Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) is now thirty years old, and today is Friday the 13th, so here are some notes and thoughts on what is maybe my favorite film in the series.
Check out my previous Friday reviews:

This was designed and planned to be the last film in the Friday series, hence the title.  The producers and everybody thought the series had ran its course and it was time to end it.  Of course, this film's success at the box office led to another sequel. . which led to another. . .and another. . .and another. . .and. . .you know.  Still, their attempt at making a final Friday is admirable and successful on many fronts, particularly the ending, but let's instead start at the beginning.

After a brief opening flashback-recap-montage of everything from the first three films, all set around the campfire tale from Part 2 told by Paul (John Furey), the credits start with an EXPLOSION, as the subtitle (The Final Chapter) comes smashing through Jason's hockey mask and the Friday the 13th logo.  Exploding credits = always cool.

After the credits roll, the story begins during the clean-up after the events of Part 3.  There is a nice crane and steadicam shot that reveals Jason's body laying in the barn (where he must of been all day long, as Part 3 ends during the daytime and it is now nighttime) with policemen and medics scrambling all about.  He's declared dead.  They strap Jason to a gurney, load him up into an ambulance, and take him to the hospital morgue.

*Note: There is no mention of the survivor from Part 3, Chris, who was last seen being loaded into a police car and was obviously a little mad-crazy from her encounter with Jason.  In all likelihood she ended up in a mental institution, but I don't believe she's ever mentioned again in the series.

Jason's time in the morgue is brief, as he wakes up and kills the horny morgue attendant Axel (who likes weird aerobics videos) and his nurse companion before hightailing it out of there.  Axel gets his neck slashed with a surgical saw and then Jason twists his head around.  It's the first kill of the movie and it is pretty impressive.

Before they're killed, when they're just making out next to Jason laying on his gurney under a sheet, Axel and the nurse get scared when Jason's hand slips out from underneath his sheet (actually the second time in the movie he's pulled this trick) and Axel totally freaks out and screams, "Jesus Christmas!  Holy Jesus goddamn!  Holy Jesus jumping Christmas shit!"  It's really funny and completely over the top.  Who would ever use a series of exclamations like that?  It's very inapproriapte for the situation, but that pretty much explains Axel (did you watch the aerobics video link above?).

The (brief) hospital setting reminds me of Halloween II (1981) and Visiting Hours (1982) and makes me wish they would've done more with it, but with a quick jump cut, Jason is back in the woods stalking Trish Jarvis (Kimberly Beck) and her mom as they're out jogging.

How Jason gets from the hospital morgue to the woods is never addressed.  It is unlikely that he hitchhiked and he probably cannot drive, so I doubt he stole a car.  I guess he walked..?

Trish and her mom, along with young Tommy (an early role for Corey Feldman), live out in the woods somewhere along Crystal Lake.  Tommy has a room full of monster stuff and he makes his own masks and special effects.  He's a smart kid and, after the events of this movie, he would become one of Jason's greatest nemeses.

The body count in this picture comes courtesy of the young folks staying at a cabin that is located directly across the yard from the Jarvis residence.  They are your typical group of Friday victims, all just looking to have a good time (i.e.: drink and get laid), although they do lack the resident prankster/goofball character popularized by the original Friday.  The closest they come is the slightly dorky, very much horny, Jimmy, as played by the very weird Crispin Glover.

This is pre-Back to the Future Glover, and he gives a spirited performance, making a memorable character out of a role that was basically just "victim #8."

One of Jimmy's buddies, Teddy, is teasing him about being a "deadfuck," so it's cool when later Jimmy hooks up with one of the twins that they run into (it was the 80s, twins were popular) and is proven to, indeed, not be a deadfuck.  Jimmy is the only character to get a small victory like that before his death.  It's nice.

Also nice are Crispin Glover's dance moves.  This is, without a doubt, one of the best scenes in any Friday the 13th movie.  Behold!:

Jimmy's death scene is also pretty great, as he gets a corkscrew in the hand and a cleaver to the face.

Let's talk about the timeline of these movies real quick:

-The first Friday took place in 1979 (the movie was released in 1980).
-Part 2 (from 1981) took place 5 years later, which would be 1984.
-Part 3 (from 1982) picks up right after Part 2.
-And Part 4 (the Final Chapter here, from 1984) picks up right after Part 3.
-So, by the time Part 4 comes out they've caught up with their own future jump from Part 2 and movie-time and real-time match up.  If I didn't know better, I'd say they planned that.

Also, note that everything from Parts 2-4 takes place over the course of about 5 days.  That means Jason killed 36 people during the equivalent of a typical American work week.  Along with his work-shirt/pants look and penchant for using simple tools or his hands to do his job, Jason is the working class, blue collar slasher, through and through.

More notes on The Final Chapter:

Trish and Tommy run into a random hiker named Rob who says he's out hunting for bears, which Tommy immediately calls bullshit on.  Turns out Rob is actually the brother of Sandra (girl killed in the spear-bed double murder from Part 2) and he's out hunting for Jason.  . . . . but. . .according to the timeline, Sandra would've only been killed about 4 days prior to this. . . so how and why is Rob out in the woods so quick and soon after his sister's death? 

Turns out it doesn't really matter.  Jason destroys all of Rob's weapons and maps at his campsite and later he kills him in the basement of the Jarvis house.  Rob is only briefly our secondary protagonist and his chief purpose in the movie really seems to be a bit of the "doomsayer" character and fill in the backstory of Jason to Trish, and by extension Tommy (the real secondary protagonist), who uses Rob's newspaper clippings to replicate his Jason-look in the finale of the movie.

Yeah, the finale.
After killing Rob, Jason really gets his shit rocked by Trish.  He gets the sharp part of a hammer to the neck, a television smashed on his head, and a machete to the hand.  While most of this is going on, Tommy gives himself a quick haircut and makeup job to look like young Jason, which confuses Jason long enough for Trish to get a swipe in with a machete.  Ultimately, Tommy is the one who takes Jason down with that machete (all done in that glorious slo-mo that the Friday movies love so much).

SPOILER:  the best kill in the movie is Jason's.  It's a great effect, especially with his head sliding down the blade like that.  Awesome stuff, just great.
Special effects master Tom Savini, who did the original Friday, returned to do the special effects for this movie.  Overall, they are, of course, fantastic.  I love the way Jason looks unmasked.  That, to me, is how Jason should look.
It is interesting to note that it is almost an hour into the movie before we see Jason's hockey masked face.  Before that it's all POV stalking and his arms, hands, and feet is all you see.  He makes his first full body appearance pretty late in the movie, when he busts into the Jarvis home.  It's not like it was a mystery that Jason was the killer, but it seem like they were building anticipation to the climax of the film when Jason would be seen full on.

Also, for a big guy, Jason sure can get around speedily and stealthily.  It's like he can be in multiple places at once.  He's like the Santa Claus of slashers.
One of my favorite things is, when Trish is being chased by Jason, she opens the door and Jimmy has been nailed to the door frame, in a sort of X-fashion, and she freaks and smashes a window and goes out that way.  Later, when Jason comes stomping through, he just rips Jimmy's body down, tearing his hands.  It's a cool, brutal and wince-inducing moment, but I got to wonder if, while ripping down Jimmy's body, if Jason is thinking to himself, "why the fuck did I put this here?"

Also from the "what the hell?" department, at one point the kids see a gravestone for Mrs. Voorhees.  Huh?  Who paid for her burial?  Is her head buried in there, or is it just her body?  Just a strange little detail that doesn't really make any sense.

Speaking of moms, Mrs. Jarvis is killed offscreen, which is something the Friday movies like to do, but what is kinda weird is that after she screams at something offscreen, she is never seen again in the movie.

I guess there were rewrites and disagreements on what to do with the character, and there was even a dream sequence that was shot with her body in a bathtub, but it was ultimately scratched.  As it is, mom just sort of vanishes and you don't really know what happened.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was directed by Joseph Zito, who also directed The Prowler (1981, on which he worked with Tom Savini) and would go on to do the Chuck Norris films Missing in Action (1984) and Invasion, USA (1985).  Weird fact:  all three of Zito's films from 84 and 85 would debut at #1 at the box office.  Man, the 80s were awesome.

As for the cast,
Kimberly Beck was also in Massacre at Central High (1976) and Roller Boogie (1979).
Peter Barton (who played Doug, aka: the guy who gets face smashed in the shower) was also in Hell Night (1981).
Bruce Mahler (horny Axel) was in Police Academy 1-3 and 6 as "Fackler" and was also Rabbi Glickman from Seinfeld.
Ted White, a veteran stuntman who had doubled for John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Lee Marvin, would play Jason.  According to IMDb, he wanted his name removed from the film, as he was uneasy with the role.  He brings a nice physicality to the role and, in my opinion, he makes one of the best Jasons.
Crispin Glover would continue to follow the beat of his own drummer, who is a very strange drummer, but a pretty good one, too.
Corey Feldman would go on to be one of the two Coreys, who were very popular throughout the rest of 80s.
Oh yeah, there's also "banana girl."  She's a hitchhiker that the kids pass on the road ("Hey honey, ya got a sister?") and she flips her "Canada and Love" sign around and also flips the kids one of these:
She's known as "banana girl" because she is stabbed through the throat by Jason while eating a banana.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is fairly well shot, with some good camera movements and set-ups.  The movie is a lot of fun, with plenty of 80s goodness (little shorts!  skinny dipping!  twins!  polo shirts!) and some memorable characters.  Also, the kills are good n' gory and there are plenty of them (14 total).

The Final Chapter is one of the best installments in the series.  If they would've truly ended it here, it would've been solid.  But Jason would return. . . eventually.

Until the next Friday the 13th,
stay safe out there, deadfucks.

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