The Case for Tommy Jarvis: What Was Great About Jason’s Nemesis and Why He Should Face Him Again - Dread Central
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The Case for Tommy Jarvis: What Was Great About Jason’s Nemesis and Why He Should Face Him Again

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Friday the 13th: A Case for Tommy JarvisThe Tommy Jarvis “trilogy” of Friday the 13th movies is among the franchise’s most popular. When looking at The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, and Jason Lives, it’s clear that we’re talking about three very different slasher movies—each with its own style.

They utilize the Tommy Jarvis protagonist in three very different ways, and there isn’t a massive character arc that strings them together, but they lend an air of continuity to a series that rarely bothered to have any.

Why does Tommy remain a consistent fan favorite? Examining the popular decisions of other franchises may help bring the issue into focus.

Surely we can agree that Dr. Loomis lends weight to the Halloween series as the boogeyman’s foil. He’s what every villain’s nemesis should be: resourceful, determined, and flawed. It’s this combination that I would argue makes him an enduring character. It’s never easy going after ”evil on two legs”, and yet he remains undeterred—despite numerous failures throughout the series. Loomis fails upward while trying to do the right thing, and it only adds to the history between Michael and him. As we reach the later films in the series, where Loomis has descended into full-on Captain Ahab mode, it feels like a logical progression after everything we’ve seen.

Friday the 13th: A Case for Tommy Jarvis

Conversely, most Nightmare on Elm Street fans agree that bringing Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) back into the fray was a wise decision for Dream Warriors after Freddy’s Revenge explored some drastically different avenues. Nancy will forever be remembered as one of the genre’s greatest heroines for her ability to beat Fred Krueger at his own game. And while she might’ve been unceremoniously killed off in the third film as a means of giving its titular heroes a trial by fire, it was nice to see her evolve and progress as a direct result of the events of the first Nightmare.

To be clear, Friday the 13th has never had a problem with likable final girls. Ask five Jason fans which is their favorite, and it’s entirely possible you’ll get five different answers (for the record, I’m team Melanie Kinnaman). But the series sort of refused to bring its heroines back in any meaningful way, and so we never had the benefit of watching how they evolved to deal with the Jason problem again.

But that changed with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. That’s not to suggest this was the result of meticulous planning by any means, but there was obviously enough potential within Tommy Jarvis to keep him around for a few movies. At last Friday the 13th was about to give Jason his own nemesis, and at the end of the trilogy we’ve got a character with a pretty interesting through-line. No one would ever accuse these films of offering rich character arcs, but Tommy is painted with enough broad strokes to make his arc across all three movies worthy of revisit.

It’s really hard to dislike him in The Final Chapter. He’s a young kid with an affinity for monster masks and video games, not above peeping on the beautiful women parading around in the nude next door, either. In short, he’s us: any young kid who watched these movies before they were old enough. He’s also the only one in his family with an excuse for not knowing that there have been brutal murders occurring on the lake where they live all weekend. Corey Feldman is great in this, and he probably has a lot to do with audiences getting in on the ground floor of the Tommy Jarvis movement. After all, he’s earnest and likable when a lot of kids in horror tend to be whiney and annoying. What’s great about The Final Chapter is that it’s unafraid to put him through some pretty terrifying paces as well. When I first saw this movie, I was much younger than Tommy is in the film, and I was constantly terrified of Jason smashing through my window to take me.

Friday the 13th: A Case for Tommy Jarvis

Tommy also figures out how to get at Jason’s psyche, dolling out the most uncompromising besting we’ve ever seen the big guy take. Not only do we like the kid, but the determination with which he protects his older sister is sort of touching.

For all the flak A New Beginning takes, give it credit for showing the emotional fallout of The Final Chapter—no matter how superficial it may be. One of the most hotly contested aspects is Tommy’s age jump. We don’t know how much time has passed between movies, but the casting of then 25-year-old John Shepard in a role previously played by then 14-year-old Corey Feldman certainly implies a considerable leap forward. I always thought that in A New Beginning he was supposed to be around 18-20 as I think it works best for the movie. It presents a long-suffering Tommy this way, whose torment shows no signs of receding.

This is the lowest point for him. He’s antisocial and prone to violent outbursts, and it’s perhaps unclear why he’s been deemed fit for a halfway house with a fuse that short (then again, precious few of the Pinehurst inhabitants are). Still, it’s a natural progression from the last movie, and the filmmakers were really smart to add the somewhat trivial “whodunit” element, since virtually everyone was certain that Tommy would be donning the hockey mask for all future installments. I distinctly recall my brother coming home from seeing The Final Chapter on opening weekend and telling me that “the little kid is going to be taking over for Jason in the next one.” And he was hardly alone in that sentiment; even New York Times critic Janet Maslin suspected as much in her menial review.

Again Tommy endures some traumatic stuff, and again we’re left wondering if he won’t really be hacking and slashing his way through the next installment. A New Beginning really wants to fan those speculative flames, doesn’t it? But after the emotionally despondent Tommy of A New Beginning, there’s really nowhere to go but up, right?

Friday the 13th: A Case for Tommy Jarvis

Writer/director Tom McLoughlin certainly seemed to think so, working off the mandate that the “real” Jason Voorhees had to be resurrected for this and all future sequels (the fans apparently didn’t like seeing a hockey mask with BLUE chevrons, regardless of the gigantic body count it delivered). McLoughlin isn’t interested in the temperamental psychology of Tommy Jarvis, propelling him instead into the role of intrepid hero. Yes, this is still a character haunted by his past (it’s what motivates him to seek out and destroy Jason once and for all), but he’s become Friday the 13th’s Abraham Van Helsing in the entry that so clearly owes a lot to the era of Hammer horror that inspired its director. Newfound heroism is perfectly suited to the character, and Thom Mathews wears it well. He’s determined to put a stop to Jason’s seemingly endless reign of terror, while failing upward in ways that would make Dr. Loomis proud. Sure he sparks Jason’s latest killing spree, but he also manages to get the sucker back to his rightful resting place, while saving the sheriff’s lovely daughter in the process.

Jason Lives is still a slasher film about a group of ill-fated camp counselors, but the added dimension of a dashing hero grows the series in an interesting direction. This is the audience’s third go ‘round with Tommy, and we’ve followed his journey from good-natured child to full-fledged hero. It’s pretty difficult not to side with him after all he’s been through, and we’re actually glad that he turned out pretty well (because it was looking dicey there for a while).

It’s a shame that Tommy was cast aside just as he had moved comfortably into the franchise’s “protector” role. The guy could spout doomsday gospel, follow Jason’s trail, and run afoul of all sorts of authorities who would rather forget the whole thing rather than lift a finger to help. Instead of Tommy, the The New Blood gave us Tina Shepard’s telekinesis, and while I quite liked Lar Park Lincoln in the role, I never had the emotional bond with her that I did with Tommy. After all, she was a one and done, and I spent the next few Fridays hoping they might wise up and bring him back. Especially when Jason went to hell.

Friday the 13th: A Case for Tommy Jarvis

But to this day, Friday the 13th never has brought him back, and that’s a tragedy. Paramount is readying the most dismal-sounding Friday the 13th yet for 2015, a found footage remake that tells me I probably don’t have to spend the next year and a half hoping that it’ll be any good. But the real shame of this is that we’re living in a time when audiences have almost come to expect more complicated mythologies. Hell, everything is about “shared universes” these days, not just comic book movies. Universal would like to pull this off with modern reinventions of their classic monsters, while The Terminator reboot aims to share its story between a new film series and a television show.

There has never been a better time to open up Friday the 13th a little more, and so it saddens me to hear that Paramount is taking the cheapest possible route for the series’ immediate future. I’m not saying that these movies should be big, epic stories, but there’s a great character like Tommy gathering dust on the bench, just begging to have some playtime. Nobody makes a Dracula without an iteration of Van Helsing, and even Rob Zombie insisted upon butchering the character of Dr. Loomis with his own Halloween bastardizations. Jason had a nemesis too, once upon a time. And we very much liked him.

Can we have him back?

Happy Friday the 13th

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Several Muppets Were Run Through The Walking Dead’s Zombie App and It’s Kind of Amazing

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For many people, a big part of their childhood were the Muppets from “Sesame Street”. The lessons they learned from characters such as Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Big Bird, and more, were invaluable and set a foundation of how to live ones life. On top of educational lessons, they were taught compassion, sharing, decency, and other traits that form the basis of a civilized society. Then zombies came along and botched everything.

Using an app from “The Walking Dead”, several characters from “Sesame Street” have been zombified, resulting in images that will no doubt make some of you laugh while others might be horrified at what their childhood characters have gone through. It’s kinda hard to deny that Count von Count doesn’t look gruesome as hell with a dislocated and dangling jaw…

Below is a gallery of these images and, just for fun, underneath that is “The Walking Gingerbread”, an actual parody of “The Walking Dead” done by “Sesame Street” for Halloween!

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Josh Millican’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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It may just be that my love of horror grows every year, but it honestly feels as though 2017 has been a red-letter year for the genre. Not only are films like Andy Muschietti’s IT and Jordan Peele’s Get Out generating Oscar buzz but we’ve seen horror elements seep into mainstream movies and TV shows, from Logan to “Stranger Things”.

And this hasn’t merely been an amazing year for mainstream horror, with powerful indies emerging as some 2017’s best; it’s further proof that many of the most compelling and important genre flicks are being produced outside the traditional Hollywood system. Below, in no particular order, are my selections for the Best Horror Films of 2017. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!


Brawl in Cell Block 99

Though the subject matter is completely different, S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 has many parallels to his first film, 2015’s Bone Tomahawk. Both movies build slowly and are anchored by compelling characters and engrossing dialogue; furthermore, both films are deceptively understated until an explosive and shocking 3rd Act hits like a gut-punch.

Vince Vaughn delivers a genuinely poignant portrayal of Bradley Thomas, a down-on-his-luck drug runner willing to do anything to protect his family from disgruntled former associates. Don Johnson also deserves a shout-out for his turn as corrupt Warden Tuggs, the most unnerving fictional jailer since Cool Hand Luke.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 isn’t your typical horror movie, presenting a meandering narrative, but it’s still as entertaining as anything that follows an established formula. Horror is always most compelling when we can connect with a film’s protagonists, and this film delivers in spades.


Raw

Julia Ducournau’s Raw both benefited and suffered from reports of audience members fainting and falling ill during the film’s 2015 premiere at TIFF. Upon its limited theatrical release, The Nuart in Los Angeles passed barf bags out to moviegoers, a tactic usually reserved for the most extreme and outlandish of B-movies, films intentionally crafted to trigger the gag-reflex. While Raw does indeed contain scenes that are very difficult to stomach (pun intended!) it’s hardly a 2-dimensional gross-out.

Before classifying the film as horror, it’s a coming of age saga first and foremost. Themes of cannibalism and bodily mutilations become metaphors for sexual awakenings and transitions into adulthood. Raw is also a compelling study of sibling rivalries and the powerful influence of heredity on personal development.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Though released after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is actually the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of horror icon Anthony Perkins). It combines the supernatural terrors of a possession movie with the compelling complexity of a murder mystery. The all-girls boarding school in winter provides a moody aesthetic with Gothic undertones while serving as an incubator for sexual awakenings and religious guilt.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter hinges on a powerful twist, but this doesn’t hit the audience like a ton of bricks; rather, the film’s secrets are gradually unraveled, resulting in a slow realization that’s as poignant as it is shocking. The film succeeds in no small part thanks to compelling performances by a trio of talented young thespians: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton.


The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is one of the most talented horror practitioners to emerge from Australia in the 21st Century. His debut film, The Loved Ones, is an under-seen sleeper that balances teen angst, dark comedy, and extreme violence. With his follow-up film, The Devil’s Candy, Byrne is finally getting the attention he deserves.

It’s less extreme than The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy’s understated presentation, genuine drama, and slow-burn build-up delivers more palpable dread and a lasting resonance. The Devil’s Candy is a chaotic mix of heavy metal music and inner demons and can be viewed as a metaphor for how the blind pursuit of art can destroy families.

Ethan Embry deserves a shout out for his harrowing portrayal of father and artist Jesse Hellman. Who’d have thought the kid from Can’t Hardly Wait would develop into such a skilled actor?


Get OutGet Out

Historically, Q1 is a bad time for horror movies, as studios are prone to dumping films they have little faith in. Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaks the rules in many ways and, though released in February, it remains one of the most lauded and analyzed films of 2017—in any genre. The inclusion of sociopolitical elements makes Get Out both unique and timely, although even without its social agenda, Get Out is a compelling and unnerving experience, one that stokes paranoia by exacerbating primal fears related to deception and isolation.

Peele has become an exciting and refreshing figure in horror with plans for more socially-conscious thrillers in the years to come.


47 Meters Down

Nearly unceremoniously dumped directly to DVD in 2016, In the Deep was rebranded 47 Meters Down and given a theatrical release last Summer, where it became an unlikely hit. Perhaps hampered by preconceptions relating to lead actress Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down is nonetheless immensely entertaining, eclipsing 2016’s shark-horror blockbuster The Shallows.

I do have doubts about the film’s ability to spawn a franchise (there’s currently a sequel in the works, being produced under the temporary title 48 Meters Down) considering this film hinges on a twist that can only be used once, so it’s difficult to imagine a sequel with the same impact—but who knows?

Ultimately, though, even a bad sequel won’t diminish the shine of 47 Meters Down. The film also proves there are still plenty of ways to pack legitimate terror into a PG-13 horror movie.

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Seasons 1 and 2 Are Now Streaming on Netflix

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The last word we brought you guys on the upcoming third season of Starz’s “Ash vs Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell was when we shared the show’s all-new teaser trailer (below).

Today we have awesome news that the first two seasons are now streaming on Netflix!

So if you’ve been putting off watching the series (for some reason) or have been waiting until the day where you could just binge-watch the series in one grand swoop, then today is your day. There isn’t a better time than now. Just make sure you’re caught up come February.

Hell, yeah.

Are you excited to watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” on Netflix? Let us know below!

“Ash vs Evil Dead” stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Campbell executive produces the series with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ivan Raimi, and Rick Jacobson. Season 3’s new showrunners are Mark Verheiden and Moira Grant.

“Ash vs Evil Dead” season 3 hits STARZ Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Synopsis:

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

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