Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday the 13th

As I stated in my last post, I was planning on doing a live blog of sorts for this movie.  As it turns out, I’m terrible at live blogging.  It turned into a four-page synopsis, with a handful of other thoughts thrown in.  But that’s no good.  So I edited it down to try to make it a more cohesive post.  In the end, it may be a bit more cohesive (and it turned out to be a slightly better analysis of the movie as a whole), but it didn’t end up being any shorter.  So I apologize for that.  Hopefully you’ll stick with me through this.  I’ll try to get better for the next movie.  If you feel like joining in on this, leave your thoughts in the comments.  It would be fun to make this into a kind of movie club.  After all, that’s how this blog got started.

I should also point out that there will be spoilers throughout (starting in the very next paragraph).  But, since it’s a classic horror movie that was released in 1980, I don’t really feel like I’m giving anything away.  If you haven’t seen it yet, well, that’s your fault.

I thought it would be cool to look at the “final girl” in each of these movies (Leslie Vernon refers to them as “survivor girls”.  I like that term better, so I’ll be using that).  We know there are certain rules that a survivor girl must adhere to: basically, they must live a chaste and clean life.  No nudity, sex, drugs, etc.  But is that really the case?  Our survivor girl in this film is Alice.  Does she break any of these rules?

The movie starts in 1958, but the story starts in 1957 when a child at Camp Crystal Lake drowns.  From what we learn later, he wasn’t being watched because the counselors were having sex. 
In 1958, we are looking through the eyes of the killer as she follows two counselors, who are going to have sex.  They are stopped when the killer stabs both of them.

After those deaths, the film takes us to 1980.  A list of our characters:

Steve: His family is from the nearby town, and he is in charge of getting the camp back up and running again.  When we meet him, he is wearing cut-off jean shorts, no shirt, a red bandana around his neck, and a glorious mustache. 

Alice: Our survivor girl.  She appears to be at the camp as a handy-man of sorts.  She talks about possibly needing to leave early to deal with some “family stuff”, but we never hear anything else about it.  Steve likes her (he creepily hits on her), but not much happens.

Annie: She is hitchhiking her way to Camp Crystal Lake.  We see her as she is walking through the town nearest Camp Crystal Lake.  Ralph – “the town crazy” – tells her that “Camp Blood” has a “death curse”.  She gets a ride with one of the locals who dismisses Ralph, but then immediately tells her that she shouldn’t go out there.  She laughs him off.

Jack: Played by Kevin Bacon.  He shows up with Marcie and Ned.  He and Marcie are dating. 

Marcie: She is dating Jack.  

Ned: The goofy one.  There seems to be one of these in every movie.  Socially awkward, and usually very horny.  There’s always one person that is a good friend of this person (in this case, that person is Jack).  He does a lot of things for attention, whether that’s running around in his underwear and an Indian headdress or shooting an arrow at a target that a girl is holding.  He’s an odd duck.

Bill: Good guy, if a little anonymous. 

Brenda: Her and Alice seem to be good friends.  She’s in charge of outdoor activities.  I believe the first time we see her is when she’s setting up the archery range.

Those are our 8 kids.  Now meet the killer.

Mrs. Voorhees: It was her son (Jason) who drowned in 1957.  The date of all these murders in 1980 would have been Jason’s birthday (in looking at the calendar, I found out that Jason’s birthday was June 13).  There are a couple of things to keep in mind with her.  She will talk in Jason’s voice and have conversations with him.  Through these conversations, we learn that, not only are these revenge killings, but that she believes it is still 1957.  She accuses Alice of not watching Jason.  Also, when we finally see her later in the movie, we see that Mrs. Voorhees is not he most coordinated woman.  She’s in her 50s, and at times she struggles to run.  Most of her kills have the element of surprise, but there’s still a certain amount of strength involved in some of them.  This will come up from time to time in this post.

The Deaths.

Annie is the first to go.  After being dropped off by the local she was riding with, she hitches a ride in a jeep (we don’t ever see the driver, but it’s Mrs. Voorhees).  Annie realizes something is wrong, so she jumps out of the speeding jeep (head first…probably not a good call by Annie).  She runs through the woods, but the killer tracks her down and slits her throat.  Goodbye Annie.  We hardly knew you.

Ralph shows up in the camp with an ominous warning: “You’re doomed if you stay.  Go.  Go.”  If a crazy person shows up at a camp with a bad history, spouting words of doom, you should probably listen to him.  Alas, they don’t.

Ned is the next one to go.  He sees a figure entering a cabin, so he follows the person in.  “Hello?  Can I help you?”  We don’t see him die on camera, but it’s the last we see him alive.

Not long after that, a huge storm rolls through.  Jack and Marcie enter the cabin Ned was just killed in.  One thing leads to another, and they have sex on the bottom bunk.  As they’re having sex, we see that Ned is dead (throat slit) on the top bunk.  After they finish up, Marcie goes to the bathroom and Jack lays back on the bed.  He feels blood dripping on his head.  Before he can react, a hand comes from underneath the bed, holds his head, and jams an arrow through his neck from underneath the bed.  Far and away the best death in the movie.  This is one of those moments where the killer’s strength comes into question.  How is a woman in her 50s able to hold Jack’s head against the pillow with one hand and jam an arrow through the bed and through his neck with the other?  That would take a lot of strength.

Marcie is in the bathroom in a small shirt and her underwear.  She hears a noise.  She investigates.  And then she gets an ax in the face.  That’s what you get for getting naked, Marcie.

Alice, Bill and Brenda are all in a cabin playing strip Monopoly.  They break out beer and weed.  Bill partakes in both.  Brenda partakes in beer but no weed.  Alice – the survivor girl – partakes in both, thus breaking at least one rule (drug use) of the survivor girl.  By the end of the game, Bill has lost most of his clothes, and Brenda has lost her pants and shirt, but Alice is still fully clothed.  She is getting ready to take off her shirt, but they’re interrupted and the game stops.  No nudity for the survivor girl.

Brenda goes back to her cabin, puts on her full-length nightgown, and reads a book.  She hears a call for help, so she goes out in the rain to investigate.  She goes to the archery range.  The lights turn on, the camera leaves the scene, and we hear her scream.

(In looking at it from this perspective, Brenda would have also made for a good survivor girl.  During strip Monopoly, she had a beer, but didn’t have any weed.  She took her shirt off, but she was still wearing a bra, so she wasn’t nude.  But that’s immaterial.  She’s dead now.)

Alice and Bill go out to look for Brenda, after hearing her scream.  They go to her bed and find an ax covered in blood.  It’s on, now. 
They walk around the camp looking for their missing friends, but they can’t find them anywhere.  They make their way to the office to call someone, but the phone line has been cut.  They try to drive somewhere, but the truck isn’t working.  Bill and Alice are trapped at Camp Crystal Lake, stalked by a killer they’re still not even sure is out there.  (There’s a whole lot of horror movie clichés in that paragraph.)

Steve, who has been out all night, comes back to the camp.  In looking through the killer’s eyes, we see him almost immediately killed (from the looks of it, a knife to the stomach).

While Alice goes to sleep, Bill goes out to refill the generator with gas.  This is the last time we’ll see him alive.

Alice goes out in search of Bill.  She finally finds him…but he’s dead, and being held to the back of a door by a bunch of arrows (another “how did a woman in her 50s do that by herself” moment).  Alice screams and runs.  She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s the only one among her friends who isn’t dead yet.  But she’ll find out soon enough.

She goes back to her cabin and barricades herself in.  She grabs a bat and the fire poker to defend herself.  The dead body of Brenda comes through the window.  For reasons unclear to me, Alice drops her weapons.  This becomes a theme with her.  She doesn’t deserve to live.

Mrs. Voorhees shows up in her jeep.  To Alice, she just looks like a harmless old woman in a blue sweater.  Still, Alice should know better than to just run to the first person she screams.  After all, a stranger is killing her friends…why couldn’t this be the stranger?  Does Alice not think?

It is this scene that we learn about Jason, and we find out that Mrs. Voorhees is the killer.  She charges Alice with a knife.  Alice picks up the fire poker, hits Mrs. Voorhees a couple times, knocks her on the ground…then drops the poker and runs.

Bam!  Annie is dead in the jeep.
Bang!  Steve is hanging upside down from a tree.  (How did Mrs. Voorhees find the strength and time to do that?)

The end of this movie is a lot of Mrs. Voorhees chasing Alice through the camp, Alice hiding, attacking Mrs. Voorhees with some sort of weapon, dropping that weapon, and running away.  Apparently her plan is to run Mrs. Voorhees around until she collapses from exhaustion.

There’s a big showdown on the beach.  It’s a clumsy fight scene that ends with Alice taking a machete and chopping off Mrs. Voorhees’ head.  For being a brutal killer, that last fight scene was severely uninspired.

Alice ends up in a canoe in the middle of the lake as the music swells.  The cops come, she smiles…and deranged little Jason pops up from the water and pulls her in.  But she wakes up in a hospital bed.  That last part was a dream...or was it?

Some final thoughts.  The concept of the survivor girl as being the only clean-living, virginal one in the bunch doesn’t really apply in this movie.  The only people in that group that had sex were Jack and Marcie.  If Brenda had been the survivor girl instead, it would have made just as much sense.  Basically, most of the people in this movie actually seemed to be decent human beings, which is in stark contrast to a lot of the jerks and horndogs that make up most slasher movies.

I was thinking of why this was.  This movie borrowed pretty heavily from Halloween, and that kind of set up the whole “killer with a code” rules.  Michael Myers was the boogeyman.  Laurie Strode was a chaste, studious girl.  Her sexually active friends were killed by Michael Myers as she made it out alive.  Why wasn’t that the case here?
The answer I came up with was that the killer in this movie was not Jason; it was Mrs. Voorhees.  She was not killing out of some sense of a code.  She was killing out of revenge.  Her son died as the result of neglect, and it was her duty to right that wrong.
But what of Jason?  Does he have a code, or does he just kill?  I guess we’ll find out in part 2.

Lastly, I am currently in love with the Final Girl blog.  She has drawn up all the deaths of Friday the 13th 1-6 in comic book form.  They're terrific, and I will be including them at the bottom of these posts.  Please head over and check out her blog.  It's a lot of fun.

No comments: