All posts by Landon Evanson

Can I Borrow Your Imagination?

“Then you really might know what it’s like,

Then you really might know what it’s like,

Then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose.”

We first met the equally gifted and cursed Will Graham in Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel, Red Dragon, the best-seller that also introduced us to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Outside of our imaginations, however, it would be almost five years before we would see the purposeful-looking profiler in flesh and blood on screen in Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), and another 16 before his last theatrical appearance in Red Dragon (2002).

From the novel, and subsequent films, we understood Graham to possess the uncomfortable and unwelcome talent of pure empathy, an ability to assume the point of view of brutal killers. While it was an ability that allowed him to translate evidence in a way that others simply could not, Harris’ words informed us of the toll it took on Graham, but it was a phenomenon that we’d never truly witnessed on-screen.

Until Bryan Fuller resurrected the Lecter universe with NBC’s groundbreaking Hannibal series in 2013.

Do you see?

After more than thirty-one years, two films and a novel, we were finally given the opportunity to truly observe Will Graham for the first time through the brilliant vehicle that is Hugh Dancy.

Prior to the opening scene of the program’s initial episode, we’d only been offered glimpses of what Graham could conjure through his unique imagination. Be it with William Petersen talking himself through the thought process in Manhunter, or the briefest of visions presented through the lens of Edward Norton’s reluctant voyeur, we never truly delved into Will Graham’s mind.

Hannibal set about changing that, and while this writer will be the first to say that Mads Mikkelsen’s Lecter is the finest portrayal of the cannibalistic caretaker, the reason that the television series soared for 39 episodes was the presentation of Will Graham.

As Damian Swift and Mark Shannon were the first to achieve the feat of penning Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) as not only human, but human being with Friday the 13th (2009), Fuller and company allowed a similar peek behind the curtain. Graham was no longer an edgy, hesitant hero with hundreds of thousands of miles on his engine, but for the first time, the price of Graham’s gift was put on full display.

Darcy’s exhibition of Graham was closer to self-diagnosed Asperger’s and autism than a jaded veteran detective. Interaction was not just difficult, but strained and stressful. Not once was there an I-told-you-so revelation that altered the approach to a case, but rather a sad, reserved interpretation of “the ugliest thoughts in the world.”

The beauty of Hannibal, and of Darcy’s portrayal, was another line from Everlast’s “What it’s Like,” – “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes” — a lyric that applied not only to Graham, allowing himself into the headspace of a psychopath, but to the audience that embarked on that same journey through Graham’s eyes.

tumblr_inline_ohuslmj6nP1s38ndg_500And Fuller’s Hannibal wasted no time in communicating that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

That first view found Graham analyzing the surroundings of a crime scene, then rewinding to the very moment he’d summoned the courage to kick the door in and experience the heinous thoughts, actions and sentiments of the perpetrator.

Graham entered the home with confidence, and upon putting down Mr. Marlow (Wayne Downer), emphatically declared “He will die watching me take what is his away from him. This is my design.” Next, he shot Mrs. Marlow (Bernadette Couture) “expertly through the neck,” paralyzing her before she hit the floor, setting up the first true indication that this was not the Will Graham we’d thought we known over the course of three decades.

Graham slowly walked toward the downed victim and said “which doesn’t mean that she can’t feel pain,” his eyes searching for the words, Dancy whispered a tormented “It just means,” before continuing “she can’t do anything about it.”

The empathy of Graham not only allowed him to adopt unwanted points of view, he also empathized with the victim, and the awful thoughts and visions running through his mind.

Graham would go on to point out that the work Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) had recruited him to do was “not good for (him),” as we laid eyes upon the incredibly expensive emotional, psychological and physical tax of Graham’s imagination.

Hannibal’s Will Graham was not a damaged, yet contented family man who didn’t want to look anymore, he was unstable and fractured long before he stepped foot inside the Marlow home. A fragile tea cup whose crevices were sure to weaken every time he opened his eyes. Or closed them.

And it was Dancy who made each new fissure at once agonizing and exquisite, in a beautiful turn that if we’re honest about it, is the very reason fans continue to clamor for a fourth season, almost three years after Hannibal was taken off the air.

Because of Hugh Dancy, there is still a desire, dare I say a need, to borrow Will Graham’s imagination.

Memories Won’t Fade even as Ash vs Evil Dead Says Goodbye

After nearly forty years, we’re sad to say goodbye to a franchise that has given us three films and thirty television episodes. That heartbreak has less to do with Ash Williams, and everything to do with our memories of watching The King ham it up.

Those memories are different for everyone. It could be where you were when you first laid eyes on The Evil Dead, or the people with whom you watched Army of Darkness, or or perhaps the way the splatstick of Ash vs Evil Dead helped you put your troubles on the back burner, if only for 30 minutes. It goes without saying that memories are a very personal thing, but make no mistake, the reason Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead universe resonate so deeply with fans comes down to individual circumstance.

For me, it was the routine of waking on Sunday mornings after a night of shenanigans and grabbing my phone to pull up the latest chapter of AVED. It’s been my way for three years now, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t going to miss the hell out of it. To be honest, though, I must admit that it’s been the interactions I’ve blessed to experience with cast members that endeared me most to Ash vs Evil Dead. Hell, I almost set Ted Raimi up on a blind date, but I’ll get to that.

I’m not even going to discuss the interview I scored with the King two days before the Season 2 finale (though it took two years to land, and I was never so nervous in my life), because in a matter of seconds before our discussion came to a close, Campbell provided a gift that can never be repaid.

CampbellSince entering the arena of horror writing, one relationship has towered above all others, and that is my friendship with the owner and operator of Nightmare Nostalgia, Patti Pauley. Many times she’d mentioned that Bruce Campbell was her son’s hero, and I always told her that should I get the opportunity to speak with the man who was Ash, I’d see about getting a personal message for her boy. So when the time came, I asked Campbell if he’d be good enough to share a few words, and he didn’t disappoint.

While the message itself was vintage Bruce — short and not-so sweet — her delight when I told her that he’d agreed to say something had me grinning from ear-to-ear. However, it wasn’t until later that night that I realized that she’d not only shared that message with her son when he got home from school, but on Facebook as well. I watched as her child gasped and faux-fainted when he discovered that a message from Bruce Campbell existed that was for his ears only. Thinking about it now makes me giddy beyond belief, because it’s a moment that doesn’t belong to the masses, but the three of us, to be cherished forever.

Like the conversation I had with Dana DeLorenzo in my kitchen.

It wasn’t that she’d no doubt done innumerable interviews with other outlets, or that she found it funny that I’d been involved with the “Thanks for talkin’” conference call months earlier, but my discovery that she was every bit as charming and hilarious off screen as she was fierce as Kelly Maxwell on. DeLorenzo shared that she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she was doing a Q&A with a popular horror outlet in the same room where she’d played with Barbies as a child, before offering exquisite teaser after exquisite teaser.

DeLorenzoI won’t lie, it was a fantastic discussion, but while the thought never crossed my mind that I was “in” with her (and still don’t), it led to a shot in the dark that I’m glad I took. About a week into Women in Horror Month 2017, it dawned on me that securing a true horror heroine to wrap the month would be fantastic, and the first person who came to mind was Ms. DeLorenzo. So I messaged her to ask if she’d be interested in penning a piece for HorrorGeekLife about her experiences in the genre, with zero expectation. To my surprise, she agreed, and shared a beautifully poignant and inclusive piece that left HGL’s editor in tears. Till my last breath, I will never believe that she said yes, but if you ever want to know how incredible Dana DeLorenzo is, look no further than that act of generosity.

Which brings us to her partner in crime, the powerful vagina himself, Ray Santiago.

With a telephone conversation during or prior to each season, Santiago is the only Ghostbeater whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with more than once. After Baal sliced and diced Jefe’s right-hand man near the end of Season 2, I chatted with Santiago and wasn’t entirely convinced that we’d seen the last of Pablo, and felt compelled to say that if it was the end, I spoke for Evil Dead fans everywhere in thanking him for the franchise’s finest character not named Ash, and a job well done.

AvD-Pablo2

To my shock, Santiago was touched by the sentiment, stammering through “Dude, you literally just made me…that makes my day.” The thought of that exchange still makes me smile, to say nothing of the shit-eating smirk that appeared on my mug after Kelly and Pablo finally locked lips during the current season which led to my tweet “Can we just agree that Kelly and Pablo are the Jim & Pam of horror?” Santiago responded with a message that was short, but much sweeter than Campbell’s – “Love you for saying this!”

Just because I’ve written for a couple of newspapers doesn’t mean I don’t have occasion to geek out from time-to-time.

Like the summer of ’16, for instance.

When I found out that Mr. Raimi had joined the cast for Season 2 (long before any of us realized that he’d reprise his role as Henrietta, or that Chet housed a monumental secret for three decades), I made it a goal to score the genre legend. Having delighted in his responses and ridiculous, infectious laugh for half an hour, the moment arrived for me to tell him that a colleague of mine at iHorror, Waylon Jordan, wanted me to inform Raimi that he loved Ted in a “totally non-weird way.”

Once again, Raimi cackled, and sans hesitation, shot back “Well, you tell him back that I love him in a completely weird way. Like, I’m just in love with him, and I would very much like his phone number.”

RaimiMy “alright” was met with more laughter and “Tell him if he’s ever available for dates, I’m a great date. And I promise not to be too grabby on the first one.” I cannot begin to describe my elation at sending that clip to a friend.

But that’s what it’s all about.

Look, if you’re still reading this, then you love the Evil Dead universe and probably have similar experiences that you hold dear. And that’s the reason none of us are ready to say goodbye and that this franchise has life almost forty years after it began.

Yes, the films are fantastic fun, but it’s not just about watching and re-watching those movies or the series, but of the times you spent with family and friends as you took it all in, or interactions you’ve had with Campbell or Raimi or DeLorenzo or Santiago at conventions or chance encounters on the street.

More than a scene or a kill or a one-liner, those are the moments that stay with you. We’ll always have three seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead (and, of course, the features), but I will carry the memories that I’ve collected over three years and thirty episodes for the rest of my life.

So I will savor Ash vs Evil Dead’s conclusion with a smile on my face, and maybe even shed a tear or ten.

For irreplaceable memories, both on screen and off, I offer a heartfelt thank you to the cast and crew of the best show on television.

To the Ghostbeaters.

Ghostbeaters 2

Happy Birthday, Crazy Ralph!

Never has an actor done less and been universally adored. While many (properly) laud Anthony Hopkins and Doug Bradley for the icons they fashioned in little screen time as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Pinhead, respectively, they were featured players compared to the man of the hour. Nearly four decades since last creeping around Camp Crystal Lake, Walt Gorney remains the unofficial mascot of one of horror’s most beloved franchises, and today we celebrate the 106th anniversary of his birth.

Armed with nothing more than a crumpled hat, dingy vest, and a few ominous words of warning, Crazy Ralph endeared himself to Friday the 13th fans everywhere, and has life to this day.

For as much as Friday freaks adore Jason and revere Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), all one need do is whisper “doomed” to rally the troops. Maybe it was the wobbly way he piloted his bicycle, the gleeful, sarcastic taunt of “You’re goin’ to Camp Blood, ain’tcha?,” or that he had occasion to hole up in pantries. Whatever the reason, Friday the 13th aficionados have never tired of a character that last appeared on a screen almost 37 years ago.

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1912, Gorney will be forever remembered for getting liquored up, spouting his gospel, and being a pain in Officer Dorf’s ass. However, we’re not allowed to forget that he had a successful stage career, which included involvement with the Provincetown Players theatrical group in the 1950s, or that he made brief appearances in King Kong (1976) and Trading Places.

Sad, in a way, that Gorney was 68 years old when the original Friday film debuted, because conventions being what they are today, few would be as popular on the circuit as Crazy Ralph. As legendary horror host Joe Bob Briggs once said, “If the old geek says you’re doomed, you’re by God doomed.”

Alas, it’s been 14 years since Mr. Gorney left us, but for as long as Friday the 13th has a following, he will never be forgotten.

So, wherever you find yourself whetting your whistle tonight, raise a glass in honor of the man who is, was, and ever shall be Crazy Ralph – Walt Gorney.

The Office, Horror Digs Deeper than John Krasinski

So John Kransinki’s A Quiet Place raked in over $50 million in its initial weekend, further solidifying the horror revolution that we’ve enjoyed for more than two years. Kransinski was so effective as a father doing all he could to protect his children and pregnant wife, that it occurred to me that Jim Halpert was not the only alumnus of The Office to make a dent in the world of horror.

Here are just a few who’ve also made a lasting impression.

RAINN WILSON

“Question.” No one was as painfully and rudely inappropriate as Dwight K. Schrute, nor could any inhabitant of the Dunder Mifflin branch irritate Michael Scott quite like our favorite beet farmer. Well, maybe Andy. That said, the fact that the Assistant to the Regional Manager’s queries never came to an end, it was altogether fitting that what made Wilson’s appearance in House of 1000 Corpses so memorable (and ultimately sealed his doom), was that his curiosity could not be quenched.

KATHY BATES

She rode in as Jo Bennett,  a no-nonsense southern belle, which wasn’t exactly in keeping with the shenanigans of Scranton, but American Horror Story aside, we’ll never have the capability to see Bates and not think about Annie Wilkes. Don’t get us wrong, Bates’ brilliance allows her to fully embody any role she chooses, but her turn as Paul Sheldon’s biggest fan was, well, a sledgehammer.

LESLIE DAVID BAKER

Let’s face it, Stanley’s monotone aggression and disdainful glances were part of his charm, but every day cannot be pretzel day. At first glance, about the best we could do was note that Baker appeared in an episode of Key & Peele. As we all know, Jordan Peele’s Get Out provided us with the most important horror film since George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), but this isn’t six degrees of Kevin Bacon, so instead, let’s turn to Dwight’s display with the CPR mannequins, because no one was more terrified of that Lecter moment than Stanley.

CRAIG ROBINSON

Big man admitted that he’d be upset if he didn’t at least get a bite of the Milky Way in This is the End, but no one who’s seen Tragedy Girls can say that they A) didn’t absolutely adore the Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp-helmed hit, or B) elicit a squeal upon seeing Robinson on-screen pumping iron and rallying the community.

JENNA FISCHER

Pam’s relationship with Jim felt so real that it has become the goal of everyone who desires to live the dream. The foundation of that love was achieved whilst Fischer sat at her desk taking calls and conspiring with Halpert to mess with Dwight, so it’s rather perfect that Fischer rocked a phone headset as a bunch of creepy crawlers entered the equation in Slither. And don’t call her Pammie.

giphy

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT

Brief though his appearance as Danny Cordray was, Olyphant is part of The Office universe, and as such, we can look past David, the heroic cop in Romero’s The Crazies (2011), and instead revel in his crazy stance that Ewoks blew in Scream 2.

IDRIS ELBA

Charles Miner couldn’t determine what would motivate The Office’s workforce, but for our purposes here, let’s look past his appearance as Roland in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and instead take pride in the fact that Elba appeared in the Prom Night (2008) remake, as well 28 Weeks Later. And if we could go back to Fischer for a moment, “how do you confuse 28 Days with 28 Days Later?”

STEVE CARELL

In case you’d forgotten.

The Only Word Worthy of Kelly Maxwell

WARNING: If you have not seen “Tales from the Rift,” turn back now. There are spoilers afoot.

Twenty-six episodes. More than two-and-a-half seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead have brought me to the realization that I still lack the vocabulary to capably describe Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell.

Thoughts of Ambrose Redmoon’s declaration that “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” danced through my head, but soon faded because that too, was an insufficient concept.

Do I go with brave or tough, intelligent or loyal? Perhaps referring to her as a leader, vigorous or formidable?

How could a single word encapsulate one of the strongest women in horror history, when so many adjectives apply?

It was a challenge, to be sure, but inspired by Friday the 13th’s finest final girl (Amy Steel), I came to the conclusion that I had to “think beyond the legend,” and “put it in real terms.”

Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly was uncompromising.

From our “El Jefe” introduction to her epic showdown with Ruby (Lucy Lawless) in Sunday’s “Tales from the Rift,” we watched a young woman grow from grieving daughter to unyielding warrior, and never give an inch.

What set Kelly apart was that she was anything but one dimensional. A badass to be sure, but one who never veered from the deepest vestiges of who she was – loving and loyal to her boys Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Ash (Bruce Campbell) – and always willing to do what needed to be done. Maxwell was the personification of Redmoon’s maxim, tossing fear aside because her new family and the fate of the world were more important than the uncertainty of her own survival.

DeLorenzo stood face-to-face with evil, the cabin, militiamen, cops, demon spawn and finally Ruby, and never blinked. And though Maxwell’s own sense of revenge was the catalyst to forging her own path, that swelled over time.

While ridding the world of Deadites, Kelly took the time to comfort Linda Emery (Michell Hurd), offer tough, motherly words that Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) needed to hear, and inspire Pablito to believe that he was, in fact, the powerful vagina he was destined to become.

And in the end, with Ruby at the height of her ruthless power, it was Kelly who bore the weight of protector on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. With no guarantee that she’d endure the day, Maxwell decided to take the battle to Ruby for Pablo. And Ash. And Brandy. And her parents. Because to Kelly’s thinking, no one, not her loved ones or anyone else’s, should have to suffer the pain of loss ever again. And if she could stop it, then she would not hesitate to embrace the opportunity, while sparing those she cherished the danger of putting their own lives on the line.

That was Kelly Maxwell’s identity. An uncompromising fighter and friend, who never altered who or what she stood for, or how she lived her life — for anything or anyone — not anguish, adversity, or evil. She lived, loved and laughed, with an eye forever on the prize of end game; the focused leader to Ash’s reluctant, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Chosen One.

She went out on her terms, doing everything within her considerable capability to save those who had her heart, while the Evil Dead fandom watched through teary eyes as an uncompromised, almost imperceptible smile turned her lips before she breathed her last.

It was a good death.

Why Jigsaw is my Dirty Dancing

So I’m out with the boys for a few brewskis the other night, and Dustin decides to drop a “Time of My Life” bomb on us. It was only a matter of seconds before someone belted “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

Before I go any further, just know that I get songs stuck in my head with incredible ease, and they tend to stay there. I’ve had that goddamn saxophone looping in my grape for days.

Which brings me to sunny point number two: I have had a love affair with the Saw franchise since 2004. It may be no Patrick Swayze, but those annual October trips to the theatre with one of my best friends were bonding moments that I’ll always hold dear.

Now that the table’s been set, I have to come clean – I was so jacked for Jigsaw that I’d built it up like a family function helmed by Clark Griswold — an event that no flick could ever live up to.

And it rang true.

When I made my way to the local movie house, I was disappointed from the outset. In fact, I fell asleep in my seat. Watching Saw. And I know this because at one point my own snore startled me back to the festivities, and I played it off like I was not only coughing, but completely engrossed with Laura Vandervoort’s declaration that “Games can be won.”

tenor

What’s more, after the credits began to run, I remember tweeting something to the effect that for as loyal as I’d been to the world of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), and as long as I’d waited for a new chapter, “It would have been nice to have that faith rewarded.”

So, four-plus months on, and with that sax solo dancing in my head, I decided that I owed it to the franchise I adore another go.

And in the words of the late, great Jerry Orbach, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.”

Is Jigsaw great? No, but aside from the original, how many installments of this franchise can honestly make that claim?

The issue was that I was expecting an epic continuation of the saga, when I should have just gone into it looking to once again lose myself in that universe, and enjoy the entertaining ride.

jigsaw-2560x1440-tobin-bell-2017-5k-10339Other than Mr. Bell, none of the key players we’d come to know and love were present, and in the theatre, that irked me. Which was complete nonsense, because I knew going in that none were in the cast. That didn’t stop me from hoping there’d be a surprise appearance from Cary Elwes or Costas Mandylor. So yeah, I was the horror equivalent of those Star Wars geeks who got all bent out of shape because their perception of canon was crushed.

Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger were charged with the nearly impossible task of making an eighth film interesting and fresh (sans familiar faces save Tobin), when, to steal one from John Carpenter, the story “had been mined.”

Yes, Detective Halloran was a cliché character, and with respect, Callum Keith Rennie played it that way, and the traps were a bit stale, but let’s focus on what worked.

Regardless of how you feel about any single film aside from Leigh Whannell and James Wan’s brilliant beginning, Tobin Bell has always been worth the price of admission. And though some of us (read me) were hoping one of the finest actors in the genre would play a larger on-screen role, his voice work and brief appearances were as spot on as they’ve ever been. Dude just has a magnetic presence as “Jig-fucking-Saw.”

And while Vandervoort was the one highlight I took away from my first viewing, my take on Matt Passmore’s performance as Logan Nelson has flipped completely.

Cue the sax.

PassmoreI found Passmore to be a bit hammy and over-the-top back in October, but upon further inspection, he nailed it. That’s not to say there weren’t elements of Velveeta and over-acting in spots, but he fulfilled an important role, and for my money, offered a finer contribution to the franchise than Mr. Mandylor ever did as Mark Hoffman.

One thing that Saw has always delivered were convoluted storylines that brought everything full circle when the dust settled, with clues to the truth scattered throughout. Now, keen observers of said universe likely picked them up as Jigsaw played out, but that does not negate the fact that they were well executed, or that we got a little dash of Shyamalan twist for good measure.

Jigsaw was not the epic experience I had hoped for, but that was only because it was not what I’d expected. And that’s just not the way to view cinema. You have to let the creators take you on a journey, and judge it for the adventure they present to you, now rail on it because it didn’t play the way you’d wanted.

So after witnessing Passmore lift Bell with fresh eyes bereft of preconceived notions, I echo Orbach, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong” – Jigsaw is a fine addition to the Saw saga.

Themes dominate each iteration of the franchise, and Jigsaw’s was simple – confess.

So let me own up, I carried a watermelon.

Ryann

When it Comes to Friday Final Girls, Sometimes You’ve Got to Let it Cooke for a While

Sometimes I’m a little slow.

Example. It was not an uncommon occurrence in my collegiate days to wander around the local Walmart  in a zombie-like state at two in the morning. I’d wrap things up at the library, head over to snag some food, and have a well-deserved gander at the DVDs. One night, I was about to head out when I happened by a stand of sunglasses with “FOSTER GRANT” written in giant letters along its cardboard sides. I just chuckled to myself and made for the registers without even stopping.

You see, at that point I’d considered Midnight Run one of my favorite films of all-time for roughly twenty years, but apparently that was the time my brain needed to catch up to Robert De Niro’s “Agent Foster Grant” line.

Yes, Yaphet Kotto. You make yourself perfectly understood.

Which brings me to another cherished flick – Jason Lives.

Over the course of an exquisite (and recent) three-week stretch, I went from vomiting, to having a tooth pulled, and finally to influenza. You know how we all wish we had the time to just get into bed and never crawl out? How glorious we find that fantasy? Yeah, believe me when I say there are ways you don’t want to live that particular dream.

Anyway, I can be a little slow.

After numerous viewings of Friday the 13th’s sixth chapter while laid up, something finally dawned on me.

Those of you vaguely familiar with me know that I am, in fact, a Friday freak, and believe at a fundamental level that Amy Steel from Part 2 is one of the greatest final girls in horror history, and that I hold every other Crystal Lake heroine, to my thinking, to her unattainable standard.

But there was a hitch in my giddy-up. A flaw in my mindset that I was unaware existed. For thirty-freaking-years.

Jason-Lives-Friday-the-13th-Part-VI-19-1024x576I never truly considered Jennifer Cooke’s performance as Megan from Jason Lives as on par with Steel, or Adrienne King (Friday the 13th), or Lar Park Lincoln (The New Blood), simply because she never ended up squaring off with Mr. Voorhees, or his vengeful mother, one-on-one.

Sure, Jason (C.J. Graham) busted out of a cabin and wrapped the vice grips around her grape for a moment or two, but was quickly distracted by Tommy Jarvis’ (Thom Mathews) siren song.

Because of that one moment of abandonment, I disregarded everything that sat right in front of me, screening after screening, since 1986.

And it’s a laundry list of obvious.

After Megan’s father, Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) had Tommy locked up for suspicion of Jason’s murders, it was Megan who concocted the plan to trick her dad’s right-hand man so that Jarvis could be “unironed.” Then, she hopped in the car and refused to be left behind when Tommy told her that she couldn’t participate in such a dangerous endeavor. What’s more, when they arrived at the camp, Megan immediately ran to see if her friends and the kids were safe. Yes, she had a bit of meltdown calling for her father well within earshot of said little ones shortly thereafter, but when you lay eyes on a room painted with your friend’s blood, only to see another’s cranium bounce out of a patrol car like a forgotten soccer ball, you might have a moment, yourself.

But the resume didn’t cease to be impressive at that point. When Tommy floated to the surface after his underwater scuffle with Jason, Megan wasted zero time leaping into the lake to grab him (and got a far higher score on her dock dive than Kevin Bacon received from the Czech judge six years earlier). In fact, while Tommy may have fettered Voorhees to the lake floor, it was Megan who put the boat motor to good use to “finish the job” and free herself from the clutches of the Crystal Lake marauder.

And though it was painfully clear that she was not CPR certified, Megan gave Tommy just enough nudges to revive him on the beach.

So yeah, Megan may not have been a traditional final girl, but she was independent, confident and strong, determined to go after what she wanted, and while not fearless, certainly wasn’t hesitant to do what needed doing to save those she cared about. Cooke’s Ms. Garris is the Friday franchise’s John McLain – a hero who possessed the ability to think on her feet — whilst in the right place at the wrong time.

All the ingredients required to rival Ms. Steel. Just had to let them marinate for a while.

Alright, three decades.

(Slides shades on)

Like I said, I can be a little slow.

jennifer-cooke-5