If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
The sky was filled with lightning. Electricity sparked and flashed and the air itself felt charged. Rain poured down in anger, sheets of water cascading against the windows and leaking through the cracks. Thunder rolled across the heavens in a warning to whoever would listen.
Sandra was not listening. She was in the throes of passion with Jeff, her boyfriend. His body moved and filled her. Clutching his muscular back, she let wave upon wave of pleasure roll over her body. Heat between them was causing her to sweat and the smell of their lovemaking filled the room. Sandra’s half closed eyes suddenly bolted open. She thought she had seen someone. She did! Someone was in the room…someone wearing a mask! It looked like a sack. He vanished for a moment but suddenly appeared again with the next lightning flash, closer this time and holding something in his hands raised above him. Sandra found herself staring into his one exposed eye. Jeff was still thrusting inside her and was starting to reach his climax when it dawned on her; the intruder’s going to kill us! She tried to speak, but the stranger with one eye thrust downward and Sandra felt a hot burst of pain in her chest. Warm wet fluid flowed between her and her lover. The lightning flashed again and as her life ebbed out of her and her vision blurred, Sandra saw the maniac standing over them, watching them die. She held Jeff closer with her last ounce of strength and slipped away.
“This Friday, April 13th is Jason’s unlucky day!”
—Promo spot for FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER
For a film series like FRIDAY THE 13TH, announcing that this would be the final chapter was a great marketing scheme. Audiences flocked to see the end of the big guy with the hockey mask. Would this really be the end? Is Jason going to finally die? It had been two years since the last FRIDAY THE 13TH film and somehow, fans knew this one was going to be special.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER begins with the campfire legend of Jason from PART 2, highlighting scenes from the entire series. After the opening credits (where Jason’s hockey mask explodes!), the film begins in earnest at the aftermath of the massacre of PART III (covered in Unlucky Days, Part Two here). There is a helicopter searchlight sweeping the wet muddy site and police cars and ambulances are everywhere. The end of PART III showed the survivor of the film being lead away in a police car, quite insane, in broad daylight, so I guess clean up of this particular bloodbath was an all night affair. Various officials work to scrub up the crime scene, which mostly consisted of taking away bodies. (My favorite is the seemingly obvious half-body of Andy [Jeffrey Rogers] in the small black body bag.)
As we see inside of the barn, Jason is still there, having just had the ax removed from his head. His “body” is bagged and strapped to a gurney. (These people don’t check for a pulse?) As the cars and helicopters and signs of civilization finally leave the scene, a strange thing happens.
Director Joseph Zito delivers a great chill when everything suddenly becomes very dark and quiet again. The crickets and the wind are the only sound, and the barn and set from PART III are enveloped in blackness. The screen stays in ominous silence for a few breathless moments longer than it should, long enough to get a very uneasy feeling before continuing on to the next scene at the hospital. It is, in my opinion, the single creepiest moment in any FRIDAY THE 13TH movie.
THE FINAL CHAPTER then moves quickly into very familiar territory with only a few new twists attempted. Jason (an uncredited Ted White) revives at the hospital (his breath is noticeable for a split second when they put him in the morgue drawer) and kills two members of the staff before fleeing back to the place he knows best, Crystal Lake. Jason is, at this point, still alive…a living, breathing person, who nonetheless survives fatal blows for some unknown reason. (Later in the series, a couple of attempts are made to explain Jason’s invulnerability, none of them very satisfactory.)
Jason returns to Crystal Lake and once again begins to murder a group of fun-loving teens that come into the woods for fun, sex and frolic. (They apparently don’t watch the news or read the paper, as they would have no doubt heard of the massacre near the cabin they rented, or the fact that the body of Jason is missing from the morgue.)
The victims here are the most insipid, brainless, unlikable group of dolts ever to grace a screen. I, like my fellow audience members, found myself cheering Jason on, urging him to kill. We screamed and cheered with bloodlust and glee when Jason murdered the two hospital workers (including comic Bruce Mahler as Axle, in a particularly gruesome death) and a lone female hitchhiker (Bonnie Hellman). The hitchhiker’s murder is a puzzle to me, as I can’t understand why Jason would so brutally murder a girl for just sitting on the side of the road, eating a banana. Perhaps he was just tired and pissed-off from his long walk back from the hospital?
We are also introduced to the Jarvis family, Mom (Joan Freeman) and her two children, Trish and Tommy who live next door to the cabin that the NEW victims have rented. The youngest of the Jarvis kids, Tommy (Corey Feldman), is a horror and monster fan who creates special FX and makeup that look like they came out of Tom Savini’s workshop. Wait a minute; they probably did since Savini returns to provide the gruesome FX to the series that made him famous. I even recall the audience applauding at his name during the opening credits! Finally, the series attempts something new with the appearance of Rob (Erich Anderson), a Jason hunter, looking to avenge the death of his sister at Jason’s hands (Sandra, speared with her boyfriend Jeff in PART 2).
Once all the flimsy exposition is out of the way, the storm clouds roll in and the body count begins. Jason is quite inventive in this film, finding time to nail one victim up in a doorway cruciform-style (Jim, played by Crispin Glover) and nailing another to a wall behind a door. Jason apparently found a whole lot of railroad spikes!
The murders are gruesome and perhaps the most brutal of the series so far. Jason is very, very angry. “Why do they keep coming?” he must ask himself, “They’re like roaches!” Actually, an amusing part of this FINAL CHAPTER is the amazing number of consecutive murders (Jim, Tina, Ted, Doug and Sara) in a sequence that must’ve left Jason very winded.
The conclusion of FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER is a real nail-biter, as Jason makes short work of Rob (the ineffective Jason hunter) with a garden claw and attempts to finish off the Jarvis family. Well, Tommy has a plan. He’ll shave his head and distract Jason with flashback memories of his childhood trauma! Jason is locked in a fierce battle with Tommy’s sister Trish (Kimberley Beck) and sustains a major injury to his hand (it’s almost cleaved in two!), but prepares to finish her off when Tommy makes his bald-headed appearance and calls him by name. (Fortunately, Rob left his Jason folder at the Jarvis house and Tommy took some time to read up on his adversary.)
Jason is indeed distracted, but it’s never quite certain what he plans to do. He stares at Tommy, tilts his head and (in my view) tries to suppress a giggle. But the distraction works, Jason is unmasked and ends up greasing the sharp side of a machete blade with his brainpan, the killing blow delivered by Tommy himself.
When Jason’s mask comes off, it falls to the floor in slow motion and Jason turns around to reveal his face. Since it was Savini who designed the character to begin with, the Jason from THE FINAL CHAPTER looks great. His face is bulbous and properly deformed but there is a twisted look of malevolence that has nothing to do with his natural deformities. Jason leers at Trish with his nightmarish face before Tommy makes the killing blow from behind.
It seemed that the series was leading up to Tommy Jarvis taking Jason’s place as the psycho killer of Crystal Lake (the ending clearly hints at this), but one thing was certain. Jason was dead. D-E-A-D. THE SULTAN OF SLAUGHTER IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE SULTAN OF SLAUGHTER!
The life of Jason ended violently and ironically at the hands of an 11-year-old boy and his days of breathing oxygen were over. Did he think about his mother as his life ended? Did he find it amusing that he was being stopped by a child that he himself once was and in many ways still was? It would be a few years before we would see the one and only Jason Voorhees again.
I saw FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER in the exact same theater that I saw PART III, and the crowd was packed in like sardines. I was there with some of my school chums, and we were making this an event. We had rented some prime slasher fare for viewing later that night, and THE FINAL CHAPTER was the kick-off to an all-nighter of blood and horror. (PHANTASM and the unbelievable HEADLESS EYES continued the ghoulish fun late into the night.)
As I mentioned earlier, the audience in the theater that night wanted blood…and with each killing the crowd would roar, cheer and clap, that is until Samantha (Judy Aronson), the pretty naked girl, is stabbed from underwater in the rubber raft. That was the turning point. The crowd fell into silence and began to cheer whenever Jason got injured. I found that interesting. What was the last straw for them, I wonder? Was it the butchering of a nubile skinny-dipper?
I had just as much fun in this film as I did in PART III, and even though Jason was obviously dead, I somehow knew that the grave wouldn’t keep him long.
However, the MPAA had enough. The ratings board seemed to single out the horror genre to snip and trim with its editing scissors. Fortunately, Jason Voorhees escaped this indignation in his first film. When he is revived in 1986, it would be in a different world with a different attitude toward the slasher film. Jason would (in my opinion) never again return to the pinnacle of his graphic and gory career.
Also, when Jason is revived, it is as an undead monster, a living corpse, who has no motivation but to kill. As the film series continued, the Sultan of Slaughter takes a year off to rot and an imposter takes his place in FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING. The dark stormy nights, (Friday the 13th weather) with the hideous, enraged, masked madman lurking in the downpour, clutching an ax handle in his fist and waiting for the moment to strike, would be a thing of the past. With the passing of the more strict ratings review board, the glorious gory days were truly over. Or were they?
TO BE CONTINUED...
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment