FRIDAY THE 13th, APRIL 2007
To be honest, Jason Goes To Hell is not a qualifying movie at all (so it will be a called a "Non Canon Review"). In fact, I watched the hell out of it as a kid (it was the first, and technically last, Friday movie I saw in theaters, since I do not count Freddy vs Jason). But since I had not seen it in about 10 years, and the DVD is an ‘unrated’ version, I decided to give it a go for the "holiday". However, I didn’t notice anything different in plot, so it must have been gore snippets. Say what you will about the film, at least it was gory, unlike the 99% bloodless last two entries.
The most hilarious (or sad) aspect of the New Line era Jason films (and for this I’ll count FvJ) is how little concern they had for any sort of continuity with the previous entries. JGTH does not follow from VIII, Jason X does not follow from JGTH, and FvJ does not follow from Jason X. At least in the Paramount films Jason would always be where he “died” at the end of the previous film, and his resurrection would be explained (lightning, electricity, telekinesis, etc). But at the beginning of this movie, Jason is not a naked child at the bottom of a sewer that has been flooded with toxic waste. Indeed, he’s just regular Jason, prowling around Crystal Lake. And then neither Jason X nor Freddy vs Jason ever acknowledge his whole “going to Hell” deal. The only way to even approach continuity is to assume that the boat/NY parts of VIII never happened, and instead after Jim and Suzie resurrected him, he stuck around and fought Freddy. Afterwards, Freddy went off to die on his own and Jason either went to hell or space, and the other one never happened. Sort of like a choose your own adventure, only more confusing and less educational (Don’t forget: Spies can be found inside every national monument across the globe).
But really, does it matter? No. Anyone who cares this much about horror film continuity would have committed suicide after watching H20, which features characters watching Scream, a film in which characters watch Halloween. It’s like a moebius strip made out of Fangoria fold out posters.
Anyway, this film is the best of the New Line entries, but that is saying exactly nothing at all. It’s somewhat admirable that they tried to do something different with the series (though why they’d bother for the supposedly final entry is beyond me), but they could have at least done so in a manner that actually put Jason onscreen for more than 10 minutes of the film. This film came out 4 years after VIII (the longest gap in releasing a Friday film ever at that point), which means they had at least 3 years of people bitching “he’s only in New York for the last 20 minutes!”. Fans clearly take their titles seriously. And yes, Jason did indeed go to hell (which is located a few feet below ground), but he didn’t do much else. They even had to go back after test screenings and add a scene of some kids in the woods getting killed during sex (note: this sequence features a magic condom that finds its way out of a sealed tent and into the woods) so people would recognize it as a Friday movie!
Not that it’s a total mess. There are some great kills, and some nice homages to both the series (note the manner in which Jessica grabs Jason at the end) and other, better, horror films (The Thing, Creepshow, The Birds). There’s also a shot during the climactic battle that looks like it is copying the HBO Feature Presentation thing from the 80s. So there’s something. There’s even some light homoeroticism: the possessed morgue doctor strips, ties up, and then shaves a cop he’s about to pass the Jason demon thing onto (this scene ranks as the most baffling in the film and possibly the entire series).
It’s ironic that Kane Hodder is known as Jason and yet starred in the 4 worst entries of the entire series (I’m once again ignoring FvJ). He’s an OK Jason, but the films he’s stuck in range from bad at best to terrible at worst. Sort of like Pierce Brosnan: Great Bond, bad Bond films. But I’m guessing Kane won’t be starring in Matador 2.
Harry Manfredini’s score for the earlier films was solid, if repetitive, but at this point he should have just been replaced. The score in this film is god awful, consisting entirely of stings and random piano slamming. At one point the score just goes “duhm!” everytime our lame ass hero (the guy from the unrelated TV series) gets slammed into a wall or floorboard.
Like the other New Line entries, the DVD at least tops Paramount’s DVDs by actually including extras and not putting two movies on the same side of the same disc. However, it is wrapped in Annoyo-Package™ (where there are three adhesive seals, one on each edge of the case, all without the little non-sticky ‘pull’ tab. Yeah, because clearly Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday is on top of every thieves’ wish-list, you gotta protect that shit!), so it will take you longer to open the goddamn thing than it will to go through the disc.
What say you?
(Note - I’ll be watching another movie later, but I felt I had to honor the “holiday” by watching the only film in the series I hadn’t bothered re-watching since I was old enough to drive).