Category Archives: Ranking Blogs

Ranking the Friday the 13th Series

Happy Halloween Season Everybody!

My favorite time of year is finally upon us. From Halloween until New Year’s, I am brimming with the spirit of the respective current holiday. I love Halloween and I love Christmas (hence why I adore Nightmare Before Christmas) and I like to write about some on-topic…err, topics. Usually I do a 13 Days of Halloween concept, but I’m gonna mix it up this year and rank one of the greatest horror franchises of all time.

Friday the 13th is the tale of revenge, as the undead corpse of Jason Voorhees slaughters all of the promiscuous teenagers in his path, seeking revenge for the death of his beloved mother, who was seeking revenge for the drowning of her son by inattentive camp counselors who were busy having sex. It’s amazing how that sounds when you literally write it out! The Friday the 13th films aren’t known for strong or even very memorable characters, or even the strongest stories, but they are known for clever kills, well drawn out suspense, and atmosphere that isn’t easily rivaled. They are fun movies. For the most part.

The original series of films consists of ten parts. I watched all of them, and then included the Freddy Vs. Jason crossover flick with the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and the 2009 film which was called a remake by some but I see it as just another chapter. Friday ’09 if you will. I am choosing not to include the fan made Never Hike Alone, as it isn’t an official chapter, but I do recommend you watch it if you can find it, as it is very well done.

My list will absolutely be different from yours, so I’d like to know what you think in the comments.

With that said, here we go!

 

RANKING THE FRIDAY THE 13TH SERIES

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movies on this list, odds are I will spoil something about them. So read at your own discretion.

 

12. JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY

Jason Goes to Hell

Any movie franchise that goes on for this long is going to have some clunkers in there. Still, with a horror franchise, you can still have some fun watching the bad films! Right? Wrong. This ninth installment was torturous to watch. I hated every minute of it, from beginning to end. The ONLY redeeming quality of the movie was Freddy’s glove. THAT WAS IT. The rest of the movie blew. Big time.

Basically Jason is blown up by the military, and his spirit starts possessing people. The idea is that it’s scary because Jason could by anybody. That concept could work, if it was done well, but this movie just butchers it entirely. No clever kills, no good characters, and very little actual Jason in the look we know and love. Hell, I was actually expecting to maybe see some of Hell in this one. I thought it might be cheesy good to see Jason in a demonic hellscape, but I didn’t even get that. This movie, in my opinion, has no redeeming qualities, and I will not be revisiting this one.

Jason Goes to Hell isn’t just the worst of the series in my opinion, it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, period. I am happy this viewing was the first and only time watching this film. Unless you offer me a decent sum of money, I won’t be watching this one ever again.

 

11. JASON X

Jason X.jpg

If Jason possessing people wasn’t a bad enough concept, Jason going to OUTER SPACE upper the cheese factor to the extreme. Fortunately, this schlock fest didn’t take itself seriously enough for me to put it on the bottom. Don’t let that fool you though, it’s still a bad movie.

Jason is frozen in a cryogenic state and awakened on a ship called the Grendel in the year 2455 along with a government scientist. Jason begins wrecking havoc as only Jason can, and the first part of the movie is your basic Jason fanfare, only in an Alien like environment (though not nearly as scary or good). Uber Jason is where the movie truly went off the rails, as the look is just plan stupid. Nothing truly original in the kill factory, especially if you’ve seen a movie in outer space where people get killed off. Hell you can just watch Doctor Who or Star Trek to see more imaginative kills.

The only reason I put this one above Jason Goes to Hell is that, as terrible as it was, the movie had some self-awareness to it. It knew it was bad, so it went for more corniness instead of seriousness. That itself is forgivable, but not enough to make me rank it any higher. Would I watch this one again? Probably not.

If you want to see a scary movie in outer space, watch Alien. If you want to see a fun movie in outer space, watch Star Wars. If you want to see a bad movie in outer space, you could do worse…but Jason X would be up there. I’d say just pretend this one never happened.

 

10. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN

Jason Takes Manhattan

If you’ve ever wanted to see Jason stalk the residents of New York City, watch the final part of this movie. The rest of the film takes place on a boat. Due to the budget being poor, the crew couldn’t really afford to shoot in New York City, so the majority of the movie is Jason killing people on a boat heading TO New York City, where the final part is mostly alleyways and the sewer, negating the title of the movie altogether.

I’ve always hated this film personally, since the first time I saw it, and the subsequent rewatching didn’t do it any favors. There are precisely TWO parts of this movie I like…the boombox scene, which is a legitimate laugh out loud moment, and the death scene for Julius, where Jason’s right hook takes his head clean off. The rest of the film is pretty tedious, with the boat trying to be a scary confined scene for drama but just being a boring set piece. You want to see Jason in Manhattan, and you barely get that. The real stinker is the unmasked Jason succumbing to water in the sewer and reverting back to his childhood state. It’s supposed to be symbolic, but it’s just damn lame.

Given that I’ve watched this movie more than once, I am more than okay going the rest of my life without another viewing. If you absolutely MUST see this one, prepare to be disappointed. Maybe if this story fell into the franchise at an earlier time, it would’ve been a bit better. But at part VIII, we wanted more, and we got disappointed.

I don’t blame you if you don’t like this one at all. Maybe if they re-did it with a bigger budget…

 

9. FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING

New Beginning

It’s telling that the fifth installment of a horror franchise that just called their last movie THE FINAL CHAPTER would be a letdown. It’s also a sign of things to come (with a notable exception of course). Some franchises become cash cows, and only look to make money instead of tell a good story. This is an example of Friday the 13th becoming tedious.

What hurts New Beginning is that it’s just plain boring. It’s a very uninspired chapter, focusing on the Tommy Jarvis character as a grown-up dealing with his mental instabilities from witnessing Jason’s murders. Jason Voorhees does NOT appear in this one, as the killer is presented as a lame twist copycatting Jason, setting up the idea that the future of Jason’s rampage would be based on people copying the legendary killer since he was officially killed off in Part IV. Unsurprisingly, this concept failed and resulted in Jason’s return in Part VI, but I honestly don’t blame them for trying. After all, what if this idea had worked? The franchise could’ve gone in a whole different direction. Tommy as the killer may have worked, if this movie hadn’t just been boring and uninspired.

Like I said, the filmmakers deserve credit for trying. The movie isn’t without bright points, as the rednecks are hilarious, and kills are pretty good. It’s the lame Tommy character that pulls it down for me. The lack of Jason is forgiven slightly by the twist killer, but with Jason only appearing in hallucinations and dreams, it really does make this movie stand out as a black sheep. I won’t go so far as to say don’t watch this one, but go into it with low expectations.

Don’t worry, there is one redeeming film following this one. Wait for it…

 

8. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD

New Blood

Before the series reached (not) Manhattan and created three bad films in a row, they gave us Part VII, which isn’t as good as its predecessor, but is much better than Part V, mostly because Jason is back.

I’m not a big fan of the psychic girl angle and the dead father with Jasom resurrection, but this film is a step up from part V in that it has a story with better characters, really good kills (that damn sleeping bag) and one of the coolest designs for Jason in any of the movies. Each saga entry has Jason get more and more decomposed, but this is the fine line where he’s basically zombified but still looks really cool. The movie is painfully formulaic in how the events unfold, which is why I rank it low, but I don’t dislike it. This is the first movie on this countdown I’d willingly watch again, and still enjoy myself.

Like I said, it isn’t perfect, but it also isn’t offensive. While Part V took a risk and failed, this movie plays it safe and mildly succeeds. The psychic element is a nice addition even if I didn’t care for it, and I do like how her father returns at the end to save the day. Predictable once you’ve seen the other movies, but it’s done in a good way that you won’t hate what you see. I’d honestly suggest this one. I wouldn’t make it a priority, but if you happen to catch a glimpse of it, give it a try.

Just stop here and go straight to Freddy Vs. Jason. Avoid 8, 9, and 10. For reals. Stop here. Please.

 

7. FREDDY VS. JASON

There are two ways crossovers can go. They can be complete letdowns that are obviously only being done to make a cheap buck, or they can be fun, well done, and you’re glad that they went that way. While Freddy Vs. Jason isn’t a masterpiece by any means, it’s a very good time, and I’m happy I watched this in theaters when it came out, and I don’t care if you don’t like it.

The plot is simple: Freddy recruits Jason to cause mayhem on Elm Street, making people remember him, so he can gain his powers back. But when Jason steals all the kills for himself, Freddy has to take him down. The human characters are forgettable, but the fight scenes with Freddy and Jason are a ton of fun. If you go into this one looking for an action movie and not a horror movie, you’ll definitely leave satisfied. With Jason being such a mute character, it’s really cool to see Freddy add his classic comedic quips to the movie. The film also gets all the locations and cliches from BOTH franchises in it, and features continuity from both series, so you have to admire the filmmakers for getting it right.

I understand how some people find issues with this movie, especially the ambiguous ending (I was personally rooting for Freddy anyway) but I thought it was a lot of fun. I do wish we had gotten the sequel featuring Ash Williams from the Evil Dead movies, but that may have been overkill. I’d leave Freddy Vs. Jason alone at this point, and I wouldn’t revisit any other horror crossovers anytime soon.

If you’ve never seen this movie, I say give it a chance. Just think action with comedy instead of pure horror.

 

6. FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)

2009

I was very skeptical of this movie when I sat down to watch it for the first time, having skipped it during its initial release. I was convinced it was just a remake of the original film, and thus I wasn’t interested in seeing. Fortunately, my horror aficionado friends informed me that was just another chapter in the franchise, despite what marketing would convince you of, so I was able to watch it with an open mind, and as a result, enjoyed what I saw.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still very by the numbers as far as Friday the 13th movies go, but it’s done quite well, with an intricate storyline attached to it. Jason does his usual killing of the campers spree, but this time he kidnaps one of the girls, since he resembles his mother at a young age. This results is SAM WINCHESTER and his friends going on a search for his missing sister, and we get a different take on the Jason chapters. Clever kills, decent suspense, and get this – CHARACTERS THAT ARE GOOD – make this a very welcome addition to the franchise. Instead of being bored with another remake and viewing it as painfully average as I expected, I ended up feeling quite satisfied with a later chapter in the saga and left with my expectations exceeded. While this movie certainly isn’t the best, it’s done very well and shouldn’t be passed up.

The movie was originally going to be an origin story, but the producers passed that up in exchange for a story showing how Jason came to his murderous ways logically. Like what Rob Zombie did for Michael Myers, the people behind the film wanted to being a small shread of humanity to the Jason Voorhees character. Whether or not you personally want to see that side of Jason is a matter of opinion, but surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the take on the character. Most importantly, I like the transition from burlap sack to hockey mask in this film much better than the Part II to Part III lack of explanation we get in the original films. I rank this movie in sixth place, but I would recommend it to anyone. It’s also unique in that you can view it without seeing any of the other previous movies and it will still make sense to you.

Don’t make the mistake I did and put off watching this version for nearly ten years because of some misconceptions you had about the film. Sit down and check out the 2009 version of Friday the 13th. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

QUICK AUTHOR’S NOTE: If I were ranking the fan film Never Hike Alone, it would be on this list either before or after the 2009 Friday the 13th, in case anyone was curious.

 

5. FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Final Chapter

I find it quite humorous that the fourth installment of this franchise is titled “The Final Chapter.” It was intended to be the ending to the Jason Voorhees story itself and continue on with copycat storylines and Tommy Jarvis as a central character, but the failure of Part V brought Jason back. Still, while this installment is the weakest of the first four movies, it is a standout in the franchise as a whole.

The movie picks up right where Part III ends and introduces a new band of teenagers to get slaughtered, but they also give us a new family to care about: the Jarvis’s, notably, young Tommy, played by future teen heartthrob Corey Feldman. It’s the standard stuff, Jason returns, goes back to the camp, kills the partying teens, and targets the nearby family, but since it’s only the fourth movie, the kills are all done well and at the time were very creative. The best part of the movie is actually Tommy himself. The addition of a child in peril gives the movie a sense of urgency that was missing from the previous films. Corey Feldman does a very good job, and all of his scenes are interesting, which is more than can be said for the forgettable group of partying teen characters who only exist to get killed off. While it is easy to spot the series starting a downward momentum, this movie does do a good job wrapping up Jason’s story, was he not to continue on.

I enjoy the continuity this movie has with the second installment, when it is revealed that Rob is actually the brother of one of Jason’s victims in Part II, Sandra. Rob is a weird presence in the plot initially, until you learn his connection to Jason and his motive to kill him. Naturally Jason kills him too, but I do enjoy how these films tie together with the previous versions, which is lacking in later installments, where the only factor tying them together is Jason himself. This movie also reveals Jason’s true face…which previous versions HAD done, but this is the first time we see how crazy Jason’s face actually looks now. He’s decisively less human now, and at his peak scariest. Part IV is a must see film…but only after you’ve seen the first three!

I would gladly watch this one again. Like I said, some of the later films make me do think they should have stopped here, but we do get one bright beacon among the dimmer later movies, so all is not lost. I do think if the series stopped here this would’ve been a good film to go out on. Watching the first four movies, and only the first four, create a bookended story with a slightly ambiguous ending given the final shot of Tommy in the hospital. If you stopped here, you’d leave satisfied. And you wouldn’t have to suffer through parts VIII, IX, and X!

 

4. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III

Part III

I have seen this movie make the bottom of a lot of lists, and I honestly didn’t understand why. My research seemed to indicate that a lot of the hatred stemmed from the cheap 3-D gimmick this film attempted, which was the norm for movies at the time. Unlike other 3-D flops (looking at you Jaws) I think this movie was a really good addition to the story, and I think it’s quite unfair to judge it solely on it trying to be 3-D! In fact, I find it almost appalling! I thought this movie was a great chapter and one of the best of the whole series!

This movie picks up right where Part II ended, with Jason getting new gear (like a certain trademark hockey mask) and killing off a whole new group of teenagers journeying through Camp Crystal Lake. This group of teens is a tad more likable than the others, especially since Shelly (the original hockey mask owner) stands up to a group of bikers, who Jason offs in the barn before their revenge can be extracted. This movie ups the kill creativity from the parts before it and does so quite well, with spearguns to the face, axes to the chest, and one hell of a skull crushing finale. Jason really picks up his iconic look in this one, and does so by destroying a group of characters who offer more than future installments creating randoms just to kill off. There are tons of callbacks to the previous movies, and the ending itself pays homage to the ending of the inaugural movie quite nicely. Adding in the tease of a dream was a nice touch, which allowed this movie to separate itself from the original.

Like I said before, the 3-D element is what seems to turn a lot of people off, but while I can see where the camera was set up for the effects, none of them were noticeable to me. By halfway through the film, I’d plain forgotten I was even watching a movie that was supposed to be in 3-D, because I was immersed in the atmosphere of the movie. If you were just so caught up in this film’s gimmick that didn’t even translate to the DVD copy I was watching, the problem is on you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care for 3-D and I don’t bother with 3-D films in this day and age because I simply aren’t into them, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let a film’s 3-D aspect take away from my enjoyment of the movie. If you only hate on this movie because of that, I don’t know what else to tell you. If you don’t like the story, that’s different, but I hate to see a decent film buried by unfair criticism.

Part III isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s better than almost anything that follows it.

 

3. FRIDAY THE 13TH

Friday the 13th

Every franchise has a beginning, and this film from 1980 is what started this slasher collection in one hell of an exciting way. I almost wonder if the creators knew they were making an iconic film series when they started. Halloween was already a hit, so you can’t blame them for wanting to create a new icon in the slasher genre, which truly picked up steam in the 80’s. Jason Voorhees would soon become a household name, and ironically, he isn’t even the killer in this movie!

We start off back in 1958 at Camp Crystal Lake, where two counselors who have sneaked away to make out (and then some) are murdered by an unknown assailant. When the camp re-opens, a young girl named Annie is given a ride by a truck driver, who informed her of the history of the camp and declares it cursed. Two counselors were murdered the year after a 12-year-old boy drowned in the lake. Annie ends up with another ride shortly after, but winds up being killed by the person driving her. We then meet the lovely counselors, who are all given personalities and quirks (unlike later films) so you can actually feel some empathy for what’s to come. One of them is even played by Kevin Bacon! With a thunderstorm approaching, the teens do their own things (some do each other) while they are slowly picked off (Kevin Bacon does not beat Johnny Depp’s time in a slasher film). Everyone is killed except for Alice, who attempts to find solace in Betsy Palmer’s Pamela Voorhees character, until she learns the horror that it was Mrs. Voorhees extracting revenge upon the counselors, who she blames for her son’s drowning, because they weren’t watching them and were engaging in sexual activities. Alice does manage to decapitate Mrs. Voorhees with the soon to be iconic machete, and is nearly drowned the next morning by the decomposing body of Jason, who is revealed to still be alive in the lake.

This movie set the bar and kicked off everything. Without the original, there would be no Jason Voorhees, no connection to Friday the 13th other than old superstitions, and the probability that horror slashers wouldn’t have taken off they way they have. We could have a whole different landscape of scary movies today if it hadn’t been for a few select movies that were successful, and Friday the 13th is definitely one of them. While some people believe this movie hasn’t aged terribly well, I still think it does its job as a scary movie. While this one upped the gore factor after critics felt Halloween was lacking in blood, they kept a lot of the suspense and foreboding in tact. This movie was criticized by activists when it came out, yet it found success as an independent movie being distributed by a major American studio – a first for the horror genre.

I will never pass up an opportunity to sit down and watch the original Friday the 13th. Jason may not be prominent in the series’ first outing, but Betsy Palmer’s brilliant acting as his crazed mother more than makes up for it. If you’ve never seen this movie, give it a shot. It won’t leave you disappointed.

 

2. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES

Jason Lives

During my binge, I noticed Part IV started a pretty distinct downward spiral. I liked it, but it was obvious the series quality was dropping. Part V confirmed this, with a movie that I really didn’t like, and considered it the worst one so far. Fortunately, everyone across the board told me that Part VI was excellent (even if seven and beyond went back to being bad) so I went in with cautious optimism. I was VERY happy with this installment, and think it is the second best movie of the entire franchise.

After Tommy Jarvis failed to capture my interest in Part V, and goes for full on redemption by digging up Jason’s body to fully destroy it. Unfortunately, he awakens the killer who swiftly rises from his grave and returns to his old ways, only with true supernatural abilities and strength this go around. Good job, Tommy! Jason’s killing spree effects the former Crystal Lake, now called Forrest Green, as he picks up counselor after counselor, with the crazed Tommy taking the blame for the murders due to his constant hallucinations about Jason. Of course, the cops end up being murdered by Jason too, proving that – SHOCK – the crazy guy was right all along! People never learn their lessons in these movies, do they? Hell, they even sort of break the fourth wall with their own self-awareness, which is why I was having such a good time. Naturally, Jason ends up at the camp, stalking Tommy while he and Megan try to protect the kids at the camp. Jason ends up battling Tommy in the lake, trying to drown him, but Tommy successfully pins him to the bottom by tying him to a boulder, in a good dramatic finale with a few false flags to lead you on before the terror starts. Jason truly returns home here.

What makes this movie work so well is that it presents Jason in a whole new light. Before he was strong, but now he’s flat out other-worldly, and Tommy has only himself to blame. After being an annoyance in Part V, Tommy becomes more sympathetic in this version, which helps make this movie stand out more. I mean, you’re watching for Jason, but it helps to have other characters to feel something towards. This was a welcome change in direction from the path the movies were starting to take, and sadly this is the last good movie of the original numbered series of films. Do yourself a favor and make sure you don’t skip Part VI.

 

1. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II

Part II

How does one top an original movie? By making a sequel even better than the first one, that’s how! It has better kills, more interesting characters, more atmosphere, more nudity, more everything! In fact, had this been the film where we got the iconic hockey mask, I would call it the perfect installment. I believe Friday the 13th Part II is the best in the whole collection.

Alice cameos in the opening shot of the film, but is quickly eliminated due to her agent’s money request and a crazed fan of the first movie stalking her (both stories claim the other isn’t the case, but if they both exist, I’m sure there’s truth behind them). With Alice out of the way, an adult Jason seeks revenge on the teenagers working at Camp Crystal Lake for what they did to his poor beloved mother. He even kills off Crazy Ralph, the man nobody believed from the first movie. Poor guy! Jason gets more creative here than his mother, and all the kids who didn’t go out drinking pay the price for it. Poor wheelchair bound Mark’s death is somewhat comical. Jason’s sick twisted revenge involves hoarding his dead victims in a makeshift shack with the decomposing head of his mother’s corpse on a pedestal, making Jason’s official character transformation complete (sans mask). The jump scare with Jason’s return through the window is a great final touch to the movie, even if Paul’s death is basically ambiguous. Ginny is as likable as Alice was in the first movie, although she appears to ultimately survive the events of Friday the 13th.

This movie takes everything from the first film and kicks it up a notch. We have Jason stalking more victims, with more gruesome and creative deaths – some of which had to be heavily censored from the theatrical cut. Everything in this movie is done bigger and better than part one, which is what makes it stand out so much. For me, it’s the best of them all, and I’d happily sit down and watch this one anytime.

To wrap up my list, I’d watch the first four movies and the sixth one, and then go straight to Freddy Vs. Jason and the 2009 version. You truly can skip Part V without missing too much, and then don’t even bother with seven through ten. Jason X doesn’t even fit into the mythos of the series. Jason Goes to Hell only serves the purpose of bringing him together with Freddy Kruger, and Jason Takes Manhattan’s two fun scenes don’t make it worth a viewing. Part V only serves a purpose of expanding Tommy’s character, and Part VII is okay, but not worth going out of your way for.

The first four should be watched together, Part VI can be a standalone if you do it correctly, Freddy Vs. Jason gives you history of each franchise so you know what you missed, and the 2009 reboot is decisively standalone. Watch those and have fun!

That concludes my ranking of this horror franchise. Would you put the films in a different order? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!

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13 Days of Halloween, 2017 Edition

Halloween is upon us! Costumes, candy, and spooky stuff! Halloween is a great experience every year, and this year I was lucky enough to make it to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando and dress up like Rick Sanchez from the amazing show, Rick & Morty. But there’s an annual tradition that I wanted to start last year and didn’t, and that’s a review of fun Halloween stuff between movies, TV shows, and other media. Originally I wanted to review something every day in October, but a full time work and family schedule makes that impossible. Instead, I picked 13 items and spread them out between September 1 and October 31. A realistic goal, yet life still dealt me a few blows to make hitting my goal difficult. Nevertheless, I got 13 items watched, and am ready to review them!

I’ll list out each item I watched, and give them a ranking of jack-o-lanterns from one to five. We’ll even use the Nightmare Before Christmas version!
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I will vary up what a watch and review every year, to avoid repeats. I will also welcome suggestions once September rolls around again, so keep an eye open for that! But please remember that I have to have access to the special to watch it.

Anyhoo, let’s get spoopy-doopy-spooky!

 

13 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN 2017

To view the project announcement list and see what’s to come, click here.

 

1. HALLOWEEN (1978)

halloween-movie-screencaps-com

In my opinion, this is the greatest horror movie of all time. I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter in general, and this is my favorite movie of his next to They Live. Carpenter always believed that the things you don’t see are scarier than the things you actually do, and this is proof positive. Michael Myers is a great horror villain – silent in both speech and motion. He’s a slow stalking methodical killer, hiding in plain sight. After spending time in a mental institution for murdering his sister when he was six years old, he’d out and after Laurie Strode, striking on the 31st of October. He also has Dr. Loomis trying to track him down, a role portrayed brilliantly by Donald Pleasance. This, to be, is the quintessential Halloween-themed horror movie to put on every year, and it’s become an annual tradition of mine to give it a viewing every single October. The soundtrack is amazing too, with John Carpenter’s love for creepy synthesizer music creating one of the most iconic horror tracks of all time. I’m super stoked to see Halloween return next year, and I will likely add that to my review plans for 2018.
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2. HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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The original Halloween ends with an ambiguous ending. Michael Myers’ body is nowhere to be found. He’s not done though. Picking up right where the first movie ended, Michael follows Laurie to the hospital and continues his reign of terror. The body and gore count rises (mostly due to pressure from the slasher genre’s success) but the horror remains the same. I’m not as big of a fan of this one as the first one, but I do enjoy how well the stories bookend each other. Both movies are basically a two-parter, and if you stop watching after this one, you get an actual conclusion to the story of Michael Myers. In fact, the next movie went for an anthology theme, only for Michael to return in a fourth installment. Perhaps we’ll hit those next year. Now, originally I planned to watch the Rob Zombie remakes for the first time to coincide with this project, but time constraints forced me to stick to stuff I’ve already seen, but I will make a point to watch those next year for sure.
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3. STEPHEN KING’S IT (1990)

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With the remake hitting theaters, I decided to sit down and watch the original It miniseries from 1990. It’s one of Stephen King’s most legendary bodies of work, about a creature terrorizing the residents of Derry, Maine every 27 years. It takes the form of Pennywise the Clown, murdering a small boy named Georgie and playing mind games with his friends and brother, causing the kids to band together to fight him. They promise to stick together if It ever comes back, and the adults return to Derry to take on It as a giant spider-like monster this time around. I will be perfectly honest here. I only watched this to prepare for the remake, and I really wasn’t impressed. I remember this being better as a kid, but as an adult, I found it to be hokey and downright boring at times. The kid scenes are fine, but the adult scenes can really drag on. However, Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise is absolutely worth watching. The three hour runtime is a tad much, but the book this was based on is gigantic, so it isn’t surprising. Other than Pennywise, give this one a hard pass.
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4. IT (2017)

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2017 is far from over as far as what movies I need to watch, but currently slated at the top of the list is the remake of It. Not only did It quickly become one of my favorite horror movies of all time, it’s currently one of – if not the – top movie for 2017. I was extremely impressed with how well done this remake was. The focus here is on the kids only, in the 1980’s this time around. Pennywise is portrayed by Bill Skarsgard. Curry made Pennywise comedic and high-energy, but Skarsgard takes him to a whole different level of pure sinister evil. His Pennywise is dark and menacing. The overall feel to the movie is done much better than the original, top to bottom in my opinion. I can’t say that Skarsgard’s Pennywise is better than Curry’s, because comparing them isn’t really an option for me. They took the character two very different directions, and are both commendable performances. It’s like comparing Jack Nicholson’s Joker to Heath Ledger’s. They’re two completely different versions and portrayals. Comparing them is extremely difficult, so I will not do that, but I will say this: Bill Skarsgard deserves an Oscar nod. The opening scene with Georgie is edge-of-your-seat nerve-racking. You really feel bad for the kid. I can’t recommend this one enough!
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5. GET OUT

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2017 kicked us off early with a horror movie dealing with racism, directed by Jordan Peele of Key & Peele fame (Keegan-Michael Key being the other genius of the duo). A young black man is brought to visit his white girlfriend’s family, and all of the black folks seem to be under some sort of spell. Turns out, its slave trafficking, and poor Chris Washington is the newest victim. This movie was critically acclaimed, and got some rave reviews. Unfortunately, I really didn’t care for it. While the premise is solid and even interesting, the “twist” is predictable, and the direction that follows is flat out stupid. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but trust me when I say it’s pretty dumb. Other than Chris’s buddy Rod who works for the TSA and delivers some hilarious one-liners, this movie is not worth viewing in my opinion. I don’t know, you may feel differently, but I wouldn’t give it a second viewing. It’s currently my worst movie of 2017, although it’s certainly not bad enough to warrant making it onto any worst ever lists. The first half IS good, and the buildup to the twist is done quite well. But I’m warning you, that last quarter isn’t good. Stick it out though, because the last line in the movie was a literal LOL moment.
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6. EVIL DEAD (1981)

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I can’t resist reviewing one of my favorite horror movie trilogies of all time! Ash Williams and friends travel to a cabin in the woods, discover the book of the dead, and everyone becomes a zombie. Does it really need to be explained further? Bruce Campbell became a legend in the horror community as Ash, and this is only the beginning for him. This is one of the few trilogies where I think each iteration out-does the one before it. Evil Dead II, which I’ll talk about in a minute, is somewhat of a remake of the first one, but done even better. And then the follow-up, Army of Darkness, is incredible from start to finish. I have not seen the 2013 remake, which I’m told is just a gore-fest, and that’s not really my style. Gore for the sake of gore doesn’t do anything for me. Maybe I’ll watch it int he future and I’ll keep it penciled in for this project, but this year I stuck with the classics I love.
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7. EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN

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Can Ash and his friends top the original?! Yes, yes they can! Ash is back int he cabin, the evil is flowing, but this time, Ash goes a tad loony, and acquires a serious upgrade when his possessed hand is severed off – A CHAINSAW! Ash and his chainsaw hand are THE staple of the horror genre for me, right up there with Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and the other icons of terror. Fun fact about this movie, the first time I saw it I was in high school. That means I had a high school level of maturity to my humor. Two scenes made me laugh so hard, we had to pause the VHS (remember those?) so I could compose myself. The scene where EVERYTHING is laughing, and Ash laughs too, still gets me to this day, but the one that killed my 15 or 16-year-old sense of humor was when Ash’s severed hand flips him off. I was laughing so hard I was crying. No regrets. This movie, to me, beats out the original but not by much.
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8. ARMY OF DARKNESS

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One of my all time favorite horror comedies! Ash is sent back in time to do battle with a medieval army of the dead, with AWESOME stop motion effects and humor, as Ash and his BOOMSTICK save humanity! Of course, there are two versions you can view. The theatrical version has Ash returning to his own time to save the S-Mart (shop smart) but I prefer the director’s cut (which I not-so-coincidentally own) where he awakens in the too-distant future and humanity has been destroyed. Army of Darkness does fall less from the horror aspect and lands closer to being an action dark comedy, but it’s the best part of the best horror trilogy and I love it all the same. My favorite scene is when Ash is battling all the tiny versions of himself, all muttering smart-ass comments and dying in hysterical ways. The movie is hilarious, clever, and chock full of one-liners. What are some of your favorites?
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9. THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD & MR. TOAD (Ichabod portion only)

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The legend of Sleepy Hollow is as classic of a tale of terror as anything, ranking up there among the great horror storytellers like Poe and Hitchcock, in my opinion. I watched this for the first time for my Disney movie project, and I don’t foresee myself talking about this in the future. More details will be part of the Disney review, but in short, this is an animated take on how the timid schoolteacher meets the Headless Horseman and what his ultimate fate is. It’s the second part of a two-act movie, so it’s an easy watch, clocking in at a little over a half hour. It’s well worth going out of your way to see, even if you’re like me and don’t care so much for the Wind in the Willows and skip that portion. That’s all I’ll really say here, but it’s a cool piece of nostalgia to check out.
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10. SOUTH PARK, SEASON 21, EPISODE 6, “SONS A WITCHES”

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Originally when I slated this project, I was going to review the first ever South Park and Simpsons Halloween episodes. But since both surprised me with new episodes (on time no less) I decided to review both of them this year (time constraints also forced this to happen, but no complaints from me). The guys are off to celebrate their annual witch party with beer and crack, when one of their cult becomes a real witch and starts causing mayhem in the town. This forces the dads (mostly Randy Marsh, the best fictional TV character) to create all kinds of understanding about how not all witches are like this, and not to lump everyone together. The social commentary is strong and on point, and with South Park returning to a more episodic feel this season, a Halloween special was a most welcome surprise, especially since it’s been forever since they did one. I believe the Blockbuster episode was the last true Halloween-themed episode. They also add hilarity to Cartman’s failing relationship with Heidi (a carry-over from last season) where her inability to get ready in a timely fashion causes Eric to miss out on just about everything. A most welcome surprise from South Park!
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11. THE SIMPSONS: TREEHOUSE OF HORROR XXVIII

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Even though the newer seasons of the Simpsons after getting into double digits haven’t been something I’ve kept up with, I always make a point to watch the annual Halloween episodes, no matter what. Some of the more recent Treehouse of Horror specials have been disappointing overall, but I think this year did a pretty decent job. The Exor-sis has Maggie becoming possessed by an evil spirit, taking on elements of the classic horror film, the Exorcist. It’s well done and entertaining. Coralisa has Lisa finding a perfect version of her family with button eyes, parodying Coraline (which I haven’t yet seen as of this writing, but have been told it’s quite good). We end with MMM…Homer, where Homer discovers he loves the taste of his own flesh, and eats himself into oblivion. It’s a weaker story, but has a funny punchline (he did all that simply to avoid leaving the house when he ran out of food). Overall, a decent effort. Not close to being the best special, but easily better than recent years. The beginning with the family as candy bars is pretty fun too.
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12. THE BIG BANG THEORY, SEASON 1 EPISODE 6, “THE MIDDLE-EARTH PARADIGM”

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I’ve already reviewed this with my ranking of the first season, so I’ll keep it brief. Big Bang Theory has only done a handful of Halloween themed episodes, so I’ll probably polish them all off if I keep this project going. This was the sixth episode of the series, where the guys get to socialize with Penny’s friends, although very awkwardly. They all initially go as the Flash, but are forced to change. Leonard picks Frodo, Raj picks Thor (the original Norse god, not the Avenger), Howard goes as Robin Hood (and is mistaken for Peter Pan) and Sheldon goes as the Doppler Effect, scoring zero points along the way. Ultimately Leonard has a confrontation with Penny’s jerk of an ex Kurt, and consoles her after she cries on his shoulder, very drunk. Kurt is a horrible person, but Leonard gets the last laugh. Of course, Raj wins the night with a drunken hook-up, following Sheldon’s observations of the dialect of the party :how wasted am I?” although his inability to talk to woman certainly doesn’t effect his performance with coitus. This is probably the bottom Halloween episode of Big Bang Theory, but since there’s basically only two more, that can be forgiven.
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13. STRANGER THINGS

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Before I go into my review, here is what I have planned. So long as this series is airing annually, I will post a review for it every year I watch it. I am also choosing to review the entire first season, as it’s a year old so I feel spoilers can be discussed more freely, and it’s the perfect tie in to get you to watch the new one which will have aired…provided this pattern continues. I’m also doing the season, versus one episode like the above picks, as the season follows a full arc and bookends like one long movie. Got all that? Good, let’s begin!

Will Byers disappears into the upside-down, an alternate world to our own, full of darkness and terrors. His three friends try to find him with the help of a girl with telekinetic abilities named Eleven (her real name is Jane, but they nickname her Elle because of her “11” tattoo branding). Will’s body is found in the quarry, but the body is a fake, and he’s communicating with his mother through phone static and a display of Christmas lights. Chief Hopper investigates Will’s disappearance, connecting it to a secret government lab, while his brother teams up with Mike’s sister Nancy to track down her missing friend Barb. The show is full of excellent 1980’s nostalgia, and even the theme music sounds like it was ripped right out of TRON. The kid actors are all brilliant, and you can see one of them in the new equally brilliant It movie! It’s one of the best things Netflix has given us, and the first season has a dark and somewhat ambiguous ending. I plan to discuss Stranger Things 2 next year, after I re-watch it to prepare for season 3…hopefully.
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There you have it guys. I finally got an annual project in the books, and I will hopefully get this done next year too. I will update the announcement page with a link back to here, and list out these thirteen picks so as not to repeat myself next year, while adding to the list. I also plan to do a Christmas project similar to this one, which I’ll probably announce closer to Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoyed, and come back next year for even more Halloween fun!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Project Announcement: Ranking the Disney Numbered Animated Classics

UPDATED: August 17, 2017. Project is complete and the blog has started. I collected some pictures online to include with the project and added each movie’s number and release year to the photos for reference purposes. I promise to finish writing this before my trip in October. I’m currently shooting for Labor Day weekend, but we’ll see.

Continue reading Project Announcement: Ranking the Disney Numbered Animated Classics