Friday, February 13, 2009

Guest Blogger Professor Anton Griffin

TODAY is his Birthday.

Greetings Night Creatures! Prof. Griffin here.

I am very excited!
Tonight, I return to Camp Crystal Lake. Yes, tonight, at Midnight, I will visit an old friend.

Once again, I think it’s important to try and remember that all of this started with an 11 year old boy who really just wanted to swim.
Remember that physically deficient child (a sweet boy according to his mother) who needed special care and attention, but instead was left to drown in the cold, cold waters of Crystal Lake?
Remember?

Remember how that tragedy became a nightmare of loss?
Remember how that loss exploded in bloody fury beginning with a mother’s wrath, thunder and lightning, and continuing in the deep dark forest at night for many years?

The slaughter continued with numerous sharp weapons, screams, vicious attacks, axes, a hockey mask, and a killer so violent, so brutal, that he could almost be classified as a force of nature.

My beloved Friday the 13th series has covered it all… revenge and anger, lust and fear, supernatural power and the living dead…

It spawned countless imitators and was often referenced in mass media. Most of the references were jokes of course, and mainstream media responded to the series with countless insults. Mockery by critics and condemnation by morality groups were common but the filmmakers had laughed all the way to the bank. The original Friday the 13th was made for just under $500,000 and made $37 Million!!! Recent figures place the profit for the entire series to be in the vicinity of $250 Million dollars.

And it all started with that boy- Jason Voorhees.

And tonight (for me and other Night Owls) he returns.

Since I first heard of the RE-IMAGINING of the Friday the 13th series, I’ve been skeptical and have feared the worse.
It was filmed right here in my town of Austin and Derek Mears (the new Jason Voorhees) has been spotted all over town. I even know crew members who’ve worked on the film…I’ve honestly never been this close to a Friday the 13th film in its history.

However, since the disappointing Rob Zombie Halloween, my wiser, older- self begrudgingly has accepted that half-hearted remakes of my old slasher favorites are a fact of Hollywood and that nothing I can write and rant about can change that.

I really tried to watch Zombie’s remake of Michael Myers homecoming night with an open mind but ended up getting angry and missing Carpenter’s sublime and creepy almost bloodless masterpiece.
Recently, My Bloody Valentine brought Harry Warden back with a great hook…3-D!!! And the pissed off miner with a mean pickaxe arm was given a nice national spread and was marketed like he has never been before. I enjoyed that but I didn’t get too excited.
I guess I was amused...yes that's accurate.

But the Sultan of Slaughter is different for me.
I’ve seen them all...(Friday the 13th through Freddy vs. Jason)numerous times, but for me, my affection for the series and the character goes beyond more than being a fan of the films.
I have models, toys, figures, posters, props, autographs and books on the series...I have the original promo release Alice Cooper song, ‘He’s Back’ 45 from ‘Jason Lives’ and the 3-D glasses from Part 3.
I even researched and wrote a series of exhaustive love letters/essays to the series entitled ‘Unlucky Days’ that can be read compiled in my book, Midnight Shadow Show Professor Griffin Journals (still available on Amazon! Shameless I know...LOL)

But beyond all my geeky ultra-fandom…the series means so much more to me.
It all came back to me recently. This much maligned, popcorn death filled series of films... made me young.

I’m 39 years old. 40 looms before me like a specter and while I do not fear getting old and I laugh at my obvious signs of aging (my poor memory, strange sudden limitations on what I can eat, and how late I am capable of staying up, how little I can drink alcohol before getting sleepy and going to bed, and I rarely...RARELY smoke a cigar anymore), I miss being excited about a good old fashioned slasher film. I miss doodling images of a hockey-masked wearing killer on my school notebooks, and recounting the most vicious on-screen slaughter. I miss the thrill of a packed auditorium screaming and laughing and cheering and talking to the screen as lightning flashes and blood flows.

I miss Friday the 13th.

The last time I felt like this was in 2002.
April 2002, to be exact. I remember...I was watching television when suddenly the New Line symbol appeared in red and the trailer for Jason X played before my eyes accompanied by a heavy metal thrash hit.

“Let the Bodies Hit the Floor! Let the Bodies hit the Floor! Let the Bodies hit the Floor!”
-‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool.

I couldn’t believe it. There he was before my eyes...Jason, back again after a long hiatus. I hadn’t seen him since the misfire of Jason Goes to Hell! Moving, hacking, swinging, punching, attacking…all set to Drowning Pool’s hit song, Bodies. What a perfect song for a slasher trailer! What a perfect song for The Sultan of Slaughter! At that time, my heart raced, and I felt it.
I felt a surge, a thrill, a rush of excitement, the kind I hadn’t felt since the good old days. The television trailer thrilled me and for the first time in a long time I said to myself...”Oh I’ve got to see that opening night!!!”

And by God, I did. It was a memorable night.

Even 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason (as fun as it was) didn’t give me the thrill of being a gore-hound horror fan. Maybe it was because I was so close to the premiere with all stars in attendance and involved with New Line directly with my local Freddy and Jason primer show... maybe it’s because Freddy vs. Jason seemed like WORK to me (planning out our show, our appearance, the promos etc)...maybe in the end, it wasn’t a Friday the 13th movie, but a ‘What If’ style of a mish-mash of two horror universes. It was a thrilling bloody good time, to be sure, but it did not give me the classic Friday the 13th thrill.

It’s been 6 years now...and the woods have been seemingly safe. But tonight...at midnight, all that will change.

This seems to be a classic Friday the 13th Movie. It has all the elements right, (according to the trailers) fun-loving beautiful and handsome teens, drinking, partying, smoking, (and apparently in one memorable shot topless water-skiing!!!), dire warnings from the locals about the dangers of the woods (Crazy Ralph-style), a tragedy and a mother driven to bloody rage and madness and a maniacally strong angry human-beast in a hockey mask in the woods with sharp weapons.

The bodies will hit the floor tonight, and for the first time in YEARS...I’ll be in attendance at a Midnight Premiere Show. Oh my 39-year old self will hate it in the morning...but I CANNOT and WILL NOT miss this.
For the first time in many years, since 1986’s part VI: Jason Lives, I think we’ll be treated to a SERIOUS Friday the 13th horror film that might go for the scares and the serious kills.

(Apologies to my friend John Carl Buechler who’s Part VII: the New Blood sincerely attempted to bring Jason back to his frightening roots with amazing effects and gore…most of which ended on the cutting room floor).

Think about it. It won’t be Freddy vs. Jason and it won’t be the self-referential Jason X ...heck it’s won’t even be A New beginning or (thank God) Jason Takes Manhattan.
I have a really good feeling about this. I think we’re all about to be treated to a return to the CLASSIC Jason Voorhees.

Remember the guy who pinned Crispin Glover’s hand to the counter with a corkscrew and planted a meat cleaver in his face in the short time before it took him to make a single sound? Remember the guy who ripped morgue attendant Axel's neck with a hacksaw and violently twisted his head 160 degrees around? Remember the guy who chopped Andy in half as he walked on his hands in part 3?

Well. I think THAT guy is back. And me? Well that Gore-Hound, who stayed up late and watched splatter films rented from a local mom and pop store, walked to my local one-screen grindhouse-style neighborhood theatre to watch late-night double features and hung Fangoria Posters of carnage and death on his wall? Well, I guess he’s back too.

Jason will never die.

As long as fans of the series are around, and there’s money to be made, Jason Voorhees will stalk us in the darkest corners of our fears. Beware! Deep in the woods there lurks a monster, an enraged beast that kills. Stay out of the woods and you MAY be safe, but remember, as Alice Cooper sang, “he knows your house!”

Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma!!.

The thunder rumbles through the sky and the lightning flashes illuminate the world. The rain pours down keeping a steady rhythmic beat on the room of your cabin in the woods. Inside you are safe and warm, the fireplace is casting a soft warm glow. The object of your affections is pressed up next to you, warm and comforting.
SUDDENLY the door to the cabin blows open filling your love nest with rain and wind…as you look up a huge figure is silhouetted against the lightning flashes. His hulking form fills the doorway. The figure is bald, and wears a hockey mask. Clutched in his hand, dripping with rain, is a long handled axe. The smell of rot fills the room and your heart is racing. The figure studies you for a moment, apparently remembering some ancient past sin committed against it (he just wanted to swim) then purposefully stalks forward.

You have just enough time to scream.

Welcome back Jason.
Look out!

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