10/19/10

Halloween Top 13: The Remake- #13: Friday The 13th (2009)

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first entry in the Halloween Top 13: The Remake. To kick off proceedings we have the only remake on the list produced by the current czars of horror remakes, Platinum Dunes. Having been thinking about this list all year, I had tentatively penciled in this Jason outing as a candidate for inclusion, but there was another flick from the "House that Bay Built" that I held out hopes for, Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). However, when Jackie Earl Kruger made his debut on the screen, it fell far short of my expectations. It suddenly made it very clear why Friday the 13th (2009) worked so much better than the Dunes reboots of Leatherface or Freddy. Over eleven films with eleven actors playing the orphaned psycho in one form or another, Jason has worked because all you need to get is a big dude (in this case Derek Mears) and have him kill the crap out of some people.

So probably most of you saw this one, but just briefly for anyone who missed it or didn’t bother, the film opens up with a quick summation of the ending of the Mrs. Voorhees driven film Friday the 13th. In this case, instead of Betsy Palmer, we have Nana Visitor, former star of Deep Space Nine and Dark Angel. Within the first minute, Mama’s head goes rolling, and “Part 1” is done. The film then slides over to "Part 2" where a posse of pot smokers comes up to Crystal Lake in search of a stash of homegrown hiding in the woods. It doesn’t take long at all for bagheaded Jason, remember this is "Part 2", to show up and start hacking away. After that gets wrapped up, this Friday the 13th begins in earnest to build the main portion of the story. Not that there’s so much story here. A group of friends is off to a cabin in the woods owned by the rich, douchy kid’s parents, and as an added twist Clay Miller (Jarad Padalecki), brother of one of the girls from the last group, is searching for her whereabouts.

I could go into the conflict between Clay and the douche, how incredibly centralized on boobs and pot the film is, or the fact that they chose to remake Friday the 13th as some kind of montage of the first three original films, but none of that really matters. When I go into a Friday the 13th movie, I’m looking for something pretty specific. It doesn’t have anything to do with character development or scripting or boobs (well, let’s face it, boobs don’t hurt though). It has to do with there being a big ass dude, hopefully swinging around a machete, and taking some idiots out. That is exactly what you get here. Watching it for the second time on DVD does leave something to be desired (the theater experience added something a little more glossy and fun to the gore), there’s still a enough classic Voorhees dispatching to enjoy. If you can watch the dumb blonde get a machete though the top of her head while hiding under the dock from Jason and not crack a smile, well, I suppose you’re a better person than I.

Friday the 13th director Marcis Nispel and I usually don’t see eye to eye on his films. This is a huge assumption on my part, but I generally hate them and I assume he feels at least fairly pleased with his work. Nispel first got on my bad side because of a remake when he climbed in the big chair and directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), also for Platinum Dunes. I flat out hated that movie, and no amount of Jessica Alba would be enough to save it. Seriously, none, and that is saying something. Following up that effort with the middle of the road movie adaptation of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein book and the Dances with Beowulf mash-up, Pathfinder did little to improve my opinion of Nispel. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Friday the 13th changed my opinion. The fact he’s directing the Conan film keeps me awake at night. That being said I think he did a solid job on this film, but with the caveat that it’s a pretty hard thing to mess up.

Like I mentioned earlier, all you have to do is get a big guy, Derek Mears, and have him kill some folks. Jason doesn’t have personality or character quirks or funny little things he’s going to have to say. Seriously, the only things that Mears had to do was look big and turn on the crazy eyes from time to time, and let me say, he nailed it. Would I want to see him do Shakespeare in the Park? Well, yeah. I think he’d make a hell of a Prospero, but I think that’s a little off topic. Mears is there to do a job, and he does it well. If they make a sequel and get another fellow would I notice, probably not. The best performer in the film is by far Jerod Padalecki of Supernatural fame (his TV brother, Jensen Ackles, appeared in his own horror remake, My Bloody Valentine 3-D which is, by the way, not on the countdown.). Padalecki and Danielle Panabaker (who will show up again in the coming days) who plays Jenna are the only reasonably non-douchy characters that you meet in the whole film. Which is not that bad of a thing, in fact, to all the actors I didn’t bother to list because your character was too stupid, assholish, or a combination or he two, this one’s to you. You may not have acted well while you lived, but you all made for some nice American Apparel wearing corpses.

Sure, it was plenty convenient placing Friday the 13th at the 13th spot on the list, but I really think that this flick has some good things going on in it. It’s at least as good as many of the weak entries into the franchise, and better than at least a couple of them. (Jason Goes to Hell, I’m talking about you.) It provides some stupid laughs, some gruesome kills, and a fresh start for everyone’s least favorite bunkmate at camp. I hear people complain about moments like when he finds his hockey mask. I can’t for the life of me understand the complaint. It’s a badass scene. In the theater, the audience made an an audible gasp when it was revealed for the first time. I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t and won’t like Friday the 13th (2009), but for me it’s the perfect example of a remake that works. This particular try didn’t fire on all cylinders, but as long as Mother Nature still keeps producing giant dudes willing to put on a mask and pretend to stab campers, co-eds, and townsfolk, there will still be Friday the 13th in one form or another.

Bugg Rating

So there we go I hope you enjoyed my first entry in the HT13: TR (Boy, oh, boy does that make for a crappy anagram.). I got 12 more just like it, supposedly better than it, coming up over the next week and a half. I hope you all stay tuned because I’ve got a lot in store for you folks. As usual with the Halloween Top 13, I like to get other folks to chime in and tell me what they think. So far 11 intrepid souls have stepped forward to take part, but I bet two more of you have something to say so check out see the original post if you’d like more details. For today’s guest, we have a guy that is a really awesome fellow, Bill from Radiation Scarred Reviews. I’ve always loved Bill’s reviews for the passion and fun he brings to them, and now I love the guy for thinking way outside the box, and coming up with a great remake:

“My remake pick has to be Frank Henenlotter's 1990 film FRANKENHOOKER, which while not explicitly a remake, bears a great deal of resemblance to Joseph Green's 1962 film THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. The main plot of an unorthodox med student accidentally decapitating his girlfriend, preserving her head, and then sleazily cruising for a new body to attach her head to is the same, with Henenlotter's prostitutes standing in for Green's burlesque dancers, beauty queens and fetish photography models. Plus one of Jeffrey Franken's (James Lorinz) early experiments, a floating brain with an eye implanted in the side of it is taken directly from the poster art for THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE.”

What a stunning idea, and a route that my brain probably would have never taken. Thanks for taking part Bill, and I encourage any of you that don’t read Radiation Scarred Reviews to get over there Bill and the gang always have something great going on. That wraps it up for today, and I’ll be back again tomorrow with another list, another film, and another day closer to Halloween!

8 comments:

  1. Booooooooooooo! I boo your choice!

    But I still love you.

    Sigh. I just hated the F13 remake. Went with my friend Erica and we even snuck in a 6 pack. It's a sad sad film when beer can't make it better. I didn't need magic here--hell, I don't think any of the F13 films are above average so I was FINE with sub par--but this was SO blah. And I couldn't SEE anything! So incredibly underwhelmed by something I had set a very low bar for. Poo.

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  2. Wicked start, dude! And kudos for Bill on an awesome Frankenhooker drop!

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  3. "The fact he’s directing the Conan film keeps me awake at night."

    Cripes, imagine how an REH nut like me lives in fear of this. I haven't liked a single thing Nispel is done, in particular Pathfinder, and that's his C.V. for Conan!

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  4. Great review. I agree that Friday the 13th has gotten some unfair treatment. While not being close to being on par with more of the earlier F13th films it still beats Jason goes to Hell:)
    I think important requirements for a film like this is "was I entertained?" Yes..."Did it have some great kills and plenty of the 3B's...Blood,Breasts, and Beasts? Yes on all counts. So for people to say it's a total crap remake isn't completely fair. I'd reserve that for the train wreck that was Nightmare On Elm St. remake.

    One thing I wanted to note you mentioned "Watching it for the second time on DVD does leave something to be desired (the 3-D in the theater added something a little more glossy and fun to the gore),"

    I don't believe F13th remake was ever in 3D in the theaters. the original part 3 was though and was released on DVD in 3D as well.

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  5. @Emily, Boo you not liking my choice, but I expect some of that to happen. I've also purposely left off things I have reviewed previously to make it harder on myself, obviously. Also, I still love you too. Stay tuned, there are many rocky roads ahead.

    @Mike- Thanks, and Bill's take on Frankenhooker blew my mind!

    @Ryan, I assume by now due to lack of sleep you are suffering from hallucinations. Don't panic. This is the perfect state to write Dinosaur fiction. Novel writing month looms close, and I look forward to keeping up with your progress.

    @Retroman Steve- Wow is my face red. I was sure I had seen this flick in 3-d. I even texted Fran early this morning to double check with her, and she was like "no, are you an idiot?" and the answer was yes. I've changed it up, and I apologize for my lack of mental clarity on the subject.

    As for the rest of what you said, I can't agree more. The 'B's are pretty dang important, and this film, as well as the next on the list, come though on all three.

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  6. Fair enough. But if I even smell the It's Alive remake on this list, I will swat you.

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  7. Woah, woah, woah. I said rocky roads, not roads that were completely washed out and abandoned. However, you can feel free to swat me, I seem to provoke that reaction. 8-)P

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  8. I also enjoyed the F-13 remake myself, so you are not alone. It is what it is, and that's a Friday the 13th film. No more, no less. Well, maybe less since there are F-13 movies that are better, but you know what I mean!

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