aka Hand Of Death, Jackson’s Back
85 min., 1989
Written by Mark Cutforth
Directed by Anders Palm
My rating: ★★★★
“It’s a hell of a life being a killer.”
* * *
First of all, relax. There aren’t 24 parts before this one. It is a parody of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise, but even though it’s a hilarious take on slasher flicks, there’s a lot of good horror and gore here to satisfy fans of Jason.
Meet *ahem* Jackson. Born in England, he went to America to escape a drunken, abusive father. One day at camp, he was in a boating accident that fucked his face up pretty badly. So badly that everyone thought he was dead. He raised himself in the wilderness. From there, he spent his entire life killing people, even when he moved back to London.
When we first encounter him, he’s stalking a group of young adults, but it’s not like you would expect. Instead of the forest, he’s in the urban jungle, and instead of a cabin in the woods, he hunts them down in a derelict flat. There’s even a doomsayer warning the lads away from the neighborhood.
And that’s where Jackson catches them, one by one. The first twenty minutes or so are spent showing him in all his hockey mask splendor, murdering these young ones in some pretty gruesome ways. He starts off strong by RIPPING A GUY’S FACE OFF WITH HIS HANDS. He then punches through his victim’s back, pulling out his heart. And for the day, the effect is pretty good. Not perfect, but close to it.
(And yes, he does the classic spear-two-lovers-together gag, but unlike most killers, he actually uses a spear.)
After sending a handful of youths to their maker, he comes upon the last one—final girl?—and much to his surprise, she thinks he’s her blind date. After being baffled for a while, he discovers that she’s blind for real, that she can’t see him for the monster he really is. Her name is Shelly, and she wants to get out of here. With him. Alone. Maybe even back to her place.
Before he knows it, he’s head-over-heels in love with Shelly, and he suddenly wants to be a better man. He wants to stop killing. He wants to be normal, even though he knows his face will never mark him as normal. In fact, when he takes his mask off, he looks kind of like what would happen if someone took a chainsaw to Rowan Atkinson’s face. It’s actually a pretty good make-up job.
From here, it turns into a romantic horror tale. Some of the scenes could probably be played with Herman’s Hermits on the soundtrack, like when Shelly gets a mask for herself to make Jackson feel less self-conscious in public. Or how about when we learn that Shelly is very, very kinky in the sack? The drawer of dildoes absolutely shocks Jackson to his core, especially when he finds the one that shames him. “You could kill someone with this,” he says, brandishing the tool like a hammer. There’s also the fact that he’s so polite he washed the tea cups without being asked, and he is an expert on lit-rit-chure, happy to discuss the works of Lord Byron with his beloved.
But it’s not all fun and games. Jackson finds it very hard to refrain from killing. He goes to his father for advice. Yeah, his father is a bum with more derision in him than advice. It turns out the old man is also a killer, and he tells Jackson that he shouldn’t be involved with this woman. What if she got pregnant? They would just have to raise another killer.
The idea haunts Jackson. He ends up getting in a pub brawl, stabbing a guy in the guts before forcing himself to run away. Oddly, it makes him feel a bit better. Maybe he really can give this no-killing thing a proper go.
Uh . . . no, actually. Events conspire against him. It turns out that Shelly is friends with the people from the pub brawl, and she’s going to introduce him to them. He can’t have that. No sir, it’s time to get down to some serious killing.
There are a lot of great effects in this film. The best is probably when Jackson crushes a victim’s head with his bare hands. Blood squirts out of one of the eye sockets, and it looks ridiculously real. There’s another scene where he jams a broken lamp through someone’s head. Good stuff.
The acting is what you’d expect: mediocre in all cases except for two: Gregory Cox, who plays Jackson, and Edward Brayshaw, who plays his father. Cox has a tough job, because he has to act through all of that make-up. He pulls it off expertly, and there is something about his British accent that adds to the humor and melancholy of the film. As for Brayshaw, he pulls off the consummate scumbag with élan. You can practically smell his whiskey breath through the screen.
(All right, Fiona Evans does a decent job as Shelly, but only in the scenes where she reveals her kink. It’s probably because no one expects a blind woman to enjoy whips and handcuffs in the bedroom, though.)
You will laugh. You will have fun. You might even cry when the inevitable tragic ending happens, but the film has the last laugh. Check out that final shot, and you will know the true face of doom. It’s a tough film to find, but if you do, you will be greatly rewarded.Have You Read...?