Not quite Laurie, Annie, and Lynda, but the FvJ girls are appealing leads

Example: The first teen to encounter Freddy in a dream gets away unscathed and has to utter the lines “I’m alright! I’m OK!” followed by Freddy saying “Not strong enough yet…” Yeah. We kinda realised that. Later, the depleting teen posse look up Hypnocil online to see what it does. The screen we’re shown says ‘Suppress your dreams’ in big letters, yet the character reading from the screen mentions this last, after a load of inconsequential gobbledegook, despite the fact it’s written in huge font in front of everyone!

IQ-assumptions notwithstanding, the film works best before the two face off. Although Freddy only succeeds in slashing one victim for the whole movie, the dream sequences are good, as are the early murders dealt out by Jason, and the Scooby Doo meeting (and van!) the teens use was amusing. There are countless nods to earlier films in both series (something Halloween completely opted out of), with Westin Hills Psych Hospital back after the Dream Warriors, young Jason is seen with a sack put over his head by nasty campers, although Camp Crystal Lake seen as an untouched 50s relic was strange considering all of the films were set from 1979 onwards.

fvj-dockUltimately entertaining and operating as promised, not to mention phenomenally successful, outperforming all previous installments in both franchises combined. What Freddy vs Jason lacks in subtlety and scares (virtually everything), it makes up for in enthusiasm and loyalty to both sets of earlier films, wherever possible.

Blurbs-of-interest: Robert Englund’s other slasher flicks include Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Heartstopper, Hatchet, The Phantom of the Opera, and Urban Legend; Katharine Isabelle was in Bones and See No Evil 2; Jesse Hutch was also in The Tooth Fairy; Ken Kirzinger was a stuntman in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, and acted in Wrong Turn 2, and Stan Helsing (as the Jason rip-off, ‘Mason’); Lochlyn Munro was also in The Tooth Fairy, Scary Movie, and Hack! (with Kane Hodder).

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