Internet Defense League


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Straight Up Reviews #10: Friday the 13th: The Tommy Jarvis Trilogy

As noted in my CIEIR of the subject. I love Friday The 13th.  However many regard this series as trashy.  Even media mogul Roger Ebert slammed every single one of them on the grounds that it was nothing but sex and Violence.  While I respect Ebert as both a critic and as well as the obvious respect for the dead rest his soul; this is something I disagree with.  When I watched the Documentary "His Name Was Jason." Sean S. Cunningham, the series creator and director of the first said he wanted to do a knock off of Halloween that he wanted people to enjoy.  However rather than just the psychological aspect, they managed to combine in with the gore-fest aspect that was  made famous by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  This in turn created an overlooked supergenre I like to call PsychoGore.  Where if done right can have both the mind fucked generousness of the psychological horrors and satisfy our blood-lust.  While it's debatable I believe they succeeded, but not in the first movie.  See the first movie was good, but there was a better aspect in the later sequels.  These specific ones I call, the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy.

For those who don't know what I am talking about here's the brief summary. I'd say spoilers but we all know this one. After the events of the 3rd movie, Jason Voorhees is being taken to a morgue where he miraculously recovers.  He kills two orderlies and makes his way back to Crystal Lake.  Only instead of the camp, he finds himself on the other side of the lake.  There he discovers two houses, one owned by the Jarvis family: A relatively nice bunch who's youngest, Tommy (Named after FX Guru Tom Savini and played by Corey Feldman.) is obsessed with making monster masks and other effects.  The other house is being rented by our recent cannon fodd--- duh I mean a bunch of carefree teenagers,  while they do have personalities and are all around nice people, many of them are pretty token.  We got the token prankster womanizer in the form of Ted, A token nerd in the form of Jimmy whom unlike the stereotype did have a girl, but got out of a bad relationship with her, a token one-man woman with a reputation of more than one in the form of Samantha, a token prude in the form of Sarah, her role in this series is putting up with Samantha's attempts to help her loosen up, a token Casanova in the form of Paul, Samantha's boyfriend, a nice guy who knows how to set the party moods and a token nice guy in general, Doug, he is kinda sorta Sarah's love interest. They are also accompanied by twins, Tina and Terri.  Tina also doubles as the Token slut. Seriously so far the only person she hasn't made a move on was was Doug, but that's because she tried making a move into another couple's territory.  She finally settles on Jimmy. Terri, while also hinted to be just as promiscuous is the more sane of the two.  Now you're probably thinking "S.T. what you said was not only sexist, but give these guys a chance.  Joseph Zito wanted to make them more developed than the usual teen cannon fodder." and I would agree with you. However take away their over all nice guy/girl personas away and they are just another group Jason is gonna kill.  Granted these characters are more developed and interact really well with the other main characters, but aside from Sarah finally losing her virginity and Jimmy getting a second chance at a girlfriend not much is developed.  Anywho there is still one more character to talk about.  Rob Dyer, a hunter who meets the Jarvis' and sets up camp outside their house.  Tommy sees him as the big brother he never had and Trish, his sister sees him as a potential love interest.  However this peace is shattered once Jason is thrown into the mix.  After he makes way with all the token teens Jason, just to be a hypocritical jerk kills Mrs. Jarvis, Tommy and Trish's mother, leaving Rob, Tommy and Trish to be the last on the chopping block.  It is then and there that Rob reveals that "Shh Be vewy vewy quiet I'm hunting kiwwers ehehehehehehehe!!!"  Mainly because Jason offed his sister in the second movie.  Much like another certain expert named Rob, he is killed pretty quickly leaving Trish to defend the house and her brother.  Eventually in the end it is Tommy, using his skills to imitate a younger Jason; who ends up killing him in the end.  This traumatizes him enough that he had to be sent to an institution.

Now one thing that intrigues me about this trilogy was Zito's intention.  First he wanted to give said token characters better personality.  Second was to break the standard rules of the series and rather than have a final girl get the killer, he used both a boy and a kid no less.  And third, which is the most talked about, they wanted to make Tommy Jarvis into the Next Jason Voorhees.  I for one am both glad and disappointed  that the third never happened.  Glad because Tommy is one of my all time favorite characters.  But disappointed because Jason as a Legacy character would have been an awesome idea.  They have done that lot's of times in many novelizations.  Now I don't agree with Ebert's review and I'll tell you why.  Take all the sex and violence out of the question and Final Chapter is all about growing up.  Tommy started out as an annoying kid, that panicked and screamed when Jason grabbed him.  However, he faced his fears, and got Jason in the end using his talents and a well aimed Machete.

The second movie in the trilogy, A New Beginning, takes place six years after the events in Final Chapter.  Tommy, now in his teen, has been taken into the Pinehurst Halfway House.  An institution that is meant to help delinquents and other people of various disorders.  Then and there he is met (startled.) by Reggie The Wreckless; a kid who's grandfather, George is the cook at Pinehurst.  Of course Tommy retaliates with his own created monster masks, which he lets no one touch.  No one knows exactly what happened to Trish, but strangely in this movie and the next, they treat it as if she died between films.  Now here many characters are less token than that of final chapter.  We have Matt, who runs the institute, not much is said about him, but he really is genuinely concerned about his patient's well being.  His assistant, Pam a kindly girl who shares an uncanny resemblance to Trish.  Then we have the inmates.  First is Jake, a quiet man with a stuttering problem,  Robin, not much is known about her save for Jake's pining over her, Eddie, a practical joker who is highly promiscuous, Tina, who is the other side of Eddie's Promiscuity, (Ironically the actress' last name is Voorhees.).  Violet, a lover of the punk genre, who has an interest in dance,  Victor, a bad tempered man, and Joey, a know nothing, but well meaning kid.  Before Tommy's arrival there had been a slight problem involving Tina and Eddie as they were caught having sex on the grounds that belong to Ethel Hubbard, a grouchy chicken farmer who inappropriately calls Pinehurst a loony bin.  She lives with her adult son, Junior.  If there was a personification of "Too Dumb To Live."  That wouldn't even be half of what Junior is.  Upon Tommy's arrival on the other hand, starts a slew of new problems.  During a recent scuffle, Victor murders Joey in cold blood.  He is arrested, but that only is the tip of the iceberg.  Upon his arrest, a series of murders occur at or around Pinehurst.  The police, specifically Sheriff Tucker suspect that Jason Voorhees is back in town, but the mayor says otherwise.  For it seems Jason was cremated to make sure events like Final Chapter never happened. (Which raises a lot more questions, but we'll get to that.).  The kills seem to be random at first as only a couple of 50s Greaser Style Men (Seriously what was the point of those two?).  Later while people are dealing with Victor's death, Tommy has a psychotic episode where he hallucinates the real Jason is stalking him.  Said episode becomes a break when Eddie uses one of Tommy's masks as a Joke.  This prompts Tommy to savagely beat Eddie until Matt restrains him.  Wow seeing that makes me feel Wreckless got off easy. The killings get closer to Pinehurst as Billy the hospital orderly that Dropped off Tommy as well as his girlfriend.  Then Tina and Eddie bite the dust.  That evening Tommy is invited by Pam and Reggie to visit, Reggie's brother Demon (Played by Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Who is no stranger to horror movies.)  hoping the change in scenery might help him better cope with his episodes.  However upon arriving there Tommy is accosted by Junior, which prompts him to snap and beat him up.  Strangely unlike his encounter with Eddie, this fight raised a lot of questions as it was more controlled and even almost MMA style on Tommy's part.  Like did Dan Inosanto visit him in the institution one day? did he read about martial arts to help cope with his psyche?  Did he suddenly flash forward into the future and switch places with the Power Ranger Tommy? It makes no sense.  But the messed up part is on both fights, no one ever speaks of it again. It's a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.  Anywho, he is stopped by Pam before he could do more damage, but runs off in the woods whilst Junior and Ethel are promptly slaughtered.  As well as Demon and his girlfriend.. Upon their return they discover Matt and George are missing, leaving Robin, Jake and Violet.  Now these kills are the ones I never liked, because all and unlike most characters in the series, those 3 didn't deserve it.  Jake embarrassingly tried to make a move on Robin forcing him to retreat and get hacked with a meat cleaver.  Poor guy didn't even get a chance to do it, before dying.  Robin, who wanted to apologize for laughing at him, gets offed next.  Well at least they died in bed together.  Then Violet, in a bizarre setting, she does this weird pantomime/robot dance to the song "His Eyes" By Psuedo Echo.  She is promptly gutted (In the Alternate version she was stabbed somewhere else I don't wish to mention.)  She never even did anything and she is gutted.  If anything, she was one of the nicer characters in the movie.  Her biggest mistake was setting the table for two more when said guests are gone for good reason. (One dead, the other in jail.).  Hell this dance would have been another Big Lipped Alligator Moment, had the killer not end her. This leaves Reggie and Pam as the last members.  Reggie has the fortunate timing of seeing what was left of the 3 in Tommy's Room, with  Pam being the second.  Upon trying to escape they soon run into Jason, who's back from the dead......and stole Michael Myer's boiler suit......and the triangles on his mask are a different color (Does that mean he's switched from being a Devils fan to a Leafs fan?)  Not that it matters, since Pam and Reggie run from him regardless and Reggie has the bright idea to run him down with a tractor.  However that only slows "Jason" down.  A final showdown leads to the barn next to the institute, where it seems the two are helpless.  Fortunately Tommy arrives, but upon seeing "Jason" he has another episode.  As his mind tries to figure out if what he's seeing is real or another hallucination, "Jason" promptly slashes him.  This proves real enough for Tommy as he stabs "Jason" in retaliation, whilst Pam, Reggie and He climb to the top of the barn.  With both Reggie and Tommy's help "Jason" is promptly thrown off the barn and onto a spiky pit.  His mask is off so let's see who he really is.  Why it's old man Roy Burns.  This deserves a big rewind.  See Roy Burns was a paramedic and a recurring character in this movie.  As it turns out, Joey was his son and seeing his corpse caused him to snap Mrs. Voorhees style.  He donned Jason wear in order to cover his tracks and planted the bodies in Tommy's room in hopes to frame him.  He woulda gotten away with it too, if not for a meddling kid, an adult assistant and the psychotic teenager that he intended to pin the murders on.  However not all is well as Tommy's finally driven over the edge and dons the mask for himself.

This movie wasn't as bad as most say it was, but it was poorly executed.  For one the clues were too obvious, but the kills were very realistic, more-so than Savini's work in Final Chapter.  The not so obvious clues were too well hidden, but I was able to find them.  First off Tommy wasn't the only suspect.   There was Victor as he killed before.  As well as Ethel and Junior.  I think the intention of those two were to be the polar opposites of Pamela and Jason.  Both Jason and Junior are not so smart, but where Jason is resourceful, Junior doesn't know when to shut up and is promptly insulted, beaten or killed for it.  Ethel is the complete opposite of Mrs. Voorhees.  While Pamela loves Jason with all her heart and has a kindly atmosphere shielding her sinister side, Ethel despises Junior and makes no hesitations to insulting her son.  She also makes it well known of her intentions to keep Pinehurst closed whilst Pamela's intentions were only known after their death.  They of course were killed off, so that rules them out.

Then we have Tommy.  Not much has changed about him (Save for the actor.). He is still tormented by Jason even from beyond the grave and hallucinates his foe.  To make matters worse, his sister isn't around, so he has to face his demons alone. Then when he sees "Jason" he wasn't sure if he was hallucinating again and when "Jason" cuts him that snaps him back....sort of.  While he does make a few friends in Pam and Reggie, he doesn't really interact with them in the slightest.  He distances himself as his hallucinations and trauma becomes more severe.  Hell he barely speaks throughout the entire film.  It was almost as if he was literally becoming Jason like Zito originally intended.

Last we have Roy Burns.  the concept is rather clever, but poorly executed.  He serves as not only an expy for Jason, but for Pamela Voorhees as well as his motivation for killing was the death of his son.  Though as nonsensical as his killings were, in a profiler's perception, it makes perfect sense.  The two Greasers he kills were practice kills, so he could see if he had the stomach to commit murder.  The other two were to make it so Tommy was a suspect as he knew one of them.  Then the real killings began when he killed the rest.  He had a bunch of clippings in his wallet, so it was obvious he knew about Jason and the people he affected.  So knowing Tommy well enough to frame him was a smart move and disguising himself as Jason would just make Tommy look more crazy, if he did survive long enough to tell a cop.  However it worked too well.

The last movie in the trilogy is well known for being one of the few horror Sequels that have improved after the Sequelitius phase: Jason Lives.  Tommy is finally released and along with a friend named Hawes, goes to Forest Green Cemetery.  As the residents were sick of the Jason legend, they changed the name from Crystal Lake.  It is then and there Tommy reveals his plan to burn Jason's body, as he found out it wasn't cremated.  He hopes this will end his nightmares once and for all.  Upon unearthing his old foe, Tommy has another psychotic episode and promptly stabs the corpse with a broken fence pole.  Said fence pole gets struck by lightning and brings Jason to life. More powerful than ever, Jason proceeds to kill Hawes and leave his corpse in his coffin, while making his journey back to his home turf.  Tommy tries to warn the local Sheriff, but upon hearing his name, Sheriff Garris believes Tommy is crazy and locks him in jail.  It was in the next morning that Tommy meets a group of camp counselors lead by Megan Garris, The Sheriff's daughter.  Tommy of course tries to warn them, but if falls on deaf ears.  Garris promptly tries to banish Tommy from Forest Green.  I am not gonna name the rest because they literally have no personality, not even token ones....well except Megan as she is the classic "Rebel teen never listens to strict father or any authority figures."  Anywho Jason makes it back to the summer camp where he drowned and proceeds to kill the counselors one by one.  However there is an extra danger in there, because unlike the other movies, where the camp is abandoned, this one is up and running and with kids.  Tommy of course is once again a suspect as he tries to both clear his name and stop Jason once and for all.  In the end Tommy manages to put Jason in his place literally as he chains his body to the bottom of Crystal Lake. 

This particular sequel becomes a self parody, while at the same time raises the stakes of danger. Even poking fun at the horror genre in general. "I seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly." Being one of the funniest lines.  Tommy himself is more developed in this sequel, as he is more talkative and only prone to one psychotic episode.  He even reverts to his annoying kid persona in one way or another, making fun of Megan's drawings, being perverted even mocking the deputy when he gets out of jail.  Then there is Jason, he is not only back and returned the series into the status quo, but he is more stronger than ever and more durable.  A shovel shatters on his head on impact when his part 3 counterpart would have been knocked out..  Lastly there is the overall plot,  the stakes are higher since he is stalking an up and running summer camp with kids present.  While we as an audience know he never kills kids, the adult characters don't know that which makes their fears not only justified, but equal to a real world parent worried that their child won't make it home.  While each movie separate has their own uniqueness and flaws, all three flow together to form the journey of Tommy Jarvis.  From his horror obsessed preteens, to his catatonic post teens and his near adult normalities.  We can be safe to say he has earned his peace, after a long battle with Jason Voorhees. That is of course until 2009 when he and the other survivors of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street team up with Bruce Campbell to take on the two title killers, but that's another story.

As usual, debate, argue and let me know what I missed.  Stay Tuned For More.  Happy Devil's Night.

No comments:

Post a Comment