Paramount // 1984 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // June 16th, 2009
Three times before, you have felt the terror, known the madness, lived the horror. But this is the one you've been screaming for.
Jason's back, and Corey's got him!
Or, vice versa.
Back from the dead and bigger than ever, superhuman killing machine Jason Voorhees systematically slaughters a group of people so nondescript, you wonder if anyone will even notice they're gone. But this time, the big guy might have met his match in the form of -- Corey Feldman?
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was actually supposed to be the final installment of this endless, repetitive, but lucrative series. Of course, this was never intended to be a series at all, but the success of the first Friday inspired a sequel, and that sequel's success inspired another follow-up -- which ended with what seemed to be the death of Jason (a motif the rest of the films would follow). Violence and nudity-deprived audiences of the '80s clamored for more, and the folks at Paramount decided to give it one more shot, and thus The Final Chapter was begat.
Each of the first four Fridays has something a little special: The first one being the first, the second being the introduction of Jason as the killer (plus, it was the only one that functioned a little above the slice-and-dice watermark), and the third offering 3-D. This one promised closure, and seemed to provide it. Of course, the financial success of The Final Chapter made a lie of the title, and after one installment with a faux psycho, Jason was back at it, and this McHorror franchise hasn't stopped since.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter follows the recipe of all the Fridays before it: attractive and horny youth learning the meaning of misery at the business ends of sharp objects. This time around, the "kids" are slightly older. Rather than camp counselors, they're vacationers, renting a house in the woods. While there's a lot of old-school nudity and shenanigans -- a breath of fresh air from the past in these comparatively chaste PG-13 times -- the killings seem disappointingly truncated. We get the impact but not the follow through. A typical death goes like this: Object enters body, character screams, small splash of blood, and then a quick cut. No loving, lingering grue shots. For one death, a character reacts in shock to something off-screen (Jason, we assume) and is never heard from again. None of the killings is particularly inspired, and thanks to the famed Harry Manfredini score cuing us every time the big guy is about to make a kill, there's no real suspense. Since this one doesn't feature campers or counselors, a half-hearted effort to tie this back to the earlier films comes in the form of a character whose sister was done in by Jason in Part 2 and is now looking to avenge her. Unfortunately, this potentially intriguing bit of plotting is just tossed out there and left dangling.
The film opens with the usual recap of the previous films, this time using a scene from Friday the 13th Part 2 in which a camp counselor recounts the legend of the boy in the lake while we are treated to scenes of Jason's greatest hits. In a tip of the hat to post-modernism, some of the teens listening to the story are also shown as victims of Jason's bloody swath, as the filmmakers slyly toy with our pre-conceived notions of time, place, and fate. Or, they just tossed together a bunch of existing footage because it was cheaper than shooting a new prologue. This installment picks up where Friday the 13th Part 3 left off, with Jason being declared dead and carted off to a morgue. For reasons left unexplained, news of his death was premature, and the body count begins anew.
It's hardly groundbreaking, but I wouldn't say that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter doesn't have its virtues. The film gets points for its cast, particularly a couple of young actors who would go on to extensive, and sometimes bizarre, post-Friday careers: Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover.
Glover is the most entertaining person here, and arguably the most entertaining character in the history of the franchise. His performance is completely out of synch with the rest of the movie, coming off like a straight-faced parody. Director Joe Zito obviously saw the value of this and teamed Glover up with Lawrence Monoson as a pair of geeky guys out to score. Monoson's very good, but he's no match for Glover's self-aware weirdness -- don't miss his brief but unforgettable dance sequence, a high-point in geek pop culture. Glover, of course, went on to star in films such as Back to the Future and the remake of Willard and gained infamy by aiming a kick at David Letterman's head, positioning himself forever as a symbol of pure oddity amongst Hollywood actors.
Corey Feldman was around 12 when he made this and already had an extensive resumé of bit parts and TV guest appearances. His character, Tommy Jarvis, is a seminal part of the Friday series and the only character besides Jason to have a significant storyline in more than one Friday film. Initially, there was thought that Tommy might end up being the "new" Jason. There were two more films featuring the character played by different, older actors -- even though the next Friday came just one year after this, Tommy aged about five years, from early adolescence to teenager. The entire Tommy Jarvis saga -- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning, and Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives -- is being re-released in Deluxe Editions.
In February, Paramount rolled out deluxe edition re-releases of the first three Fridays. The results were mixed. The transfers for the original and Part 2 were improved, and Part 3 was released in its original 3-D (cumbersome on home video, but at least they tried). Part 3 had no extras, while the original and Part 2 were fairly loaded, but with mediocre supplements.
I'm happy to report that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a big improvement on the earlier Deluxe Editions. The film looks really good, with a solid picture -- though here and there, some individual scenes are a bit soft and grainy. Audio offerings include the original mono track, a nicely beefed up 5.1, and French and Spanish mono.
Best, though, is what Paramount is giving us in the way of supplements. No roundtable discussions and convention footage, like the Deluxe Editions of Parts 1 and 2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter offers a terrific slate of extras.
We start with two excellent commentaries. The first, with Director Joe Zito, writer Barney Cohen, and editor Joel Goodman gives us a lot of interesting information and remembrances. The second commentary is a real treat: Filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch get to weigh in as huge Friday fans. Having a fan commentary makes so much sense, since Friday the 13th movies are really fan-powered. Let's face it, they're not great works or art or craft, and they're not exactly begging critical re-evaluation. Lynch and Green have a blast, they are very knowledgeable, and it's fun to listen to them as they share insights and trivia -- though I was a little surprised that they didn't recognize the campers in the early "recounting of the events" scene as being from Part 2.
The producers of this disc wisely used the personable Joe Zito quite a bit here -- unlike the deluxe edition for Part 2, in which director Steve Miner didn't turn up at all. "Jason's Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" is a neat, 11-minute retrospective with Zito, make-up guru Tom Savini, Ted White (who played Jason), actress Kimberly Beck, and others. Zito also narrates a funny look at Crispin Glover's dance sequence.
Perhaps to make up for the comparative lack of on-screen gore, we get two "deleted footage" featurettes, "Slashed Scenes" and "The Lost Ending." Narrated by Zito, "Slashed Scenes" shows us how the gore effects were done and gives us a slightly longer -- and grislier -- look at the kills. Zito explains that most of the scenes were shortened because they were just too gruesome. "The Lost Ending" is just that, an alternate ending that again features added gore. I don't know if these featurettes are new or if they were part of the extras on the box set, Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan, but they are worth seeing...
A mockumentary, "The Crystal Lake Massacre Revisited," is clever but far too long at 18 minutes -- and this is only part 1. The real turnip in this field of poppies, though, is another "episode" of the wretched home movie "Lost Tales from Camp Blood," a series of sub-YouTube quality pieces of drek that have inexplicably turned up on all the Deluxe Editions. These are painful to watch, and why Paramount continues to add them as supplements is anybody's guess.
Yes, they are predictable and generic, and not especially scary, but let's face it: Friday the 13th movies are a far sight more entertaining -- edgy, even -- than the J-horror remakes and sanitized soft-R and PG-13 movies we get now. There were eight Friday the 13th films cranked out between 1980 and 1988, one every year except for 1983. These films were a rite of passage for kids coming of age during the Reagan years and thanks to home video, they continue to be. It seems a bit lofty to refer to Jason's exploits as a significant part of our cultural heritage, but in point of fact, they are.
While Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter may or may not be "the best" of the Friday movies, or even a particularly good movie, this is an outstanding release, a truly "deluxe" Deluxe Edition.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Short Films
* Deleted Scenes
* Alternate Ending
* Crispin Glover Dance
* Crispin Glover on Letterman