Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter (1984)

Director: Joseph Zito

Starring: Kimberly Beck, Peter Barton, Corey Feldman, E. Erich Anderson, Crispin Glover, Alan Hayes, Barbara Howard, Lawrence Monoson, Joan Freeman, Judie Aronson, Camilla More, Carey More

Don’t believe it for a second! Any time you see the words “last” or “final” displayed in the title of a horror movie, it is almost never truly the end. About the only exception I can think of  is “Saw.” The seventh and most recent of that franchise used the subtitle “The Final Chapter,” and that was back in 2010. For a series that once had been pumping out sequels every year, they seem to be well and truly finished. By 1984, “Friday the 13th” had thrice successfully brought audiences in to watch camp counselors, vacationers and other unfortunate souls being murdered, but the minds behind the slasher film phenomenon had begun to wonder if their fans would soon grow tired of the monster known as Jason Voorhees. Already, they had thought to end the series as a trilogy, but now it was to be official. The big draw last time had been the 3-D effects. This time, it was the knowledge that Jason was going to die.

The movie starts, as Parts 2 and 3 had, with a montage of previous events. This time, it doesn’t just cover highlights of the most recent “Friday,” but all of the first three titles. If, for some reason, one had decided it was a good idea to watch this one before the others, this opening montage helps get you acquainted with the mayhem you came to see before its own story even gets started. Great way to get settled in! Once that’s done, we pick up right where Part 3 left off at Higgins Haven, the night after Jason’s massacre there. In the barn, the hockey-masked killer lies still. A deep gash in his skull is still fresh, the axe that made it lying beside him. Off to the hospital we go, where Jason’s body is carted off to the morgue. The crass and one-track minded Axel (Bruce Mahler of “Police Academy”) is the man working the corpse storage unit tonight. He and a nurse he has fun with when they should be working are first on Jason’s list.

The action moves to the following day, where we see a car full of youngsters headed into the woods of Crystal Lake to have some fun. Probably can’t fault them too much. Maybe they saw the previous night’s TV reports of how Jason had finally been stopped by his most recent victims, and decided it was okay to go. They obviously don’t have a newspaper subscription, or else they’d be able to read about how his body went missing from the hospital morgue. The Jarvis family, consisting of Tommy (Corey Feldman), older sister Trish (Kimberly Beck) and their mother, do receive the newspaper in the mail. We know this because there’s a scene with the mother reading about Jason’s escape.

If you guessed that none of the young adults in the vacation house will survive the night, you guessed correctly. This will grow to include the Doublemint Twins, who appear out of nowhere on bicycles. Although they will discard these outfits after their initial scene, Tina and Terri (Camilla and Carey More) first show up wearing those sweatshirts with the oversized collars made popular by Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance.” In no way are the actresses really British while pretending to sound American. The rest of the group is made up of the usual cardboard cut-outs we’ve come to expect from these movies, however some of them actually dare to have a glimmer of a personality before they’re unceremoniously bumped off.

Jimmy, played by the odd bird known to the world as Crispin Glover, is presented immediately as sympathetic. He’s just broken up with his girlfriend… or more accurately, she did the breaking-up… and it’s left him confused because he thought he’d done everything right in the relationship. To some this might come off a little whiny, but then his friend Ted (Lawrence Monoson) has to twist the knife a bit (no pun intended). Ted, who knows far less about what makes women tick than he thinks he does, puts this “into the computer,” and comes up with the report that Jimmy must be a “dead fuck,” that he’s no good in the bedroom. Until the moment comes when Jimmy has sex with Tina, “dead fuck” is the pet name Ted uses for him on this trip. While Crispin Glover is the more recognizable actor, I find that it’s Lawrence Monoson as Ted who seems to be having the most fun with his role here. This is keeping in mind the ridiculous dance which Jimmy does that makes him look as though he’s recently touched an electrical fence. That’s just Crispin Glover being Crispin Glover.

Ultimately, it rests on little Tommy’s shoulders to save the day. Tommy’s the big expert in the field of makeup effects, although how he or his parents came by the money required for him to make all of his masks and other assorted items is beyond me. That’s never explained, so it’s clearly not that important. All it is is a set-up to let you know that Tommy’s got the know-how to distract Jason long enough to take him down. His sister Trish surely isn’t much help. As a “final girl,” she’s pretty pathetic. She’d rather crash through a two-story window to escape the monster than evade him by stepping over a dead body to get through the front door. Even her dog commits suicide! Trish and Tommy meet a guy named Rob, whose sister Sandra was killed in “Part 2.” He looks like he’s been out in the woods tracking Jason for a long time, which might be believable until you remember that Parts 2-4 all happen over the course of just a few days. Even worse? Rob’s death scene. This murder in the basement of the party house is so darkly lit that you can’t even see what’s happening. But, more than this, Rob’s death screams are the sort you would hear at a ‘haunted house’ party on Halloween meant to scare the bejesus out of little kids. The rest of us can see it for the over-the-top silliness that it actually is. Better is Jason’s gruesome death scene, thanks to the work of makeup master Tom Savini, returning to kill the monster he helped create with his work in the original “Friday the 13th” four years earlier.

For all of my verbal berating of the shortcomings of “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” you might think that I hate this movie. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it my second favorite “Friday the 13th” behind only the original. Most of the series’ best kills are here, as is one of its more memorable casts, including one of the best Jasons in stuntman Ted White. Like so many series that try to go out on a high note, it was tempting for them to stop here, but I am glad that they did not.

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