Highlights of Friday the 13th

If you don’t follow John Kenneth Muir’s blog, you are doing yourself a disservice. In honor of today being Friday the 13th, he has a list of 13 reasons why he loves the venerable slasher franchise.

For my part, I do not “love” the Friday the 13th movies in the slightest, nor would it be entirely accurate to say I “like” them. It’s more that I recognize their cultural impact and importance.

Mr. Muir makes a couple of observations that stood out to me. After noting multiple instances of hidden, surprisingly brainy references, like a child reading Sartre’s No Exit during a throwaway scene in Part 6, he devotes a whole item of his list to Ginny Field from Part 2.

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Ginny Field (played by the awesomely-named Amy Steel) was perhaps the only character to genuinely outsmart Jason—which shouldn’t be that hard, one might think, but whatever. A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Nancy probably owes her level-headed handling of Freddie Krueger to Ginny Field’s clever ruse against Jason.

I would hardly call the Friday the 13th series a triumph for women in film, and a few Ginny Field-type characters really don’t make up for the hordes of stupid these movies throw at the screen. It’s also unfortunate that Ginny Field stands out as one of the few heroines who doesn’t get killed in a sequel (like Alice from the first Friday the 13th or the aforementioned Nancy).

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Happy Friday the 13th

Every year, around this time (i.e. approaching Halloween), I have to confront the contradictory facts that I do not like slasher films on a very fundamental level, yet I cannot seem to turn away from them when I come across them on TV. (Whether or not I deliberately seek them out on some subconscious level will have to be a question for my biographers.) Since SyFy is apparently running a Friday the 13th marathon today, I suppose the die is cast. In honor (or shame) of this film franchise, here are some (mostly-non-gory) GIFs culled from Google. Spoiler/NSFW alert, I guess.

The original slasher, Pamela Voorhees:

Via patron-saint-of-the-denial.tumblr.com

Via patron-saint-of-the-denial.tumblr.com

Via cheatingjudases.tumblr.com

Via cheatingjudases.tumblr.com

An early appearance of George McFly:

Via x-entertainment.com

Via x-entertainment.com

The man himself: Continue reading

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Self-loathing morbid curiosity: why I watch horror movies

-pHLhWBiGEWqPEpzXRccHw2“Self-loathing morbid curiosity.”¬†That was my answer when someone asked me why I watch movies like Hostel and Piranha¬†3-D when I so obviously hate them.

Halloween is the time of year when cable TV runs marathons of various horror movie franchises, and I seem to find myself drawn in even when I can’t actually stand watching. This is not limited to the Halloween season for me, though. I occasionally find myself watching bad knock-off slasher films on Chiller, or second-rate horror movies on HBO. Not too long ago, I was flipping channels and came across the beginning of Final Destination 5. Perhaps it was the sight of Dave Koechner getting covered in hot tar while dangling from a bridge (yea, that was a spoiler, but it happened in the first ten minutes), but the next thing I knew, I had watched the whole damn thing. I admire the creativity the writers have shown in killing off characters across five movies, but I have to wonder if that creativity could be better spent elsewhere.

At least the Final Destination films show some creativity, albeit of the most formulaic sort. The Saw films made a valiant effort to maintain a complex continuity across seven films, and it required a new sort of suspension of disbelief. Rather than forcing the audience to believe that a slow-moving berserker could deftly pursue sprinting teenagers, the Saw films asked us to believe that a cancer-ridden civil engineer could build, maintain, and oversee multiple Rube Goldberg-esque schemes, both from his deathbed and from beyond the grave, with only the help of a handful of emotionally crippled proteges who remained unaware of one another’s involvement. That’s far less plausible than a burly masked man keeping pace, at a walk, with a sprinting eighteen year-old, but it is at least slightly more engaging for the higher functions of the brain. Continue reading

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