Unmasked Part 25

Unmasked Part 25 ★★★½

Years after he was disfigured in an apparent drowning incident at a summer camp in America during his childhood, Jackson, a hockey-masked serial killer played by Gregory Cox, unenthusiastically goes through the motions of slaughtering young and promiscuous victims in London, having long ago lost any sense of joy in his gruesome activities, although movies have been made about him and his bloody sprees. Everyone suffers from burnout at some point or another in life. Things change for our antihero when he meets a blind woman, played by Fiona Evans, who falls in love with him because of his personality, oblivious to his deadly handiwork and to the corpses that he leaves in his wake. As his two worlds collide, Jackson must ultimately make a choice between true love and killing.

The 1988 British horror comedy, Unmasked Part 25 (The Hand of Death), directed by Anders Palm, functions both as a spoof and as an earnest homage to the Friday the 13th franchise. The gory death scenes hold their own against most play-it-straight slasher entries, while many sequences exploring Jackson's identity crisis are genuinely heartfelt. While I will not go so far as to say that this is an uproariously funny endeavor, I do chuckle at the blatant references to The Toxic Avenger and other indie movies of the era.

Meta-horror cinema does not usually work for me. I believe that the Friday the 13th films, like the James Bond 007 entries, do not need satirical tributes, because the actual franchise movies do such a good job of satirizing themselves in the first place. Unmasked Part 25 has its inherent limitations as such, but it also rises above similar outings because of its British humor aesthetic. The moments that earn the most mileage are the ones that take playful shots at the punk scene and the ones that skewer the popularity of Shakespearean dramas.

This one delivers for what it is, although Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan remains the first film that I will reach for when I want an amusing send-up of the concept.

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