Garrett and Carson raise the dead while talking about the Nazi zombies in Overlord.
Overlord starts with a nearly can’t miss premise: A World War 2 airborne platoon stumbles across some experimental Nazi-Zombie-Monster-Things. What could be better than that setup? The good guys and bad guys are firmly established before you even take your seat. The ultimate evil getting eviler. If you feel like that all sounds vaguely familiar, you probably have played the game Wolfenstein. Other than there is no Hitler in an Iron Man suit to fight at the end, Overlord stays pretty close to the video game story. Maybe they are just saving that for the sequel.
Overlord is made pretty well. It is much more of an actual movie than I had anticipated. It is well shot, well acted, and the effects used to bring the Nazi-Zombie-Monster-Things to life were frighteningly realistic. Although, the balance seemed off for a movie like this. I had hoped for much more of the Nazi-Zombie-Monster-Things and less of the other character development and side plots. Had the script been more original and less straight forward, I could have appreciated this type of an approach. However it wasn’t, so the Nazi-Zombie-Monster-Things needed to be featured earlier and more often for my tastes.
Overlord manages to provide all of the pulpiness of a B-movie grindhouse film while escaping the pitfalls of shoddy effects and terrible acting that usually accompany those movies.
Friday the 13th is a reboot/sequel. It has the same title as the original, however, serves more as a follow up to Mrs. Voorhees’ killing spree. It shows a brief recreation of the events that happen in the original Friday the 13th to introduce Jason’s mother to a new generation. This is origin of our new Jason. This is the genesis of the hockey mask. We are supposed to forget that he ever went hell, or into space, or fought Freddy Krueger. This is a clean slate for the stalker of Crystal Lake.
Friday the 13th is a pretty predictable slasher horror movie. It doesn’t give us anything new, just updated. Instead of killing young adults of the 80’s, we are now killing millennials (which might appeal to some). It is good to see Jason run after his victims. No more silent walks through the woods. It is much more difficult to escape a fast, ax-throwing Jason. I appreciate the reboot sticking to what makes Jason “Jason”, although I had hoped for more of a reimagining of the character and the plot. For someone who has never seen a Friday the 13th movie before, this is a good introduction to the franchise. For those of us who have seen the other 11 movies, this feels a bit of a retread.
In Friday the 13th Part II we finally get to see Jason Voorhees as the killer! But it is not the Jason we all know and have grown to love. When considering counterparts such as Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers or even Chucky, Jason has evolved and improved the most over the years. Some would argue that Freddy, Michael, and Chucky peaked in their first appearance and have never reached that sort of greatness since. Not Jason. He takes a lot of time to achieve his iconic status. Jason was a child and only had a brief cameo in the first Friday the 13th. In Part II, he is a goofy hillbilly in overalls, a plaid shirt, and a pillowcase over his head. A far cry from terrifying.
Friday the 13th Part II establishes the premise for the entire franchise. Not only do you not go to Camp Crystal Lake, you don’t go anywhere near Crystal Lake at all or Jason will get you! If you think of Part II as Jason’s rookie year into killing, a lot of this movie can be excused. He is just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. For instance, don’t try to stand on a rickety old wooden chair if you want the element of surprise. Because it will break, you will fall, and lose all credibility as a viable scary movie threat in the future. Also a pillowcase over your head isn’t intimidating at all. Perhaps next time go for a hockey mask.
Jason was always my favorite of the “slasher killers” when I was growing up. With him on the sidelines, it did not encourage me to ever re-watch the original Friday the 13th. It has been at least 25 years since I had seen it. Beyond the the major plot points that you are reminded of throughout each movie of the series, it is safe to say that I remembered next to nothing. For instance, I had no idea a young Kevin Bacon was one of the camp counselors. I had also thought the “Jason Sound” was only for him, not the entire Voorhees family.
Friday the 13th is pretty low on the scare meter due to two factors. First, is that each kill is almost entirely shown from the killer’s first person perspective. This is supposed to create some tension by keeping the killer’s identity a secret, however, it comes across more hokey than scary. The other factor that detracts from investing the audience into the movie, is that the victims do not know they are being hunted until it is too late. You cannot live vicariously through their terror. Most good horror movies have a shared experience with the audience as they are looking over their shoulders while they try to escape with their lives. In Friday the 13th, the counselors go from happy-go-lucky to dead.
The original Friday the 13th should be seen merely from a horror-movie-pop-culture perspective. See it so you can check it off your bucket list… before you get hit in the face with an ax!
I don’t know how The Thing slipped through cracks of my childhood, but it is a very good horror movie. Maybe it was the uninspired and generic title that didn’t appeal to me. Maybe it was John Carpenter’s run of Escape from L.A., Vampires, and The Ghosts of Mars from ’96 to ’01 that kept me from exploring more of his earlier work. Whatever it was, I was missing out.
Everything from the practical effects of the creatures to the simple (but often hard to pull off) theme of “anyone could be the enemy” were done so perfectly. My expectations were low, but I was impressed. The Thing has solidified its place in my October annual horror-movie-month-marathon.