Let’s just jump into it! Here are some interesting ideas for future installments in the Friday the 13th franchise. Obviously, I could have come up with 13 ideas, but I’m not a gimmicky bastard. I repeat: Here are 7 ideas, not 13. You’ll read them and you’ll like them, damn it.
1. Give Jason’s Mom More Screentime!
The original Friday the 13th film’s character of Mrs. Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) certainly made an impact. In fact, in that film, she was actually the big splash, with Jason largely being a mere ripple, or at most a dream. Still, an argument can be made that, perhaps, Jason has stolen the show a bit too much.
Sure, we have caught brief glimpses of Jason’s mom here and there, with her being played and voiced by different people in brief scenes (Marilyn Poucher, Paula Shaw, Nana Visitor, Kathleen Garrett, etc.), but Pamela Voorhees could probably return. Hey, if they put Jason in space, why not find creative ways to bring back his mom?
2. Expand on the Concepts In ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (1993)
Not everyone likes this movie, and it’s not too difficult to understand why. It definitely has some baffling moments and the Jason myth is expanded in some weird-ass ways. Still, this movie does have its fans, and there was a lot of “retconning” going on with this installment, leaving plenty of gaps between ideas in previous films and this one. Of course, Jason returned from Hell to fight Freddy Krueger, but even that could obviously be retconned.
The point is, this might be a bad idea, but some really adventurous writer might try to do a special follow-up to this story. In fact, this film has an odd moment with the Necronomicon, which I always assumed was somehow linked to Jason’s powers. Were Mr. and/or Mrs. Voorhees involved in “Evil Dead”-style spells, somehow invoking a special curse involving Jason? A film exploring this concept would probably be terrible, but there’s still something bold about someone willing to explore this greater Voorhees universe.
3. Humanizing Jason (and Piss Off Certain Fans?)
Yes, Jason has already been humanized at various points in the Friday the 13th franchise. In fact, in Part 2 he almost seems like an ordinary guy, and possibly even some deranged redneck. Also, in the 2009 reboot, Jason sort of went back to those roots, even setting up boobytraps and such. However, I like the idea of being bold, even if it might piss off the fans. I’m talking about an almost genre-defying, intelligent, deliberative Jason, who might even be capable of talking and stuff!
I know, I know, this will instantly piss off many fans. However, it’s not as crazy as you might think. In the first film, you know what is strongly implied several times? Jason could talk! Yes, I am not imagining things. Pamela Voorhees repeatedly flashes back to a young Jason calling out for help. Now, maybe she was being crazy and just fantasizing about Jason’s ability to speak, but I don’t know. She might have been crazy, but it seems like she wouldn’t randomly attribute speaking ability to her mute son. Also, if you think I’m full of shit, go ahead and remind yourself about this moment with this clip:
So, interestingly, when people tell you the filmmakers flopped in Jason Goes to Hell” for making Jason speak, you can actually correct them and say, “Well, actually, Jason had spoken before that” (you don’t have to say, in a stewing rage, “Jason actually cried for help, you ignorant sonofabitch!”) On that note, it would be interesting to witness the moment Jason vowed to make sure no one would survive Camp Crystal Lake ever again. While a talkative Jason might not represent the Jason most people know, smarty-pants fans like myself can have the added bonus of saying “Well, actually…”
4. Final Girls Team Up with Tommy Jarvis to Take on Jason
This one seems like a no-brainer, especially when more fans would be on board with it than some of the crappier ideas I’ve presented here. In the final encounter between Jason and these various survivors, who would doubt that Jason would have a serious fight on his hands? Hell, you could even through in a few new survivors, if you wish to keep things fresh. The potential seems inherent. Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman/John Shepherd/Thom Mathews) has sort of been the John Connor of the Friday the 13th franchise. At the very least, imagine if he teamed up with the series’ Carrie character, Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln)!
5. A More Water-Based Jason
This idea isn’t entirely new. Obviously, Jason has spent plenty of time in the water. We’ve seen him jump out of the water, pull people under the water, emerge from the lake while clasping Fred Krueger’s (Robert Englund) severed head, and oddly get melted into a non-deformed little boy in swim trunks (Timothy Burr Mirkovich) by toxic waste. However, I think a daring writer could get even more creative with it. I mean obnoxiously and stupidly so.
What if Jason becomes more of a water elemental/ghost-like entity? Bad idea city, right? Maybe so, but it’s really no worse (and possibly better) than sending Jason Voorhees into goddamn outer space! The point is, the story element is already there, with Jason already around the lake hoping to drive the surviving campers out. Imagine if he wasn’t even trying to swim across to them, but basically was the water. It’s not so different from “Jason attacks from the water.” It also makes him more spectral. It may be a bad idea in most hands, but it seems like something that could work…but probably wouldn’t.
6. Jason Takes Manhattan…But More This Time?
I like Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, but people often complain about it being “Jason on a boat” more than Jason in Manhattan. Obviously, the excuse for the limited time in Manhattan was a limited budget. While we do get some memorable NYC moments, it was not enough to pacify everyone. What if that were to change, and Jason was retconned back into Manhattan? Maybe they could have him be captured, much like they do in “Jason X,” and transported to a special research lab in Manhattan?
Hell, the remake could even have nods to the original. Maybe you could have Rennie (Jensen Daggett) return, just so Jason can take her under the water and try to drown her again. After all, such a premise could never get old, right? Maybe she got knocked on the head, received amnesia, and decides to go swimming to revitalize her memory…and then WHAMMO!, Jason’s got her by the leg and that old romantic just won’t let go! Then she breaks free and decides to go to Manhattan to see a broadway show and Jason, that old rapscallion, happened to score some tickets and is ready to join her there, too. (Obviously, I am making light of tragic situations, but you get the idea.)
7. The Psychological Angle
Remember Part 5, which doesn’t even have a real Jason in it? Of course, you do! By that point, it seemed some people were fine with leaving the actual Jason hacked up, at the bottom of the lake, or wherever. In fact, some people thought even the second Friday the 13th film was a bit out there. A drowned kid returning for revenge? How? Well, part of the reason parts 1, 2, and 5 sort of work is obvious: They all have a psychological angle to them, so people are less likely to sweat the small stuff like “Does this story and timeline really make sense?”
By applying just a bit of a psychological twist, one can make just about any idea seem somewhat deeper, even if only superficially. Hell, even Part 7 has some of that going on. The point is, some skilled craftsmen could perhaps get to work on a deeper, more psychologically rooted depiction of Jason Voorhees. Maybe it’s good to avoid stereotypical Freudian stuff, but who knows? Maybe that cigar isn’t just a cigar. There are plenty of bizarre, twisted twists and turns to be made here.
Also, with how polished and refined some people are trying to be nowadays, the climate is perhaps just right to (even lazily) deliver freakish shocks and remind people what deeply disturbing stuff is actually buried beneath that hockey mask. Was Jason abused as a child and made too psychologically dependent on his mother? There’s a little bit of room to explore there, in the dark corners of the Voorheesian revenge motif. Of course, you can always have Jason fight someone other than Freddy, like Mike Myers (and I don’t mean Austin Powers — though, after seeing Jason in space, having him actually fight Austin Powers wouldn’t be much of a stretch. After all, in “Jason X” he did literally take on a fembot).
What are your thoughts on this list? Would they help or ruin the Friday the 13th franchise? Wouldn’t you see these movies either way? Admit it: You probably would, you hapless fool! Jason has you by the non-literal balls and you don’t even want him to let go, do you?
Goosebumps, Cuckoo Clock of Doom
Named for the 28th installment of the original book series, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom has the least in common so far with its source material.
Thankfully, the story isn’t negatively impacted by this. I can honestly say so far that these episodes just keep getting better.
After the last episode’s explosive ending, I’m sure we were all more than a little worried about James. I for one was worried we were going to have an example of the Bury Your Gays trope on a kid’s show.
Thankfully, that’s not the case.
We go back in time again to Halloween night, and this time we see what James was up to.
Mostly he was up to trying to flirt with his crush. Everything seems to be going well until James lies about being interested in football.
He tries to leave the house, but instead finds himself back at the basement door when Isaiah is trapped and the cuckoo clock is going off. James then shows a remarkable amount of genre savvy and tries his best to escape the house. Each time he does, we see another version of him walking away.
Eventually, he devises a plan to break the clock at just the right moment, but not before he gets some intel on his crush’s favorite team so he can score a date.
Back in the real world free of the time loop though, James finds that he has far more worries. Every time he tried to escape the house, a duplicate version of him was created. And all of those duplicates are waiting for him.
Back at the Biddle house, though, there’s a surprise waiting. One of the James duplicates has brought Harold Biddle a box. A ventriloquist dummy-sized box.
An empty box.
The effects of this show so far have been wonderful. When the other characters hit a James duplicate, it doesn’t just die. It explodes in a Nickelodeon-style wave of slime. This is just fun, and I’m kind of sad there doesn’t appear to be more of the duplicates around.
I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out.
Did I mention that these duplicates appeared to smell like watermelon Jolly Ranchers when they exploded? That was a visceral detail that was both alarming and terrific. They could have smelled bad. They could have smelled like rotting plants or people. But no, they smell like candy.
Of course, the characters continue to steal the show. Margot and Isaiah could be said to be the main characters, but everyone comes into this with main character energy. They are all funny, all capable, all smart. And they all seem to care about each other.
I loved that James and Isaiah talked about how they were feeling. I think it’s important that we’re modeling that for young men. They talked about what was bothering them, and they made up.
Finally, though, we have to talk about Justin Long again. His acting in this just keeps stealing the show. He dances like a cartoon and jumps from joyful to violently furious at a moment’s notice. The character doesn’t know how to act, and watching him fail to act right in front of people never fails to make me laugh.
What didn’t work
I honestly can’t say that anything didn’t work in this episode. But there is something about the show that I, at least, don’t like.
There’s no real blood or gore. There’s more blood when I eat an actual jolly rancher because I always cut my tongue on them.
Now, this show is pretty clearly not for kids and young adults so there’s probably not a lot of need for too much gore and violence. But if the bloody stuff is more your style, like me, the lack of it might disappoint you.
Fans of the Goosebumps books will know that everyone ended with a twist. And the show so far has been no different. And the ending of this episode has been the best so far. The tension of Margot’s mom’s impassioned reaction, blended with the revelation that Slappy is somewhere in town is just too much. I can’t believe we’re only three episodes in and I am this invested. I hope you are too.
Viewer beware, I suspect things are going to get a lot worse for our characters before they get better.(4.5 / 5)
If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Goosebumps, The Haunted Mask
Based loosely on the 1993 story of the same name, The Haunted Mask begins sort of partway through the first episode.
We’re introduced to a character we haven’t seen much of so far, named Isabella.
Isabella’s life doesn’t seem great. She’s all but invisible at school. She is responsible for taking care of her little brother. It seems like her only real joy is bullying people online. She was the person who tried to get Allison’s party canceled by sending the invite to her parents. Why? Because she is a very unhappy person.
Despite trying to get the party canceled, she decides to go anyway. At the Biddle house, a voice calls her down to the basement. There, she finds a mask.
The mask inspires her to do wild things. She wanders around the party, flirting with everyone. And she has a great time.
Several days later, after Isaiah breaks his arm, Isabella brings an expensive drone to school to get shots of the football team’s practice. Unfortunately, Lucas breaks it fooling around. And Isabella, tired of being ignored, says some awful things to him.
When her mother grounds her because she took the drone without asking, the mask compels her to do some awful things.
I would first like to talk about the storytelling structure in this season. It appears that we’re going to be getting the events of Halloween night multiple times, from multiple points of view.
I love this structure. It’s unique, and it allows for more mystery in a shorter period. It’s also more complex, showing just how much madness was happening, while just showing one part of the story at a time.
Another thing I appreciated was the evolution of the character Lucas.
On one hand, it’s easy to be angry at Lucas. Even if he thought the drone belonged to the school, it’s still kind of a selfish move to break it.
But Lucas just lost his father. We don’t know how yet, but we know from Nora that his death caused Lucas to start doing things like jumping on drones and skateboarding off the roof from his bedroom window.
We all mourn differently. Losing a parent as a teen is awful. So while we can all agree that he’s being a problem, he’s also being a sad kid working through something hard.
And the same can be said for Isabella.
Look, we still don’t know what the adults of this town did to make Harold Biddle haunt them. But we do know that these parents are messing up in all sorts of other ways. And Isabella is suffering from parentification. She’s being forced to play mom at home while being ignored by her classmates at school. Even without the mask, I could see her lashing out and trashing the house.
Finally, I love Justin Long in this series. His visual comedy was fantastic here, as he falls through the hallways. But he also manages to be scary as hell. His creepy smile and jerky movements are enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. I honestly can’t think of a living actor who could have played this better.
What didn’t work
If I have one complaint about this episode, it’s the music. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Every song seems like it’s just screaming what the characters are thinking. Which isn’t really what I’d consider the point of a soundtrack.
Maybe it’s just a curse on RL Stine. None of his projects can ever have good soundtracks aside from the theme song.
Unlike the original Goosebumps series, there were moments in this episode that did startle me and unnerve me. Which is wonderful. And while it’s still clearly for kids, it’s something anyone can sit down and enjoy. I’m very excited for the rest of the season. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
(4.5 / 5)
If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Goosebumps Say Cheese and Die
Released in 2023, Goosebumps is the latest in a line of content based on the insanely popular children’s book series with the same name. And if you’re here, I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you a lot about Goosebumps. Most horror fans are at least passingly aware of the colorful covers, dark plotlines, and surprise twist endings. Some of us even have a few of the original books lying around.
With so many good and bad versions of the original stories floating around, I was unsure how to feel about this brand-new series. I was sure, however, that I had to watch all of it. Especially with the infamous Slappy appearing so prominently in the advertising.
So, how was the first episode?
We start this episode with a flashback to 1993, and a young man named Harold Biddle. We don’t spend a lot of time with him. He comes home from school and goes right to the basement. There he starts writing some concerning notes in his journal. This is interrupted when a fire consumes the basement, killing him.
We then flash forward thirty years to the real start of our story. The Biddle house has just been inherited by a man named Nathan Bratt, played by the delightful Justin Long. He adores the place but is less than thrilled when a bunch of teens crash it for a Halloween party.
The teens end up not being thrilled either.
Now we come to our real main characters, Isaiah, Margot, Allison, and James. It is the four of them that planned the ill-fated party.
While in the house, Isaiah finds a Polaroid camera. He starts taking pictures of his friends, only to find that they don’t come out right. One of them, Allison, shows her on the ground in the woods, terrified for her life. Another shows Margot in a panic next to a snack machine.
Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he eventually sees both of the girls in those exact situations. The real trouble comes when Lucas takes a picture of him, and it shows him on the football field, horribly injured.
All of these near-death experiences seem to be caused by the flaming spirit of Harold Biddle. And it soon becomes clear that the adults of the town likely know more than they’re willing to tell about what went down at the Biddle house thirty years ago.
For someone who grew up with the series, and is therefore of a certain age, the first scene of the episode was a lot of fun. It oozed 90’s vibe in a way that’s immediately recognizable to most, and familiar to my generation. Well, insomuch as wearing flannel and coming home to an empty house is the pinnacle of being a 90s kid.
It was also fun for the constant references to books in the original series. Blink and you missed them, but I saw the Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Haunted Mask, and Go Eat Worms. These make sense, as they each have their episode this season. But I’m sure I missed a few. Please let me know in the comments.
That was a lot of fun for someone who grew up with the series. But it wasn’t so constant and all-consuming as to distract from the story. Someone could have never read a Goosebumps book in their lives and just enjoy this episode of television.
More importantly, younger viewers can watch this and feel like it’s for them. The main characters aren’t the parents, they’re the kids. And it’s clear even in this first episode that, even if it was the grownups who caused this horror, it’s going to be the kids that fix it.
This is a series that is for kids. And that’s great. It’s introducing a whole new generation to a series in a way that feels like it can be theirs just as much as it was ours when we were kids.
What didn’t work
All that being said, the story also felt a little dumbed down. A little too predictable. There was one line that particularly irritated me in this regard. When Nora goes to see Isiah’s dad in the hospital, she just flat-out says, “The children will suffer for the sins of the fathers.”
Not only is that just a bad line, it’s also a lazy one. It’s awkward and unrealistic. People simply do not talk that way. And we frankly didn’t need this information dropped on us. It was pretty clear during the football game that at least some of the grownups in town were going to be involved with this when we saw Nora recognize what was happening to Isaiah and try to stop the game. Kids are smart. They would have figured this out by themselves.
It’s also a really tired trope. Freddy and Jason after all, are both killing young people for the sins of their parents. It was a big part of the storyline in Hide. And while I get that this might feel relevant to the next generation who are all paying for the mistakes of Boomers that Gen X and Millennials have not done enough to solve, it’s also a bit lazy. I just feel like, if this is going to be our main story, it could have been a better one.
But this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy this episode. Overall, it was a fun start that left me with lots of questions. I’m excited to see where the rest of the season takes us.
(4 / 5)
If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.