Friday, April 16, 2010

The Curse That Is Friday the 13th

In a couple of weeks, Platinum Dunes will again strike the box office with a remake of a “classic” horror movie from the 70s/80s era of the genre. Admittedly, of all the titles they have to choose from, A Nightmare on Elm Street has the richest kernel of an idea that was not all that well executed the first time around. However, one does not hold out much hope that they will do anything intelligent with the title. They have been doing this for some time now, and have been making a lot of money doing it. Sadly, that is about all they are after, and they are not using the stories to present any worthwhile ideas. Michael Bay (part owner of Platinum Dunes) is even said to have walked out of their effort last year because it featured “too much sex.” That is just adding to the already negative aspects of that particular series: Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th is truly scary. Not the film series, but the ideas it presented and repercussions it had on our society. If you ever encounter a fan of this film series, you might be amazed at what they have to say about it. They are not into it for the scares or the horror. That in itself would not necessarily be a bad thing. The horror genre generally has a lot to offer. They are into it for the killer, Jason. They are fans of him, not the movies. They want to see how many people he will manage to kill and how he will do it. Perhaps it is not nearly as graphic and disturbing as the “torture-porn” genre that is popular these days, but the Friday series opened the door for this trend. The characters in these films are not people, they are facsimiles of annoying traits that the audience wants to see die. In giving the audience Jason’s perspective, they not only get their wish, they participate in it.

More has been said on this topic, far better than described here, by S. T. Karnick and no doubt others. And not everything about the Slasher subgenre is without its merits, as argued elsewhere on NonModernBlog.

Where Friday the 13th took 80s horror to a very disturbing place, the original Nightmare movie had higher goals. Unfortunately, the trend was set by Jason, and Freddy became something wholly other than the symbolic monster he started out to be…

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