Jakob’s Wife (2021)

Directed by Travis Stevens [Other horror films: Girl on the Third Floor (2019)]

This isn’t the easiest review I’ve had to write in recent times. Jakob’s Wife is a pretty well-made film, and I definitely see what they were going for, but it wouldn’t be truthful if I said I enjoyed it. On the surface, this may well sound rather tepid as far as criticisms go, but now is a good time to get into the psychology of Jiggy, so hold onto your hats.

I don’t like giving movies negative reviews. Even movies I personally hate, such as The Greasy Strangler and 1408; I know they may have their fans, and I don’t like possibly pissing people off. It’s especially bad for lower-budget movies – when a movie doesn’t have all the resources a higher-budget movie does, and I give it a low rating, I sometimes feel, as ridiculous as this may sound, a bad person.

It’s not just low-budget films, though, that I find hard to sometimes review with 100% honesty – when I get requests to watch films from those who made a movie, or just film recommendations from other fans, a large part of me wants to make them happy and perhaps bend my feelings a bit in a more positive light, which plays a mild part here, because someone requested I watch Jakob’s Wife, with the idea I’d enjoy it, and I just hate to say it wasn’t accurate.

Honestly, it’s not always easy giving my opinions on movies, especially movies that I know so many people love that I personally just don’t. Jakob’s Wife is a minor example – while many reviews have been positive, it has a more lukewarm overall reception. There are other films, like Halloween Kills, that I sometimes feel I may have put kiddie gloves on before reviewing, for these same concerns.

All I can say, before I get into my review proper of Jakob’s Wife, is that I do my best to be perfectly honest about my feelings. It’s worth noting that I am just a single guy from northeast Indiana, and I certainly don’t think my views on films supersede anyone else’s. I didn’t care for Jakob’s Wife, and that’s the simple truth.

Well, perhaps not that simple. I certainly thought the finale was pretty solid, almost emotional in a way, though I also think the final freeze frame was sort of disappointing. Not the song that popped up, being “Church” by Kitten (a song that will soon find it’s way onto my iTunes), but just the idea that as close as Jakob and his wife had become over the events of the movie, it might all have been for naught.

Before the finale, though, I was struggling, and most annoyingly, I can’t exactly explain why. Certainly the movie is primarily a horror film with occasional smatters of comedy thrown in, but not much of the comedy is overly goofy, so I don’t know if I can really blame the comedic undertones of some scenes on my overall feelings of the movie.

Perhaps it’s the somewhat aimless sense I got from it. Certainly there’s a plot – a somewhat mousy woman (played beautifully by horror icon Barbara Crampton) gets turned into a vampire, and has to figure out her life from that point forward. There’s a story, but it’s not always engaging, and while a couple of elements stood out, I can’t say I was really into the movie until the final thirty minutes or so.

Certainly the cast isn’t to be blamed for this. Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Re-Animator, and Castle Freak) did quite well, and Larry Fessenden (Habit, I Sell the Dead, and We Are Still Here), while not a particularly enjoyable character, had a great performance. Though a smaller role, I liked Jay DeVon Johnson, and while she doesn’t get time to shine until the end, Bonnie Aarons (The Nun) had some strong elements.

When it comes to the positives, I’m pretty much stuck with two things. For one, I loved the gore – when people got bitten by a vampire, it wasn’t a small bite, these people literally got their necks ripped open, splatters of blood following. It was beautiful.

Secondly, the design of the lead vampire (played by Bonnie Aarons) was highly reminiscent of Nosferatu’s Count Orlok, with a bald head, freakishly long fingers, and to add to the effect, long fingernails. It was a great traditional look, and I loved it (at least from afar – up close, it felt sort of silly).

Otherwise, though, I found that much of the movie dragged, and when I said it was a struggle to get through this, I mean that. I kept pausing due to disinterest, and rather unlike me, it took three days to fully sit through Jakob’s Wife. I just wasn’t engaged at all save for the finale, and I can’t really put a finger onto why that was.

I imagine part of it is just the nature of the story. I don’t mind vampire movies, as there are some great ones out there – look at Fright Night, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, and John Carpenter’s Vampires, not to mention personal favorites like The Night Flier and Heartstopper (the 1989 movie) – but in Jakob’s Wife’s case, I just didn’t care for much of the story.

Ultimately, while I know this film has gotten a decent amount of praise among the horror community, I honestly just didn’t like it. I don’t think it was a particularly poor movie, and it was certainly filmed beautifully, but I can’t really see myself giving this another chance anytime in the next 15 years, which is a bit of a shame, especially given my mild hopes when starting the film up.

5.5/10

Howard’s Mill (2021)

Directed by Shannon Houchins [Other horror films: N/A]

So I will admit that I found Howard’s Mill a rather solid film for the type of movie it is.

Done in the vein of Hell House LLC, We Are the Missing, and The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Howard’s Mill plays itself up as a real documentary about multiple individuals who go missing over the course of a hundred years, starting off with just a single case, and turning quickly into a sprawling and rather mesmerizing film.

It has the same problems you might expect from films like The Poughkeepsie Tapes – occasionally some of the interviews don’t feel quite authentic, and we’re not really presented with a clear, concise answer come the finale (which is a similarity shared with We Are the Missing), but even with some small flaws, personally, I found myself really pulled into the mystery.

And it certainly goes all over the place. It’s pieced together realistically enough, slowly introducing new pieces, previously unknown history, different angles, all that jazz. Once some skeletal remains start showing up toward the latter half of the film, we even get an interview with a physicist talking about the possibility of time travel, and perhaps a hint of extraterrestrial activity even later on. And the best part of it is, all of it works, and I bought every moment.

Part of the reason is that this isn’t explicitly supernatural, like We Are the Missing is. Sure, there’s some quotes about the lands that Howard Mill’s placed on as ‘taking people’, and there are certainly odd circumstances of lost time and memories for a few individuals, but more than anything, this is just a mystery that isn’t fully solved, and I really enjoyed how cemented in reality it was, especially the somewhat moving conclusion, as Dwight Nixon (played by Reegus Flenory) contemplates the fate of his missing wife, the disappearance of which he was initially blamed for, and what set up this whole documentary (in-universe, of course).

There’s not a full cast listing on IMDb, and the credits of the film just list the characters in the movie as if this were a real documentary, which makes sense, of course, but means I don’t have access to everyone in the cast.

Of those I can identify properly, I wanted to give a lot of props to the aforementioned Reegus Flenory, as he struck me as pretty believable. Josefina M Boneo isn’t always the best documentary host, but she had some strong moments. Others I can name include Jeremy Childs (The Dead Center), who shines toward the finale, Jessejames Locorriere, Ashley Shelton, Steve Wedan, and Danny Vinson.

Naturally, there are some smaller performances I wanted to point out – one is a character who appears briefly named Allison Steinquest, who reminds me oddly of Judy Greer. Another is a principal of the local high school, a character with a few great scenes named David Buchanan. A farmer near the questionable land named Ken Allen popped up throughout, and I dug his low-key style. Lastly, and I thought these two were perfect for the movie, we have an older couple named the Moody’s, who give us a little more insight into the strange goings-on.

Now, unlike Hell House LLC or The Poughkeepsie Tapes, there’s nothing overly shocking or scary in the movie. It’s more like building up to a better understanding of how so many people have gone missing, and what the time discrepancies that pop up actually mean. There are some more suspenseful moments – an older woman talking about mysterious figures she called ‘the Watchers’ or the discovery of a child skeleton in a hidden room, but Howard’s Mill is generally more subdued.

I think it works – Hell House LLC is a great movie, and I’d say it’s better than this, but this movie does amazing with the style and presentation of the topic, and I truly do applaud it.

Howard’s Mill surprised me. Only in rare cases do I get a lot out of faux-documentaries. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is okay, but not great, and some of the best ones, including Hell House LLC and Ghostwatch, are certainly the exception as opposed to the rule. I really enjoyed Howard’s Mill, and it may not be a movie for everyone, but I found it captivating and well-pieced together.

If you’re into these types of films, I’d highly recommend you give it a watch.

8/10

House (1985)

Directed by Steve Miner [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Warlock (1989), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Lake Placid (1999), Day of the Dead (2008)]

House holds a special place in my heart. It’s not an overly special movie, but it’s a movie I remember very vividly seeing bits and pieces of as a kid, and though it’s not particularly frightening nowadays, this movie really scared me when I was younger.

To tell the truth, some scenes here still got my heart racing, as pathetic as that might be to admit. While the comedy did occasionally veer to too silly a level, it’s the scares here that stood out, such as that ghoul woman attempting to abduct the child or the multitude of monstrous hands attacking the protagonist from the mirror.

Really, I find the whole concept of House intriguing. The main character (played by William Cobb) is dealing with both the trauma of his experiences in Vietnam along with his recently losing his son, who has gone missing. The house in question, which contains within it different dimensions (or something akin to that – it’s not much touched on), looked quite grand, and the whole mirror sequence onward were true quality to see again.

Cobb did sometimes get a bit goofy, but he was still a very solid main character, and I enjoyed the conclusion, which ended somewhat like the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. None of the side characters really added as much as you’d hope for (be it George Wendt or Mary Stavin), but as the movie’s really a personal journey for Cobb’s character, I think that could be excused. Richard Moll made for a solid antagonist, though.

The way House was put together really works, too. With many flashbacks to Cobb’s time in Vietnam setting up the conclusion, and plenty of ghoulish attacks (that overweight ghoul perhaps being the most memorable) and adventures (Cobb’s journey into the mirror onward), the movie really came together wonderfully, and though I wish a few things were added to the end, and some of the humor stripped down, the film’s enjoyable whether or not there’s a blot of nostalgia over it.

Sure, some of the special effects seem a bit goofy, and the comedy sometimes becomes a bit much, but there are some decently funny lines and scenes in here too, and the multiple issues that Cobb’s character deals with works even ignoring the comedic overlay. It’s a movie that scared me as a kid, and seeing this again after some time, it’s a movie I really enjoy now.

8/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Satan’s Servant (2021)

Directed by Ethan Gomez Zahnley [Other horror films: N/A] & Jack McDermott [Other horror films: N/A]

I have to admit to having rather mixed feelings about this lower-budget film. On one hand, I appreciate some of the performances and dialogue in Satan’s Servant, for all it’s awkward glory, but on the other, I really wish I loved the base story a bit more.

Certainly I find the film a bit of a mixed bag. Still, considering the extraordinarily low score on IMDb (at the time of this writing, it boasts a 2.5/10 with 126 votes), perhaps such a mixed reaction should be seen in a positive light. I mean, compared to some films I saw from 2020 (such as Tokyo Home Stay Massacre, Wolfwood, and I Think We’re Alone Now), this was downright spectacular.

Also, I won’t lie – I had fun with a lot of the first three-fourth’s of the film. It’s labeled on Prime as a ‘coming-of-age slasher’, and while I don’t buy that description, it does deal primarily with teenagers, meaning we get uber-beast teen slang (such as the word ‘sus’ and ‘swear’, as in ‘Swear, what’s the move now?’). Also, ‘damn near the move’, ‘bust the mission’, and ‘vibing’.

I’m not making fun of the film – I’m guessing this is what modern-day teens talk like, and I found it fascinating, along with a little amusing. I mean, I say ‘bro’ and ‘brah’ a lot, and sometimes use ‘hella’ ironically, but it almost feels like a third of the words used here.

So yeah, I found a lot of the film fun just for the fact it centered around some teenagers in California (this was likely filmed near Kensington, California, on a side-note, given how Kensington Hilltop Elementary School was seen in a couple of scenes). I’m almost 30, so I have no idea if it’s a realistic portrayal of teens nowadays, but did I have fun? Yes, sir.

The performances were, as you can imagine, shaky. Some definitely lacked the appropriate emotion for the situation. That said, there was only one performance I actually disliked, being Emily Maya Keyishian, who was just a bit over-the-top comedic at times for me to fully buy into.

Ironically, the younger actors and actresses here all kept me entertained. I absolutely loved Sean Okimoto’s character, who spent most of the night trying to fight Satanists while faded as fuck. I dug that performance a lot. Josephine Thompson had some weak moments, but I generally thought she did pretty well. Though she had shorter screen-time, the same can be said for Erin Wynden. Carlos Noreña didn’t seem to have as much character as Okimoto, but he was an okay lead, and Garrett Bush had a moment here and there.

Also, while the gore here isn’t great, they at least try. Someone gets their arm ripped off, and a throwing knife flung at their skull. Another unfortunate soul gets stakes through their wrists. There are two different decapitations, along with a slit throat. None of these scenes are great, but I admit, I did like seeing someone get their arm torn off, so no complaints.

What I did find more problematic was the comedy. Sometimes, it totally worked, such as the scene in which James (Carlos Noreña) and Tyler (Sean Okimoto) were discussing how to get past a lock. Other times, though, I didn’t think it landed. Mostly, this happened toward the finale, which I found overall rather unsatisfactory, if I’m being honest, and that purification scene (“You’re in the splash zone”) was particularly painful.

I don’t doubt that many would look at the lower-budget nature of the film and write it off, which I don’t find particularly fair. I definitely had some issues with Satan’s Servant, but for what they had, I thought they did an admirable job. Oh, and the fact they could film at 2:00 am without pissing off their neighbors is quality praxis.

Satan’s Servant isn’t likely to make many people’s must-watch list, but I definitely found it largely serviceable. I do think it ultimately falls below average, if only because the story sort of loses my interest about half-way through (to be fair, that’s true for many movies with a Satanic subplot), but it was a damn fine attempt, and I had a good time with a lot of it.

6/10

Tremors (1990)

Directed by Ron Underwood [Other horror films: N/A]

Ever since I was a kid, I loved the Tremors movies. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve seen the first three movies combined, so to say I grew up with them will be the best I can do. The first film isn’t the best horror film of the 1990’s, but I’ve always found it enjoyable, and nothing has changed.

It’s a pretty simple monster movie with a rather small cast, but Tremors keeps us entertained with the quality character building, interesting ideas, and a decent amount of humor sprinkled throughout (though never becoming too overbearing as to distract from the suspense). If one of the many monsters movies from the late 1950’s had been made around the 1990’s instead, this is definitely what they’d hope to be.

Kevin Bacon is one of those big names that I honestly pretty much only know from this movie. I mean, I’ve seen Death Sentence, and of course I’ve seen Friday the 13th, but as far as Bacon individually standing out, Tremors stands alone. He works fantastically well with Fred Ward, and seeing the two of them interact throughout the film is a lot of fun (“Legs that go ALLLLLLL the way up!”).

Of course, it should go without saying that Michael Gross (who I know best from Family Ties) is great here, along with his wife (played by country singer Reba McEntire), as a pair of gun-nuts who are incredibly fun to watch, and Gross himself has plenty of funny lines (deadpan, “For my cannon” is probably my favorite). It’s clear why Gross made such an impression, even more so than the stars that were Bacon, Ward, and Finn Carter.

The monster design here was pretty interesting, even though we’re basically talking about giant worms. They look suitably dull, and seeing them killed in various ways is fun enough, but also the fact that they do learn as the movie goes on gives them a little more of a fear factor, even though they’re never quite terrifying.

Also, let’s speak briefly about the setting, being the (very) small town of Perfection, Nevada. It was indeed perfection, as a population of about 14 people total has always amazed me, just seeing the way that these people would live as opposed to those in a larger town or city. I couldn’t imagine living in such a small place, and maybe due to that, this setting always stuck out to me as something really memorable.

Other films from the early 1990’s combined humor and horror better than Tremors did (I’m primarily looking at Arachnophobia, which came out the same year), but Tremors has been a pleasure to watch since I was a kid, and I still really enjoy the first three movies, and wholly recommend the first two if you haven’t seen them before.

8.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Tremors.

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005)

Directed by Ana Clavell [Other horror films: Horror 102: Endgame (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006)] & James Glenn Dudelson [Other horror films: Horror 101 (2001), Museum of the Dead (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006)]

I’ve seen some bad zombie movies in my time, this has got to be one of the worst I’ve seen in the last six months, perhaps longer.

In truth, this movie might be of slightly higher quality than 2006’s Dorm of the Dead, which I’ve seen somewhat recently. Certainly this film was more coherent than that low-budget offering, but I didn’t have near as much fun with this as I did that one.

Partially this is due to it’s rather drawn out set-up – the movie’s already a bit long, at over an hour and forty minutes, but it takes something like an hour to really get moving. Not that I mind a little character-building, but boy, most of the characters in the film weren’t really worth building. And that ten-minute opening prior to the title screen was somewhat terrible, but at least it was consistent with the following hour and thirty minutes.

There’s a few decent things about the film, such as the laudable special effects and maybe a sympathetic character or two (not that the acting here really merits much). The make-up is rather iffy, and sometimes really shoddy, but it’s still okay insofar as the budget is concerned. I do wish the gore was a little more enjoyable, but I guess much of the lower-budget zombie genre has the same issue.

Laurie Maria Baranyay was fine, and a decently cute actress, but her story here did her no favors. Her relationship with actor Justin Ipock was of moderate interest, but not altogether all that endearing. I did like Stephen Wolfert in his role, and his form of treating his patients felt far more humane, which was sort of nice.

I can’t possibly look past how boring much of this movie was, though, nor how utterly generic most of it felt. Even the original content, such as the zombie virus causing people to “evolve,” was messy and generally unenjoyable. What’s worse was the pseudo-philosophical babble that was the first-person narration (by Ipock’s character), which popped up a handful of times. It was never interesting or engaging, but again, I guess that’s at least consistent.

And not to berate this film even more, but that ending was absolutely terrible in pretty much every way.

Zombie movies are hard to get right. And perhaps more to the point, I’d be the first to admit that zombie movies aren’t my cup of tea. No doubt there are great zombie movies out there (look no further than Dawn of the Dead, The Return of the Living Dead, or Zombi 2), but so many of the zombie flicks post-2005 are generic drivel, and this movie, an unofficial sequel to Romero’s Day of the Dead, is little different.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine many people becoming too enthralled with this. If you want to pass the time with a shitty zombie movie, then sure, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium would be fine. Actually sitting down and watching the whole thing, though, is just a painful ordeal that I would never want to put myself through again.

3.5/10

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

Directed by David Flores [Other horror films: Boa vs. Python (2004), S.S. Doomtrooper (2006), Sands of Oblivion (2007)]

Honestly, there’s little to say about this pointless sequel. I’m a big fan of the first movie, but this Sci-Fi flick is pretty much what you’d expect – hideous CGI, unremarkable characters and acting, and little going for it.

It utterly pales in comparison to the first film, of course. They had a Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt)-like character, though so much less interesting. Same with Betty White’s replacement. It’s just a shallow film with really atrocious CGI most of the time (about none of the crocodiles looked remotely well-done, nor any of the arms or legs that got torn off).

John Schneider didn’t impress me remotely, nor did Sam McMurray. And in fact, Chad Michael Collins didn’t do that much for me either, but I don’t really hold that against him. It’s true there are a few attractive women (Sarah Lafleur and Alicia Ziegler), but there are others like Joe Holt who could have done so much more, but the story here had no use for that.

Instead, it’s badly-generated crocodiles, because that’s the go-to for Sci-Fi movies. As far as I can tell, the only reason anyone would endeavor to check this out is to see what Schneider’s been up to, but it’s really not worth it, and while I’d highly recommend checking out the first movie for a fun romp, this is just what you’d expect, which may not make Lake Placid 2 a bad film, but certainly does make it unremarkable.

5/10

1408 (2007)

Directed by Mikael Håfström [Other horror films: Skuggornas hus (1996), Strandvaskaren (2004), The Rite (2011)]

Based on a short story by Stephen King (which is around 53 pages in the copy of Everything’s Eventual that I own), this film is a piece of trash. The original story is great, fantastic, even, but this adaptation was way too Hollywood to have any real chance at matching the uneasy atmosphere of the story.

For Hollywood horror, 1408’s okay. Here’s the problem: the short story is virtually perfect, and if they had wanted to make a movie based directly off the story, they probably could have done it in a 45 minute short, with three actors. They didn’t need to add in a mentions of Mike’s father, or have his ex-wife appear, or have their ghostly daughter appear (in fact, no daughter is even mentioned in the short story whatsoever), any of that.

It’s no surprise they added the dead daughter to the story though – see, it makes for an emotional scene when Mike is hugging his long-dead daughter, only to have her crumble before his eyes (he knew it wasn’t really his daughter, but of course he gave into the temptation to touch her), and then that fantastic conclusion with his ex-wife and him hearing their daughter on the tape recorder is oh so god-damned emotional too, right?

Bangs head against desk

Listen, the original King short story is great. At just over 50 pages, it’s not near as short as some of his other stories, but there’s a palpable sense of unease during the whole of the hotel stay, and while this movie included some of it (such as the “Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room” line and referenced the “My brother was actually eaten by wolves one winter on the Connecticut turnpike” line), they threw in so much utterly ridiculous and pointless fodder as to render the actually effectively spooky stuff moot.

Such as that fake-out ending. You know, it seems that he makes it out of the room, he actually imagined the whole thing while unconscious from that surfing mishap at the beginning of the film, and all is well until – here’s a shocker – he’s still in the room. He never got out. It was an illusion (like most everything else the room does).

Bangs head on desk

Wow, Hollywood, that’s original.

I liked John Cusack in this role, and actually, Samuel L. Jackson as Olin wasn’t bad either. And shout-out to Drew Powell (Butch from Gotham), who had a handful of small appearances here. But with the story as butchered as it was, Cusack’s performance here doesn’t save anything.

Had I not read the story before watching the film, it’s possible more of this might have impressed me. Honestly, though, even that might be a stretch, because this movie is so utterly generic and as unsurprising as you could possibly imagine.

I get it, a 40-minute movie couldn’t be released in theaters, and Samuel L. Jackson or John Cusack probably wouldn’t have signed on for it, but would you rather have a good movie that’s short or a generic, glossy production that looks nice but has no substance?

From that stupid predictably fake-out ending that anyone who has ever seen a movie saw coming from a mile away to the whole needless addition to the daughter, I can’t think of a single good reason to recommend 1408. Read the story; throw this away.

3/10

Criminally Insane 2 (1987)

Directed by Nick Millard [Other horror films: Criminally Insane (1975), Satan’s Black Wedding (1976), Doctor Bloodbath (1987), Death Nurse (1987), Cemetery Sisters (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), Dracula in Vegas (1999), The Turn of the Screw (2003)]

The 1975 Criminally Insane would never win any awards, but I liked it well enough for it’s pure grind-house aesthetic. This sequel, though, has to be among one of the worse straight-to-video horror flicks of the late 1980’s (and no doubt there’s plenty of competition).

Partially, this is due to the fact that a third of the film is made up of flashbacks from the first film (mostly in the form of Ethel’s dream sequences). I enjoyed the first film, but just reusing various scenes (sometimes multiple times) in order to pad the already short running time (this clocks in at about 70 minutes) is just weak sauce. It’s not as bad as Puppet Master: The Legacy, but it is definitely weak.

With the story we’re given, though, of Ethel being moved into a halfway house following budget cuts to mental institutions, it’s okay. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s really, really dry, boring as all hell, and leads only to a collection of weak kills and stilted conversations (the tea conversation between Ethel and some guy she was trying to kill, for instance), but hey, they tried.

As it is, the movie actually could have been fine if only they had cut back on the amount of flashbacks they inserted and instead added a bit more story and maybe character background (also, there’s a scene here which indicated there are four patients at this halfway house, but we only ever see three). I mean, Priscilla Alden came back for this, and the least you could do for her is give her a script worth shooting.

Honestly, this film is pretty much an insult. Some of the conversations here are amusing (for all the wrong reasons), but there’s really not much charm at all to be found here. The quality is that of a homemade movie from the 1980’s, and the very dull sets and stilted dialogue just make the whole affair laughable.

I can’t think of any good reason to go out of your way to seek this out. The first movie, as I said, was pretty enjoyable for it’s time, but this one is just beyond pathetic, as the IMDb rating (a hefty 1.9/10 at the time of this writing) can attest to. I don’t rate it quite that lowly, if only because I was personally amused at some of this, but boy, talk about a poor film.

4/10

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Directed by Steve Miner [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), House (1985), Warlock (1989), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Lake Placid (1999), Day of the Dead (2008)]

Following the first two great movies, the third film in this franchise, while still solid, doesn’t stand out quite as much, leaving us with few characters to really remember and maybe just a handful of actually memorable kills.

Throwing Jason a hockey mask halfway through the film, giving him his most classic look, was a nice touch (though I do sort of miss Part 2 Jason), as was starting the film off with the final minutes of the second film, but much of this film just does what you’d expect from a Friday the 13th movie, and like I said, I don’t think it really stands out near as well.

Chris, played by Dana Kimmell, was a decent lead (though nowhere near as good as Amy Steel’s Ginny), though her whole flashback story just felt out of place. So once, after an argument with her parents, she runs out into the woods, runs into Jason, fights him a bit, blacks out, and Jason doesn’t kill her?

Actually, somewhat interesting fact here: Jason is never once referenced by name, so whether or not these people even know this is Jason is in question. Because of this, the fact that Chris has a dream-like experience with Jason’s mother at the end leads me to think that it more likely than not actually happened.

Regardless, the whole “I met this creepy, disfigured guy before, and now he’s killing my friends because he didn’t kill me when he had a perfect chance” thing always felt really, really off to me, especially because Jason seems to realize it’s the same girl (that scene where he pulls his mask down to show her his face displays that). The whole thing’s odd.

I also wish that Vera (Catherine Parks) had more of a role in this one. She doesn’t really amount to much, but I sort of wonder if she wouldn’t have been a better final girl than Kimmell, if for nothing else to throw the audience a loop. Otherwise, aside from Shelly (played by Larry Zerner, himself a shadow of Mark Nelson’s goofball Ned from the first movie), who else here really stands out? Paul Kratka? Nick Savage? As far as memorable characters go, these people are pretty weak.

The kills aren’t that bad, though. I mean, like I said, I don’t think that many stand out, but all of them are pretty serviceable. I liked that upside-down machete slash, along with the pitchfork scene, the harpoon gun, and the guy getting his hand cut off. Heck, the knife going through someone’s throat was solid also. Still, compared to the first two movies, I don’t think there’s too many stand-out deaths here.

Finale-wise was somewhat interesting too, actually. Instead of a rather chaotic rainstorm, we’re instead treated to strong winds. I don’t like it quite as much, but the scene with Chris running into the cabin and trying to seal the wind-swept windows was decently compelling. The fight in the barn was decent, and it was fun seeing Jason sent over the edge of the barn, but the first films certainly have more memorable finales.

Of the first four movies, Part III is probably the weakest. It’s not helped by the gimmicky 3-D (and to be fair, while I started watching the 3-D version on my DVD copy, I switched to the 2-D version before too long), but what hurts it more is the utterly unremarkable characters and kills. It’s still a solid slasher, and I still, if for no reason other than nostalgia, find it above average, but I definitely think the first, second, and fourth movies are better.

7.5/10

This film has also been covered by Fight Evil’s podcast – listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this on in detail beyond imagination.