Directed By: Jeremy W Brown & Dustin Montierth. Written By: T.C. De Witt & Mike Meade. Starring: C.J. Graham, Steve Dash, Tom McLoughlin, Jason Brooks, Kelly Tappan & Diana Prince.
When you think of Jason Voorhees, one of the first things that spring to mind is an ‘unstoppable killing machine’. While this has been the case for many a decade now, it would seem that nothing stops old Jason faster than a bitter court feud.
In a battle that made Freddy vs Jason seem like a scuffle in a nursery school, Friday creators Sean Cunningham and Victor Miller went head to head over who should own the rights to our hockey-masked anti-hero.
The real losers of this conflict have been the horror fans as it was all we could do to look on like children watching as their parents drag them through an acrimonious custody battle. This has meant that we haven’t had a new Friday movie since 2009’s so-so remake.
Sure we had the game and while I loved how much attention to detail and affection for the franchise that the creators put into it, Friday the 13th The Game fell victim to this lawsuit as well. This meant that with new content drying up, interest in the game dwindled and became as dead as a horny camp councillor.
Well, as it turns out, you can beat true Friday fans down but you can’t keep them there and thank God for the fan film. Fully funded by a Kickstarter campaign, uber-fans Jeremy W Brown, Dustin Montierth, T.C. De Witt and Mike Meade have delivered Friday the 13th Vengeance and it’s a marvellous love letter to the series.
The film picks up about 30 years after the events of Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives and is very much a direct sequel to what many fans consider one of the best instalments in the franchise. We finally get introduced to Jason’s never before, seen father, Elias Voorhees (Played by Jason part 6’s, C J Graham). Elias rocks up at Camp Crystal Lake and people begin dying. Meanwhile, Anjelica Jarvis (Kelly Tappan), the daughter of Tommy Jarvis, Jason’s greatest nemesis, begins a search party for her recently missing dad. She soon learns that you can’t keep a good homicidal maniac down and Jason (Jason Brooks) has once again ascended from his watery grave to cock block horny campers as only he knows how. Nothing kills a boner like a machete to the face.
What I loved about Vengeance is that it feels like a Friday film. It doesn’t feel cheap. Maximum effort went into production to keep the tone in line with Jason Lives, and this shows on screen. Vengeance is the passion project of a group of people who love and respect this series of films and they honour it perfectly.
Bringing C J Graham back as Jason’s dad is a stroke of genius and a real treat for Part 6 fans. He isn’t the only returning veteran however as we get Jason Lives director Tom McLoughlin in a small role as a grave keeper and Part 2 Jason, Steve Dash as the local Sheriff, Jason Realotti. This was to be Dash’s final screen role sadly, as he passed away in 2018 at the age of 74. There is a nice running gag throughout the film that any real Friday fan will pick up on. Dash’s sheriff, when questioned about the possible return of Jason Voorhees, erupts with anger and shouts about he is the real Jason. For anyone not in the know, it is often felt that Dash’s role in Part 2 was overshadowed by fellow Jason actor Warrington Gillette. Even though Dash spent more time on screen, beneath the burlap sack.
Many of the familiar tropes of the series are present and correct, and as a result, Vengeance has a high nudity ratio. Many of the actresses shed their shirts before meeting a grizzly end so fans of boobs and gore won’t be disappointed. Speaking of the gore, it’s both present and well delivered. I counted 44 kills and even by Jason’s standards, that’s a lot.
There are a few, slight niggles to be had. Some characters that are introduced are nothing more than cannon fodder and while I know that that’s nothing new in this series, When so many people are killed in a 90-minute runtime, that’s a lot of non, fleshed-out characters. While the cast primarily do a great job with their parts, some are not as great as others. It's not the end of the world and as I said, these are minor nitpicks.
Most people consider Never Hike Alone to be the pinnacle of the Friday the 13th fan film and while I really liked that movie, I have to say that I liked Vengeance more. It's more ambitious and grander in scale. Like Never Hike alone, Vengeance is available on YouTube so there is no reason not to catch it if, like me, you’re a die-hard Friday fan.
I honestly think that with quality fan efforts like this, I’m not really concerned if Cunningham and Miller get their shit together or not. Friday the13th Vengeance is a treat and satisfied my hunger for all things Jason. So while the rights war rages on, do yourself a favour and check this film out instead.