I have resisted watching or reviewing these films for some time. I was always partial to Michael Myers, for better or worse, and the times I watched these films, it just felt like a hulking replica of everything after the first film in the Halloween franchise. Insert dumb kids, make them get down, then enter the psycho. My friend Frank has been bugging me to rate and review a variety of these films, Child’s Play among them. He watched these a few weeks ago. I found the first 8 on sale for 13 Bucks yesterday, Friday, September 13. Oh well…here you go, Frank. Child’s Play will have to wait…for a long while.
Director Sean S. Cunningham
Screenplay Victor Miller
Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon
Synopsis/Review A bunch of counselors get together to get the “cursed” camp at Crystal Lake. There were a couple teens who were making out that had been murdered in the 50’s. Thirty years later, the new kids are there, setting up shop, making out and getting murdered. It’s one thing having an old woman doing the killing. It’s quite another when she looks so frail and uncoordinated in the last fight. Many of the her earlier kills required way more than Palmer had. Even as a kid I didn’t buy that.
Best kill I used to love how they offed Kevin Bacon, with the arrow the chest because I didn’t like him around the time of Footloose. I like him better now, but that scene still kicks ass.
Worst moment Any moment where young guys do annoying shit in bad clothes.
Defining moment It’s Jason’s mother! Remember that if someone calls you while you are making popcorn.
Rating (*1/2 out of *****)
Director Steve Miner
Screenplay Ron Kurz
Starring Amy Steel, John Furey, Steve Daskawisz, Stu Charno, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Marta Kober, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Tom McBride
Synopsis/Review Jason’s first time holding the weapon in a movie. Amy Steele is memorable in this body count of a film. Somehow Jason grows from a 35 year old boy into a man in 2 months. Then, five years pass. New counselors, new killer, same result. The acting and direction are better, but the script isn’t much more than you’d expect. This is actually a pretty good, especially considering Jason looks vastly different than he would in later, lesser films.
Best kill Even though they kill the guy in the wheelchair (!!!!) and shishkabob together the couple in bed, this one starts a trend of killing the survivor from the previous film. The head in the fridge, the ice pick and the quick dispatching of the good girl tells us all bets are off this time.
Worst moments The miserable retelling sequence laboring through is like a bad dream. There are more guys in bad clothes acting like morons though. That sheriff running for about an hour after some miscreant and ending up at Jason’s shack is dumb as hell.
Defining moment The survivor girl archetype is solidified with Steele. She’s cute but not gorgeous. She’s chaste. She’s curious.
Rating (** out of *****)
Director Steve Miner
Screenplay Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson, Petru Popescu
Starring Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker, Jeffrey Rogers, Katherine Parks, Larry Zeemer
Synopsis/Review A few minutes after the 2nd film, it’s a new group of people going not to camp Crystal Lake, but Higgins Haven, which is owned by the family of Chris Higgins (Kimmell). She survived an attack by a “deformed man” there a few years ago. In order to get through it, she’s bringing some friends along to act as the next round of corpses. All of the girls look alike. One of them is pregnant. All of them are smokin’ dope, having sex and waiting for death. Jason (Booker) looks like the buff badass we know him for, even though he’s played by the same guy from last time.
Best kill Lots of cheap 3D moments in the fashion and skill of the fad technology of the day. Not many of them are winners, but the spear in the eye is at least memorable. Then there’s the upside down guy with the machete. And yet another piercing through the back of the throat. The winner for 200 is “Rick!” with the eye that pops out when his skull is crushed.
Worst moment Anything involving sympathy for the “practical joker” Shelly (Zemer). It would have been satisfying to see him killed onscreen.
Defining moment The Hockey Mask!
Rating (no stars out of *****)
Director Joseph Zito
Screenplay Barney Cohen
Starring Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Ted White, E. Erich Anderson, Barbara Howard, Joan Freeman
Synopsis/Review The killing spree has been over the space of a few weeks by this point. Still, no extra patrols in nearby neighbor’s houses and / or just driving around the lake. Maybe one detective on the case? And kids, can you check the local news before you head to Crystal Lake? Lo, but they found the killer this time, right? Carted him off to a hospital. Hope it’s within walking distance of the next house or two.
This time, little (but still idiotic) Feldman is spying on the kids next door. Hope he doesn’t pick up any bad habits…too late.
Best kill “Ted! Where the hell is that corkscrew!” is the last time Crispin Glover had a “normal” role outside of Back to the Future. His demise is a nice 1-2 shot. And one extra point for reusing the cutlery.
Worst moment Anything with Feldman. His acting never got past this pulp.
Defining moment Jason’s dead?
Rating (1/2* out of *****)
Director Danny Steinmann
Screenplay Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen
Starring Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Dick Weiland, Tiffany Helm, Juliette Cummins, Marco St. John, Corey Feldman, Jerry Pavlon, Debi Sue Voorhees, Tom Morga
Synopsis/Review The biggest cast yet is mostly laid to waste when Tommy (now as Shepherd, grown 5 years so we don’t have to see Feldman for the whole film again), is brought to a halfway house to acclimatize back to…well it doesn’t matter. The murders start up again and instead of making it look like he has anything to do with it, we just wait until there are two left and he shows up again and barely beats the killer with the help of a small boy and an hysterical woman.
Best kill The shears in the eyes.
Worst moment The outhouse duet.
Defining moment Tommy is as bad a character without Feldman as with, but here’s another point where Drew Barrymore is wrong: the killer is not Jason.
Rating (* out of *****)
Written and Directed by Tom McLoughlin
Starring Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, C.J. Graham, Kerry Noonan, Renée Jones, Tom Fridley, Darcy DeMoss, Nancy McLoughlin, Tony Goldwyn, Ron Palillo, Dan Bradley, Roger Rose
Synopsis/Review Tommy Jarvis wants to burn Jason’s corpse. Horshack is along to provide inconsistent sidekick behavior. Then things go all sideways. Tommy tries to tell the Crystal Lake PD, but now the town is called Forrest Green. Everything should be fine, since they renamed the town, right? Then, yay! They kids are here! And what’s that? A company paintball retreat? Survival’s the name of the game and everyone’s ass is Jason’s. We get to hear a drunk cemetery worker say “fart head,” first. Jason is way more straightforward this time and much less a mystery. The production value has crept above “out of the van” for the first time. There’s even a soundtrack that has recognizable voices. The story is cohesive, but still pretty much garbage.
Best kills Horshack…right through the heart. The acting improved 10-fold in that one move. The face in the side of the RV is cool, but not as cool as what causes the Winnebago to flip on its side.
Worst moment Any moment the kids are in harm’s way really sucks, no matter how many wacky hijinks McLoughlin tries. Well, unless that kid is Corey Feldman.
Defining moment Jason’s back for real through hocus pocus.
Rating (* out of *****)
Director John Carl Buechler
Screenplay Manuel Fidello, Daryl Haney
Starring Lar Park Lincoln, Kevin Blair, Kane Hodder, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Susan Blu, Terry Kiser, Elizabeth Kaitlan
Synopsis/Review Jason meets Carrie? Well at least that’s what they’re pushing this time. The kid Tina (Lincoln) with psycho-kinetic powers first kills daddy, then years later she tries to bring him back. She aims just a little bit to the left and, boom, Jason awakens and breaks free. The real enemy this time is Dr. Crews (Kiser). He’s trying to take advantage of her abilities. Like that’s going to work with a madman around.
Best kills Early voting goes to the sleeping bag. Using the trimming blade on the doctor was a nice touch, but I wanted to see more.
Worst moment Any time we get to see the doctor in action with the hapless mother, the acting range peters back down to zero.
Defining moment The fact that Kane Hodder took over the role is muted by the gimmickry of using Carrie without actually licensing the character. Freddy and Michael were too expensive. Hitting Jason with a plant that has a head in the pot. and he falls over? That is a new low.
Rating (*1/2 out of *****)
Written and Directed by Rob Hedden
Starring Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, Peter Mark Richman, Kane Hodder, V.C. Dupree, Kelly Hu, Sharlene Martin, Gordon Currie
Synopsis/Review This one should be called Jason Takes Budget Cuts. The movie purports to be a field trip for the big oaf and we get maybe 2 scenes that could only take place in The Big Apple. Good God they have no idea what they are doing here. Supposedly some girl being taught to swim in Crystal Lake as a girl has some telekinetic magnet to Jason, who is brought back by an electric current. This is one of the few films that actually tries scene building, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s still a frenetic mess that doesn’t know if Jason is a stalker or just a guy that shows up anywhere at any time, regardless of physics.
Best kills There aren’t any good ones, really. The boxing match was too long for anyone to care about and I really didn’t think much of him throwing Uncle Asshole in the sewage pipe.
Worst moment Jason walking in Times Square and through a subway. No one gets killed. He’s only after the two actors with their names near the top of the credits.
Defining moment If there were a way to define cheapness, I guess it would have to be filming most of it on an ambiguous boat.
Rating (1/2* out of *****)
Conclusion: 8 Stars out of a possible 40. An average of One star rating per movie. There is a reason they sell these films in a bundle. They’re trash. There is almost no buildup to any of the scenes throughout this entire set. There are few attempts at making these cardboard cutouts into living breathing characters. They are literally only opportunities to show different ways to eviscerate corpses. There is no overall plan with the series. It’s merely a collection of bad film makers putting random actors in harms way to no real purpose. Later films with Kane Hodder and some without would show there is the potential for entertainment with an iconic looking invincible killer. After 8 tries, they never even lucked into a good film. Avoid it all. Just look at a picture of Amy Steele if you want to get anything from this pile. But there you go, Frank. I got through the cheap ones. Just for you, my friend.