Ed. note– I chose to review this FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel because it was on the same disc as PART III. Never again.– P.F.
When I wrote my review for Sean Cunningham’s FRIDAY THE 13TH, I really should have added “AND EVERY JASON VOORHEES FLICK TO FOLLOW” to the review’s title. I then could have done a nice, bulleted list at the bottom, pointing out the two or three things that got grafted onto the formula so you knew you weren’t accidentally watching the previous installment. In my review of PART III, I pointed out three— I guess this was cooler than making my entire review read like this:
“Read my review of the first flick, add 3-D, the hockey mask and Shelly. Same outcome.”
Not content with just two reviews of films from the franchise (plus Heather’s awesome FREDDY VS. JASON review, so technically, three), I forged ahead and watched FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER. I gave you three things from PART III, so I’ll be consistent and give you four things from Part IV.
Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover
Cunningham’s first film had only one bona fide future star, Kevin Bacon. The second and third have nobody who went on to do anything. THE FINAL CHAPTER doubles down on Cunningham and stars two ringers, Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover.
This flick dropped one year before Feldman’s turn in THE GOONIES and two before STAND BY ME. I’m not sure how long it dropped before his bizarre relationship with Michael Jackson, or his dip into hardcore drugs that screwed up his life royally. I am sure that it released three years before THE LOST BOYS, where he began another bizarre relationship, this time with Corey Haim. Feldman is serviceable as Tommy Jarvis. Unlike many kid actors, he’s not annoying to the point where I want to slap him. No one will substantiate the rumors that the character, whose name is Tom and has a love of horror masks, is based on Tom Savini. I’ll bite my tongue and be polite. Savini or not, Tommy Jarvis is one horny little bastard, who doesn’t get to see any boobies in a flick ripe with them. His character on Madame’s Place never got to see Judy Landers naked, and neither did I. This depresses me.
It would be another year before Crispin Glover would break big as George McFly in BACK TO THE FUTURE, though I can’t recall how long after he tried to kick David Letterman in the head. Glover is not only an odd actor who makes odd choices, but he’s a genuinely odd man. Nicole Fiss was so repulsed by his experimental film at a convention that her ire raises every time the subject comes up. He’s operating not as if he’s in another movie in THE FINAL CHAPTER, but on another planet. Though I still prefer Ed Harris’ geeky dance moves in CREEPSHOW, Glover gets down like a champ when he cuts a rug. He’s had a comeback of sorts the last decade or so, the highlight of which— as a display of his personality, not financially— is his turn in WILLARD. As for the sexual prowess of his character here, you’ll have to ask Doublemint Twin #1.
Kevin Bacon has gone on to have an extraordinary career. He’s won multiple awards over the decades, and is a solid actor who I’ve never seen give a lousy performance. He’s been married to Kyra Sedgwick for a long time, in a place where marriages rarely last. And Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon isn’t named Six Degrees of Feldman Glover.
Tom Savini’s Return
Without Tom Savini’s name attached to it, FRIDAY THE 13TH might have been just another slasher. The cache he had coming off DAWN OF THE DEAD likely got a lot of horror fans to watch. As far as he was concerned, Cunningham’s film should never have had sequels, because Jason Vorhees was dead. The box office was lively, however, and when Paramount decided to end the franchise, Savini came back to finish what he started.
If you read my review of the first film, you know I’m not nearly as impressed with Savini’s effects there as everyone else is. THE FINAL CHAPTER is a different story. Given some room to work, Savini came up with some much more creative kills, amping up the gore along the way, and gets to play with a corkscrew, a spear gun, a hacksaw, lots of knives and, of course, a machete. Jason is a little too gray and goofy for my tastes once the mask comes off, but appropriately creepy. His demise— and I’m not spoiling anything here; take a look at the subtitle— is fairly gruesome. Well played, Joseph Zito, for bringing Savini back to the fold.
Lots—and I mean LOTS— of T&A
Tommy Jarvis didn’t get to see any boobs, but I sure got to see plenty. There’s lots of cheesecake, and a fair amount of beefcake. Barney Cohen’s script barely fleshes out the characters, but director Zito provides plenty of nubile flesh onscreen. Teens are barechested and bareassed all over this flick. This franchise built itself on flashes of skin, but Zito took the nudity to its natural extreme.
Thanks, Joseph, for hiring Judie Aronson. I saw this after I saw WEIRD SCIENCE on my first date, and though I was into blondes in my youth, I always found Aronson just a bit cuter than Suzanne Snyder (this is by no means a dig on Snyder, who was every inch as 80s hot as Aronson). Judie is likable onscreen, and she’s given a little to do; but that’s not why I’m thanking Zito. He has Aronson onscreen naked not once, but twice. She had a killer body back in the 80s (and still does now, from what I saw when I met her and Snyder a few years ago), and Zito’s lens puts it to good use here. I still dig.
Who isn’t naked? Peter Barton and Kimberly Beck. I don’t know how they’re related to Bacon other than this franchise, but they both were co-stars of Linda Blair, in HELL NIGHT and ROLLER BOOGIE respectively. Barton is an extremely handsome guy, whom I met when I was a kid and again recently. I claimed in my review that he and Blair made the most attractive couple in slasher history. But Zito never shows us his backside. Perhaps Barton didn’t want to tarnish his image as a clean-cut Tigerbeat cover boy. I’m sure the ladies who watch will feel cheated. Beck doesn’t show any skin, but then again she doesn’t have a love interest, and her character is the responsible one.
Between Savini’s gruesome effects and the teens, if you’re coming to this franchise to see skin in all its forms, THE FINAL CHAPTER should be your first.
Rob, the Jason Hunter
Let’s be honest. The FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise is incredibly sloppy when it comes to details. The paramedics that clean up Jason either are too lazy, incompetent or just don’t care to check if he’s actually dead. A dog either jumps out a window to escape Jason or Jason throws him out one, and what the Hell Voorhees is standing on when he pulls a victim out a second-story window, beats me. But it wasn’t just within each movie that logic got gutshot; that also spread across installments. Enter Rob, the Jason Hunter.
Ironically, Rob is the only character with anywhere near a full backstory. His sister is a former victim of Jason’s, and Rob has come to the Crystal Lake area to take revenge on Jason. With his old newspaper clippings as motivation and a machete he’s happy to brandish, Rob is ready to lock and load.
This is actually an interesting thread. There’s only one problem. His sister died in PART II. Which was probably no more than three days ago.
Rob should be preparing a eulogy, shaking hands and sharing memories of his sister Sandra. Instead, this guy’s pumped up like he’s been on the hunt for years. It would’ve made a lot more sense to make him brother to one of the characters from the first flick, not the second. If they had, and developed him a little better, this would’ve been a great mark of distinction from the rest of the franchise. Instead, they screw it up. He never gets a big brawl with Jason, which would’ve been awesome, and so the character never pays off. Worst, his end has him crying out lines that fans still make fun of.
So what do I make of all this? Reviewing an installment by choosing a number of elements that match the sequel number is a bad idea. This review is way too long, and I regret heading onto its fourth page on MS Word (Is my review of PART III three pages long? Damn, it is! How wonky). I probably should have saved us all some time by reviewing it like this:
“The first film minus Mrs. Voorhees, plus lots of boobs but no Peter Barton backside, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon isn’t named after anyone in this sequel, no sir, not Feldman nor Glover. THE END.”
Point being, across the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise, the writers changed, the directors changed, the dude playing Jason changed, the teens getting slaughtered changed, but they’re all making the same movie ad nauseam. Joseph Zito was at least ambitious enough to end Jason. That would have made this edition really stand out. And then Paramount went and brought it back, making THE FINAL CHAPTER not only not final, but not so special at all.