3. Friday The 13th (1980-2009; 12 movies so far)
While lying in bed on the morning of Friday, January 13th, 2006, I decided it was finally time to tackle the entire saga of Jason Voorhees. (No, I wasn’t high at the time.) Later that night, I began with the 1980 original. A year and a half later, I was completely caught up with the original series.
Jason, a disfigured kid, drowned in Crystal Lake while two irresponsible camp counsellors, both suffering from a bad case of the hornies, were too busy getting busy to save him. Soon after, they end up getting killed and the camp is temporarily closed. When it reopens years later, more counsellors are murdered including a future star named Kevin Bacon. (He gets stabbed through the neck after sex.)
When you find out who is actually committing the murders, it’s ridiculous and totally unconvincing. As it turns out, that twist is about as smart as this infamously dumb franchise ever gets. In Part 2, Jason turns out to be alive and bumps off the sole survivor of the first movie. You would think that would satisfy his need for revenge. You would be wrong. In his mind, all camp counsellors are the enemy. Why not politicians?
For the rest of the 80s, he would continue to utterly decimate a whole slew of actors you would, for the most part, never see again. It isn’t until the latter stages of Part 3 that he finally establishes a distinctive look, the old school Jacques Plante goalie mask which he wears in every subsequent sequel. (When you don’t possess a distinctive personality you need all the help you can get.) After getting killed off in The Final Chapter (number four if you’re keeping track), he was on hiatus for A New Beginning (an imitator took over his killing spree) only to return to take out Horshach in Part VI, Terry Kiser (Bernie from the Weekend At Bernie’s movies) in Part VII and soap star Scott Reeves & Kelly Hu in Part VIII.
After 8 pitiful releases from Paramount, Jason moved to New Line Cinema. In 1993, he was killed off yet again in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, another awful entry. The most notable moment in the film is the ending when the finger glove of Freddy Krueger pulls his hockey mask back down to hell. The year after the masked one was resurrected yet again for the futuristically deplorable Jason X in 2002, the two most prolific horror villains of the 80s returned together in Freddy Vs. Jason. As I wrote in that linked review, “it’s the worst Nightmare On Elm Street movie and the best Friday The 13th sequel, a dubious double achievement.”
After 11 films, both Paramount and New Line thought it would be a swell idea to remake the original 1980 film that began all this bullshit. Released in 2009, this version of Friday The 13th is just as bad as the first one. Unfortunately, it made 90 million globally so the worst horror franchise of all time will live on. Fuckers.
2. The Mighty Ducks (1992-1996; 3 movies)
Before he was Pacey on Dawson’s Creek and Peter on Fringe, Canadian actor Joshua Jackson was Charlie, the only talented player on his embarrassingly bad childhood hockey team in The Mighty Ducks. Issued by Disney in the fall of 1992, the film is about a self-absorbed lawyer (Emilio Estevez) who is ordered to coach the worst team in the history of the cinema as punishment for driving drunk. (He was once a hockey sensation in his youth.) A predictable underdog movie with the usual smarmy Disney life lessons thrown in, I was astounded at how unfunny it was when I screened it at my local multiplex. I don’t remember laughing a single time.
Because the film was a modest hit, it spawned a sequel: D2: The Mighty Ducks. And I thought the first one was bad. Like the original, this 1994 follow-up (which I watched on VHS in 2002) inspires no laughs. Neither does D3: The Mighty Ducks, which sees our obnoxious, humourless heroes trying to adjust to life in a snooty prep school. I finally watched this 1996 stinker three years ago. It wasn’t easy.
Of all the trilogies I’ve seen in my lifetime, this one is, without a doubt, the worst.
1. Police Academy (1984-1994; 7 movies)
While it’s never fun watching scareless horror films that revel in gore and graphic close-ups, there’s nothing worse than a laughless comedy. So what could possibly be worse than suffering through three Mighty Ducks turkeys? How about seven Police Academy movies.
Yet another underdog franchise, this one revolves around misfits wanting to break into law enforcement. (Good Lord.) I’ll admit that parts of the 1984 original made me laugh. (Damn you, hilarious sound effects genius Michael Winslow.) But ultimately, the film is just too stupid for its own good.
Because of its success, Warner Bros. flooded the marketplace with five more installments during the rest of the 80s. After a very light hint of a chuckle during an innocuous scene early on in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, even a comedy archeologist would have a hard time digging up a single laugh at any other moment in the rest of this franchise. And that includes the little-seen seventh chapter, Mission To Moscow, a sequel I’m sure Sons Of Anarchy’s Ron Perlman (who played the heavy in that disaster) regrets ever appearing in.
How bad is this series? Let me put it this way. Even if you watched them all out of order, the result would be exactly the same. You wouldn’t lose your place in the series because there’s little continuity between the sequels other than recurring characters. You wouldn’t be asking yourself “who’s that guy?” because that guy is a humourless bore you could care less about. It’s all about those painfully unfunny one-liners, physical gags and sound effects. When all seven films were on order at the public library, I reserved copies of every one with the hope of screening them chronologically. Unfortunately, all but number 3 arrived at the same time which meant that I had to go from Their First Assignment right to number 4, Citizens On Patrol. After going all the way through to Mission To Moscow, Back In Training (the aforementioned third entry) finally arrived at my local branch. As I watched it, I realized that I didn’t miss anything. Even if I watched it right after number 2, I still would’ve hated it.
Curiously, the only thing I’ve never hated about this franchise is the orchestration that plays over every opening title sequence. Who knew that such a horrifying mess of a series could inspire such a memorable theme song? I’ve whistled it many times in the nine years since I subjected myself to all seven of these witless disasters.
Unfortunately, once the music dies down, the only thing to keep you slightly entertained are the number of famous faces that pop up at various moments back when they were struggling performers. Besides Kim Cattrall in the original (and the aforementioned Ron Perlman in Moscow), look for JAG’s David James Elliott in Back In Training; Sharon Stone, David Spade and a very young Tony Hawk (yep, the skateboard guy) in Citizens On Patrol; Janet Jones (Mrs. Gretzky) and Matt McCoy (the second Lloyd Braun on Seinfeld) in Assignment: Miami Beach (McCoy also appeared in City Under Siege) and Claire Forlani in Moscow.
Then again, don’t bother unless you want to suffer through the worst film series in the history of Hollywood.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 13, 2013