Return to Camp Blood: Part VI

By Frank Pittarese

The One in Space

We start off in the near future (very near, considering the film’s 2001 release date). The chronologically previous movie, Freddy vs. Jason, would have taken place around 2008. That one left Jason “dead” (again) in the waters of Crystal Lake. But now we find him shackled and under guard at the Crystal Lake Research Facility. They built a whole place just for our boy. There, scientists are studying Jason’s ability to regenerate, but he’s too much of a loose cannon. So the plan is to put him into cryogenic suspension — freeze him — and make him someone else’s future problem. 

But Jason is in a mood about being locked up, so he escapes and runs amok. After killing some folks, he accidentally breaches the cryo-unit, putting himself — and Rowan LaFontaine, the facility’s project leader — on ice for awhile. A very long while.


Flash-forward to the year 2455. Jason and Rowan have been popsicles for 455 years. Earth (a.k.a. Earth Prime, ™ DC Comics) is an uninhabitable wasteland, a dead planet. A team of young scientists — archeology students on a field trip — discover the frozen pair and take them back to their spaceship. Rowan is revived, but Jason is assumed dead. That’s a big mistake, especially since Future People know all about Jason Voorhees who “killed nearly 200 people and disappeared without a trace” in the distant past.

“I’ve been asleep for 455 WHAT?!”

As expected, Jason thaws out and starts attacking everyone in sight. The scientists don’t stand a chance. The students are helpless. Even a squad of soldiers (swiped directly from James Cameron’s Aliens) get wasted by a very cranky Mr. Voorhees. The team’s original plan was to reconnect with the space station Solaris before moving on to Earth Two (also ™ DC Comics), but that goes haywire when Jason causes the whole station to explode, leaving our remaining characters trying to survive long enough to escape their failing ship. 

Luckily, a female android named Kay-Em (also swiped directly from James Cameron’s Aliens) is upgraded to super-tough Terminator mode (swiped directly from James Cameron’s Terminator). Kay-Em manages to dismember and semi-decapitate Jason, but the big lug falls onto the med-labs healing unit. Oops.

Not at all inspired by Terminator.

Nanites swarm all over his bits and pieces, fixing what’s left of him and…improvising the rest. The result is Über-Jason, an unstoppable cyborg behemoth — vastly improved, but still uglier than a baboon’s butt. Chaos ensues: a countdown to the ship’s destruction, a hole in the hull, a space walk. All of of these sci-fi movie tropes survive into 2455, so we can rest easy, knowing they’re safe.

Makeover Madness

This time, Jason seems to be permanently defeated — blasted into space and burning up on reentry in Earth Two’s orbit. It’s really over. I mean, sure, a couple of teens necking in the woods of Earth Two see a shooting star, and Jason’s broken mask splashes down in a lake. But this is the last sequel before the reboot, right? And the reboot is its own separate universe, isn’t it? 

(It’s not and it isn’t. The “reboot” is in-continuity as an actual SEQUEL to Jason X. Really. I mean it!) 

I know I’m supposed to hate this movie. But I don’t. It’s goofy and the CGI is shaky, but for some reason, I’m on board with these one-off “experimental” Friday the 13th movies. Telekinetic girl? Cool. Body-jumping? Alrighty. Jason in space?? Gimme! 

Cold-blooded kill

Yes, it’s incredibly derivative and feels like a syndicated sci-fi show from the mid-1990s. Camp, intentional or not, abounds. The acting is hokey. But it has an abundance of post-Scream, self-referential charm and a pretty quick pace. Kane Hodder takes his final turn as Jason here, and still pulls off an effective performance despite the rather clunky Über-Jason suit. This entry gets a lot of flack — like Goes to Hell —  for going off-book, but ultimately, it’s refreshing and fun, so it totally has my support.   

Other things worth noting…

Somewhere between Freddy vs. Jason and now, Jason found himself a new mask. This one has the red stripes — and even the Part 3 crack — but the nose is more pointed. I guess he found his look and he’s sticking with it.

He just wants Spock’s autograph. That’s all.

The head doctor at the Crystal Lake Research Facility is played by director David Cronenberg, who REQUESTED to be in this movie. Except for The Fly, I’m generally not a fan of his, but this scores him some nerd points. He also directed an episode of Friday the 13th: The Series (season one’s “The Faith Healer”).

Rowan says that the “first time they executed” Jason was in 2008. This totally syncs up with my timeline, which places Jason Goes to Hell in that year and leads into FvJ. At the start of Goes to Hell, Jason is killed by federal agents. To me, that qualifies as an execution. It’s all accidental, I’m sure — I don’t think anyone involved in these movies gave continuity a minute’s thought — but my timeline turned out to be solid. I’ll put it on my resume! 

Not a porn parody.

Favorite moment: Jason’s holodeck visit to 1980 Crystal Lake is comedy gold. 

The So-Called Reboot

This is it. The twelfth and final (for now) Friday the 13th movie. This is the one that everyone calls a “remake” or a “reboot.” I call it a sequel — a sequel set decades after Jason X. But I’ll get to that soon. 

We start in flashback. It’s June 13th, 1980 (which was indeed a Friday). A “Camp Counselor” (that’s what she’s called in the credits, so she’s NOT officially Alice) is in mid-confrontation with a recast Mrs. Voorhees. Little Jason watches from the woods as his mom is decapitated. After Not-Alice leaves, he sneaks out, steals Mom’s machete, her locket, and her head. It’s nice to have keepsakes. “Kill for mother,” says Mrs. Voorhees in Little Jason’s screwy mind, and he scampers on his merry, deformed way.

Then we have a classic Friday time-jump to Crystal Lake, 2009. It’s present day (the movie was released in February of that year). A small group of college kids are hiking through the woods for a night of camping — although two of them are more interested in a massive weed-crop nearby.

A split decision

Having entered Jason’s territory, the kids get what they get — which, to be clear, is viciously murdered. Or so it seems… The best thing about this pre-title sequence is that, at 25 minutes long, it feels like a short film; a mini-Friday the 13th movie before the main feature. And get this — it’s Sack-Head Jason! My favorite! There’s some excitement, some drama, boobies for those who like them, a few gruesome kills, and then…

Nice try, but that yokel can’t read.

Time-jump! But it’s a small one of just six months to where the real story starts. Sam from Supernatural has come to Crystal Lake in search of his sister Whitney, who was one of those aforementioned college kids. He meets some locals and an entirely new batch of victims. Most of those victims, though, are very, very annoying. The only exceptions are Killer Frost from The Flash, who seems nice and sympathetic, and her boyfriend Trent, who is the King of Assholes. Trent will be important later, so remember him.

Trent is the worst.

All these dumb characters, along with Killer Frost from The Flash, are staying at Asshole Trent’s summer cabin, smack in the middle of the woods. For Jason, it’s his version of Fresh Direct. One by one, Jason meets and greets these dunces. Not a single one of them is a loss. Not since Part V has there been such a crappy crew of corpses. The worst are the “comic relief” characters. We get two of those, along with their relentless series of beer, pot, and masturbation jokes. You will cheer when they die. 

One otherwise forgettable kill results in Jason finding his most important prop, and he upgrades from a potato sack to his iconic hockey mask. He looks at himself in the mirror afterward, trying to decide if he’s cute. (He isn’t.)

“See the pretty girl in that mirror there…”

Anyway, surprise! Jason didn’t kill Whitney, the sister of Sam from Supernatural. He’s got her chained up in his underground lair like he’s Buffalo Bill. Remember that locket Jason stole from his mother’s corpse? It contains two photos, one of Baby Jason, and one of Mom — and Whitney is the spittin’ image of young Mrs. Voorhees. (This is because the actress playing Whitney posed for that photograph. No flies on me.) Now, amidst all the slaughter, Sam from Supernatural and Killer Frost from The Flash have to go rescue Whitney. But Jason has built an entire network of underground tunnels beneath Camp Crystal Lake — because that’s what you do when you don’t have cable or a PS4. A subterranean melee ensues, with running and screaming and stabbing and death, as they try to free this dumb girl (who looks a lot like the original Pink Ranger) from captivity. 

It’s screamin’ time!

In the end, Jason is defeated (or “defeated”), which is what usually happens. But while there’s a hint of more to come, outside of fan films, there hasn’t been a new Friday the 13th movie in over a decade. All sorts of court battles have prevented a thirteenth entry from getting off the ground. That’s unfortunate (because I want more) but maybe also a blessing (because I don’t trust them not to screw things up). Guess we’ll see what happens. 

There was a run of these horror remakes/reboots around this time, and tonally, this sits comfortably alongside some of the better ones, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (also directed by Marcus Nispel) or The Hills Have Eyes. Apart from a couple of aggressively irritating comic relief characters, the entire tone is deadly serious, if not flat-out grim. There are no little winks here, and although references to previous entries are sprinkled throughout. Jason is taken seriously, which results in a pretty gritty viewing experience. It’s well-shot, energetic, occasionally suspenseful, and some sometimes thrilling — and it doesn’t feel cheap.

Jason is rightfully annoyed by the comic relief characters.

This new Jason (Derek Mears) is no Kane Hodder, but he feels imposing and dangerous, while still human — and he’s fast! I like him. 

The extended “Killer Cut,” which is my go-to, runs about ten minutes longer than the theatrical version, and despite some pointless conversational padding, it features a somewhat exciting escape sequence, slightly more vicious kills, and maybe a pinch more sex than the movie really needs. At 1 hour and 45 minutes, this cut is longest movie in the series. Jason Takes Manhattan comes in second, at 1 hour and 40 minutes, because it only exists to punish us. 

“EEEEEK!!” screams Trent.

Anyway, this “update” was supposed to be a fresh start. A reboot leading to more films…

Except it isn’t a reboot. I’ll explain. 

A major plot point in Jason X was that Earth is dead, and what’s left of humanity has relocated to Earth Two. At the end of that film, we only see a tiny bit of it: a patch of woods and a lake, plus a couple of teens. My theory is that this movie takes place on that planet: Jason X’s Earth Two. It doesn’t LOOK like the future, nobody ACTS like it’s the future, but the way I see it, just getting everyone to this new planet was a drain on scientific and financial resources. Essentially, in order to survive, the people of 2455 had to become “pioneers,” in a way, roughing it out in a new frontier. For them, that didn’t mean living in log cabins or riding horses. They “roughed it” by abandoning their expensive tech for an early 21st Century lifestyle. They use simple technology (cars and cell phones) and live in average, no-tech homes. By the time this movie takes place, it’s a generation or two — or even three — after the relocation. For the kids in this movie, who only grew up knowing this “21st Century” environment, this is normal life for them (which is why the space stuff is never addressed). 

Then we get to Jason. At the end of Jason X, he essentially became a shooting star, burning up as he fell from orbit. I think he DID die, as he’s died before. But the Powers That Be…the forces of Hell…whatever you want to call the supernatural powers that guided him (and resurrected him) all those times…they deemed that the universe MUST have a Jason. Hell’s agent of death must walk the Earth. So to achieve that, Pamela Voorhees was born (again), had a child who “drowned” (again), and she sought revenge (again). And that’s how Jason — this reborn Jason, infused with a killer instinct from his previous existence — came to be. (This also syncs with why the camp counselor who kills Mrs. Voorhees this time isn’t Alice. Alice doesn’t matter in the bigger equation.) 

Fake Mrs. Voorhees, pre-decapitation

It’s out there, I know. It’s a reach, I KNOW. But there’s also this…

Remember Asshole Trent? (I told you to remember him.) He spends every moment in this movie being an absolutely relentless dick. Asshole Trent is played by actor Travis Van Winkle. Travis Van Winkle also played an asshole named Trent in the first Transformers movie. Both Transformers and this Friday the 13th were Micheal Bay productions, hence the connection. With that in mind…are the two Trents the SAME Trent? If so, this Friday takes place in a world where advanced technology, alien robots, and all kinds of sci-fi shit actually exists. It’s entirely possible that Transformers took place on Earth Two, a generation or two after the relocation from Earth Prime. Now, a couple of years after the Autobots fought the Decepticons, we pick up on (and — spoiler alert — end) Asshole Trent’s story. 

Trent was inflicted upon us in two films.

Okay, okay, I’m not sure even I buy my own patch for this. But the idea of a Friday reboot rather than a sequel really bugs me, and when I saw a way to “fix” it, I wasn’t gonna let it slide. And it does track. Sort of. So yep, this is the 11th sequel. You’re welcome. 

He’ll be back again someday…

That’s a wrap on these lengthy Friday the 13th reviews. If you’ve read them all, or if you’ve only read one or two, thanks for checking them out. Maybe I’ll tackle another franchise someday. I’ve been itching for a Resident Evil rewatch lately… 

Return to Camp Blood: Part V

By Frank Pittarese

The One with All the Easter Eggs

When last we saw our snappy slasher, Jason was apparently transformed into a completely normal-looking human child, wearing his best underpants and shivering in the sewers of Manhattan. Remember that? Well, forget it, because it’s never addressed again. This sequel opens at Crystal Lake, where Jason is home, masked, and in killing mode. How did he return to Crystal Lake? Well, I’ve had an idea about that since 1989 which I might write down someday. What really matters is that our boy is back in the woods, fully grown, and Chapter 8.5 is a story that’s yet to be told. 

This entry starts with a pre-credit sequence: Jason is hunting a lone female camper — but just as he goes in for the kill, we discover the whole thing is a set-up. The camper is a Federal agent, and Jason is ambushed by a swarm of agents who shoot him full of lead before blowing him to pieces with a grenade. His legs go one way, his arms go another, and bounce-bounce goes his head. Jason is officially dead. Again. Until next time. 

Jason is ahead of this situation.

Then things get nutty. The coroner finds himself compelled to eat Jason’s still-beating heart. Then he becomes possessed by Jason, whose spirit proceeds to body-jump from one person to the next: Coroner to cop to sleazy TV journalist, etc. It’s a funky choice. Jason is much less intimating when he’s a chubby 55-year-old dude in a lab coat and tie, but off they go. Jason is on a mission. He needs a new body, and the only way that can happen is by…creating mythology!!

So here’s the deal: A bounty hunter named Creighton Duke — who knows a lot of stuff because he read the script ahead of time — says that the only way to kill Jason is to destroy his heart, and that deed must be done by a Voorhees. If not, Jason will use that Voorhees as a vessel through which he can be reborn. But where the hell is there another Voorhees? Isn’t Jason an only child? Not anymore…

“I’d like some mythology and a Diet Coke.”

Waitress Diana Kimble has a secret. She’s Jason’s sister. Diana has a daughter named Jessica. And Jessica has an infant daughter named Stephanie. That a whopping THREE Voorheeses! It’s never clear if Diana is a full or half-sister, but I find it hard to believe that wacko Pamela had more than one kid. Diana is more likely the offspring of Elias Voorhees, who finally gets an official mention here and becomes canon. 

“My mother did WHAT?! My brother is WHO??”

Meanwhile, Steven — Final Boy and hero of our little rule-breaking film — is pulled into this complicated (for a Friday movie) plot when he’s blamed and jailed for Diana’s murder. Steven, played by John D. LeMay, is best (and only) known as Ryan on Friday the 13th: The Series. The scuttlebutt is that the character was supposed to be a returning Tommy Jarvis — but when Paramount sold the rights, Tommy wasn’t part of the deal. Bye, Tommy! 

“Running an antique store was much easier.”

All these moving parts are swirling around: A bounty hunter, next-gen Voorhees relatives, this hapless Tommy replacement getting thrown into the chaos, an abundance of body-jumping weirdness, and Jason (but not Jason) killing everyone he sees. And what’s crazy is that it all (sort of) works! People hate on this sequel, but I’m not mad at it. It’s cheesy sometimes and it totally breaks the formula, which at this point is refreshing. 

The kills are wonderfully gory on occasion — but only in the unrated cut — and the script isn’t that bad. The main characters are interesting and well-performed, the “colorful” characters (one of whom is played by gay scamp Leslie Jordan) are fun, and the whole thing is pretty lively. The movie is always in motion and there are few, if any, dull moments. It has a sense of humor and a bit of self-awareness. Rewatching it, I was completely engaged — and it’s a ray of sunshine after the awful eighth entry. 

Jason comes to grips with his fate.

It’s true that, except for the opening moments, it doesn’t feel like a Friday the 13th movie at all, but at this point, I’m happy to see an attempt at something new/different. 

Some quick bits…

The opening scene relocates Crystal Lake to Connecticut. A road sign puts it not far from Westport, but closer to Fairfield. Then Jason’s still-smoking remains are flown to the Federal Morgue in Ohio, and he (in the body of Coroner Phil) walks all the way home, to what should be New Jersey…oof.

Crystal Lake…Connecticut?!?

The diner in Crystal Lake is decorated with hockey masks, weapons, and they serve “Jason burgers” shaped like hockey masks. Remember when I said Jason was a brand? There ya go. Tourists love him…until he kills them.

When Jason is reborn, he emerges fully clothed and with his hockey mask in place. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s better than boxer shorts, so I’ll allow it.

There are some fun Easter eggs tucked away in the Voorhees House (the enormity of which again has me convinced that it’s the home of wealthy Elias, rather than Pamela, who took a job at a janky-ass summer camp to feed her ugly kid). Look for the crate from Creepshow, the Necronomicon from Evil Dead (literally the prop, lent to the director by Sam Raimi) and…a very big, prominent one at the end (spoiler alert: it’s Freddy Krueger).

Do not read this book out loud.

The presence of the Necronomicon (and the shameless embrace of Jason’s ties to the supernatural) provides answers or raises questions, depending on my mood. Was Elias so steeped in this stuff that, decades ago, he unleashed supernatural forces on Crystal Lake? The apparitions we’ve seen over the years, Jason’s near-invulnerability as a human, his literal resurrection as a zombie…could all of it be the result of Elias casting some dark spell? Or is Pamela to blame? When she thought Jason drowned, did she go to grim, magical lengths to bring her son back to life? Those Easter eggs, just nifty little props, open up some doors, story-wise. They might even explain a few things. 

Trivia alert! Kane Hodder is wearing Freddy’s glove.

Favorite moment: The final shot of this movie is EVERYTHING.

The One with the Crossover

Freddy vs. Jason isn’t the tenth movie in the series — it’s the 11th. But continuity-wise, it slides in right after Jason Goes to Hell, so that’s how I watch it. It took ten years and a bazillion drafts to get this thing made (they even wrote a book about it: Slash of the Titans: The Road to Freddy vs. Jason by Dustin McNeill). Ultimately, while not a fantastic piece of work, it’s fun and it delivers. But of course, somebody had to screw up something! I’ll get to that in a minute.

The deal here is that Freddy is (more or less) dead — or at least rendered inert — because nobody remembers him. “I can’t come back if nobody is afraid!” So his big plan is to send Jason back to Earth (specifically to Springwood) from Hell to “make them remember what fear tastes like!” If the kids remember Freddy, Freddy can kill the kids. The circle of life, y’all. So Freddy impersonates Mrs. Voorhees (recast with a rather intense actress) and gives Jason his marching orders.

She’s no Nancy, she’s no Ginny, she’s just…Lori.

Meanwhile our main girl, Lori, is living in Nancy Thompson’s house from A Nightmare on Elm Street (that’s 1428 Elm Street — now go win a trivia game). She and her batch of doomed friends are in the soup almost immediately, when Jason makes his first kill in an upstairs bedroom. Before you know it, they’re running around town, teamed up with two teens who escaped the Westin Hills psychiatric hospital (see A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors), and trying to stay alive.

Initially, Jason acts as muscle while a weak Freddy taunts his victims, but as Freddy gains power, Jason’s usefulness comes to end. Unfortunately, Jason crosses the line when he kills a dreaming victim (in the real world), stealing Freddy’s teenage prey. The love affair is over. 

The peaceful comfort of an adjustable bed.

The Springwood kids are just now finding out that Freddy even existed. The whole town covered up his murders (from before and after he died) and the teens who got too close to the truth were committed to the asylum and given Hypnocil (again, see Dream Warriors — you won’t regret it) to prevent them from dreaming. Once it’s clear that Jason is on the loose, the kids learn his story, too, so the franchises are clashing in almost every scene. 

A short dream sequence flashes back to Crystal Lake 1957, where we see Little Jason being mocked and thrown into the water by a bunch of jerky kids. Is this how it really happened? There’s no way to know for sure, but there’s likely some truth to it. In one of the earlier drafts of this movie, Freddy was supposed to be a Crystal Lake camp counselor, but that idea was kiboshed, probably because it tainted Jason’s origin story. 

He wasn’t a very good swimmer.

Anyway, the two monster dudes have a couple of big, set-piece fights — and they’re awesome, over-the-top, comic book battles. They’re stylish, with great use of bold color, and each guy gets in some gory hit points. 

The first of those battles is in the dream world, and that’s where…sigh…somebody drops the ball. Somebody always drops the ball…

Hijinks and shenanigans!

See, someone decided that Jason needs a weakness. As Jason and Freddy fight in what looks like a large factory, Freddy breaks an overhead pipe. Then, as water comes rushing down, he “discovers” that Jason is…afraid of water?! Inspired, Freddy bursts even more pipes and Jason stands there frozen in terror. It’s incredibly dumb. We’ve seen Jason in the water SO many times. He was lurking under a raft in The Final Chapter. He popped out from under Tommy’s canoe in Jason Lives. He fucking swam to New York in Jason Takes Manhattan! So, no, dear filmmakers…Jason is NOT afraid of water, and certainly not terrified of a light shower coming from a bunch of pipes. But hang on — I’ve got it covered!

I’ve decided that it’s not the water that Jason’s afraid of — it’s the environment. The pipes, the rushing water…there’s only one thing that he can be remembering, and that’s his hellish experience in the sewers of New York City. See? That crappy Jason Takes Manhattan is finally good for something! My theory is confirmed when, at the end of dream sequence (which is happening in Jason’s mind), Jason turns into a wet, shivering little boy (deformed, because at least they’re on top of THAT). It syncs up with what we saw in Jason Takes Manhattan. Whatever happened to him at the end of that movie, real or imaginary, did some mental damage. 

The boy, Jason.

The second FvJ fight takes place in the real world, after Lori physically pulls Freddy out of a dream. This one is a fight-to-the-death bloodfest. And Jason bleeds a LOT, which means that in being freed from Hell, his body is (more or less) human. He’s no longer a rotten zombie. They were drifting away from that with the last movie, anyway, but at least now, being “reborn,” there’s some continuity coverage. 

Who wins? Whoever you like! They did a good job of not disappointing fans of either slasher. (But it’s Jason because Jason is awesome). And while it does feel like more of an Elm Street film than a Friday, Jason is central to the plot so Voorhees fans won’t be disappointed.

Freddy got chopped.

In other news, we learn that Crystal Lake is about a 15-30 minute drive from Springwood. But Springwood is in Ohio. In the last movie, Crystal Lake was in Connecticut, and, historically, it’s been in New Jersey. I have no patch for this, though. Geography, like math, ain’t my friend.

Next week: I wrap up this series with a trip to the future, and cover the “reboot” that’s really a sequel. Really.