Non Canon Review: Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

MARCH 14, 2008

GENRE: SLASHER
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (REVIVAL SCREENING)

For some reason I started with part 4 for my two favorite horror franchises. Halloween 4 and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter were my introductions to Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, respectively, and both remain my 2nd favorite entries in the series (with Jason Lives being my favorite Friday). I saw it when I was like 6 or 7, and over the next couple weeks my mom rented V (New Beginning) and VI (Jason Lives), before announcing that she was sick of them. It would be a couple years before I saw the others (I think 3 was the last I got around to seeing, when I was like 14), thanks to friends and cable TV.

Final Chapter was also the first (and 2nd last) horror movie that ever scared me to the point where I had to turn it off. I was like 10 or so, up in Maine, where we “camp” in the summer (by “camp” I mean we have a fully functioning RV in a well lit and highly populated summer campground), and my parents had gone out to dinner or something, leaving me alone in the RV (NO they weren’t being negligent, our honorary relatives “camped” right next door and were home, plus I think my older sister was around), which had a TV/VCR. I put on the film, and by the time poor Teddy got stabbed through the projector screen, I was too freaked and had to shut the movie off until they got back (the fact that I slept outside of the RV, in a tent very much like the one the ill-fated Rob has in the film, didn’t help much).

(For the record, the other one was Halloween 5 – which I tried to watch when I was home alone at the age of 12, ON HALLOWEEN. I got up to the barn scene.)

Part of why 4 has endeared is that it was the last of the series to have any real ties to the others (other than the Tommy Jarvis character, introduced here via Corey Feldman). Parts 1-4 tell a sort of complete story of Jason’s origin, and the endings to all 3 sequels have thematic ties to the original. Also, 2-4 take place over the course of a few days; after this film, the timeline is pretty much the most convoluted in any franchise, including James Bond (if you go by this film’s claim that the first movie took place in 1979, and factor in the “it’s been 5 (or 10, or whatever) years” statements that occur in many of the sequels (which were all filmed no more than a year after the previous one), then part VIII would take place in the early 2000s). There is a minor plot hole with this set up (Rob has all of these clippings and research about Jason, due to the fact he killed his sister – but she would have only died about 2 days ago. Can’t he wait until she’s buried before hitting up the library and going on a revenge mission?), but otherwise it works OK enough. It’s nice to know that at one point they were at least trying (anyone who can figure out how Jason went from a tiny boy in New York to Hell, then to Space, and finally back to Springwood is certainly welcome to explain here).

This is also one of the few films in the series to feature actors you may have actually seen in something else. Other than Feldman, the big name here is Crispin Glover, who stars in the series’ most famous non-kill scene (his ridiculous dance). But Bruce Mahler from the Police Academy movies also shows up as Axl, the horny morgue attendant, and Lawrence Monoson appeared in the “not as bad as it could have been” Starship Troopers sequel (and according to the commentary, his casting was actually a demand from the studio). And the guy who plays Rob showed up in an episode of House. Plus, the no-names are better actors than average.

In addition to the casting, the film even has some actual production value. The morgue scenes are a nice change of pace from the “how many goddamn cabins ARE there on Crystal Lake” feeling you get from the other movies, and the opening scene has helicopters, ambulances, police cars... it’s great.

And Tommy plays Zaxxon. Badly.

Like all movies I re-watch at the New Beverly, there’s a lot of stuff I never realized how silly it was. Like the newspaper claiming “MASS MURDERER’S BODY MISSING” as a headline (and ignored by the reader), or the idea of a young kid taking a very odd stranger up to his room with little suspicion from his mother. I also lost count of how many times the one girl says “Paul?” as she goes for a skinny dip (and how does her inflatable raft remain inflated when Jason spears the goddamn thing?), because the entire theater began laughing every time she asked again. Look, if it’s him, he’ll answer! Also, possibly the dumbest “chase” moment in the entire series occurs here – Trish goes to one door, but there’s a body on the ground. Then she goes to another door, and again, a body. So what does she do? Smashes a window and climbs out. Is there some religion that prevents followers from stepping over or around a corpse?

This movie also began implementing Jason’s teleportation abilities. Most obvious is when he kills Jimmy, the twin, and then Teddy in rapid succession. Jimmy is killed in the kitchen, some 10 feet away from Teddy. Teddy doesn’t hear his screams or anything, but that’s sort of par for these movies. But then it gets weird. The twin is then killed by Jason on the 2nd floor (from outside no less), and then Jason somehow gets back downstairs and behind Teddy to turn off the projector, then behind him AGAIN (Teddy spins around) to stab him through the throat. What?

Still, it’s one of the best sequels, easily. Savini’s gore effects are amazing, the kills come along at a nice clip without becoming a parody (like in part 5), and you’ll even like a few of the characters. Also, the fact that it started to “open up” the series (with an adult for once, plus a kid) was a good thing, because it made the movie feel “bigger”. And damned if that one dude getting stabbed through the groin (after sort of cheating on his girlfriend) doesn’t make me wince. Well played, Joe Zito!

What say you?

10 comments:

  1. Excellent review in all respects. When I saw this one listed at the Beverly I thought about moving!

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  2. As long as I get the JC stamp of approval, I know I'm on the right path... hopefully by the time HMAD has run its course I will have reviewed all 11 films.

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  3. Crispin Glover was really memorable in this film, and my friend reminded me of a very odd scene: Remember when the dog jumps out of the window in slow motion? Weird.

    Also the chick not stepping over the dead body and choosing to exit via a window was definitely weird.

    Fun movie though.

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  4. U Haul FrankensteinMarch 18, 2008 at 7:39 PM

    Jason Lives man?

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  5. Crispin Glover's dance may be The Greatest Moment in Film History. The song is priceless (I need to download Lion's entire discography STAT), as is the "dead fuck" discussion he and Ted have on the way to camp.

    Despite these ridiculous moments, IV is absolutely my favorite Friday and one of the best 80's slashers. Plus: the chick from Weird Science naked! Awesome.

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  6. Why this is my favorite of the series:
    A. It was filmed in Topanga, where I lived for several years.

    B. It was filmed at my babysitter's house.

    I no longer live in LA & watching this movie makes me a bit homesick.

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  7. "anyone who can figure out how Jason went from a tiny boy in New York to Hell, then to Space, and finally back to Springwood is certainly welcome to explain here"
    Can't help you with the rapid aging / return to crystal lake between 8 & 9, but FvJ is clearly set _before_ the opening of X.

    We also know that GTH has to be set _After_ Freddy's Dead (or at least the end is - Freddy's hand comes up from hell to retrieve Jasons mask) - Freddy's dead came out in 1999, but IIRC, the movie opens with a "10 years from now", so is presumably set in 2009.

    HOWEVER the opening of X is stated to be set in 2010, and Jason has apparently been held captive since 2008.

    SO, some time after 2009, Freddy resurrects Jason (and himself), Jason wails of Freddy, and then somehow travels back in time, so that he can be captured in 2008!

    Simples!

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  8. You raise good questions. I don't have any answers, but I do want to point out a few problems:

    1. Trish and Rob are in the tent when the conversation leads to Trish's realization that she's left Tommy all alone in the house with Jason on the prowl. They rush to the house to ensure that Tommy is okay. Not long after, they decide they need to go next door. So, they decide to leave poor little Tommy all alone in the house... again. As Rob goes out the door he utters, "Hold the Fort". Way to watch out for the kid. Assholes!

    2. Paul, the stud of the piece, looked like a complete nance tiptoeing down to the lake on his way after Sam.

    3. According to Wikipedia, the reason Jason shaves his head and puts white makeup on his face is to make himself look like Jason. This is supposed to distract him. This is quite the psychological assumption made by a little kid. Assuming he actually did look like little Jason (which he didn't) or even resemble him (maybe, if I really suspend my disbelief (I did)), Jason would still need to recognize his own visage for Tommy to pull the trick off. Despite the trick being much poorer that the similar trick pulled in part II, it works just as well. Boo! I haven't seen A New Beginning yet, but it sounds like this sets up Tommy as Jason's successor, and I guess it does that pretty well. I guess.

    Anyway, Tom Savini and Crispin Glover both turn in excellent work. Love the kills, love the dance!

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  9. And damn, if Trish isn't super 80's hotness.

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  10. Hey horror fans! I’m the son of Ted White who portrayed “Jason” in Friday the 13th The Final Chapter. I finally got off my duff and wrote about the time my dad invited me to the set for one of the kill scenes and his private conversations between director, Joe Zito and effects guru Tom Savini. It’s a bloody and funny, crazy story and I was there to see it go down. I’ve told this story for years but have never written about it. He’s actually a stuntman who did a slue of Westerns and doubled for John Wayne in several of the Duke’s films. This story and many more from his career are now in a paperback compellation called “In The Shadows of Giants.” And the corpse didn’t fall far from the casket as I have had my own share of crazy stories to tell as well. Check it all out soon on Amazon and Kindle. You won’t be disappointed! Like our Facebook page to get notified of the launch! https://www.facebook.com/shadowsofgiants

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