Jason Voorhees; Fan Films
Vengeance (Jeremy Brown) is a Jason Voorhees fan film. It fills the gap sadly left by the notable absence of recent Friday the 13th films. A rift between writer Victor Miller and producer Sean Cunningham resulted in a lawsuit over ownership. The 2009 reboot had promise and Jason was reborn as a stealthy predator. Unfortunately, the lawsuit followed, preventing the production of sequels. At this point, the die-hard fans stepped in, and the production of fan films began.
Vengeance: Avengers Assemble
Vengeance continues the Friday the 13th Part VI story and takes place 30 years later. Tommy Jarvis, Jason’s nemesis, is missing. His daughters Angelica (Kelly Tappon) and Ashley (Sanae Loutsis) are visiting for the summer. Angelica contacts Robert, a Jason conspiracist, seeking help in finding her father. Tommy left a note stating, ‘HE’S BACK.’ Robert believes that Jason is alive and that the police are lying about recent deaths being attributable to bears. He enlists the help of three locals directly affected by Jason, relations of old victims.
These warriors come well-prepared and join Tommy and Angelica in an Avengers Assemble style gathering. Fortunately, this scene is under-played reducing the tacky factor. The warriors travel to the camp to find Jarvis and prove Jason’s existence. Of course, a plethora of potential victims arrive at the same time, including; campers, prisoners, police, and hunters. Angelica’s sister Ashley follows the warriors into the woods and, at the latter end, the girls find each other among the carnage.
The film opens with a harbinger; Gravekeep Walt (Tommy McLoughlin) and Jason’s father Elias Voorhees (C.J Graham) in the forested mists besides Jason and Pamela’s graves. Walt divulges that Jason’s body was never found and is asked to keep this a secret. The atmosphere is dark and reminiscent of the opening scene of Friday the 13th part VI. Manfredini’s score provides an additional eerie backdrop to the overall unsettling scene.
The spooky atmosphere is consistent throughout the film, provided by mists, the moon and Elias’ wonderfully creepy rendition of Elias. Also worth mentioning, is the fantastic scene showing a bird’s eye view of Crystal Lake. The terrific shot overlooks the forestry and highlights the creepy mists rising around it. Sometimes, the night sequences, particularly those in the cabin, are too dark for easy viewing on devices. The darkness does add to the atmosphere, makes parts of the viewing difficult.
Vengeance: The Death Toll
There are significantly more deaths than usual for a Voorhees film. This is largely due to mass-slayings of campers and prisoners. This departs from the traditional Vooheers Modus Operandi, whereby he stalks one victim at a time. The exception to this rule is, of course, the decapitation of a small group of paintballers in part VI. As such the mass slayings are forgivable as a homage to that film.
There are plenty of personal death sequences and the director pays tribute to a multitude of canon death methods. The traditional machete is used substantially, and the sleeping bag death introduced by Kane Hodder evolves into a two-man tent death. New methods are also introduced such as the use of a car engine to remove a woman’s head, and the bludgeoning of a victim with the rock Jarvis used to chain Jason underwater. Overall, the diversity and number of killings make this film a rollercoaster of a ride from start to finish.
Honoring the Canon
Vengeance makes reference to and utilizes in the narrative, aspects of both general slasher canon, and specific aspects of the Friday the 13th universe including both the films and the comic series. Indeed, the plot is driven by the premise of the comic book universe. Elias Voorhees, Jason’s father, seeks revenge on the killers and makes use of the Necronomicon in raising Jason from the dead.
Louis (Jason Brooks, who also plays Jason) the town drunk refers to Jason as ‘Mikey Myers,’ referring to the antagonist from Halloween. The tour guides refer to an incident in Springwood, the town from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the road to the camp is called Cunningham road after the original producer.
Vengeance follows the unwritten rules of the slasher genre. Victims are shown smoking weed, drinking and having sex. Surefire ways of guaranteeing certain death in this sub-genre. The warriors agree not to separate as splitting up Scooby-Doo style generally results in execution. However, as the night wears on, and they find themselves protecting the tourist group they inevitably separate.
The media is also used to convey narrative, and show the town’s sheriff department covering up the killings. In this film, the cover-up is taken further with the sheriff’s department being implicated in Jason’s death. In line with the 2009 reboot, there is no phone signal in the woods, so the girls cannot call for help. The adherence to both canon and the slasher rules the filmmakers clearly have a deep admiration of the genre, and this shines throughout the film. In an ironic twist, one of the warriors tries to use the ‘mother is talking to you’ rouse on Jason as in part II, but fails and angers him so much that he goes Donkey-Kong on her ass with a hatchet.
There is a great deal of humor in this film, from plain jokes to witticisms and highly amusing anecdotes. The tour guide shows how to ‘erect’ a tent with reference to the ‘tip’ and how the pole grows ‘long and firm’. The prisoners also engage in a hilarious bout of banter regarding one inmate’s wife and the problems caused by her crabs during oral sex. Another funny moment occurs during the ‘Legends 57’ spooky tour in which the tour guide asks, ‘Is that Jason Voorhees coming to kill us?’ and the pessimistic and bored participant replies, ‘God, I hope so!’ These humorous moments serve both the narrative by providing grounds for punishment of inappropriate behavior, and by lightening the subject matter in a good-hearted way.
Vengeance: Do or Die
As a die-hard horror fan, I found this film very watchable. There are a lot of characters, however, in a horror, this equates to a lot of victims. To be honest, no one cares about the extra victims in this genre, and it makes for some deliciously violent deaths in bulk. Although this is not usual in Voorhees films, it is common among other franchises within the genre. Further, since the rise of torture porn (Saw and Hostel, for example) competition in the violence department has certainly been fierce. Vengeance offers up its sacrifices in a fun manner. Each group who enter the woods goes at their own peril. The slasher audience understands and applauds such narrative devices.
Vengeance remains true to the canon, showing an insight into the wider Voorhees universe with the use of the Necronomicon and Elias Voorhees. Those who are not familiar with the overall canon will enjoy the bumpy ride, but those familiar with canon and genre rules will appreciate this film on a whole other level.
Vengeance: Feeding the Voorhees Saga
The narrative is strong enough to keep viewers interested, particularly as aspects of the wider universe are incorporated. Some of the groups of victims are clearly devices to enable additional killings, but this is true or most of the Voorhees films. Vengeance ends without full closure giving the potential for a sequel, and it adds a new dimension to the Voorhees character. To add more would be to give away unwanted spoilers.
Suspense could be improved with greater elements of slow stalking, and perhaps a few less characters. Vengeance could also benefit from the classic ‘Ch ch ch – Ah ah ah’ (Ki ki ki Ma ma ma) that denotes Jason’s presence.
Overall, this film provides a much-needed addition to the Voorhees saga and is well worth the watch. The atmosphere is tremendous, the resurrection sequence explains Jason’s immortality in line with the Voorhees universal canon, and Graham’s Elias provides a fantastically dark secondary antagonist. The acting is good, and the characters fall into the traditional slasher victim roles with perfection. Jason’s appearance is sublime and magnificent. I hope that this film obtains the recognition it deserves.