Consider, if you will, the title of this film I’m about to review… A title that blared out not one, but two blatant lies directly into our upturned, trusting faces will all the smarmy confidence of a Mississippi card shark. You see, not only is this “Final Chapter” nothing of the kind (there were 8 other movies after this!) but the movie isn’t even set on Friday The 13th!!! It’s set, like, 2 or three days later but I guess Sunday The 15th: The Middle Chapter doesn’t exactly have the same ring.
In the movie’s defence, it really was planned to be the last of Jason’s stab-happy misadventures at the time of making and stops were dutifully pulled out to give the hokey masked one the cinematic final bow he apparently deserved.
Set immediately after the events of Part 3 (which in turn was set immediately after the events of Part 2), Jason is taking a well earned rest after his whole two days of slaughter resulted in a swift cranial massage from the business end of an axe. Believed dead by a virtual army of police and ambulance staff (none of whom apparently think to check for a pulse or even see if he’s still breathing) Jason is wheeled into the morgue of the local hospital and left to chill in the ice box while the worryingly horny attendant attempts to score with a nurse who runs hot and cold to such extremes you fear she may be dipping into the meds on her break times. Making short work of these two idiots (surely saving the hospital a fortune in sexual harassment and malpractice accusations) Jason plods back toward his beloved lake but meanwhile another group of youths (oblivious to the fact that TWO WHOLE DAYS of massacring have been going on in the area) have decided to hole up for the weekend and party down. Opposite their hormone filled abode lives young horror enthusiast Tommy Jarvis who enjoys a simple life of videogames, mask making and hanging out with his sister Trish and his single mother who come across the intense Rob, a young hitchhiker with Jason hunting ulterior motives. As this suprisingly large cast go through the usual motions before night falls (sex, skinny dipping, complaints that they’re not getting enough sex, sex) Jason zeros in on the two houses with murderous intent, metaphorically rolls up his sleeves and does what he does best with skull crunching, throat tearing glee.
But the jokes on Big J, as one of his intended victims will ultimately have his number and bring the sultan of slaughter down (temporarily) once and for all.
You can tell that the producers wanted a big finish for this early ’80s horror staple for various reasons, the first being that the absurdly prolific slasher genre was finally on the wane and the other was the sheer rate of Friday sequels (4 movies in 4 years) simply wouldn’t be tenable so legit money (for a slice and dicer, anyway) was pumped into the budget and it shows, the film starts with an actual helicopter shot for Christ’s sake. Legitimately well directed by Joseph Zito, a man who’s career was positively loaded with stupendous bodycounts thanks to helming impressively nasty slasher flick The Prowler and subsequent vehicles starring the demigod of all beards, Chuck fuckin’ Norris, there’s an actual slickness about The Final Chapter that kind of makes it the ultimate Friday The 13th viewing experience as it gathers up everything about the franchise and dumps it into a one stop Jason shop. Kicking off with a cool montage that includes the series greatest hits and featuring the iconic hokey mask front and centre (the mask, impaled through the eye-hole by a knife is one of the coolest horror posters in existence), the movie also brings back the franchise’s biggest star (no, not Kevin Bacon!) in Tom Savini with the reasoning that if the make-up effects superstar was partly responsible for bringing Jason into this world in the first film then it’s only fitting that he helped take him out of it. And take him out he does in true head-splitting form alongside a clutch of stabbings, impalings and someone’s brain pan getting wincingly crunched against a bathroom tile and all of which elevated further by the best Jason performance to date thanks to stuntman Ted White, who’s version of the lumpy-headed momma’s boy proves to be the gold standard until the glory days of Kane Hodder. Gifted by the movie gods with that non-faced sports apparel, Jason no longer has to hide in wardrobes and crouch behind bushes waiting to spring out on unsuspecting idiots investigating strange sounds and resorts to hurling himself through windows to make the most diva-ish entrances possible (it’s like the mask has done his confidence a world of good) and the final chase sequence is genuinely thrilling with plenty of cringe inducing incident. Flinch! As Jason hurls a hammer in retaliation that imbeds in a wall. Cheer! As a plugged in TV is bashed over our villain’s misshapen melon. Recoil! As legitimately awesome final girl Trish gruesomely buries a machete between Vorhees’ third and fourth fingers making any future palm readings all but impossible.
Another winning aspect about this fourth installment is some recognizable faces in the cast such as future Frog Brother and Goonie in waiting Corey Feldman starring as Tommy Jarvis and the permanently horny coroner who watches aerobics videos at work for “recreation” is bizarrely one of the Police Academy gang, but it’s the presence of George McFly himself, Crispin Glover that’s the real brain fryer here, playing unlucky at love Jim. Labled a “dead fuck” by his asshole friend and violently spasming to a disco track in an attempt to dance it’s fascinating to watch this guy wander through proceedings with his odd acting techniques very much intact – riiiight up to the point that he gets pinned to the sideboard with a well aimed corkscrew…
A legitimate high point in an entertainingly uneven franchise, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is everything you’d want of a Jason movie and one of the best all round slashers made in the 80’s.
In a genre renowned for it’s fundamental lack of class, Jason’s fourth chapter is a suprising slice of quality…