Le Freak, C'est Chic: Jason's Legacy
There's no questioning my fascination by the Idiot Man Child in slasher cinema. A modern day freak shows that you don't have to witness in person, the idea of a mutated man (or woman as in the case with Screams of a Winters Night), is pretty hard to resist. And of course as we all know, Jason from the Friday the 13th series set the bar high for these mutated villians. But there was a map even before him. Usually, the IMC in question raised himself in the wild, bitter and bent on avenging whatever ill gotten life it was forced to live. The IMC normally took out his aggression on the innocent and more often than not, they were a vacationing group of teens whose sole purpose was to get drunk and laid. Good looking and moderately intelligent (at least by the IMC's standards), these victims represent what the IMC lost when another group burned down his forest, mistakenly killed his parents, or whatever other tragedy that might befall an IMC-to-be.
In Jason's case, the legend kind of wraps itself into several little legends - the most famous being that he supposedly drowned whilst two counselors were off playing the naked pretzel instead of watching him. Unfortunately, that meant whatever oedipal relationship Mrs. Vorhees had begun to build with Jason soon vanished before her very eyes. In a shocking turn of events, she kept the blood shed going as she stalks new counselors at the Camp where her boy perished. To this day, Mrs. Vorhees is the only female killer tied into any successful franchised slasher.
But half way through Part II, one begins to realize that there is more to the puzzle then originally spoken about. Ginny (Amy Steel, the greatest heroine in the Friday series), wonders if perhaps Jason was still alive and living in the wild, "Crying for the return of his mother". Kind of nightmarish, huh? I mean, imagine a deformed, mentally retarded kid who saw his mom get her head lopped off? If Jason didn't have any hatred towards peppy teens, that was sure to change.
And what came about from Ginny's innocent theory was a cavalcade of IMC wanna-bes. I mean, if we can't be Madonna, then we can still dress like her, right? Same goes for the IMC. It’s not like Jason was the first idiot killer to splash across the silver screen, but I’d like to think that he’s to thank for the dozens of films that pulled out the IMC card (albeit, to varying levels of success). Here are the five best and five worst rip-offs to enjoy. My only criteria for this list was that is should take place in the forest (or at least in some isolated area) and the killer should be stupid as hell. Hey, he is an Idiot-Man-Child right? I hope this list will spark a a little love for (as Paul so astutely said in Part II), "That Friday the 13th".
Love Songs for the Retarded (These are good!):
House on Sorority Row (1983) – OK, so I bent the rules on my first pick. Yeah, there’s no forest, but damn, this movie just never talked about enough. Housemother Mrs. Slater gives birth to a crazed bastard (literally) and when Mrs. Slater supposedly dies in a practical joke gone wrong, her son puts major ‘tardo foot to ass. Sumptuous and suspenseful, House is one of the best takes on the IMC.
Humongous (1982) – A strange but enjoyable horror movie, Humongous features a really big IMC and he does not like strangers. What makes this movie is the minimalism of it all. Humongous just is. No ifs ands or buts and it’s scary. Practically unheard of outside of slasher circles, this one is an underrated gem of a movie. Big, stupid killers RULE!
The Prey (1984) – I was conflicted about putting this on the best list. I know it’s not a very good movie, by technical (or storyline or acting or anything) standards, but there’s something so creepy about this movie. From the crazy killer gypsy (whose family died when someone accidentally set fire to the entire forest!) to that weird rock that overlooks the victims. The violence is well played out and although there is little more than a few lines of dialog and lots and lots of nature footage, this movie gets you where it counts.
The Unseen (1981) – OK, I’m not sure which came first – this or Friday part II, but the IMC on display here is just too awesome to ignore. I mean, is that really Flounder (Steven Furst) from Animal House in diapers?!? Well, yes it is! A wonderfully obtuse movie with the late, great Sidney Lassick as dear old dad and Ringo’s wife Barbara Bach as the wide-eyed Final Girl help give the proceedings a sense of class. This movie goes for sympathy, and sometimes it gets it. Cool flick.
Wrong Turn (2003) – Dude, this movie is great. Imagine my surprise when the post self-referential horror craze was going out the window and this little straight-faced-old-school slasher put bigger budgeted Hollywood films to shame. And it was a shame. This movie tanked big time, although it spawned a sequel which was released earlier this year. And we get three IMC’s instead of the usual one! One could argue that this movie leans more towards the X-Files episode “Home”, but there’s just too much killing to not give credit where credit is due. An excellent throwback with lots of neat little references (I caught one for the Prey actually!), this is a must for those who like their IMCs knee deep in mud and guts!
Let’s Get Retarded (These are so-bad-they’re-good!):
Blood Tracks (1985) – OK, this movie is bizarre and confused, but features some fun glam rock, a lot of chicks with mullets and lots and lots of people being killed! Forty years after a woman and her children flee to an abandoned factory, a rock band encroaches on utopia to film the best music video ever! Well, if you’ve seen The Hills Have Eyes, you have a general idea that these mutated IMCs are going to stay hidden, no matter what. Don’t expect to get scared though. Unlike Papa Jupe and his clan, the scariest thing about this family is their frostbitten faces. Now explain it to me again why the family insists on living in an ice cold abandoned factory when there is a nice warm cabin right down the way? Bad, clean fun.
Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone (1982) – And whatever you do, don’t watch this movie alone either! It’s something you NEED to share with others. A recluse who looks like he got too blitzed on Mardi Gras is keeping the forest clean by wiping out any hikers who happen by. Even those in wheelchairs! Now, why would anyone in a wheelchair be hiking, you ask? Puh-leeze, logic under such circumstances is just going to upset you. Code Red recently released this movie on DVD with director commentary and the lovely James Bryan (I’ve met him and he is absolutely awesome) explains where it all went wrong.
Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985) – Oh. My. God. This movie is nothing like the sinister original, although a good portion of the sequel is filled with flashbacks from it. So many, in fact, that the dog even has one! When he goes “Aarf” and the screen starts to go all wavy, it’s totally awesome. What this movie does have though, is a nice pace and it stays interesting, even if the story and the characters are really stupid. So points to Wes for at least keeping our attention.
Memorial Valley Massacre (1988) – Wow. That’s really all one can say about this one. It’s one of those movies that is never really sure if it’s playing it for scares or laughs. When that happens, it usually succeed at neither and this movie is certainly one ponderous little mess. The IMC in question though is freakin’ hee-larious. I mean, truly. He’s all loin-clothed out and has a super duper mullet to boot. Now that’s WHITE HOT.
The Night Brings Charlie (1990) – A last and utterly futile attempt to make a decent IMC slasher, this movie is mostly forgettable except for the fact that killer just may be the local disfigured tree surgeon! No joke, and any movie with a disfigured tree surgeon needs to be on a list for something, right? I mean, it’s a movie full of firsts. Still, it’s kind of let down and it also ushers in the new age of direct to video slashers that took over video store shelves in the 90s. But yeah, an IMC by any other name would smell just as sweet.