Kane Hodder Finally Has His Tommy Jarvis

I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason. Well, one of them. Come to think of it, the path may be more meandering than straight but we’ll get there, just stick with me.

To many, Kane Hodder is the definitive Jason Voorhees. From his spine-tingling introduction from the icy depths of Crystal Lake to his heaving breaths to what Robert Englund described as “his bulk,” Hodder incomprehensibly set the standard for a character that had already existed for six films when he first donned the hock in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988).

Which was why Friday fans simply could not fathom that Hodder wasn’t asked to return opposite Englund for what had been the most highly anticipated film of the franchise, FREDDY VS. JASON (2003). After playing the masked maniac for 4 installments, the Kane era unceremoniously (and inexplicably) came to a close.

What’s worse, the Tommy Jarvis trilogy wrapped just before Hodder assumed the role, which meant that despite four takes, what many felt had been the finest portrayal of Jason never got to square off with his chief rival.

But that’s where a kinda-sorta Friday the 13th gift entered the fray.

Five years after JASON X (2001), an upstart filmmaker from Holliston, Massachusetts offered Hodder the role of another woods-roaming, crazed killer–and Victor Crowley was born.

While Adam Green had a trilogy in mind when production began on HATCHET (2006), he couldn’t have known that the villain he’d conjured at the age of eight (from stories about a hatchet-faced killer told by, ironically enough, camp counselors) would achieve icon status, no more than he was unaware that one of his original casting decisions would become what he has come to describe as his “secret weapon.”

Enter Parry Shen.

A consummate professional and on-set leader, Shen would go on to appear in a pair of Green’s Halloween shorts [THE TIVO (2008) and FAIRY TALE POLICE (2009)], and an episode of HOLLISTON, to say nothing of his roles in each installment of the HATCHET series, where Green has identified Shen as the true final girl of Honey Island Swamp.

Like Hodder in the Friday franchise, Shen has appeared in four HATCHET flicks, though it’s been more Shemping-but-not-really, because I, Survivor has played three different characters: Shawn, the hustling faux-boat tour guide in the original, his brother Justin in the sequel, and finally Andrew Yong, the paramedic turned wanna-be author in HATCHET III (2013) and VICTORY CROWLEY (2017), respectively.

Nestled betwixt the gore and the giggles, however, is the gift. See, with three characters over four films Shen is not the final girl of the series, but rather its Tommy Jarvis.

Let’s break it down. Hodder never got to square off with Jason’s nemesis, so Green gave him one. Just because the intent didn’t necessarily exist doesn’t make it any less true. In fact, on numerous occasions, Kane has commented that Shen is someone he just can’t kill off for good. Why does that sound familiar? To steal one from ROUNDERS’ Teddy KGB, “kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.” I mean, Louisiana. Swamps. Gators. It works, just let it be.

Look, three different actors played Jason’s frequent foe, so who cares if one actor has played three characters that Crowley just can’t dispose of?

I get it, Jarvis never died. But he did suffer a couple of wounds in A NEW BEGINNING (1985), and Jason did kinda-sorta drown him in JASON LIVES (1986), So, while Shen’s Shawn and Justin were both, shall we say, dispatched in the first two HATCHET pictures, with Yong, Shen now has a character who has narrowly escaped (twice) and like Jarvis been overwhelmed with trauma and fear.

It wouldn’t be surprising for Yong to be approaching Thom Mathews levels of vengeful should we get a fifth chapter of HATCHET because at some point you just have to assume that he believes Crowley belongs in hell and wants to see that he gets there. But then there’s that whole issue with Shen’s character being a bit of frightened bunny coupled with the mid-end credits glimpse of Marybeth Dustan (Danielle Harris) waiting in the wings.

Yong wasn’t the one who resurrected Crowley, but he was dragged back to the swamp against his will, so Jarvis-like similarities aren’t really a reach. Perhaps we’ll see a pair of final girls team to take down the Bayou Butcher, but the Honey Island version of Mathews and Jennifer Cooke just sounds better, doesn’t it?

Regardless, it’s sure to be a hell of a ride.

Ted White had Corey Feldman, Tom Morga was blessed with John Shepherd, and C.J. Graham battled Mathews, but Hodder never got his shot.

Until he wandered from a lake to a swamp. And found Parry Shen.

The Thanksgiving Miracle Nobody Wanted: The Gobbeldy Gooker

Ahh, Thanksgiving 1990. An Italian family gathering I remember quite well as the entire clan was not only unbuttoning our pants to make room for the 12-course-meal that awaited, but for the beerfest that was assuredly going to happen with the adults in conjunction with the highly-anticipated Survivor Series! And this PPV event brought on by the glorious WWF at the time would both mark the debut of one of the greatest Wrestling Superstars of all time, while also bringing about the company’s greatest blunder- the goddamn Gobbeldy Gooker.

Recently, I went over the great introduction of the phenom, The Undertaker, which marks his 30 years in the WWE. Now, let’s dive into this weird gimmick that really pissed people off. Oh, how I miss the days where we only had men dressed up as giant turkeys to be upset about.

Hey man, I’m just a Gooker trying to make a living!

Well, anyways the WWF promoted this “Big Surprise” they had in store for us that would be revealed at the Thanksgiving Survivor Series via promos and displaying this oversized egg at live events leading up to the big day. So of course, we were all riddled with anxiety, placing bets on what exactly was inside this damn thing.

I’ll never forget the reaction from my family when the moment finally came where Mean Gene debuted this monstrosity. It may as well had been an episode of The Steve Wilkos Show in the Butrico house.

That weird anger, although I certainly understand it, I feel was misplaced. It certainly wasn’t the Thanksgiving surprise anyone expected; or even wanted for that matter. However, over the years Vince McMahon had said this was something more for the kids and not the adults. It seems to me while ol’ Vince might be savvy to what we wanted to see in regards to Wrestling, it’s pretty clear he was kind of out of touch with what us kiddos wanted. I mean, I wasn’t really impressed. I was eight-years-old and more confused than anything. That thing with its protruding golf ball eyes was umm…. a little terrifying actually.

JUST LISTEN TO THOSE BOOS! Looking back as an adult, I feel really bad for this poor guy (later identified as Hector Guerrero) as the blame really falls on Vince and the higher-ups for this debacle. It’s quite clear the trio of Okerlund along with Piper and Monsoon announcing tried to make the best of this now awkward situation. It was and still is, so damn amazingly cringe-worthy.

Courtesy of Scott’s Wrestling Collection

While most of us know by now that Hector Guerrero of the infamous Guerrero wrestling dynasty donned the outfit, it was acknowledged pretty recently that The Undertaker himself was scared to death thinking that HIS debut was going to be not as the iconic dead man, but this awful gimmick instead as he described in Steve Austin: The Broken Skull Sessions:

“So about the time I got my phone call, they were doing this promotion where, on the show — back then they’d do three or four weeks in a row — they had this gigantic egg on the set.  So this egg appears on the show, right? And all of a sudden my mind just starts going like, ‘Aw, man, they’re going to bring me in — now this is how outlandish the gimmicks were back then too — I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.’ I had convinced myself, to the point where my stomach hurt, that I’m going to be ‘Egg Man.'”

I mean, that would have fucking sucked for Mean Mark Calaway.

Instead, Guerrero pulled on the Turkey get-up and according to an interview with Sports Illustrated, he has little regrets about it and seems to have embraced the big Razzie Award of the WWF. He also recalls just how awful and visually limiting that costume really was- I mean, looking at it are we really surprised by that?

The Gobbledy Gooker is called the biggest flop in professional wrestling history, but it wasn’t meant for the adults. It was for the children. Vince wanted to do something noble, which I take my hat off to and respect. But the circumstances were not favorable. I couldn’t see. The eyes were outside and they were bubbled out—it was almost like they drilled holes through golf balls.

I had to get in the egg early before the show. There was a box under the egg, and I had a fan down there to keep me cool. I had a light, I had a monitor, and that’s where I was. As soon as I came out, you heard the boos—the real bad ones, and a lot of them. Gene Okerlund went through our routine, and he worked really hard, even going in the ring with me. I was flawless and didn’t miss a cue, but the stares and looks from the crowd made me feel like the biggest flop in the history of wrestling. That’s just the way the people reacted. I was in a bad situation, and you don’t blame the boss. You blame the performer.

We went to Madison Square Garden two months after the Survivor Series flop. We shouldn’t have showcased the Gobbledy Gooker at Madison Square Garden. I came out cold turkey, and they told me they’d spotlight me when I walked out. The building went black and they shone the lights on me, and all I could see was white. I couldn’t see down, up, left, or right. I tried to feel my way to the ring. I handspringed into the top rope, but I couldn’t see the floor. I landed on my bottom, and then they finally turned the lights on and I went through my routine—cartwheels, high-fives, a little jiggle-jiggle-jaggle, and dances with the kids. I get back into the dressing room, and they were giving me the dirtiest faces. Vince wouldn’t even look at me and then he walked away. I started to undress, and Gorilla Monsoon walked in and said, ‘We finally figured it out. You couldn’t see, right?’ You think? Everything was wrong. They wanted to put me in a spot, but I was blind and couldn’t see.

Hector Guerrero

So now that we know all that, do we really have to continue this undefined hatred for the Gooker? I think enough time has passed where we can learn to embrace the whacky Thanksgiving mascot and I for one would love to see the gimmick one more time for Turkey Day via the WWE.

So, let’s partner up with The Bushwackers, Tugboat, and others to show some love for the Gookster this holiday season!

Credit via WWE

[Review] Shudder’s “Exorcist” Documentary : LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST

Brigade Publicity

Let me start off by stating that I’m fairly certain, I could be the world’s biggest whore for horror film documentaries. To dive into the behind-the -scene encounters involving those who made some of our most cherished genre pictures, is close to Godliness. Also, it totally helps at those Horror Movie Trivia nights. So when I caught wind that Shudder was releasing an documentary exclusively with William Friedkin on The Exorcist, I damn near had a happy anxiety attack as TRUE docs on the film are scarce with the exception of a few under-the-radar specials on networks such as REELZ and A&E.

To put it it mildly, I was pretty excited to see the mastermind Friedkin going pedal to the medal with his infamous visionary experience of Blatty’s novel. And to my delightful surprise, the documentary was A LOT more than a “making of” type deal. So much more…

Brigade Publicity

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist run time sits in at about 105 minutes of an in-depth exploration of Friedkin’s inspirations that led to his directing-style approach for his notable films; including of course The Exorcist. If one ever wanted to sit and pick the brain of the 85-year-old director, this documentary gives you close to everything you would want to know and more. One would even go so far as saying that if you’re an aspiring film-student, than this is basically some free and sound advice from one of the best- so if you’re in that group, might want to put this in your watch queue.

When touching on The Exorcist, this doc will absolutely give even the BIGGEST Exorcist fan a few new nuggets of knowledge one may have not known about the film unless you just so happen to be in Friedkin’s inner-circle. From where exactly the idea of that infamous, iconic image of Merrin on the street cam from, the casting of the actors, (one of which might just blow your mind) and the journey into finding the perfect instrumentals for the picture, this will give everyone a new appreciation for all the painstaking blood, sweat, and literal tears that went into making the horror masterpiece.

Brigade Publicity

Obviously I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but one thing I will say that won’t take away any “eureka moments” is the recurring theme throughout the doc that Friedkin is heavily influenced by the arts of the Renaissance Period which truly gives this doc some really beautiful cinematography and visuals that one usually doesn’t see in well, a horror film documentary. This chronicle of The Exorcist is visually speaking, the prettiest looking-thing I’ve ever seen in this type of arena and I have to really give a shout-out for making this aesthetically appeasing to the eyes as well as keeping me intrigued throughout the duration of the program.

With all that being said, LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST premieres on Shudder November 19th, 2020 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

BUY: THE EXORCIST (DIRECTOR’S CUT)