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Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter? We Could Only Hope

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (Paramount, 1984)
Directed by Joseph Zito
Written by Barney Cohen based on a story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow

Like it or not, by 1984, the F13 films had been making a ton of money for Paramount. The first film had a budget of around $700,000 and made almost 40 Million. The 2nd film had a budget of $1 Million and made around 22 Million. The last film’s budget shot up to $4 Million (I’m guessing due to the 3-D addition because I can’t imagine what else made it cost so much), and ended up taking home over $33 Million. So, in three years and three films, the F13 franchise had made just a little under $100 Million at the box office alone; this is not factoring in the home video rentals in the newly developed video craze of the early eighties.

1984 also brought to an end the first “Slasher Boom.” There had probably been well over a hundred films of this type released celebrating all sorts of significant dates, holidays, and masked killers. I think only July 4th and a catcher’s mask remained unscathed; I could be wrong about the catcher’s mask. July 4th would not be tainted until over twenty years later when I Know What You Did Last Summer was released.

One of the reasons many cite the end of an era (I hasten to call it that because that usually refers to something worth our time) was due to the actions by various parenting fueled associations. Slasher films were looked at as bad for the kids I guess you could say, and parents who are too stupid to pay attention to what their kids are watching decided to try and put a stop to it. Outside of the country, the “Video Nasties” panic in Great Britain was also taking effect where a lot of films, mostly horror, were either being edited down to be incoherent or outright banned.

F13, known as the most notorious of the movements (even though compared to most of these films, it was the least bloody, especially in the last two films), decided to cave in and make the 4th installment the final. Director Joseph Zito, who had just gotten some attention for another slasher film, The Prowler, was given the reins and told he could pretty much do whatever he wanted with the character of Jason since we would no longer be seeing him.

Tom Savini was also welcomed back for the F/X work. Savini has been noted for saying that his involvement was mostly due to the fact that he couldn’t resist killing off the series that he wished he had never started. Me and you both, buddy.

The Final Chapter picks up exactly where we left off at Chris’s farm; the paramedics and police are there taking care of the bodies and trying to figure out what the hell went on. This would mean that the last two films along with this one took place in about 3 or 4 days. You would think with that kind of time frame they could actually keep continuity, but alas, they do not. I’m pretty sure they didn’t care and didn’t try.

This film would also continue the tradition of opening up the film with a recap, but this one is a little better. Instead of just showing the final scene from the previous film, they do a bit of a montage with Paul’s campfire story from Part II used as the narration.

After the authorities load Jason’s body up, it is taken to the hospital where we meet our first two unpleasant victims. We have the witty, and by witty I mean not funny at all, Axel (Bruce Mahler). Mahler actually had somewhat of a name; he was Fackler in the first Police Academy film, so in effect he got to be part of the two most ridiculous franchises from the 80’s. Our second victim would be Nurse Morgan (Lisa Freeman), who fights off Axel’s sexual advances many times, and then for no goddamn reason, jumps his bones.

In the beginning of the last film, we are left to assume that Jason was simply not killed by all the machete blows that Ginny gave him in Part II. However in this film he remains still on the gurney long enough for us to deduce this would be the first time he comes back to life. Now considering that he rises back up after Axel and Morgan get it on right in front of him; I’m thinking the pre-marital sex (or attempt at it would be more appropriate) is what brought him back into action. And while that is as stupid as it sounds, it’s funny as hell too, so I’ll go with that.

Anyways, Jason disposes of both of these cardboard cutouts in good ol’ fashioned and fun Tom Savini F/X set-pieces. Axel gets a bonesaw through the neck and then his head twisted around afterwards. Gross as hell, but in a film like this, let’s face it; the F/X guy is the only one trying really hard, so way to go, Savini.

Now we get to “Meet the Meat.” First, we see two middle aged women hiking through the woods, who after some awkward conversation involving sexual pleasure, we realize they are mother and daughter: Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and Trish Jarvis (Kimberly Beck). They get to their house, which resides along the ever-expanding shoreline of Crystal Lake, and we get to meet Trish’s odd little brother who makes monster masks and plays video games, Tommy (Corey Feldman). And yes, it is that Corey Feldman.

It’s funny to think that after three films and many contested fights, Jason Voorhees might finally meet his match in one of the freaking Coreys. Good times.

Mrs. Jarvis tells her kids at one point that some teens are renting the house next to them for the weekend, so let’s cut to the incredibly old looking teens. They are all riding in a jeep up to the cabin and spouting off dialogue that I am hard pressed to care about or remember with one exception I will get to in a second. We’ve got the typical jokester, Ted (Lawrence Monsoon). It should also be noted that the practical jokester in Part II was named Ted, so now they can’t even come up with better names. Ted is also the one who has the bit of dialogue that I can remember; he calls his friend sitting next to him, Jim, a “Deadfuck!” And I hope you find that word funny because Barry Cohen apparently did, and it’s thrown out a dozen more times or so. Oh, and Jim is played by Crispin Glover, and yes, it is that Crispin Glover.

The rest of the crew in the car includes Paul (Alan Hayes), the apparent leader. Paul’s girlfriend, the cute slut, is Samantha (Judie Aronson). There’s Sara (Barbara Howard), who seems to be the shy virgin of the crew, which would seem to make her the automatic “Final Girl” if we hadn’t already met Trish, that is. Oh, and there’s Doug (Peter Barton), who I really don’t remember a damn thing about.

Our fun bunch of kooks runs up on the standard hitchhiker (Bonnie Hellman); after they leave her in their dust so to speak, Jason comes out of nowhere and kills her in the typical weapon through the throat move that this series is in love with. Our group also drives by a tombstone on the side of the road that has the name Pamela Voorhees on it with a date of death, June 13, 1979. I bring this up for three reasons. First, we finally have a first name for our main baddies’ mom; second, June 13 actually fell on a Sunday in 1979; and finally, I’m writing this review on June 13th. Woo! Creepy!

The next morning, the crew hikes out to the lake, and they run into the twins, Tina and Terry (Camilla and Carey More), who I learned in an interview with Joseph Zito were put in because he was thinking of things that had never been in an F13 film before. One of the things he came up with was twins. I wonder what was left off the list in place of this concept, and who the hell has that much time on their hands to think of shit like that?

We get another twenty minutes or so of things like skinny-dipping and many tender moments of exposition. We learn that Samantha loves to fuck Paul, Sara wants to fuck Doug, and if you already forgot, Jim is a “Deadfuck,” and yes, he is that Crispin Glover.

Trish and Tommy also run into our crew. Tommy is overwhelmed by all of the hotness that surrounds him or something like that. Trish catches him ogling the women a few times and gets on to him like all big sisters do; real original material is what I’m getting at. They also run into a backpacking hunk (Erich Anderson) later on. Trish takes a liking to him, and we soon learn that he is there to find Jason. Apparently his sister was one of the victims in Part II, which would have been what, 3 days before this? He, however, has collected an extraordinary amount of newspaper clippings on the subject.

Nighttime comes soon enough, and it’s time for our thirty-year-old teenagers to start dying. This is all pretty standard. Zito tries his best to play around with the death sequences and he does an okay job. Doug, for instance, is killed, rather violently, in the shower. Zito wanted to have this scene because it would be his direct reference to Psycho, but it was different because it was a guy. It was also different because it took place in a stupid movie.

Eventually we are down to Trish and Tommy. The final sequence is done fairly well even though most of it is just Trish running between the houses, and at times I think Zito got confused as to where we were supposed to be in the action because I know I did. The “Final Girl” (In this case “Final Girl/Boy”) sequences are really the bread and butter of these films, and this one is the best since the 2nd film.

There is a great “scare” moment where Jason comes through the window to grab Tommy. Apparently, they lied to Mr. Feldman about where and when Jason (Ted White) would grab him, so his look of fright is 100% legit. It shows. When all is said and done, Trish gets Jason in the face with yet another machete. Jason flinches a bit after being bludgeoned, and so Tommy grabs the machete and starts hacking away at Jason’s face. Trish gets a hold of him, and he looks at the camera with some crazy eyes. Spooky!

The Final Chapter is a fuck ton better than Part III. Does that mean it’s good? No, however, I think there is an okay film in here somewhere. And it’s filled with enough batshit moments (Tommy with a shaved head to try and look like Jason as a young boy and Crispin Glover dancing like he’s having a seizure) that I was never all that bored. This film has more nudity than the previous three combined, so maybe that’s a guy thing, but whatever, it was appreciated as a nice diversion.

It’s still a stupid movie. The middle forty minutes have a ton of slow parts, and the characters are becoming more tedious from film to film. And even more so than the last one, I can’t figure out why Jason is even killing all of these people. The original reasoning was that he and his mom would take vengeance on camp counselors, but we haven’t had any of those in either of these films.

I’ve given up on ever saying one of these films is any good, but The Final Chapter is almost on the level of Part II, so if you’re going to watch an F13 film, this one would be one to pop in the player.

At least it’s the last one. I’ve had a lot of fun writing these reviews; bad movies are sometimes more fun to write about than the good ones, so with that, I bid adieu to this franchise…hold on, my wife wants me to do something. What’s that? You want to watch Friday the 13th V, but I thought…what…six more films? FUCK ME!

Follows: Friday the 13th Part III

Next: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning


Sam Loomis

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