12 Days of Friday, Day 4: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Editor Alex Vo watches a Friday the 13th movie daily until the reboot.

by | February 5, 2009 | Comments

Day Four: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is set
the day following parts 2 and 3. Jason revives in the morgue,
revealing his real nature as an unstoppable super-zombie, and returns to Crystal
Lake, where a group of teenagers have rented a cabin across the house from a
family (a mom, a hot teenage daughter, and Corey Feldman). This entry is most
remembered for being special effects master Tom Savini’s return to the series,
and its original intention as the series’ finale.

In my previous entires, I called Friday the 13th: The Final
my favorite and now I remember why: here is a
brilliant reversal of all the bad habits and creaky slasher mechanics that the
series had picked up across three movies. The Final Chapter is fast,
relentless. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s sexy, it’s smart in its execution, and,
especially important, it’s sad. As people are chopped, maimed, and drowned one by one, the movie is draped with with eerie, unstoppable fatalism.

That’s because director Joseph Zito shoots Jason as though he’s a specter,
a mysterious force barely ever there. Until the final act, we only catch flashes of the man in the
hockey mask. Zito is a master of audience manipulation: he barely relies on POV
shot or the ki-ki-ki theme music, and forgoes the cheap tension of having characters
stupidly wander around; for the most part, everybody stays indoors and Jason’s invasion of the home space hit me hard. Zito trusts the audience to simply feel Jason
presence’s with minimal external cues, to get us questioning whether he’s actual
there or if it’s just our imagination. And then when Jason does strike, it is
always sudden, brutal, and shocking. This is the only Friday that I’d call
The cabin teenagers engage in soapy drama, talk about social anxieties, and
endure post-party ennui, all of which feels genuine enough to call character
development.  For once, the teen life is capable of maintaining its own tension.
Crispin Glover’s performance is appropriately famous: he’s awkward without being
pathetic, shy and endearing. It’s rather upsetting when he gets the cleaver to
the face.
[rtimage]MapID=1007899&MapTypeID=2&photo=2&legacy=1[/rtimage]Across from the cabin is the family house, where we find unlikely hero Tommy
Jarvis, who lives with his single mother and older sister. During the climax,
Jarvis cuts his hair to look like a young Jason Voorhees, distracting him just
enough to chop him down with a machete while screaming “Die!” over and over.
It’s a fitting, exhaustive ending.[rtimage]MapID=1007899&MapTypeID=2&photo=6&legacy=1[/rtimage]
Zito came to fame with the 1981’s
The Prowler
, and from that production
he brought over Savini, cinematographer Joao Fernandes (who shoots the
wilderness in muted, gloomy colors), and editor Joel Goodman. This was
a tight-knit production, unified in its vision to bring terror back to the
series. It’s paced like a frantic B-movie, and delivers the goods without
resorting on Jason’s image to drum up scares. A lot of the readers here have
done similar Friday marathons, and if The Final Chapter isn’t among your
favorites of the series, I implore you to go back and give it another look.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Vital Stats:

  • Body Count: 14. Including Gordon, the dog.
  • Survivors: 2.
  • Number of
    stalled cars:
  • Skinny dipper survival rate: 0%
  • Famous 80s actor survival rate: 50%
  • Amount of time you have to live after losing your virginity:
    4 minutes
  • Approximate number of times the term “dead f-ck” is mentioned:
  • Number of Jason-approved weapons: 8. Surgical hacksaw,
    scalpel, knife, spear, wine corkscrew, cleaver, axe, garden harrow. 

Memories of Crystal Lake:

  • Todd Gilchrist of

    SCI FI Wire
    : “The fact that Crispin Glover dances in this film makes it
    worth seeing even without Jason Voorhees, but in comparison to the previous
    films (especially Part III), it’s technically proficient with characters
    who are at least vaguely interesting. Additionally, it introduces Tommy Jarvis,
    whom Corey Feldman does a great job making seem like a real kid thrown into the
    movie’s messed-up circumstances. But most of all, it’s really the last film that
    has the same, scruffy, unpolished charm as the original; starting with A New
    , the Friday the 13th films adopted more polish,
    seeming more like the knockoff franchises that the series inspired than the
    franchise that actually inspired them. The film grain, the naturalistic but
    definitely period-specific 1980s context, and the gritty, brutal violence all
    seemed somehow more sincere, which is why its scares continue to work today.”
  • Steve Barton of Dread Central: “Final
    chapter, my ass! This was the one fans were clamoring for. I remember standing
    in line for hours at the local theatre to see it go down. We couldn’t wait to
    see how Jason was finally going to get put down for good. And when he did? Holy
    sh-t! Still, though — getting taken out by Corey Feldman? Our dude just couldn’t
    go out like that.”

Tomorrow: No Jason? No problem! It’s
A New Beginning

Schedule of Fridays: