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Jason Goes to Hell A Transition for the F13 Franchise

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (New Line, 1993)
Directed by Adam Marcus
Written by Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely from a story by Huguely and Marcus

After Paramount was able to eke out a tiny profit from Jason Takes Manhattan, they decided to finally call it quits on the F13 franchise. New Line Cinema decided to step in and take it over, and Paramount was more than happy to hand it to them. What this would result in was New Line ditching the F13 moniker; the next two films would have Jason at the front of the title. It would also result in arguably the strangest film to come out of the franchise. Ladies and gents, I welcome you to the bizarre enigma wrapped in something even stranger that is Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday.

New Line hired first time writer/director, Adam Marcus, to take over the series. And what Mr. Marcus decided to do was explore the evolution of Jason Voorhees, and by exploring the origin, I mean he came up with something on his own and tried to incorporate it into the F13 continuity. As we are all well aware, the F13 mythology is a mess of mostly bullshit that was thrown in whenever they needed something to make sense in one of the sequels, so really, he could have said Jason was the son of Santa Claus, and it would have made just about as much sense as anything else.

Jason Goes to Hell starts off like most F13 films do, minus a recap that is. A buxom young blonde (Julie Michaels) is in a cabin in the middle of the woods about to take a shower. She hears some noises; the lights go out, etc. And before you can say, “what the fuck,” there stands Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder again) ready to slice her up with his machete. New Line wisely took the route of least resistance when they restarted the franchise; it would have been interesting to see them try and explain what happened after the ending of the last film, but I can’t blame them for not taking that route. Jason is just simply back and up to his old ways.

Anyways, blonde girl gets around him and runs into the woods; Jason of course follows. Then what happens next is a nice surprise. After she does a couple of somersaults down a hill, several flood lights pop on and an army of Feds jump up and starts shooting at Jason. This eventually leads to a few grenades being thrown, and Jason is blown to kingdom come, and the last shot we see before going to black is Jason’s heart, and it is still beating.

So, apparently, Jason is a wide-known threat at this point. He’s on the FBI’s most wanted list and is a common topic on all of the Hard Copy type news shows. You actually almost have to applaud New Line for this transition; although, I still have to wonder how the FBI could realistically put a reanimated corpse on their top ten most wanted list. If you can look past that, and give the scene the credit it deserves, you might very well notice that it’s one of the best sequences ever to come out of an F13 film. The rest of the film, unfortunately and at the same time predictably, cannot say the same.

Essentially, this opening sequence does a number of things. For one, it completely undermines everything that came before it, which as far as I’m concerned, is perfectly okay. By having the young blonde, who we soon learn is an undercover agent, using the same slasher-esque techniques that are at this point clichéd beyond repair, to lure Jason into this trap, Jason Goes to Hell has poked fun and ridiculed everything that the series has been about. This sequence of events takes the idea of post-modernism and turns it on its backside, raping it to the point of no return. Am I getting ahead of myself? Yes. Am I taking this goofy opening bit’s meaning a tad too far? I most definitely am. However, this is New Line’s statement that everything before this sucked and we’re going to give you something different and I can’t blame a guy for trying.

Jason Goes to Hell is completely different from its offspring in many other ways as well. The biggest change is that this is merely a supernatural thriller disguised as a slasher film. The only other sequence besides the first two or three minutes of the film, that even comes close to slasher territory (teens having sex and getting killed in the woods), was actually added in after the first test screening. And considering how pointless a diversion the scene is, it’s not hard to tell that it was filmed and edited in at a later date.

This is the film where we learn that Jason’s body has nothing to do with Jason. No, he was infested with some type of satanic worm spawn, and that’s what makes him kill. So after that vessel is destroyed, the infection just spreads to various other characters until it finds a resting place in another Voorhees. Apparently, Pamela Voorhees, was no mere lonely mother trying to avenge her son’s death, she was some crazy Wiccan deity that will rain terror on unsuspecting people by any means necessary. So, to say this film is a tad ridiculous, is putting it nicely.

With this type of pretentious attitude being taken with the film, it’s not hard to understand why the F13 faithful hate it so much. I’d be mad too if something I loved was pissed on; however, since I am by no means in love with these films, at least Jason Goes to Hell provides me with a fairly fun diversion.

Jason Goes to Hell also provides us with some honest to god characters. Our hero, Steven (John D. Lemay, who was also the star of the F13 television series which much like this film had absolutely nothing to do with everything that came before it), gets confused and scared and attempts to rationalize everything. Maybe that’s simple “Screenwriting 101” bullshit, but it’s still better than anything that has come before it in this series. Steven also proves to be our fall guy as he gets blamed for all of the deaths that start occurring. When, thanks to the help of some crazed bounty hunter named Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), Steven finally figures out what’s going on he has to figure out a way to stop it himself since no one will believe that some crazed demon spirit is travelling from body to body until it finds its resting place.

Creighton Duke is as generic an exposition giver as I’ve ever seen, but Steven Williams, who is probably not the best of actors, attacks the role with such overheated gusto, that it’s hard not to enjoy the character. Wow! That makes two characters in an F13 film that you almost give a damn about.

Steven’s relation to the rest of the film is not something I will bother you with in detail, but essentially he is back in town to find his lost love, who also happens to be of the Voorhees line, and gets dragged into all of this mess. And like all of the other F13 films, the middle part of the film, is essentially pointless characters getting killed off in disgusting ways as quickly as they can throw them at us.

We eventually get down to the first ever “Final Man” scene in one of these films, where Jason’s worm parasite eventually finds its way into a Voorhees, and for whatever reason he is now back in the hockey mask and wet clothes. I forgot to mention there is some kind of mystical knife that Steven has gotten from Creighton. It is the magical elixir, if you will, that will kill Jason once and for all. After Steven stabs him, these evil roots (Or Something) come up from the ground and drag Jason down (yep, you guessed it) TO HELL! And there is this little bit of a cliffhanger. Jason’s mask is the only thing that doesn’t get dragged into the Earth, that is until Freddy Krueger’s glove shoots out and pulls it down. Umm, could that be foreshadowing? And considering we had to wait ten years for that matchup to take place, this might be the longest prelude conducted in the history of film.

Look! Jason Goes to Hell is by no means a good film. If you look at it from the perspective of not being an F13 film then it’s mildly enjoyable. Still, the film would have never been made without Jason involved in it, so that diversion proves moot.

It’s eerie how much correlation there is between New Line taking over this franchise from Paramount and what Dimension would do with the Halloween franchise two years later. That too became a silly origin story, but Jason Goes to Hell can live with the fact that it is quite a bit better than The Curse of Michael Myers. Of course, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo can also attest to that, so I don’t know if it’s a good thing or even relevant.

Still, I give New Line props for throwing everything, including the kitchen sink (actually, a kitchen sink plays a part in a scene from the film) at the screen and hoping some of it stuck. Jason Goes to Hell, after a decent opening weekend in the Summer of 93, made very little money, but like even the worst of the Paramount films, still managed to turn a bit of a profit. It would be another nine years before New Line would dip its feet back in and produce another F13 film. So, maybe we should applaud the film for the break as well.

Next up, we’re going to space; should be fun.

Follows: Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan

Next: Jason X

Sam Loomis

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