I love the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Heaven help me I really do. Of all the slasher franchises those and the HALLOWEEN films have always been the ones I liked best. Not that these are groundbreaking films in what they do or anything but they are fun and they have definitely added new elements along the way. With 8 it felt so silly – which is saying a LOT for a franchise known less for the actors and directors and more for the kills – but even the bad ones were fun in their way. The thing is…that there’s a point where you can tell everyone is mailing it in. There are moments where that’s not the case, actors and directors that took things more seriously, or at least had fun with it, but you can tell that a lot of the folks involved felt like they were slumming and acted like it. And I get that, the movies are what they are – popcorn fodder – but it’s funny that I have read over and over again how few of the folks in the films really wanted to do them, they just needed the money and most are not fans of the genre. Which makes me laugh because everyone wants to be in Oscar fare and droning dramas that no one sees but being in something as puerile as a horror film, well sir, good day!
Let’s face it, the era of the slasher film is gone, not forever, but gone for now. All things are cyclical and that cycle passed, or was run into the ground. It’s happening with supernatural films and happened with vampire films and that’s how it is. If it is popular it will be exploited then worn out and made ragged until we move on. The thing is though that FRIDAY THE 13th isn’t JUST a slasher franchise anymore it’s iconic, and the fact that the stupid suits that control the franchise don’t appreciate that is a drag. For modern horror fans Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface and Chucky are our modern icons. There are others but those are the ones that have stood the test of time and are still popular. Heck, the CHILD’S PLAY franchise is still solid and shows what can be done if you have a creator who likes the franchise and wants to stay involved and you are willing to play with the films and take risks. It works! All horror fans want is for their beloved characters to be treated with care and treated seriously, outside of that you can take some chances. The thing though is that no one wants to take and have ownership of these franchises longterm. They want the quick check and then want to bail. The only person that really loved and was part of FRIDAY was Kane Hodder and they fired him. I get the studios wanting new blood in the role, and the other two guys who have portrayed Jason have been fine but Kane freaking LOVED the part and was ditched with no honor or ceremony, and that’s a problem.
The studios just don’t care about these films.
Sure, they CARE in that they are money makers and they love that, and the merch on them HAS to be incredible, but as far as making sure good films are made it’s not part of the equation. Cheap is what they want and cheap is what they tend to get. And it shows. I don’t in any way think that any of these films are high art, and they shouldn’t have huge budgets but they should be taken seriously and have people involved with making them that get what they are and get what can be done with them. Chasing whatever new fad is going around and shoe-horn it into the film (looking at you HALLOWEEN with your stupid webcam episode, come ON!). Give the movies to exciting, talented young filmmakers, give them a tight budget, get them someone who WANTS to write the film and who understands the franchise and let them take risks and expand the story. Sure, these young guns (or older established filmmakers looking for a challenge) won’t always succeed but if the film is fun, is sincere, and is different and interesting it will reach its audience and if made for a reasonable and aggressive budget you can make money on it. Ya don’t want to wear your welcome out with a movie every year – that’s a bit much – but you also don’t want to let people forget about the franchise. I think Jason NEEDS to lose sometimes, AND to win and change it up. Heck, I LIKED FRIDAY 5 because it took a chance and did a sort of side story, just like I love HALLOWEEN III for the same reason. I know you’d never get away with it these days but it’s interesting that both HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY franchises were eyed as seasonal horror stories before their main villains took the fore.
There is a LOT of money to be made in the horror genre if the filmmakers and producers take the genre seriously. If you pander to the fans and treat their films like trash then they will stop caring and stop buying tickets, and home releases, and merch. Horror and comedy draw the crowds to the theater (with fantasy and sci-fi FINALLY getting some box office traction too these past few years) and that needs to be taken seriously. Sure, do the stupid horror and stupid comedy – some folks love that stuff – but you also need to respect the franchises and respect the fans. Respect the fans and you will always make money.
With talk of another reboot of the FRIDAY franchise I am just…curious. I don’ t like the rumors I have seen but I am willing to keep an open mind…so long as the filmmakers treat the film with care. The last thing it should be is another reboot. At this point we KNOW who Jason is and if we don’t then we don’t care. He isn’t a character that we need a lot of deep probing into. We know him, it’s the WHYs and WHEREs and WHOs that we care about and in that the HOWs. The remake was fun, was well made, and while it pandered some it wasn’t awful. And the filmmakers did a nice job with the movie and it was a nice way to re-introduce the character. Why they don’t build from that I can’t say. I LOVED what they did with the two new HALLOWEEN films and while I do hope they make more, I LIKED that those two films were their own story. I think when they reboot it again you just skip to Michael as an adult and doing his thing and build it out from there. Stop ret-conning everything, darn it!
I am hope, hope, hoping for a day when the horror franchises are treated with the same care that we at least treat films in other genres. I want to see them get good, bonus rich home releases, and to get the film treatment they deserve. Sure, they’ll never win Oscars, and they’ll never be for everyone but for those of us that love them they are something special, and all we want is for someone to take that seriously.