Thursday, February 12, 2009

A modern Icon returns

Horror Cinema is a magical thing. Action films spawn heroes which, like the effects in the films from which they are born, burn bright and hot, yet fade quickly and are as quickly forgotten as the next star explodes onto the scene. Dramas spawn heart throbs and leading ladies which wither with age, manically trying to cling to popularity with tiring typecast rolls. The Westerns have given us legendary persona's. But only Horror films have given us true icons. Images burned into the public consciousness not as actors, nor even as characters, but distilled to something more eternal in the mind's eye, as vibrant and intense images.

Oh, you don't believe me? Well I challenge you then. Ask five people under the age of 25 who the following 10 people/characters are: Jean Claude VanDam, Chuck Norris, Julia Roberts, Faye Dunaway, Brad Pitt, Ingrid Bergman, Harry Callaghan, Scarlett O'Hara, Hondo Lane, Sam Spade.

Now ask the same people if they could identify the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, Freddy Kruger and of Course Jason from Friday the 13th, and I bet the results will contrast quite considerably. As much as I hate to admit it, Boris Karloff, Bella Lugosi, Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney (Jr. and Sr.), legends of horror suffer the same fate, but the characters they portrayed are eternal. How many different faces played Dracula or the Frankenstein monster? But their images are as recognizable in our society as those of Jesus of Nazareth and Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed there were better written screen plays, more intriguing characters, and scarier tales than Friday the 13th, but as much as I personally prefer the Halloween films, I cannot deny that Jason Voorhees is the face of horror through the 80's an iconic image just as prevalent and recognizable as Dracula.

In an era that redefined the horror genre with blood fests and Slasher flicks the Friday the13th franchise defined them all and has placed the goalie masked visage of Jason into our cultural identity.

Dismiss the Friday the 13th films as tired and out dated, or even lame and childish if you like, but remember that they have achieved what historic films like Bridge on the River Kwai, Citizen Cane, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ben Hur, and even Gone with the Wind never could.

Here's to hoping that this newest installment hearkens back to those early years of the franchise while in its prime.

G. Macabre

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