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Friday the 13th (2009) – Revisited

by Arnie Carvalho

“No matter how much you love the original films in the Friday the 13th series,
 it’s virtually indisputable that the 2009 remake/reboot/re-
imagining is far and away the best made of all of them.” 
— Adam-Troy Castro, Syfy.com

“Can we now admit ‘Friday the 13th’ 2009 was damn good?” 
— Michael White, Bloody-Disgusting.com

“It is one of the best film franchise reboots put out in theaters in the past 15 years.” 
— Jason Parker, Friday The 13th Franchise.com

“I’ve always been of the mind (and it’s a hill I’ll die on), that it kinda just 
makes no sense to be a fan of the original Friday the 13th movies and yet not
 a fan of Friday the 13th ’09”
 — John Squires, Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting.com, on Twitter

“Stay away from this movie. It really is one of the bad ones…
Run from this movie. Do not reward the makers with your money” 
— Arnie, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

“In three years no one, absolutely no one, will remember that they saw it, that
 they liked it, it will have no aftertaste whatsoever. People will remember 
the original, they will not remember this movie.” 
— Stuart, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

Still Now Playing 10 Years Later…

Today is a momentous day in my life. It’s a birthday of sorts.

While Now Playing Podcast started in 2007 it (like many shows, TV, radio, podcast, and otherwise) went through some growing pains. Cast changes, an irregular release schedule, and format changes all marred the first two years.

That began to change on January 9, 2009 — the date we released the first episode in our first retrospective series: a review of 1980’s Friday the 13th leading up to the 2009 reboot. The show went from two hosts to three (that would begin rotating later that same year). The “Recommend/Not Recommend” finale was solidified, as were patterns of series-specific opening credits, art, and titles for each film series.

Yet it’s arguably today, Friday, February 13th, that could be seen as Now Playing’s true 10th anniversary. It was the day we recorded our final Friday the 13th review. By that point we knew the retrospective was a big hit. Despite initial misgivings, we decided to immediately continue the format and review Star Trek leading up to its reboot. Stuart even went out and bought a microphone and literally stopped “phoning it in.”

I’ll never forget the night of Friday, February 13th, 2009. I was in New York City covering Toy Fair International. I went to see the Friday the 13th reboot in a Times Square movie theater, accompanied by my wife Marjorie. The excitement that caused me to begin the retrospective series was reaching its peak as the lights went down and the movie started.

Flash forward to five hours later. I’m in our hotel room (small, as most all NYC rooms are). I’m pacing. My iPhone 3G is hot against my face from being on a call for so long. I’m on a telephone recording my disappointment with the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot. Brock is in Chicago recording the call, and he would edit the show released to our listeners the following Monday.

All three of us had very similar reactions, and the reboot became the fourth Friday the 13th, out of 12, to get three red arrows on our website.

I honestly never looked back.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity” — Robert Morgan

As the 10th anniversary of the Friday the 13th reboot approached I came upon an interesting and unexpected turn of events: a number of think pieces were published celebrating the film. Even those who had reacted poorly to the movie initially had come around and not only enjoyed but celebrated director Marcus Nispel’s fresh take on iconic slasher Jason Voorhees (played by Derek Mears).

I started to question my own memory. Could they be right? Could that movie have aged well?

Having been a movie critic for over a decade I know from experience one of the hardest things to do when reviewing a film is to separate expectations from the final product. Movies are marketed to create expectations–to get you into a theater seat and spending money expecting delivery on what trailers, interviews, and even posters have sold.

Going into Friday the 13th in 2009 my expectations were sky high. I had loved Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake far more than the original Tobe Hooper film. I loved Jason as a killer. Jason’s last appearance on screen in 2003’s Freddy vs Jason was one of his best, and that movie’s writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were writers for the remake.

Could the movie have been good, or at least recommendable, but simply not met my expectations?

10 years have passed, so I decided to find out. For this re-review of 2009’s Friday the 13th I watched the extended “Killer Cut” released on Blu-Ray and Video on Demand. This cut was nine minutes longer than what I saw in theaters.

The Review

I watched the movie having not listened to our 2009 podcast since it was released. I remembered very little going in, only that Stuart thought Jason was a pothead. Then after watching the movie I listened to our old podcast to see what it was that got me so worked up.

SPOILERS BELOW for this 10-year-old movie!

I liked the opening. This is a reboot, and people want Jason as the killer, not old lady Pamela Voorhees. Yet Pamela’s plight from Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 original Friday is integral to the Jason mythos. To have the climax of the original movie done in montage fashion pays homage and checks the boxes. It does create a confusing timeline as to Jason’s supposed drowning, but handled well.

Then we have the second prologue and, not having seen the movie in a decade, I was faked out. I thought this would be the movie and these five characters, Wade (Jonathan Sadowski), Richie (Ben Feldman), Mike (Nick Mennell), Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and Amanda (America Olivo), were going to be our core cast. They actually seem like a fun group and call back to so many earlier Friday the 13th casts where there’s couples hooking up…and the lonely odd man out. That Jason comes in and killed so many so quickly was a shock.

Then comes our new Jason by Derek Mears. One of my big problems in 2009 goes back to expectation: I was used to the Jason played by Kane Hodder. Jason had gone through many iterations, from bag-wearing woodsman to space-zombie, but the walking after people who run, the nearly supernatural way of catching the prey, seemed like a staple.

This Jason was fast and aggressive. He killed brutally. And he used tools and more thought power than earlier Jasons. Hanging one woman over the campfire to burn while setting a bear trap for another victim really wasn’t in Jason’s modus operandi. But then I had to remember, this is a reboot, not a remake. The Friday the 13th series had lost its luster by doing the same things again and again. In 2009 I couldn’t reconcile this Jason with the ones before. Now I realize this reboot gives us an entirely new Jason.

If I just accept this is a new character, perhaps call him “Jimmy Voorhees”, I’d have no trouble with these new killings. Nispel wanted to revitalize the character and return him to his violent, horror roots. Nearly 30 years had passed since Jason first wielded his machete. It may not be the Jason I wanted, but this viewing I can accept this “Jimmy Voorhees.”

The two characters coming upon Jason’s cabin (plus the bag over Jason’s head) took me back to 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II, and I can go with it.

Not only did the prologue surprise me in killing (seemingly) everyone so fast, I also understand the need to have a body count. One of the pressures with each new horror movie installment was to have more kills. Here, we establish Jason as a badass killer, and we got five good kills. And for those who expect topless women in your Friday films, you got that out of the way too.

Plus, the gore! I was watching the unrated cut, but I marveled at how freely the blood flowed.

Then we actually get to the movie. Again, my expectation was, since we had Shannon and Swift writing again, that we would have a group of fun, believable characters like they gave us in Freddy vs. Jason. Instead, we have a group of character types that would never be friends. I had a real problem with that in theaters.

Yet, when watching it at home on a television, I found myself more forgiving. How many groups of totally different people went camping together in the past? Sure, Parts 1 and 2 made them counsellors thrown together, and 8 had them as classmates, but the victims in parts 3 and 4, and especially 7, don’t feel like they’d hang out together either. So, is this bad writing…or is this an intentional homage to the bad writing in previous installments? More, if I can accept these weird groups in earlier films, why not here too? So, I compartmentalized that complaint and, instead, found these seven young adults appealing, flawed characters, most of whom were obviously going to end up impaled on a machete.

Trent (Travis Van Winkle) is a great douche you love to hate (and with a rich boy name like Travis Van Winkle I wonder how much he was acting). Bree (Julianna Guill) is a wonderful seductress, and the attraction Chewie (Aaron Yoo) shows for Bree takes me back to Crispin Glover’s character in The Final Chapter.

Lawrence (Arien Escarpeta) is a stoner that feels like he would hang out with Chewie. The other couple of Chelsea (Willa Ford) and Nolan (Ryan Hansen) aren’t in the film long enough for me to get a bead on them.

Which does raise one flaw–this group is too big to keep track of. They’re here for a body count, but I’m not sure they are disparate enough where I can even assign them tropes of “the smart one” and “the shy one”, etc. Especially Chelsea and Nolan, they are the flattest of characters.

Then we have typical last-girl Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). Like so many Jason survivors in films past, she’s a brunette, she’s smart, she doesn’t smoke weed, and she doesn’t get naked. And when she encounters, and partners with, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) who is searching for his missing sister Whitney, I’m taken back (in a positive way) to the similar plot in The Final Chapter.

The kills also are varied. I had a problem with Jason using an arrow to kill Nolan, but he used a crossbow in Part II so this wasn’t so far off. And again, this is the new “Jimmy Voorhees.” He’s a survivalist. He has to hunt to survive. It makes sense he’d be good with a bow. (It equally makes sense that this Jason is far more intelligent than the previous incarnations and so he uses Kerosene to power his home). And Chelsea’s machete-in-the-head gave Jason his usual, nearly supernatural sense of where his victims hide.

So halfway in the movie I wonder…was I too harsh on Friday the 13th? Did I allow my expectation to cloud what was delivered?

The answer is….partially, for the movie really does fall apart in the second half.

Nispel was best known (and may still be best known) for his Texas Chainsaw reboot. I don’t know if Nispel rewrote any of Shannon and Swift’s script, but the second half does turn this new Jason into a wannabe Leatherface. Why are there catacombs underneath Camp Crystal Lake? It makes no sense. Why did Jason kidnap Whitney? It makes no sense. Why does Whitney look so good after six weeks of captivity? It makes no sense.

Yet the deaths continue to impress. In this “Killer Cut” Chewie’s slow death in the tool shed was painful to watch as he writhes, groans, and bleeds for a very long time. Lawrence’s kill by Jason throwing an ax goes back to the survivalist skills, and creates a more “realistic” Jason who can’t just walk after every person who runs.

The best death/fake-out may belong to Trent, though. Waving down a tow truck, a silent hand waves Trent to get on. Can this Jason drive a car? No…it’s an old man on oxygen, unable to shout to the young man whose hesitation results in his being impaled on the truck as it drives away.

Yet another decent fake-out is Jenna. She seemed like the perfect “last girl” and, echoing The Final Chapter‘s Trish, I thought it was a given she’d escape. But two brunettes is one to many in a Friday the 13th film so when Whitney is discovered alive Jenna had to die.

The rest is pretty rote action with Jason just dead enough for a climax, yet, of course, always ready to come back for another sequel.

The Verdict

So, was I too harsh on the 2009 Friday the 13th? Yes, I clearly was. My expectation of what the previous Fridays had given clouded my ability to appreciate the changes Nispel tried to bring to make a Jason that could be scary in the 21st century.

Yet, the writing becomes very lazy in the second half. The film is almost a straight downward line, its quality decreasing with every passing frame of film, start to end. At no point does the body of the film reach the highs of its two prologues.

While this is a totally new Jason, much of the film, including the group of victims, is a throwback to the installments released 1980-1984. I wasn’t a fan of many of those early groups, so this is not a success, but it’s not worthy of the damnation I gave on the podcast.

So is it a recommend or not recommend?

It is on the borderline. I think that slasher fans will have a lot to enjoy, while old school Friday the 13th fans will have a lot to swallow.

The ridiculous ending, including everything after the rescue of Whitney (the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.



(the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.

Yet the film has had a longer lifespan than I had imagined ten years ago today and, had it not been for endless legal wrangling over Friday the 13th’s IP rights, I have no doubt “Jimmy Voorhees” would have returned to slay again.

Yet while lawsuits continue over who has the right to make the next Friday film, I look forward to it. Ten years is the longest Jason has ever gone without a movie since his inception in 1980. He is missed, and hopefully Jason Voorhees, not “Jimmy”, will return to the silver screen again in the near future.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s original retrospective series, 12 reviews of Friday the 13th films (plus a bonus recap episode), all available now at NowPlayingPodcast.com

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ was Now Playing Podcast’s toughest show

To mark the 10th anniversary of Now Playing Podcast in 2017, hosts and staff are looking back at defining moments throughout the show’s history.

On February 4, 2009, Now Playing Podcast released one of its most memorable early episodes. On the eighth anniversary of the Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan review, host Arnie Carvalho reflects on the behind-the-scenes craziness that listeners never heard on the air.

Friday the 13th Part VII was our most loved show on that series. It was also our first big failure. It was our third recording on a Sunday night. We suddenly learned recording this many shows is exhausting, even for shorter shows. We made a ton of jokes about Friday the 13th but there was no content. More, it was our shortest recording of the series by far.

I walked away from the conversation with my sides hurting from laughter, but exhausted and frustrated the show wasn’t better. Stuart the e-mailed me and said he didn’t think the show was very good either. We roped Brock into the conversation, he agreed, and we re-recorded that show top to bottom.

BUT… that attempt wasn’t very good either. We were much better about explaining the beats of the movie, but we had told each other all of our jokes, and the fun wasn’t there.

I spent about 60 hours working on that show. I took both versions into the editing software and I took the funny from Recording No. 1 and put it with the thoughtfulness and the structure of Recording No. 2. The result was what some people still call our funniest show.

By the way, while doing the series it was Brock that started pushing for Star Trek. He seemed as excited for the Trek reboot as I was for the Friday the 13th one. I wasn’t feeling it, but then when we saw the download numbers for Friday the 13th, and when we realized how much fun we were having, we were all excited to boldly go into our next retrospective!

Now Playing Podcast’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series was released from January 9 to Feb. 20, 2009. The 13 episode series can be heard on the Now Playing Podcast website.

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , | Comments Off on Why ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ was Now Playing Podcast’s toughest show

Now Playing Podcast hosts reflect on ‘Friday the 13th’ series

To mark the 10th anniversary of Now Playing Podcast in 2017, hosts and staff are looking back at defining moments throughout the show’s history.

This week a Now Playing Podcast listener generously pointed out that Jan. 9, 2017 marked the eighth anniversary of the show’s first retrospective series, Friday the 13th. While eight years – the bronze and pottery anniversary – doesn’t get the attention of 10 or 15 years, there are a couple of reasons Now Playing listeners will want to look back on the occasion.

A New Beginning

The Now Playing Podcast hosts look back on the Friday the 13th retrospective.

The original “Friday the 13th” poster.

Today’s listeners take for granted Now Playing’s weekly releases, the hosts’ heavy research, detailed plot summaries, and professional production value. But before that first retrospective in 2009, the show was still finding its footing. Episodes were released once or twice a month, with revolving pairs of hosts, and, most notably, very brief runtimes. Most shows averaged about 20 minutes, a far cry from the 90-120 minute format it’s known for today.

Those Friday the 13th reviews started Now Playing on the path, but at the time it was just an experiment. With a reboot of the series on the way, the idea was to go back and review all previous entries (unusual for a show that largely focused on week-of releases and had “Now Playing” in the title), take a new approach to the editing process, and add a third host.

Brock:Friday the 13th was my first introduction to Stuart. I remember Arnie telling me he had a friend in mind for the third host – the one who did the Clone Wars cartoon movie review – but [Arnie] wasn’t sure if Stuart would want to do it.”

Arnie: “Stuart had also done the review of Midnight Meat Train with me and that long-time friendship led to great chemistry on the mic.”

Stuart: “I remember feeling uncertain about the necessity of a retrospective, or what I could contribute. I was very reserved, and was actually playing chess on my computer until my mouse clicking busted me. [I thought], ‘You mean I can’t do that?’”

Brock: “Those first few shows were not only an experiment in format, but also in our chemistry.”

Arnie: “We were getting a feel for what we were doing. My notes were scattered, Brock didn’t want to share points ahead of time, and Stuart sent long, written reviews of each film before recording.”

Here is an excerpt from Stuart’s write-up of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter:

I’m now convinced there never was much merit to this series, and the only reason it was so profitable was because it was created the ideal date scenario for teens in the 80s.  Kids snuck off to watch a forbidden R-rated movie where they would be stimulated by nudity, sex, and violence.  And like a gateway drug, watching would lead to doing and I wish we had statistics on how many station wagon back seats saw action post-screening.  And since they came out in such quick succession, and movies didn’t get rushed to videotape in less than a year, you could practically guarantee that you could attend a FRIDAY film and get laid at a theatre or drive-in near you whenever you could land a date.  Who would have guessed Jason had so much in common with Dr. Ruth?  And why do I keep having to review soft porn like it’s worthy of intellectual discourse?

Brock: “I remember editing some of the Friday the 13th shows and how (by today’s standards) rudimentary our tracks were that it made for some, let’s call them ‘challenges’ in the editing process.

Arnie: “It was intended that each movie recording would be only 10 minutes. When I started sending notes Brock was afraid the shows would be too long.”

Brock: “Once the download numbers started coming in and the response we were getting exceeded all expectations Arnie and I were just blown away. We knew we hit in something. “

Arnie: “Before the Friday the 13th series we would get between 50 and 500 hits per show. With Friday the 13th we started at 5,000 and went up from there. I remember being ecstatic at getting 40,000 downloads in one month!”

Brock: “And then I advocated we do Star Trek as a follow up. That was a tight window but we made it and well, look where Now Playing is now.”

New Blood?

The eighth anniversary of Now Playing’s Friday the 13th retrospective is also a reminder that it’s been eight, EIGHT years since we last saw Jason Voorhees on screen. Proposals for a sequel, reboot, and television series have been discussed for years, but the most significant (and it is significant) development for the property has been Gun Media’s Kickstarter-funded Friday the 13th video game, which is expected to be released later this year.

As for the next theatrical film, that’s anybody’s guess. The Now Playing hosts will be there, but they’re not holding their collective breaths for any of the rumored release dates.

Arnie: “I expected a sequel in 2011 or 2012, especially after seeing the huge opening for the 2009 film.”

Stuart: “That Platinum Dunes reboot was not something to build on (ditto Freddy) so it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve been unable to come up with a proper sequel.  That said, I thought for sure we’d have another TV series. A CW show with kids at a lake house that worry about pimples, peer pressure, and getting impaled by a guy in a hockey mask.”

Brock: “Studios keep coming back to Leatherface and his chainsaw, so it is only a matter of time before Jason dons the hockey mask once again.”

Arnie: “Paramount does have that new film about to go into production (theoretically). Is it coming out this year? It’s supposed to shoot this Spring for release…October? Next February? With so many false starts (the found footage idea being the worst) I’m not making any plans just yet. I’m ready to go camping whenever Jason returns to Crystal Lake, and hey, this Friday is Friday the 13th!”

Now Playing Podcast’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series was released from January 9 to Feb. 20, 2009. The 13 episode series can be heard on the Now Playing Podcast website.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Movies | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brock returns to co-host Now Playing Podcast ‘SPECTRE’ show

At the end of every 007 adventure the same line appears in the credits: “James Bond Will Return.”

He’s not the only one back for 2015’s SPECTRE. When Now Playing Podcast listeners start streaming the latest review in the show’s James Bond Retrospective Series, they’ll hear a familiar voice.

Brock. James Brock.

Although he’s the voice of Now Playing Podcast’s opening narration and closing credits, listeners haven’t heard longtime co-host Brock review a series since the 2013 Riddick retrospective. Brock, who sat on the panel for Now Playing’s first retrospective in 2009, talked about his return to the show as a co-host and what’s next after Bond.

Q: How much have you missed being a regular co-host? Are there any recent series’ you wish you could have been a part of?

Brock: “I do miss it, and some days more than others — especially the recording sessions, the interaction with my fellow panelists. You all got a taste of what it is like to record the episodes on the live [Kingsman] show and with each episode’s outtakes. We can have a great deal of fun recording these shows. There are times when it hits me unexpectedly, like when — and I am sure we all do it, co-hosts and listeners alike — you listen to the show and you find you are talking back to the podcast in response to something a host said. So in that warped way I am on every panel! Truth be told, I feel blessed to be part of this amazing show and am looking forward to my return to the panel.”

Q: You’re back for Bond, what about that series are you most looking forward to?

Brock: “Are you kidding? SPECTRE is back in the fold, which likely means Blofeld! Us Bond fans have been looking forward to SPECTRE and Blofeld’s return since Diamonds Are Forever. In the For Your Eyes Only pre-credits scene they strongly hint that is Blofeld of course, but they never actually call him that by name. I am also hoping they connect SPECTRE to the mysterious Quantum organization in Quantum of Solace, which is also the one Le Chiffre was working for in Casino Royale. They completely skipped over that in Skyfall, so here’s hoping we get some answers and connections. We will see soon enough.

“On paper, they made some good decisions with casting Christoph Waltz, David Bautista and Monica Bellucci, and bringing back director Sam Mendes. But it always comes down to a good script. Skyfall is the most successful Bond movie to date, so the audience expectations are at an all-time high for the series. I have hope SPECTRE will keep the Bond resurgence going strong.”

Q: Have you been practicing saying “Brock, James Brock” in the mirror?

Brock: “In the mirror, no. In the car or in the shower, absolutely. This is a podcast, after all; it’s all about how it sounds, not how it looks.”

Q: You’re also coming back for Creed, are you excited for the film? What were your thoughts when you heard there would be a spinoff to Rocky?

Brock: “I think the idea is solid, a logical progression to continue the series while allowing itself enough space within that concept to become its own thing. I much prefer this idea than yet another unwanted, unneeded remake of a classic or a gimmicky reboot. I like that Creed is focused on a new character that younger audiences will want to watch, that they can get behind and root for; and simultaneously the fans of the original series can have an instant connection with because we are familiar with the character’s father. Ideally, Creed is a strong enough movie to potentially start a whole new series of successful spin-off films.”

Q: Is this something we can come to expect in the future? Will Brock be back for the next Halloween film, the next Friday the 13th, or even a Jaws sequel??

Brock: “That is the plan, yes. I look forward to coming back to the panel as much as opportunity and my schedule will allow.”

Q: 2016 will be the ninth year of Now Playing, which means the 10th anniversary is coming fast. Did you ever see the show lasting this long, and why do you think it’s been so successful?

Brock: “Truly unbelievable, isn’t it? After that first retrospective series I knew we were on to something. The potential of this show is limitless. The only thing I ever thought would make the show stop would be the inevitable running out of movie series to review! But thankfully, with Hollywood as sequel happy as ever, and obsessed with rebooting every dormant brand name series they can find, Now Playing should be able to go on for quite a long time to come.

“I think there are three big reasons why the show is so successful. First, it is the format: we do retrospective series’ where we devote a full podcast episode to each entry in a movie series — including the sequels or TV movies — that don’t always get, or frankly deserve, that sort of scrutiny or attention. The second reason is the panel. We all get along and feed off each other nicely, you can’t fake good chemistry. But on top of that, we all come prepared. That is a big part of Now Playing, that we put the time in for each and every series, and as a result we have informed, and often hilarious, conversations about all sorts of genres of movies, no matter what grouping of hosts are on the panel for a particular series. And lastly, the show is successful because the hosts and the audience take the ride through each movie series together. We hear feedback from our fans on social media and the forums about their opinions, their ideas, which hosts they think will give the green or red arrow on the next episode and so much more. We love that we have such involved and knowledgeable fans that join us each and every week at Now Playing.”

Now Playing’s James Bond Retrospective Series continues Nov. 10 with the review of SPECTRE.

 

November 4, 2015 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Corn Connection: Familiar faces in ‘Fields’

corn5

The Now Playing Podcast review of Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror went online Tuesday, and while I won’t spoil the review, I will say the film has something going for it; this entry boasts the most recognizable cast in the series.

That doesn’t mean they’re all A-listers. It just means I know who they are. I’ve seen them on TV or film, some in better productions and some in ones less noteworthy than the fourth Children of the Corn sequel.

Still, it’s a welcome relief after desperately scraping the bottom of IMDB to find connections in the previous Corn films.

Check out some of these names: Kane Hodder, Eva Mendes, David Carradine, Fred Williamson, Alexis Arquette, Ahmet Zappa. There are even more; actors and actresses I recognize from Escape from New York and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and Arquette’s not the only Pulp Fiction alum in the cast.

But as much as I enjoy seeing familiar faces, The Corn Connection doesn’t list their resumes, just their places in the Now Playing Podcast archives.

So let’s get started:

Kane Hodder (Bartender)Friday the 13th Retrospective Series, Daredevil & Elektra Retrospective, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

I thought it best to get Hodder out of the way first, because he’s Jason Voorhees!

Hodder played the iconic screen slasher in four Friday the 13th films, all of them covered during Now Playing’s first retrospective series in 2009.

I didn’t want to get into Hodder’s stunt credits, because I’m focusing on films where he portrayed a character.

You can also catch Hodder in the Now Playing Podcast review of 2003’s Daredevil, part of the Marvel Movie Retrospective. He also had an uncredited role in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, a film reviewed by Now Playing in 2009.

Alexis Arquette (Greg)Child’s Play Retrospective Series, Sometimes They Come Back Retrospective Series

At the time of Children of the Corn V’s release in 1998, Arquette already had a pretty good-sized resume, with roles in Pulp Fiction and Threesome. He was even the vampire DJ in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (something I learned just now).

Arquette’s breakout role would also come in 1998, when he co-starred in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. But this same year he also had a role as Jennifer Tilly’s doomed neighbor Damien in Bride of Chucky, a film that was covered by Now Playing, but was only available to donors.

The actor popped up again earlier this year when Now Playing covered Sometimes They Come Back… Again as part of the ongoing Stephen King retrospective.

Eva Mendes (Kir)Ghost Rider Retrospective Series

Fields of Terror was the first film for Mendes, who was just a few years away from becoming a Hollywood star. Despite appearances alongside leading men such as Johnny Depp, Will Smith and Steven Seagal, Mendes only appears once in the Now Playing Podcast archives; when she co-starred with Nicolas Cage in 2007’s Ghost Rider.

Adam Wylie (Ezeekial)Child’s Play Retrospective Series

Wylie was a child actor in the 90s who many people remember from his role on Picket Fences.

He appeared one other time in a film covered by Now Playing Podcast; 1990’s Child’s Play 2.

Gary Bullock (Farmer)Robocop Retrospective Series

Bullock has credits in two films covered by Now Playing Podcast, playing separate characters in Robocop 2 and Robocop 3. He’s credited as “Hack Doctor” in the former, and “Gas Station Clerk” in the latter.

Edward Edwards (Lilly’s Father)Robocop Retrospective Series

Mr. Edwards’ resume include a number of minor television and film credits, including the the role of “Manson” in 1987’s Robocop.

Danny Goldring (Mr. O’Brien)Batman Retrospective Series

This actor is credited as “Grumpy” in 2008’s The Dark Knight, a film featured in Now Playing’s 2012 Batman Retrospective Series.

I had to research the name Grumpy, and I assumed he was one of the clowns who take part in the bank robbery that opens the film. I was right. Goldring is the one leading the robbery; he’s the one with the most lines, including the memorable, “What bus driver?”

So that’s a pretty good lineup for a Corn sequel. Before sneaking a peek at IMDB for next week’s entry, make sure you listen to this week’s episode of Now Playing Podcast.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

 

September 17, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: Familiar faces in ‘Fields’

The 40 Year-Old-Critic: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

23p98705024In The 40-Year-Old Critic, Venganza Media creator and host Arnie Carvalho recalls a memorable film for each year of his life. This series appears daily on the Venganza Media Gazette.

See a list of all reviews

How many times will I review Freddy vs. Jason? It was one of Now Playing Podcast’s earliest reviews as part of our first retrospective series covering the Friday the 13th franchise leading up to the 2009 remake. Even then we planned to revisit the film and look at it from Freddy’s point of view, which we did the following year during the review series leading up to 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.

By now this should be well-trod ground, and what more could I have to say?

Yet the fact that this is the only movie to be covered twice in Now Playing Podcast retrospectives is indicative of its importance — to film in general and to me personally.

Since our 2010 review I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about the crossover. What is it about two franchises coming together that creates such excitement, especially in the “geek” community? I don’t ask this hypothetically. I personally get swept up in the frenzy when two franchises come together, and it doesn’t even matter necessarily if I like them both! The thought of two universes colliding seems to have a geometric, not additive, increase in interest.

I think to some degree it is fan rivalry at its best. For reasons I don’t understand it seems some fans feel the only way to feel good about their fandom is by putting down others. For example, when Firefly was at its zenith a parade of “Joss Whedon Is My Master Now” shirts filled Star Wars conventions, as if to say, “Star Wars used to be cool.” As such, the “my dad can beat up your dad” mentality started to apply to fan groups; “My stormtrooper can beat up your browncoat.”

Freddy vs. Jason -- whoever loses, the fans win.

Freddy vs. Jason — whoever loses, the fans win.

That question of who would win in a fight certainly applies to superheroes. In real life, on screen, and online I’ve heard endless debates about which hero is faster, The Flash or Superman. Who would win in a fight, Superman or The Hulk? It is a curiosity, but the chosen winner usually aligns with the speaker’s fan allegiances.

Certainly, speaking of superheroes, comic books have benefited greatly from the crossover. DC Comics had a major hit with its Justice League in 1961, prompting Marvel Comics to respond with its own super team, The Fantastic Four, a move that inadvertently launched the entire Marvel Universe.

Yet, to me, the crossover seemed relegated to just that medium — the comic book. It seemed comics were pulp enough that you could do anything.

Aliens vs. Predator? Sure.

Robocop vs. Terminator? Why not.

Star Trek and X-Men together, you say? Absolutely.

Even rivals Marvel and DC had several crossover series’ that, for instance, led to Superman meeting Spider-Man or Batman fighting the Hulk.

Despite the success and excitement generated by these crossover comics, the concept was rarely conceptualized on film. Universal Studios had done it in the 1940s, when horror icons Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man came together for the studio’s “Monster Mash” pictures. But Universal owned each property, and when that series ended, crossovers on screen were scarce.

I can recall two that made an impact on me.

Freddy and Jason aren't the only names in this cast.  Monica Keena (Dawson's Creek), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), and Destiny Child's Kelly Rowland play teens caught in the middle of the battle royale.

Freddy and Jason aren’t the only names in this cast. Monica Keena (Dawson’s Creek), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), and Destiny Child’s Kelly Rowland play teens caught in the middle of the battle royale.

I remember being a young child on vacation with my parents when I saw a trailer for King Kong vs. Godzilla. I had seen numerous Godzilla films, and the 1976 King Kong several times. So the thought of them fighting broke my fragile little mind. I demanded we stay in the hotel room that night so I could watch.

Then, in 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit brought together animated characters from Warner Bros., Disney, Turner Entertainment, and more. As I was a teenager, and never really into these characters at my youngest age, the impact was totally lost on me. I saw the film in theaters, thought it was mediocre, and haven’t seen it since.

Beyond those two I can’t think of any groundbreaking crossovers. Some minor ones occurred; such as Star Trek: Generations bringing together cast members from two Trek television series’ (something that had already been done numerous times on Star Trek: The Next Generation, thus lessening the film’s impact). Also, The Monster Squad reassembled the classic Universal Monsters for a kiddie comedy.

But fans wanted more.

So many ideas were teased. Studios knew what we liked, so 1997’s Batman and Robin made sly references to Superman, and 20th Century Fox put an Alien xenomorph skull on a Predator ship in Predator 2. The latter seemed most likely to happen again on film — both franchises were Fox properties in need of a boost. Yet, outside of the Dark Horse comics, nothing materialized for years.

The icons try out each others' weapons.

The icons try out each others’ weapons.

For me, though, more than Aliens and Predators, more than Superman and Batman, Freddy and Jason were the two I wanted to see.  Long had the rumor brewed about Hollywood’s (then) top-grossing slashers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, going toe-to-toe. I read about it in multiple Fangoria articles in the late 80s and early 90s.

I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street during a party in 1987, around the time of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors’ release.  I found the films so inventive and fun that I rewatched them endlessly, and anxiously awaited each new installment in the series.  As detailed during the Now Playing Podcast review, I even cosplayed for the release of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.  By 2003 I was happy for any new Nightmare, let alone one that pitted villain Freddy against Friday the 13th icon Jason.

I was never as big a fan of the Crystal Lake zombie as I was Freddy, but I did also enjoy the Friday the 13th series.  Some of the first R-rated horror I ever saw was Friday the 13th when I came home to find older kids in my house watching it.  I tried to join them but the carnage, specifically the decapitation at the end of the 1980 original film, had me fleeing the room.  When I finally became a full-fledged horror hound in my early teen years I returned to the franchise when Jason Takes Manhattan was released.  While the films lacked the visual panache of the Nightmare series I still enjoyed the films as a guilty pleasure.  Over time the series grew in my esteem to be another favorite.

Freddy was killed by fire, but flames don't slow down Jason.

Freddy was killed by fire, but flames don’t slow down Jason.

As such, having both serialized slashers come together would be a dream come true.  Or, if done wrong, perhaps a nightmare.

Yet despite the rumors in the horror press and the anticipation by fans such as myself, the killer crossover took 15 years to materialize.  Full credit for finally bringing the crossover to screen in the 21st Century must be given to New Line Cinema.

The biggest problem in the 1980s and 1990s was the rights: Jason was owned by Paramount, Freddy was New Line Cinema’s cash cow. The studios tried to work together during the slasher heyday but each wanted to earn 100 percent of the profits by licensing the other’s character. Obviously, that never happened.

Eventually, though, profits started to dry up. Paramount had run Friday the 13th into the ground with crazy concepts like Jason fighting a telekinetic or taking Manhattan. When original Friday creator Sean S. Cunningham wanted to see the franchise continue, specifically with a Freddy crossover, Paramount had no interest. This gave New Line an opportunity. They licensed Jason from Paramount and went to work on Freddy vs. Jason.

While Jason’s creator wanted the crossover, Freddy creator Wes Craven had other ideas. The Springwood Slasher had been given what New Line considered a proper sendoff with 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. But the sequel proved profitable and Craven started planning a return to his iconic franchise. As such, Freddy vs. Jason was put on hold and, instead, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was made.

Cunningham bided his time, though. In 1993 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was released and ended with a fan-baiting stinger; Freddy’s glove comes out of the ground and pulls down Jason’s mask. The game was afoot!

We would still have to wait more than a decade for Freddy and Jason to properly share the screen. New Line executives knew the importance of finding the perfect balance between the two famous killers, and so more than a dozen pitches were drafted and subsequently rejected.

More victims caught in the middle of the killer clash.

More victims caught in the middle of the killer clash.

Eventually I gave up all hope on Freddy vs. Jason. Nightmare star Robert Englund had not put on the makeup in almost 10 years and I thought Freddy would never grace the screen again. Jason, meanwhile, had gone to space with Jason X (which sat on a shelf for 2 years before its release). Finally, in the early part of the last decade, news — real news — started to come out that the movie was being made.

I honestly believe my excitement for Freddy vs. Jason was on par with my feelings about 1999’s Star Wars Episode I. A countdown clock sat on my computer desktop for 4 months, and when the day finally came I took an afternoon off work to see the first showing.

It met my every expectation.

Directed by Bride of Chucky’s Ronny Yu, the film was outrageous, gory, and over-the-top fun. Both characters got their due (even if Jason inexplicably was suddenly afraid of water) and I couldn’t have asked for more. You can hear a blow-by-blow analysis and both of my reviews at the Now Playing Podcast website, but in short I gave it a strong recommend both times.

Yet loving a movie isn’t enough to garner inclusion in this 40-Year-Old Critic series, there has to be a long-lasting impact. For Freddy vs. Jason, there were two.

First, this film gave Robert Englund a proper Freddy sendoff. It was the best film starring the dream stalker since 1988’s The Dream Master. It cemented a positive feeling for the Nightmare franchise that remains unsullied to this day.  Just two weeks ago I had my photo taken with Englund, who was dressed in the full Freddy make-up.  I even have ideas for a Nightmare inspired tattoo–the dream killer’s glove slicing into my skin.

Freddy vs. Arnie -- Robert Englund and Arnie pose for a photo at Flashback Weekends in Aug. 2014

Freddy vs. Arnie — Robert Englund and Arnie pose for a photo at Flashback Weekends in Aug. 2014

Second, though, Freddy vs. Jason’s success launched more than a decade of franchise crossovers. The next year finally saw the release of Alien vs. Predator, which I anticipated every bit as much as Freddy vs. Jason — and which was an utter letdown.

Other pictures released that year include the low-rent, made-for-television crossover Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (co-written by Blade and The Dark Knight scribe David Goyer), as well as a return to the “Monster Mash” formula with Universal’s Van Helsing.

Yes, the track record for crossovers wasn’t stellar, but that was honestly my secondary concern — the primary concern was that they were happening. Finally, after decades of teasing, universes were being shared and the world of movies suddenly felt as open as the page of a comic book. But, after 2007’s Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem a shot of adrenaline was needed. I do think the crossover was starting to be seen as desperate, until Marvel Studios took it to the next level.

In 2008 Marvel released its first movie produced in-house: Iron Man. The film stood alone, introducing wide audiences to a superhero that was considered B-list at best. Yet Marvel took a page from New Line Cinema’s book: at the very end Nick Fury showed up to discuss “The Avengers Initiative.” This was the comic book equivalent of Freddy’s hand bursting up from the ground, and Marvel kept its momentum building toward the third-highest-grossing film of all time: The Avengers.

There is a direct lineage from Jason Goes to Hell to Iron Man, from Freddy vs. Jason to The Avengers.

So next spring when you buy your ticket for The Avengers: Age of Ultron (and then download the Now Playing Podcast review) think about the trailblazer that pioneered the modern crossover film: Freddy vs. Jason.

Tomorrow — 2004!

Arnie is a movie critic for Now Playing Podcast, a book reviewer for the Books & Nachos podcast, and co-host of the collecting podcasts Star Wars Action News and Marvelicious Toys.  You can follow him on Twitter @thearniec    

September 2, 2014 Posted by | 40-Year-Old Critic, Comic Books, Conventions, Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The 40 Year-Old-Critic: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)