Dark Friday

dark friday reviewRecently, I simultaneously exercised my love for horror movies and my nostalgia for childhood by watching the FRIDAY THE 13TH: FROM CRYSTAL LAKE TO MANHATTAN box set, which contains the first eight Jason Voorhees – or is that seven or six, technically? – adventures on DVD. It was a kick to do, and had the fringe benefit of being a nice, inadvertent, frame-of-mind setup for Jeffrey Leever’s DARK FRIDAY.

This is a novel that worships at FRIDAY THE 13TH’s muddied feet. The fact that it’s set in a town called Jasonville should be your first clue. Your next should be that its main characters – a handful of socially awkward high school boys – call themselves “the Order of the Friday.” They meet weekly to watch and discuss a horror movie. After the book begins, they’re finishing FREDDY VS. JASON, and talk about which girl in school they would kill if they had to.

It’s strictly wish-fulfillment fantasy on their part. But then one dark Friday – hence the title – it comes true. A gaggle of girls are dispatched one by one by a quasi-Voorhees killer described as having black eyes, wearing a paintball mask and sporting quite the arsenal of tools. One of the boys is arrested quickly for the crimes, but is he really the culprit? Newspaper reporter Kevin Gibson intends to find out.

Whether intentional or not, Leever’s novel turns out quite like one of the dead-teenager sequels its fanboys viciously debate: Some will hate it for its stock, serial-killer-in-a-can plot, while others will love it for that very reason. It’s all a matter of taste. If the thought of watching, say, HALLOWEEN 4 pains you, avoid DARK FRIDAY; but if it gives you what my 10-year-old son calls “the piddlywinkles,” grab.

I found it to be fun, but then I was prepped for nothing more. It’s not high art, nor does it want to be, although Leever could gain from making his dialogue more believable. At times, it’s belabored and even groan-inducing, but then, he’s putting words into the mouth of teenagers, and in reality, they do so a lot of asinine things that make you want to punch them.

Leever deserves good graces for injecting more of a mystery angle into his story, whereas most would have gone for straight horror. He also earns extra points for a reveal that doesn’t quite turn out how one would expect. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

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Comment by Doug Bentin
2007-09-13 14:23:10

And you have the nerve to question my taste in horror movies? Do you know that Witchfinder General finally made it to DVD this week? I grabbed up a copy this morning. Good stuff.

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Comment by Louis
2007-09-14 08:39:42

This book sounds effin’ awesome.

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Comment by Allan
2007-09-15 02:30:08

I actually went to pick up a copy of The Conquerer Worm (my personal title of preference for Mr. Price’s most disturbing AIP vehicle) this Tuesday, but they only had it as part of The Vincent Price Collection boxed set and I couldn’t bring myself to pay $36.99 just to get my hands on the one movie I didn’t yet own. I was very proud of myself–not too long ago I would have bought it without even thinking about it.

And, bizarrely, even though I consider the Friday the 13th series to be one of the weakest of the major franchises, it’s the only one I own on DVD in its entirety. Not too long ago I took two very long looks at parts five (aka the second one where Jason isn’t the killer that most fans have permanently blotted from their memory) and nine (the one where he killed Wilma, went to Hell and which I kinda liked) on my blog.

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Comment by Erin
2007-09-23 10:40:28

Hmm sounds intriguing, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of it before.

I have the box set as well, and it’s a great deal for the price, especially considering how much Paramount used to sock it to the fans by charging nearly 20 for individual bare-bone DVD releases.

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