So Sayeth the Odinson: One from the Vault

NOTE: The Odinson is on vacation this week so here’s one from the Vault.  Originally posted Halloween 2015.

Greetings from the Odinson,

KI-KI-KI-MA-MA-MA…KI-KI-KI-MA-MA-MA…

That’s one of the most distinct and terrifying sounds in horror movie history, and if that sound is heard resonating anywhere around, it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge.  Or, at least the woodlands surrounding Crystal Lake. 

In 1978, when John Carpenter’s Halloween hit the Big Screen, the Master of Horror’s low budget horror flick not only scared moviegoers across the country, it broke the mold and launched a new era in cinematic horror – The Slasher Film.  Months later, director Sean S. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller, inspired by Carpenter’s seminal film, set out to make a horror film of their own. 

They used the formula set up by John Carpenter, the formula that would become standard for this genre.  They needed a holiday theme.  Running through the various options they settled on the ominous Friday the 13th.  Carpenter used babysitters as his heroines/victims, so Cunningham and Miller decided on camp counselors, and this led them to their location of choice, a summer camp.  Now their young cast would be isolated enough from the world so that help would not be so easily available.     

In May of 1980, not even two years after the release of Carpenter’s film, Cunningham and Miller’s vision of horror hit theatres.  They just wanted to make a profitable little movie inspired by one of the true classics of the genre.  What they ended up doing was launching one of the most successful film franchises in Hollywood History.

The Odinson Pays a Visit to Camp Crystal Lake

Friday the 13th (1980) – Right off the bat, I would like to say that the first film in this franchise is not just the one that started it all, it’s actually a really good movie.  The writing is tight and the directing is fantastic.  I can watch this movie on mute and even presented in silent form, I can still easily follow the story.  This film set the standard for the Agatha Christie-like And Then There Were None formula that almost all Slasher films after follow, including the movies in this very franchise.  And, this film did not lean on the cult following of the franchise’s star – Jason Voorhees – for in the first film, part of its macabre charm is the fact that it’s Jason’s mother who is the killer.  Plus, the movie featured the great Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest onscreen performances.  Friday the 13th is not just a horror classic, it is a true film classic and should be on anybody’s Top 100 Watch List.   Odinson Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: Part II (1981) – The first four films of the franchise tell a pretty cohesive story and connect rather well.  The second installment sees Jason taking the reins of terror and moving the story along in a terrifying new direction.  He is not yet the unstoppable juggernaut we will soon come to know, but rather a demented hillbilly out to avenge his mother’s demise in the only way his feeble mind can comprehend, whole sale slaughter.  This installment features a very creepy campfire retelling of the legend of Pamela Voorhees and her doomed son, Jason.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: Part III 3-D (1982) – Now this installment of the franchise is truly unique for its use of the added dimension of 3-D FX.  The filmmakers use these FX in truly gruesome ways.  All I have to say is keep your head on a swivel when walking on your hands.  This chapter also incorporated a lot more humor, something that would become more common place in the slasher genre as the years moved along.  But most importantly, this is the chapter in the franchise that introduces the iconic Hockey Mask of Jason, the symbol that would become the most synonymous with the Friday the 13th brand.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – This is the strongest chapter in the franchise.  Like the first Friday, The Final Chapter takes the time to actually get the audience to care about the characters in the film before Jason starts doing his thing.  Plus, keeping the continuity established by the first three installments, this chapter is rife with Easter eggs and references to the previous films.  This chapter also marks the end of Jason, because even though he is a hulking nigh unstoppable lunatic, he is still mortal at this point and our heroes triumph in an end featuring the bloody demise of Jason Voorhees.  Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – The Odinson will give the filmmakers credit for trying something new, but this is easily one of the weakest installments of the franchise with a less than stellar twist ending.  Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: Part VI – Jason Lives (1986) – Now, this chapter features the Frankenstein-Style resurrection of Jason.  A bolt of errant lightning brings the Crystal Lake Killer back to the land of the living, but now he is a true monster.  This is the moment when Jason ceased to be a masked slasher, and became an unstoppable force of nature.  Undead and still angry, Jason’s strength and resistance to injury reach supernatural levels and the franchise heads in a bold new direction. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: Part VII – The New Blood (1988) – This is another chapter where the Odinson applauds the filmmakers for trying something new.  Setting the series in a more supernatural world, Jason is confronted by his first true challenge of the series, a girl with psychokinetic mind-powers.  Plus, this chapter sees the debut of Kane Hodder, arguably the most beloved actor to portray Jason.  Hodder brought little nuances to the character that he did not have before and audiences took notice.  Odinson Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th: Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – As a fellow staffer here at mycomicshop.com pointed out, if you are going to call the movie “Jason Takes Manhattan” you may not want to spend half the film on a boat.  The one true saving grace of this installment is the incredible spectacle of seeing the monstrous Jason in the middle of Times Square.  Odinson Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 Hammers

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – By far the weakest chapter in the series.  Though Jason is the star, his physical form is rarely even featured in the film as it has been replaced by a demonic worm.  Yes, it looks as dumb as it sounds.  The only real noteworthy moment is the surprise cameo by Freddy Kruger’s clawed glove at the end as the dream demon drags Jason’s iconic hockey mask down to hell.  It would be a decade before this exciting tease would pay off.  Odinson Rating: 1 ½ out of 5 Hammers

Jason X (2001) – Once again, the filmmakers attempt to try a bold new direction by taking Jason into the far future.  The highlights of this installment include Jason being transformed into a monstrous cyborg and his epic battle with an acrobatic android.  This chapter also sees the final performance by Kane Hodder in the role he helped define.  Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers

Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – The title says it all.  In the grand tradition of great movie monster battles like Universal’s Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man and King Kong vs. Godzilla – this highly underrated gem features the two biggest, baddest Kings of the Slasher Film genre in a no holds barred battle to the death.  The Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises collide in one of the bloodiest and startling climaxes in the history of horror cinema.  It is a dismembering final battle worthy the two biggest names in horror.  Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers

Friday the 13th (2009) – There’s not much to say about this attempted reboot of the franchise.  It really didn’t add anything new or exciting to the franchise and it left out most of what made the very first Friday the 13th so memorable and resonating in the first place.  It’s not the worst installment, but it didn’t blow my hair back.  Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers

NOTE:  If the filmmakers really want to take the franchise in an original direction they should make a chapter where all the survivors of each movie band together to try and take out Jason Voorhees once and for all.  Now that would be Friday the 13th movie the Odinson would love to see!

This franchise has spawned books, comics, graphic novels, toys, and a TV series.  From the late-70s to the mid-90s, it cannot be denied that the Slasher Film ruled the horror Box Office, and it cannot be denied that the King of the Slasher Film was Jason Voorhees.  For an in-depth history on this great horror franchise check out the fantastic Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th from Titan Books and the awesome documentary His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, hosted by the great Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn).

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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