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Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Vacation

I need a vacation, dudes.  So, guess what?  I'm taking one.  This weekend I'm headed up to New Jersey with my wife and the kid to see the in-laws.  Then we're spending a couple of days at Sesame Place, the Sesame Street-themed amusement park where Elmo is as tall as an adult male and can push you down if he feels like it.  I'm anticipating a lot of hoagies, some light learning and the fulfilled promise of a pizza from Gus's.  

While I'm gone, amuse yourself with this enjoyable and thematically appropriate video of Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and the Sesame Street gang performing Sesame Street's theme song.  I'll see you when I get back.  

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer Movies Ranked!

Summer 2013 officially meets its Maker today, and I couldn't be happier.  I hate almost everything about the summer: the oppressive heat; the unruly hordes of seemingly orphaned children at the neighborhood pool; the weird notion that "hey, it's Summer--let's go outside and do something" everybody seems to have; the sweating; the ice cream truck that plays nothing but Christmas carols; the unrelenting humidity.  Go ahead and enjoy Summer if you must, but, in the immortal words of Steven Patrick Morrissey, I was bored before I even began, the second "I" here meaning, of course, "it," by which I mean "Summer."  Follow?  

One thing I don't hate about Old Man Summer is the summer blockbuster.  Man oh man, do I love me a good Summer movie.  Since becoming a father, I have been unable to go out to see a movie as much as I used to.  I also watch a lot more Elmo-centric films.  This year, however, I was able to get out and see almost every movie I wanted to see.  There was one huge omission (Pacific Rim) and one I would've like to have caught in theaters but haven't lost any sleep over missing (The Conjuring), but for the most part I'm pleased with this Summer's accomplishments.

I officially saw 8 movies this Summer, and I am prepared to rank them.  I will include a one sentence description of each film's plot (Warning: it'll prolly be silly.) and one or two fun facts.  It should be fun for all involved, and will hopefully spawn important conversations in your household.  Or whatever the opposite of important is these days.

8. Oblivion

Plot: Tom Cruise encounters a variety of mediocre plot twists on an Earth devastated by some such bullshit.  (Give me a break, I saw this a long time ago)

The Good: I like the weird electronic-y sounds the robot drones make; the female leads are pretty...and empowered, yeah, they're also empowered; one of the twists genuinely surprised me.

Best Line of the Summer: "Fuck you, Sally!"  Should've faded to black right after Cruise says it.  Fade to black.  Explosion noise.  Credits.

Should you watch it: If your cable company is providing 6 months of free HBO and it comes on one Sunday afternoon after football season is over and your two-year-old is down for her nap and you've finished all the chores on the list your wife gave you, I'd say skip it and watch Breaking Bad on Netflix.

7. Star Trek Into Darkness

Plot:  The crew of the starship Enterprise is back for another trek through the stars and into darkness.

Khaaan!!!: I haven't seen any of the old Star Trek movies (I only recently got into the original TV series), so when Bumbershoot Cumberbund is revealed to be Khan, it didn't really do anything for me.

The Good: I remember it being pretty exciting.  There was punching sometimes.  Simon Pegg was funny.

Ready for more star treks?: Eh.  Not really.

6. The Wolverine

Plot: Wolverine goes to Japan and mixes it up with the locals.

The Good: the bullet train scene; that part where Logan says "fuck"; the female leads are pretty...and empowered, yeah, they're also empowered; I thought the Silver Samurai was pretty cool until it was revealed that it was that old dude inside.

Viper issues: So many reviews I read or heard on podcasts complained that the Viper character nearly ruined the movie.  She was fine.  What did she do that was so terrible?  She was barely in it.  Leave Viper alone, guys.  C'mon, there are bigger problems in this world.

Best Part: After the film, my dad and I had dinner at Chipotle and had an epic conversation about religion.

5. Iron Man 3

Plot: Iron Man must deal with a new threat (The Mandarin), health problems (panic attacks) and a precocious irritant (some annoying kid) before the films 130 minute runtime is up.

The Good: all those awesome Iron Man suits.

The Bad: Tony Stark destroys all those awesome Iron Man suits for his girlfriend (Blech!).

The Really Bad: that kid (Blech!).

The Twist: It's Gwyneth Paltrow's head in the box.

4. This Is The End

Plot: The stars of all your favorite raunchy comedies ride out the Rapture at James Franco's house.

The Good: Michael Cera as a coke-snorting asshole; the demons look very, very cool; James Franco and Danny McBride's masturbation argument.

Biblical Inaccuracies: This Is The End would have you believe that the Backstreet Boys are getting into Heaven.  Not bloody likely!

3. Man of Steel

Plot: Superman comes to Earth, engages in a super-powered fist-fight that results in the deaths of several thousand people and splits the fanboy community in half.

Which half am I a part of?: The half that thinks Man of Steel was pretty sweet!

The Good: The Smallville fight.  The entire movie could've been the Smallville fight for all I care.  It was so much fun; the opening scenes set on Krypton; Elliot Stabler basically saves the universe.

The Bad: probably too much product placement; Kevin Costner; moaning fanboys; genuinely enjoying something directed by Zack Snyder.

2. Monster's University

Plot: In this prequel to Monster's Inc., we witness the genesis of the lifelong friendship between monster buddies Mike and Sully.

The Good: Everything.  This movie was so great.

The Bad: The trailer of Planes.

1. The World's End

Plot: Old friends are conned by an alcoholic into reuniting in their home town for an epic pub crawl, only to discover that said town has been overtaken by "robots" from outer space.

The Good: Again, everything.  I got no complaints.

The Bad: Accidentally saw a poster for Planes on the way into the theater.

An inspiration: The World's End inspired a modified pub crawl undertaken by myself, sometimes GEP-writer and always friend, Jonathan, and visiting chum, Nathan.  We ate delicious food, I got so drunk I lost all feeling in my face, and Nathan played a pinball machine inspired by the No Fear line of t-shirts. No blue-blooded blanks, but fun was had by all.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why no Breaking Bad on GEP???

You’re all a bunch of wannabes, man! I’m an OG Breaking Bad fan. I was watching Walter White and Jesse Pinkman cook meth in the New Mexico desert while the rest of you were still whining about the series finale of The Sopranos (“But what happened to Tony?!? Wah wah wah!”). Nobody was talking about Breaking Bad when I was watching. I didn’t have an outlet to which I could express my shock and awe. I didn’t have any friends I could discuss the latest episode with. Hell, my office doesn’t even have a watercooler! What are we supposed to discuss TV shows around, huh? The microwave?!? Lunacy! Now Breaking Bad is all the rage; the pop culture meth consumed by the masses. You guys think you’re so cool with your Breaking Bad premiere parties and your Breaking Bad podcasts and your Breaking Bad cosplay meet-em-ups. You’re not cool! I was cool! Where were you then, huh?!? 

This is what I would write if I were that kind of person. You know: bitter. Yes, I did watch the first season of Breaking Bad when it originally aired, back when it was just Bryan Cranston’s weird follow-up to Malcolm in the Middle. It was TV like I liked it: darkly funny, kinda sad and casually bad-ass. That episode where Walt, head freshly-shaved, visits psychotic drug kingpin, Tuco, with a bag of homemade explosives after Jesse is beaten nearly to death, his comatose body watched over by Skinny Pete, and calmly demands the money he is owed, before tossing a tiny shard of said homemade explosive onto the ground with explosivey results, was one of the coolest moments I had ever witnessed on basic cable, and I had no one to talk to about it. 

Here’s a fun fact. That episode I just described? Yeah, I thought that was the last episode of Season 1. Turns out, it isn’t. I discovered this yesterday while watching the actual Season 1 finale on Netflix. This was just the first of several blunders that led me to losing touch with Breaking Bad

It’s all my fault really. I remember whenever Season 2 was airing, my friend Jonathan asking, “Hey, did see the latest Breaking Bad?” 

“Wait, that started again?” I asked, dumbfounded. 

“Yeah. Season 3 just started last week.” 

“Wait. Season 3?!?” 

I should mention here that, yes, I own a DVR and, yes, I know how it works. As to why said DVR was not set to record Breaking Bad, I have no explanation and I have no excuse. I can tell you the terrible tale of how I didn’t get to watch Season 3 of Justified (DVR malfunction; all my episodes were erased; crying ensued), but I don’t have one for Breaking Bad. We simply lost touch, like you do with an old girlfriend or an acquaintance from high school who once made derogatory comments about your sister while two other friends taped him with a video camera. 

So, that’s why Giant Electric Penguin hasn’t written anything ever about Breaking Bad. Well, that and I’m only one man and I can’t write about everything. Breaking Bad though is something I should be writing about, I’ve known that for years. So, over the next two weeks, you’re going to see some things (well, one other thing, at least) on the blog related to Breaking Bad, because I guess the series finale is September 29th?  I didn’t want to be the only pop culture outlet not talking about the show. That’d just be weird, I think. 

I will have you know that I have someone avoided all spoilers and I really would appreciate it if you kept them to yourself. Classically, I’m not the kind of guy who cares about that sorta stuff, but Breaking Bad is pretty special. I recognize, however, that after the series finale it is going to be super hard to avoid them (Twitter is apparently 100% people talking about Breaking Bad now apparently.), so I've started trying to catch up.  Obviously, I won't have it all watched by Sunday, but at least I'll cut the time I have to avoid all social media down.  I am currently on Episode 5 of Season 2, just to give you a reference point.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Miley Cyrus licks a sledgehammer

Relationships are tough. Even the best ones can rot and decay over time, leaving both parties destroyed and ultimately alone. Nobody ever wants a relationship, romantic or otherwise, to go off the rails, but it happens to everyone at least once, and when it does, quite frankly, it sucks. 

I was in a fairly destructive relationship for a time. It’s tempting to say that said relationship was 7 years of non-stop horror, but that wouldn’t be fair to the horror genre (I kid). Ours was a relationship that lasted way past its expiration date. I stuck around because I was still struggling to find a full-time job; she did because she liked the apartment we lived in and wasn’t going to leave. And so I slept on the futon in the living room where I was harassed each morning at 3 AM by her cats, meowing to be released into the cruel, uncompromising unknown of Nature, which was a better place to be then inside where tensions were so high the threat of toppling off of them into the abyss was both possible and preferable then the day-to-day lie we forced ourselves to live. 

Things eventually broke down, I moved out, destroyed but relieved, and life moved on. I met my wife, who showed me what mutual respect in a relationship looked and felt like, we bought a house, we had a kid, and we bought a better house. I often say I don’t have any regrets in my life because every decision I’ve made lead to my wife and my daughter, so I don’t look back at the time spent with my ex in a negative light. I hold no ill will toward her and I hope she’s doing great. In fact, I follow her on Twitter and I can report that everything seems OK.

I can, however, reflect on that time period in my life and say that I truly understand what makes a relationship work and what reduces it to acrid rubble. I get it. You know who else gets it? Miley Cyrus. You remember Miley, right? The one-time Disney darling turned twerking snake-tongued weirdo? The one who daily offers her ass to all peoples of the world who desire to partake and be made whole?

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece about the video for Miley’s single “We Can’t Stop.” I think I probably wrote something kind of like, I don’t know…what the holy hell?!? The video’s weird. I don’t hate it. I don’t love it. It kinda puts me off, but I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. It’s fine.

Miley recently released the video for her new song “Wrecking Ball,” a moving treatise on the difficultly of maintaining a romantic relationship in these troubling times. She expresses the ups-and-downs of modern romance in three specific ways:


1. Singing through an increasingly upset face. 

2. Riding on top of a wrecking ball without any clothes on. 

3. Seductively licking a sledgehammer. 

OK. First of all, I don’t hate the song. It’s not breaking any new ground, but I get it: love can sometimes be a tornado of shit. Miley, like all of us, has been hurt by someone she loved and trusted, someone she thought she get closer to and have a real connection with. The relationship failed and the resulting pain felt like a wrecking ball tearing her life apart. Fine. 

But why is she licking a sledgehammer? I mean, she licks it so much. We know you are fond of it, Miley, but using your tongue to give a kitty bath to a sledgehammer shows a complete lack of respect for the organ. And the sledgehammer. Did the sledgehammer consent to that? It couldn’t possibly. It’s a sledgehammer. Not only is she licking a dirty sledgehammer, she’s also straddling a wrecking ball naked. There’s no towel there to separate her junk from whatever particles of nastiness are resting on that wrecking ball. Think of your junk, Miley! 

Like I said, the song is fine, but it is remarkably weird how Miley and her video directors have the need to turn all of her new songs into soft-core fetish videos. I guess that’s Miley just being Miley, right? She’s an adult now and adults are known to lick hammers and lounge atop rubble in their underwear. Ugh.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Get It Off My Facebook Page!!!: 50 Shades of Blah Blah Nobody Cares

I didn't weigh in when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be our next Batman simply because I didn't think it was a big deal.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Batman fan, and I was just as giddy with anticipation as everybody else to find out who would don the cape and cowl in the Man of Steel sequel, but what conceivable reason would I have for getting bent out of shape when Ben Affleck's name was announced?  What's wrong with Ben Affleck?  Nothing.  He'll do fine.  Why waste your time clogging Twitter with your nerd rage? Or sending petitions to the White House?  Oh, you didn't like Daredevil?  Nobody liked Daredevil, you asshole!  We've got to like every single movie an actor has ever made now before we accept him as a character we hold near and dear to our geeky little hearts? Wrong.  Look, if they'd casted Adam Carolla or Gilbert Gottfried as the Dark Knight, then, and only then, would I sign your petition, but it's Ben Affleck.  You're telling me he doesn't have the jawline for Batman?  You're crazy!

I also haven't weighed in on the latest exciting casting news out of Hollywood.  It was announced this week that Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson were cast as the leads in the cinematic adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey, the porn novel that had mothers all over America creaming in their mom jeans last year.  If my Facebook News Feed is any indicator, 50 Shades of Grey fans are not happy that Mr. Hunnam will be playing their beloved Mr. Grey, who, if I'm not mistaken, spends at least two of the three books in the 50 Shades Trilogy, repeatedly humiliating a woman.  Why are these ladies pissed off?  Well, mostly because Hollywood ignored the casting decisions they apparently made months ago, decisions that most definitely did not include the dude from Sons of Anarchy (and Undeclared, which is actually one of my favorite shows of all-time).

Pictured: Some bitch (whatever!) and ewww, gross!!!

Look, 50 Shades of Grey fans (Is there a name for you, by the way?), at least you're getting your movie.  I'm still waiting around for the Chucky VS. Michael Myers movie that may have only been promised to me in a dream.  Your movie has been greenlit and cast. For that, you should be grateful.

Also, Charlie Hunnam is an attractive man.  Isn't that we need from a Christian Grey? Maybe I'm wrong.  I literally have not read one page of this thing.  Is Christian deformed in some way?  Is Hunnam too attractive?  I think the real problem you guys have is that they didn't cast the hunky idiot you pictured in the role when you initially read the books.  I assume you all imagined your husbands or boyfriends in the Mr. Grey position.  I mean, that's what I do when I watch porn, imagine it's me and my wife doing all that stuff with the Thai dwarf in a leather mask.  Makes it hotter.  I've said too much.

Be angry if you want, but know that everything is probably going to be OK.  You'll see the movie opening night and you'll love it, so shut up.  Charlie Hunnam will become your favorite actor/go-to masturbation fantasy.  I know right now you feel hurt and betrayed, and that's OK, you're allowed to have feelings.  Just GET IT OFF MY FACEBOOK PAGE!!!

The following is a list of actors/personalities/"celebrities" that if they had been cast as Christian Grey, would completely justify your weird anger:

-John Pinette
-Corey Feldman
-Shaquille O'Neal
-Dustin Diamond
-Jimmy Kimmel
-Jimmy Walker
-Kid Rock
-Chris Colfer
-Clint Eastwood
-Glenn Humplik (co-host of the Tom Green Show)
-Andy Serkis
-Adam Carolla
-Christopher Mintz-Plasse
-Billy Bush
-the iPad-loving old man from the Hopper commercials

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The Most Horrific Thing I've Read This Week

Check out this story from Yahoo:

Teen Accuses rue21 of Weight Discrimination, Sparks Online Backlash 

An Oregon teen’s claim — that she was thrown out of women's clothing store rue21 because of her size — has triggered a public outcry against the fashion retailer. 

On Saturday, Shelby Buster, 14, was walking through the Valley River Center Mall in Eugene with her mother, Marjory Buster, and a friend named Jennica. Excited to shop without her mom for the first time ever, she went with Jennica to rue21, where she had a rude surprise. 

“I walked in and the lady at the front counter said, 'Hey, you’re too big to be in this store, I need you to leave,'” Shelby told Oregon news station KEZI on Sunday. When her mother arrived and learned of the incident, a store clerk allegedly apologized to the family. 

But an apology wasn’t enough. After leaving the mall, Shelby updated her Facebook page, stating: “Well, happy birthday to me! The rue21 in Eugene, Oregon told me I was too fat and told me to leave the store! I can’t believe it! Thanks for ruining my birthday, rue21!” Marjory Buster also contacted KEZI with the story. 

She told Yahoo Shine in a voice mail: "We are not at liberty to comment. Maybe when the situation gets more resolved, we can talk." 

The district manager at rue21 told KEZI that the store planned to analyze security footage from Saturday to resolve the matter. A store spokesperson declined to comment to Yahoo Shine. However, on Tuesday night, the fashion retailer updated its Facebook page with the following message: 

"At rue21 we value diversity and welcome all customers in our stores. We intensely train our associates on our anti-discrimination policies, and we offer a variety of apparel trends and sizes, as well as accessories, footwear, and fragrances in our 966 stores nationwide. We are currently investigating the claims of Ms. Buster, including conducting interviews with store associates and other witnesses who were present at the time of alleged incident. The alleged behavior, if true, would be absolutely unacceptable and contrary to company policy. We deeply regret any misunderstanding that may have occurred." 

Shelby's claims have sparked outrage online and many have vowed to boycott rue21. On the company Facebook page, Elaine Stanford wrote, “Seriously? This is not a misunderstanding. While it’s nice to see the company apologize, to call it a misunderstanding totally takes the sincerity away. What are you offering this family?” And Tanya Zdraveyska wrote, “That's a horrible thing to say to anyone let alone say it to a 14 year old. Hope that worker gets fired. This story just hit Australia. Disgusting Rue 21.” 

The store did have some defenders — Trina Eddinger Loesche wrote, “Give them time to look into the matter. Things don’t happen overnight.” And an employee, Haley Harter, defended her company by writing that the store carries a diverse range of sizes. She wrote, “As an employee of rue21, I have to say, my store does NOT discriminate … We also carry 'curvy' jeans so it's easier for people to find the style that fits their body type better.”

Did you read that?  Shelby's friend's name is Jennica?!?  Jennica isn't a real name. Jennifer is a name. Jessica is also undoubtedly a name.  Jennica is not.  Sick!!!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie Penguin Monday: #23. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

When last we left him, Jason Vorhees was dead in a New York City sewer tunnel that had just been scrubbed clean by a fresh torrent of dangerous toxic waste. His body, which I guess was a weird, fleshy shell of some kind, was melted away, leaving the corpse of a much younger Jason Vorhees, who according to the writers of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Gone Fishin’, drowned in Crystal Lake when he was a child. Of course, those of us with an intimate knowledge of the series know that Jason Vorhees did not, in fact, drown in the lake while two teenaged camp counselors boned in the lifeguard stand, but rather resorted to his well-documented violent, stab-happy behavior after watching his mother be decapitated at the tail-end of her own misguided rampage. I mean, it’s the penultimate line in the first film, people! Alice asks about Jason, after being dragged underwater by a rotting ghoul during a dream sequence, and the sheriff of Crystal Lake reports to her that a boy’s body was never found. “That means he’s still out there,” Alice says, and we fade to a shot of Crystal Lake, tranquil and serene, before fading to black. Alice is summarily slaughtered by a grown up Jason in the opening moments of Friday the 13th Part II. It isn’t until Part VI, appropriately subtitled Jason Lives, that Vorhees even becomes a supernatural being. Once that happens, the series officially goes off the rails, though I would argue that Part VII: The New Blood, is one of the best in the series, my fairly scathing review on this very site aside. 

Over the past three weeks, I have watched 9 Friday the 13th movies. The tenth, the aptly titled Jason X, which I believe takes place in outer space because of course it does, will have been viewed before the end of this week. It isn’t important why I did this, but I did it, and because they are all currently fresh in my head, I feel as if I am a bit of an authority on the series. I have a little trouble keeping which kills occur in which movie straight because the films get awfully “samey,” but I think I understand Jason’s overall arc. As such, I can unequivocally say that nothing presented in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday has anything to do with any of the movies that came before it. I also feel pretty confident saying that, even without having seen Jason X yet, Jason Goes To Hell is the worst entry in a pretty awful franchise. So, naturally, this review. 

Turns out that inside Jason isn’t the corpse of a small, drowned boy with a wonky eye. No, what dwells inside of Jason is far more sinister, far more evil, and far more slimy. What lives inside of Jason and makes him so unstoppable is…a…slimy alien puppet. That we see once. In the dark. Before it disappears into a dead woman’s vagina. Ugh. 

But there I go getting ahead of myself. Jason Goes To Hell opens where most of the films in the series do, Crystal Lake, the site of appropriately named Camp Crystal Lake, where every cabin is simply perfect for premarital sex. In the ninth film, we meet a young woman visiting a charming cabin on the lake by herself. She wastes no time removing her clothing and drawing a bath. Sadly, she will never take that bath, because Jason shows up, and while he doesn’t succeed in murdering her, he does lead her on a merry chase through the forest, and I’m guessing that bath water is pretty cold by the time she gets back. Damn you, Jason.

Let’s talk about Jason’s appearance for a minute. I’m a big fan of the goalie mask look. The burlap sack in Part II didn’t do much for me, and the less said about Pamela Vorhee’s sweater, the better. After Part III, in which he acquires what would become his, as well as Roy’s, signature look, Jason officially became a horror icon. Horror fans and non-horror fans alike know Jason Vorhees. They may not always agree on his methods, but they all recognize that he gets the job done, the job, of course, being killing horny teens. The look remains consistent throughout the series, until Jason Goes To Hell. In this one, Jason’s mask seems to have shrunk. Either that, or his head, which is now covered in a generous amount of what seem to be tumors, has puffed up. I guess he developed multiple head tumors after being drowned in toxic chemicals at the conclusion of Jason Take Manhattan? Doesn't explain how he got back to Crystal Lake or why he’s not a small, drowned child (a child who cannot be Jason Vorhees, as we’ve already established Jason Vorhees never drowned as a child) or why he’s chosen to attack this particular woman at this particular cabin at this particular time. Anyway, he looks dumb. 

Also, Jason was set up. This woman is no ordinary thong-wearing, boob-admiring-in-the-mirror Crystal Lake yokel. This lady is in the FBI and she’s leading Jason into a trap, an exploding trap. That’s right: Jason Vorhee’s is blown to the bits in the first five minutes of the movie, meaning, you guessed it, no Jason for the majority of the film. Ugh, again. 

Why do movies do this, huh? Why would they take away what we all paid to see? I’m not at all interested in watching average citizens possessed by the spirit of Jason Vorhees stalk around disemboweling people. I want the Jason Vorhees doing that stuff. I don’t even need an explanation as to how he came back to life for the fourth time, OK? Just give him a machete and unleash him on a camp full of bra-less counselors. I don’t need some ridiculous story about how Jason is evil incarnate and how he is possessed by demons/bad lighting effects and how there’s a slimy puppet living inside of him and how only another Vorhees can truly kill him and blah blah blah. Didn’t Tommy Jarvis say in Part VI that Jason could only be killed if he was drowned in Crystal Lake, the site of his (not really) original drowning? That didn’t work, right? All it took was a visiting telekinetic to wake him up again. Who’s to say giving a member of the Vorhees family a magical knife to plunge into Jason’s heart will do the deed? It clearly doesn’t work, because a few years later, Jason was in outer space. Ugh again and again. 

All you really need to know about Jason Goes to Hell is that, a) he goes to Hell at the end and b) both The Book of the Dead of Evil Dead fame and Freddy Kruger’s claw make cameo appearances. Jason Goes to Hell is pure garbage, but worse than that, it’s boring. Oh, Jason, what have they done to you? Poor, poor Jason.

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