Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 13 - BLACK FRIDAY double feature

Friday the 13th part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Director: Rob Hedden
Format: DVD

So today was Friday the 13th, Black Friday. It's a tradition in my house to watch, well, what else but a movie from the Friday the 13th series on this day. It helps that I'm an unashamed fan of the series.

I've watched parts 1-7 numerous times over the years, but I've managed to limit my exposure to part 8 to just a single viewing many years ago (when it first came out on video). I remember being so disappointed and disgusted by it back then, and that bitter taste has stayed in my mouth since.

Tonight I bit the bullet and gave it another watch. I'm not sure if it's because I had such low expectations or just because I was in the right frame of mind, but I actually enjoyed it this time around. No, not as a serious horror movie, but as an unintentional comedy.

First, the cast and crew. Director Rob Hedden's career since Friday 8 has consisted of made for TV movies. No one, and I mean no one, on the cast went on to become a big name (think about that - the earlier entries had Kevin Bacon, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Ron Palillo etc). The most success any of them had after this movie was pretty boy male lead Scott Reeves becoming a regular on soaps General Hospital and Young and the Restless.

The plot has a bunch of teens (what else?) who celebrate graduating high school by taking a cruise to New York City from near Camp Crystal Lake. Only they have an unwanted stowaway, ol' hockey mask himself, Jason Vorhees. And then... well, he kills a bunch of people. What else would you expect?

There are a few things that bother me about this movie, but none more than the way Jason is portrayed. Namely the fact that he seems to have the speed of a ninja. Sure, in the other films he always manages to catch up to whoever he's chasing without breaking his leisurely pace, but at least he doesn't flaunt the laws of physics. In this one, one second he's over there, the next he's over here - it's just not possible!

Plot holes? Ho boy, big enough to drive... well, a cruise ship through! Since when did Crystal Lake join up with the ocean? How did Rennie (Jensen Daggett - about the only decent actor on screen here) have a run in with a young Jason when he's been hunting teens as an adult (albeit an undead one) for decades now? And the ending - I don't want to spoil it, but it makes no sense whatsoever.

But, and it's a big but, if you manage to switch off the ol' brain and overlook the plot holes, if you embrace the unintentional comedy unfolding before you, you might just enjoy it. The bad acting, the fashions, the music, the flaws in logic... they're all worth a few laughs. Hell, it's the only way to make it all the way through this movie.

Zombie Strippers
Director: Jay Lee
Format: DVD

Zombie. Strippers. And if that's not enough to get you to watch, the two names at the top of the marquee are Robert Englund (NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST) and porn star Jenna Jameson. How could you resist?

Englund plays the sleazy owner of an illegal strip club that becomes the unwitting scene of a zombie outbreak. Jameson is his star stripper, who gets infected but rather than becoming a mindless shuffler, keeps on stripping, while munching on some manmeat in between pole routines.

Director and writer Jay Lee presents all this with tongue in cheek and really delivers for B movie fans. He doesn't hold back on the nudity and gore, dishing out bouncing titties and exploding heads with equal fervour.

The supporting cast is eclectic to say the least, with appearances by a former ultimate fighting champion (Tito Ortiz), a goth rock singer (Roxy Saint), a former child star (Whitney Anderson) and a production assistant from The Apprentice (Jen Alex Gonzalez).

The best laughs are for latin comedian Joey Medina (THE ORIGINAL LATIN KINGS OF COMEDY), who plays a Mexican janitor forced to clean up after the zombies go a-munching. The other comedy is very hit and miss, some of it coming off as just plain silly. But it doesn't spoil what is a damn good time for any B movie fan.

Think zombies and you want plenty of blood, entrails and headshots. Think strippers and you want hot women taking their clothes off. Combine the two and you get both. Ain't life grand?

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