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Jason and the Astronauts

jasonx

JASON X

3 Stars  2001/15/93m

“Evil gets an upgrade.”

A.k.a. Friday the 13th Part X

Director: James Isaac / Writer: Todd Farmer / Cast: Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Chuck Campbell, Peter Mensah, Kane Hodder, Jonathan Potts, Melyssa Ade, Derwin Jordan, Melody Johnson, Kristi Angus, Dov Tiefenbach, Phillip Williams, David Cronenberg.

Body Count: 24 (+4 virtual reality kills and a load of people in a space station…)

Dire-logue: “Hey, do you want a beer? Or do you wanna smoke some pot? Or we can have pre-marital sex? We love pre-marital sex!”


Cinema’s apex-predator returned after an eight year absence (nine, if you count the delay in releasing the film) and renaissance of the genre he ruled throughout the 1980s. Evidently, the ‘final’ trick used (for the second time) in Jason Goes To Hell cannot be believed again and thus here comes the dumbest hack n’ slash film to emerge in thirty years!

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In 2010, at the convenient ‘Crystal Lake Research Center’, Jason is chained up, having survived various attempts to kill him (heroine Rowan notes they tried to electrocute, gas, shoot and hang him) and his “amazing ability to regenerate damaged tissue” has attracted sleazy government types who want to exploit it. Naturally, several grunts fail to do the job and, along with David Cronenberg’s doctor, end up dead. Rowan manages to shut Jason in the cryogenic chamber that was being prepped as the next crack at disabling him, but Jay’s machete is powerful enough to rupture the casing, putting them both into stasis…

455 years later, intergalactic explorers happen upon the site and take both Jason and Rowan back to their ship. Led by Professor Lowe, who is keen to benefit financially from Jason’s fame, there’s a healthy number of nubile teenage ‘students’ along for the ride. Rowan is brought out of stasis by the crew, who believe Jason is beyond saving and before she can convince them to dump his body into outer space, he’s up and hewing his way through the crew.

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With evident debts to Alien, Jason X smartly goes down the comedic route, making the most of the Scream crowd’s awareness and playing up to the cliches. Meanwhile, cartoon-level violence sees a face cryogenically frozen and then shattered on a table, people chopped in half, impaled on giant screws plus the usual throat cuttings, impalings and decaps.

The onboard military personnel all fail to survive (let alone stop Jason) and so it’s down to the other crew members, who call upon droid Kay-Em 14 to do some damage and she takes him on Buffy style, eventually blowing him into several pieces. The damage sustained by the ship inadvertently releases the regenerative ‘bugs’ that repair injuries and rebuild Jason with synthetic extra parts. Yes – it’s Super-Jason!

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Weird to think back to the sack-headead B-movie axe-murderer from 1981.

Uber-Jay proves more of a match for the dwindling crew members than his previous incarnation and things go from silly to ridiculous in the final few minutes, but it is punctuated by the film’s best scene, where Kay-Em ‘builds’ a virtual reality around Jason of Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, complete with chirping cicadas, the gentle lake, a full moon and a couple of easy campers (see Dire-logue) and a recreation of Kane Hodder’s favourite kill from Friday VII.

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Jason X is a real contender for the “least good” entry in the series (I don’t say worst as I like all 12 films). It’s a step too far down Cheesy Street; Freddy vs. Jason may have been equally as daft but made up for it with some nostalgic setpieces and a respect for the roots of the series that are (the a fore mentioned scene aside) all but absent here. This opinion was accentuated by virtue of the fact that it’s also the poorest performing Friday film so far, barely breaking even; the producers later admitted that they chose the wrong script. In this sense, the 2009 ‘reboot‘ is helpful, the origins having been re-set, rumours of that sought-after Crystal Lake in the snow scenario becoming a reality and back-to-basics stalking and slashing instead of gimmicks and in-jokes.

Blurbs-of-interest: Sean S. Cunningham produced; his son, Noel, co-produced and was one of the campfire kids in the original 1980 film. James Isaac also directed The Horror Show (a.k.a. House III); Todd Farmer later wrote My Bloody Valentine 3D and the 2012 Halloween III. Harry Manfredini once again contributed the score. This was Kane Hodder’s fourth and final turn as Jason.

Here, there and everywhere

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FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER

3 Stars  1984/18/88m

“This is the one you’ve been screaming for.”

Director: Joseph Zito / Writers: Barney Cohen & Bruce Hidemi Sakow / Cast: Kimberly Beck, E. Erich Anderson, Corey Feldman, Joan Freeman, Peter Barton, Crispin Glover, Barbara Howard, Alan Hayes, Judie Aronson, Lawrence Monoson, Camilla More, Carey More, Ted White.

Body Count: 14

Dire-logue: “What happens if a psycho wanders in?”


Beginning with an awesome “Jason’s Greatest Hits” quick overview of the events from parts 1 to 3, The Final Chapter takes a rare turn for this series and picks up where the last film left off, with police and meat wagons clearing up the bodies from the ranch and taking them to the morgue – including Jason’s. Of course, it transpires that Mr V. isn’t so dead after all and he quickly does away with a couple of hospital employees before making the long walk back to Crystal Lake… A superb opening section.

At this point, rather than continuing the story in any way, it opts to repeat the events of the former by having a van full of kids – wait, it’s a car, they changed that! – vacationing at a house at Crystal Lake for the J-man to slaughter anew. As before, amongst the naive youth there is next to no mention of Jason, the recent murders, local paranoia, fear – just girly chats for the lovely females and sex for the horny guys, who include a pre-George McFly Crispin Glover and post-Hell Night Peter Barton.

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Next door to the vacation house is a cabin inhabited by the Jarvis family: Mom, teen daughter Trish and 12-year-old Tommy (a pre-everything Corey Feldman), who has a thing for making scary monster masks. Also new to the area is Rob, who tells Trish he’s bear hunting in the locale. The other teens meet a couple of sexy twin sisters and invite them and Trish over for a party, which is interrupted when Jason comes a-callin’, quite possibly bummed out that they didn’t invite him too.

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Teens start dropping all over the show: knife through the neck, cleaver in the face, axe in the chest and, most painfully, speargun in the balls! Meanwhile, Rob confides in Trish that his sister was one of the victims from Part 2 (although he doesn’t refer to it as that, which would’ve been cool) and he’s trying to find Jason for some good old fashioned revenge.

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fc7Rob’s efforts prove futile when Jason swats him into the next realm like a fly and it’s down to Trish and Tommy to save themselves, which is doubtlessly aided by Tommy’s knowledge of all things scary and some handy newspaper clippings about Jason, again, posing the question why nobody local seems to be aware of what’s been happening on the very same lake!

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The Final Chapter was the last Friday I saw out of the first nine films when I was first introduced to them in the mid-90s. Having crammed all of them in in less than a month, the form was a bit predictable and stale by the time I watched it and so it’s never ranked highly for me in the series. Zito’s technical direction is good but the film can only pale next to Parts 1 and 2 and, as in his earlier slasher film, The Prowler, there’s a streak of misogyny evident in the treatment and violent murders allotted to the girls in the film, notably only one of the two Fridays where female victims outnumber males. Bizarrely, according to Crystal Lake Memories, the casting process called for more ‘likeable’ victims in this outing, something that almost seemed to have achieved the exact opposite effect – I wasn’t fussed about any of them much.

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Feldman’s presence is welcome as the first involved pre-teen in the series but in being so, Kimberly Beck’s turn as the heroine is made kind of redundant. In spite of throwing herself through second-floor windows, finding body after body and taking on Jason singlehandedly with a machete, she plays second fiddle to Tommy’s eventual ruse that distracts Jason for long enough for them to kill him. And kill him they do, in sensational style where Tom Savini’s excellent effects work is flaunted to maximum force, a highlight of this entry in a scene that was heavily cut in the UK until its 2001 DVD release.

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Ultimately a bit of a non-event as far as I was concerned; the film holds up better than most slasher films from the same period but the summer camp setting of the first two films is missed, as are the goofy disco-antics of Part 3, the lighting in the final twenty or so minutes is abyssmally dark and the scenes jumble as Trish goes next door, comes back, goes next door, comes back… Jason does the same – kills someone inside, then seemingly goes outside, scales the side of the house to do the next one, and back to the scene of the previous murder to get a knife. And Gordon the dog? What the hell was going on there? Though I wonder if the rumour that one die-hard fan committed suicide (“If Jason dies…I die!”) is true…

Blurbs-of-interest: other than those mentioned, Crispin Glover played a set of twins in Simon Says.

WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

wrongturn3WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD

1.5 Stars  2009/92m

“What you don’t see will kill you.”

Director: Declan O’Brien / Writer: Connor James Delaney / Cast: Tom Frederic, Janet Montgomery, Tamer Hassan, Gil Kolirin, Tom McKay, Christian Contreras, Jake Curran, Chucky Venice, Bill Moody, Borislav Iliev.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “He’s out there… I can feel him. He’s been following us. He’s close.”


How to take one of the best survivalist slasher films in the last few years and drive into an almost aggressively bad DVD series in three easy films…

I watched half of Wrong Turn 3 yesterday and the rest today. In between, I took my dog out for a walk in a close by field. There was a creepy dense fog and, save for my dog’s flashing collar darting about in the mist, all I had to light my way was a blue-strobe LED ghost that squeaks ‘woooo’ when you press it. With mutant inbred cannibals on my mind, every blob in the dark could’ve been a psycho with an axe… Every sloppy thing I stepped in could’ve been gory entrails – but turned out to be cow shit.

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Having just finished the film, there was nothing to fear. The South Downs ain’t West Virginia. In fact West Virginia ain’t West Virginia here either as for WT3 they outsourced the project to Bulgaria and used an almost exclusively British cast!

Things start okay with a quartet of “all-American teens” kayaking down a river. They stop to set up camp and one couple goes to fetch wood while the others get jiggy. Boobs appear within minutes and seconds later there’s an arrow sticking out of the boob and through boob-girl’s boyfriend’s hand. Three of the teens are offed within the first seven minutes, all quite gorily: one guy gets skewered through the gob and the other trips a trap that pays tribute to the hacked-in-half opener from Wrong Turn 2, this time splitting the guy into three pieces. It’s impressive for all of five seconds until the world’s worst CGI kicks in…

wrongturn3splitAfter the remaining girl, Alex, escapes, we move to a prison where officer Nate’s last day on the job (yawn…) is made worse with the news that he has to chaperone several prisoners on a transfer to another facility to thwart a rumoured escape attempt by Mexican gangster Chavez. We know he’s Mexican because he calls everyone ‘Puta,’ which, I learnt, is the equivalent of whore. The route between venues is altered to allow the solo-working inbred to run the bus off the road, let the prisoners gain control and send the group running into the woods, where Alex soon leaps out, all screams and immediate expositions…

The group discover an old armoured truck full of cash and continue yelling at one another and swearing amidst aimlessly wandering into all of the hick’s savage traps, including a sliced off face, a vertical spear impaling and a skull cracked open and its lid removed like a boiled egg… We’re only supposed to care about Alex, Nate and the one trustworthy con who swears he didn’t commit the murder he’s inside for. But I didn’t really. They were such cookie-cutter good guys that they were boring, with none of the situational flair that Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington had in the original film.

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Also absent is a sense of futility: in the first film there was a real sense of doom for the teens-in-peril, that they wouldn’t get out of this. Plus they were nice kids out for a good time. The second film at least had the sense to try and make its leads affable enough to root for but all the characters in Wrong Turn 3 blur into a gross soup of I-don’t-care proportions. The only character I cared about the was the police dog and that didn’t end well.

Three-Finger, now working alone after his son (assumedly the grown up baby from the end of Dead End) is done away with by the felons, is played by a Bulgarian stuntman who looks like he’s wearing a third-rate plastic Halloween mask and also has the Hiro Nakamurian ability to teleport after he is ‘killed’ by Nate and Alex, who take his truck and drive for several minutes, finding him further down the road than they’ve managed to get!

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But perhaps the worst thing is like a blast from the past. But the past that came before the 80s, the 70s, before Jesus! Remember in old studio films when there was a character in a car, they drove in front of a screen and lackies rocked the vehicle from either side, that’s what they do in Wrong Turn 3 – the bus, the truck, check that fucking background! How low was the budget?

Sucky story, sucky characters, sucky prosthetics, vile CGI, crap actors, a grand total of three female characters… The sweet memory of seeing Wrong Turn back in ’03 feels like it has been raped by a backwoods inbred.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tom Frederic was the doomed boyfriend in the even worse Blood Trails. Janet Montgomery was also in The Hills Run Red – also shot in 2009, also shot in Bulgaria, also lots of trees. Declan O’Brien returned to direct Wrong Turn 4 in 2011.

October Opposition: Mike Myers vs. Michael Myers

Friends of my folks have a son called Michael Myers, so this could have been a ménage a trois of sorts… Anyhoo, never since the prospect of Chris Evans (sexy Hollywood star) versus Chris Evans (gorky UK radio dweeb who spent most of the 90s with his head wedged in the Gallagher brothers respective arses) has a big-hitter of the namesakes been so exciting. For me, anyway. Maybe you have more exciting things to be excited about, excitoface.

So, let’s start with Myers, the older, MICHAEL:

michaelmyersHere he is then, the first of the seminal slasher movie boogeymen (unless you want to count Leatherface), born in 1957 (ironically the same year major rival Jason Voorhees ‘drowned’ in Crystal Lake), stabbed big sis Judith at the age of six, locked away for fifteen years before escaping, returning to hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to stab lil sis Laurie. Underestimates Laurie’s ability to survive said stabbing and goes into coma for a decade. Returns time and time again throughout late 80s and 90s before being wiped clean by Hollywood, losing his head, regaining his head, wiped again and reignited as a white trash shadow of his former self…

And MIKE…?

mikemyersBorn in ’63 (the year other Mike stabbed sis), but in the land of pleasantry that is Canada. Did not dress up as a clown to kill sister and was not, as far as his biog states, locked up at Smith’s Grove for a decade and a half…

Instead, Myers went to Saturday Night Live, created the character of Wayne Campbell, spun that into a movie, spun a sequel outta that, languished in a bit of a non-place for a few years before becoming ultra-starry from the Austin Powers films and as the voice of Shrek.

INCARNATIONS

Michael started out as a cute clown, quickly became a creepy clown, killer creepy clown, and was then unmasked as six-year-old killer creepy clown.

michaelclownHe then donned a bleached William Shatner Halloween mask for the look pictured above, only until Laurie managed to pull it from his face on the solitary occasion we’ve ever seen Michael unmasked (with the possible exception of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which I haven’t seen yet).

michaelunmaskedWhat a good looking young man he almost coulda sorta been if, y’know, he wasn’t a mute psycho obsessed with knifing his bloodline to death for reasons never really explained, unless you’re into that Thorn crap they tried to palm us off with in Halloween 6.

After that, for sequels H20 and Resurrection, Michael was given a slightly smoothed out look and then, when Rob Zombie was charged with re-starting the entire franchise, he became White Trash Michael in need of shampoo. Sad times.

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In a slightly sunnier part of the universe, Mike Myers started out as geeky-metaller Wayne Campbell who, with best bud Garth Elgar, presented Wayne’s World, which was made into a film called, uh, Wayne’s World about the show being picked up by evil big-shot Rob Lowe and exploited. Nothing much happens but the film makes me piss myself with laughter 17 years after I saw it at the movies, largely remembered by all for the time I pulled a bendy straw out of a sipper-flask during quite a silent moment, thus resembling a kind of thunder-fart in the cinema…

wayneWayne and Garth returned for a not-as-good sequel in 1993 before vanishing for good. Rumour was that Myers and Dana Carvey could not agree over who got the best gags and fell out.

Still, for Mike there was hit-and-miss comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer, which almost sounds like a slasher flick. But isn’t. Then four years later he returned as James Bond-wannabe Austin Powers, British, dentally-challenged, 60’s trapped spy for MI5/6/7/whatever, to save the world from the arguably funnier Dr Evil…drevil

As well as playing the Blofeld-lite role of Dr Evil, Mike also played Scottish assassin Fat Bastard and Dutch big-bad Goldmember.

After three Austin Powers films (with a fourth in the pipeline), Myers voiced green ogre Shrek for the Disney franchise and attempted to kick-start a new character in 2008 with The Love Guru, but nobody seemed to care about it.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Michael: can never be dethroned as the original stalk n’ slasher, amassing (across the original set of films) a staggering 69 victims, plus another twenty or so in the remake.

Mike: The Austin Powers films were phenomenally successful, turning Myers into an A-lister, but Wayne’s World will always be my favourite of his!

LOW POINTS

Michael: Halloween III didn’t involve Michael at all. Halloween 5 was boring and the remake (and probably its sequel) may well have ruined his appeal for good.

Mike: Goldmember wasn’t very funny. Did anyone actually see The Cat in the Hat?

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Michael: A “third” (albeit eleventh really) Halloween film is planned for a 3D release in 2010. What this will add to the crumbling towerblock that once was the greatest slasher series going is unknown, besides 3D boobs. As it’s going to be written by Todd Farmer, odds are it will make next to no sense and be riddled with plotholes and contrivances. See Jason X or My Bloody Valentine 3D for evidentiary support.

Mike: if Austin Powers 4 happens, it’ll doubtlessly be huge, as will the inevitable next Shrek outing, but otherwise things are looking a bit quiet in the Myers’ yard of late… Hmmm.

VICTOR: For the first time, I’m going against my slasher loyalties and giving it to Mike Myers as Michael has been reduced to a trailer park caricature of his once great self thanks to corporate greed and lack of imagination. But it’d be nice if Mike Myers took up a cameo in the next Halloween outing…

CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: THE FINAL SACRIFICE

cotc23 Stars  1992/18/89m

“These children are home alone too. But their parents are never coming back.”

Director: David F. Price / Writers: A.L. Katz & Gilbert Adler / Cast: Terence Knox, Paul Scherrer, Ryan Bollman, Ned Romero, Rosalind Allen, Christie Clark, Wallace Merck.

Body Count: 29 – estimated

Direlogue: “There’s something out there, there’s something evil – it’s gotten a hold of our children!”


The first of the countless ‘crap from the corn’ follow-ups to 1984’s King-adap Children of the Corn, in which couple Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton were tormented by a cult of evil kiddies who worship a corn-dwelling monster they call He Who Walks Behind the Rows. It sank critically but obviously did something right to have amassed six follow-ups of varying competence and a truly horrendous TV remake.

The Final Sacrifice is a stupid film but nevertheless an entertaining one, picking up the story just days after the events of the then eight-years-gone original. The mass-parenticide of Gatlin is discovered and the liberated children are bussed off to nearby Hemingford while the investigation takes place. Tabloid journo Knox arrives in town with his estranged, obnoxious, chipmunk-faced son to get a scoop.

Meanwhile, repatriated corn child Micah is ‘possessed’ by something and becomes the new leader of the kids, all dressed in 1800s peasant clothes and with dork-ass names like Mortichai and Jedediah (it would’ve been great if just one was called, I dunno, Shane?) Micah is a tad effeminate and therefore, in lazy film terms, evil. He preaches his adult-hate to the others (“we’ve seen their world, it is evil, blah blah, corn, blah, He Who Walks Behind the blah…”) and they begin offing the over-19’s of Hemingford.

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Chipmunk-face hooks up with local blonde hottie and his dad follows suit with B&B-owner Rosalind Allen and her ealry 90s Wilson Phillips hair, while the brats start their spree o’death, crushing a crazy old lady beneath her house in what seems like the most contrived method of sending up The Wizard of Oz they could conjure up. The nosebleed-from-hell (albeit in a church) is grisly and the electric wheelchair kill is funny as fuck but things begin to get boring as credibility is stretched thinner than Victoria Beckham’s waistline.

Journo-man meets an all-knowing Native American, who has lots to say about his ancestors, being at one with spirits and stuff and they decide to blame everything on a contaminated corn crop. Micah recruits Chipmunk-face and decides to sacrifice hot-girl and Wilson Phillips-head, setting it all up for a ‘do the right thing’ ending, which involves Micah shouting lots of crappy dialogue, him turning into some horned-demon thingy, and being sucked into the blades of a combine harvester.

The entire Children of the Corn franchise is ropier than a lasso contest, with even less film-to-film consistency than Friday the 13th, but it maintains a sort of late night, fuck all else to watch charm with an effective score of choral properties, cheap scares and dead-eyed kids killing their folks in sometimes inventive ways. II is more fun than most of those that followed (#5 was pretty good too), a slasher off-shoot with the ever-elusive He Who Walks Behind the Rows being referenced yet never explained or seen. This film is like junk-food, empty and worthless, full of crap but it tastes good!

Blurbs-of-interest: Wallace Merck was one of the paintballers in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives; Christie Clark was Jesse’s little sister in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; the nosebleed guy (Joe Inscoe), played the principal in Cherry Falls.

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