It’s October, so I figured it was time to go back to my favorite campy series that centers around an actual camp: Friday the 13th. Today, we’ll be talking about the fourth movie: The Final Chapter.
The Final Chapter, huh? Not fucking hardly.
There will be
Jason magically resurrects (again) and goes back to Crystal Lake to kill off more stupid teenagers. Also in danger: a mother and her two children who’ve recently moved to the area — because when you’re looking to live out in the countryside, firmly in the middle of nowhere, be sure to pick that one stretch of nowhere that’s particularly well-known for people dying horribly.
1. Not unlike the original Trek films — I plan to eventually make my way through and review every single Jason movie until I circle back to watch the very first one. (Unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I actually have seen the original movie in this series. I just haven’t watched it since I started this blog.) This is a mostly unfortunate plan because I know the worst of the worst (Jason Goes to Hell, among others) are still ahead of me. So I’m a little sad.
On the upside, while The Final Chapter is hardly cinematic brilliance, it’s much more enjoyable than Friday the 13th: Part III. It’s not nearly as tedious, relatively quick-paced, and, best of all, NOT in 3D.
Of course, because I’m me, I couldn’t help but look at this movie and think, Damn, if this had been done differently, it could actually have been GOOD.
2. For instance: Tommy’s whole transformation.
So, Tommy (Corey Feldman) is this kid who likes to leave the front door open, peep on the neighbors when they’re having sex, and make monster masks in his spare time. At some point, he reads all about Jason in a few newspaper articles, and by the end of the movie he’s shaving his head to look like Lil’ Jason. He also kills the shit out of Adult Jason, which greatly disturbs his sister but seems like a perfectly reasonable response to me. Don’t listen to the haters, Tommy — you just keep on stabbing that man. Then feel free to decapitate him, burn him, and scatter his ashes all around the world while you’re at it.
If you haven’t seen this movie, you might be wondering why Tommy decides to dress up as Lil’ Jason Vorhees. (Oooh, costume idea for future potential child someday. Noted.) Well, it’s a bit of everyone’s favorite eleventh-hour Friday the 13th psychology — by dressing up as Lil’ Jason, Tommy distracts Adult Jason long enough for his sister to try and kill him. The problem is that we see Tommy reading those articles about Jason for, like, half a second. If he had an interest in serial killers and/or psychology throughout the whole movie, that would be something else. If someone told Tommy about Jason early in the film and he spent half the movie learning everything he could about the killer and how he thinks, maybe I could buy this. But since that’s not what happens at all, the scene comes off more like this:
Jason starts chasing Tommy’s sister around the room with a knife, trying to kill her.
Tommy: “This is a great time to shave my head!”
This whole idea worked a lot better in Part II with our heroine, Ginny, who was majoring in child psychology. She briefly dresses up as Jason’s mother for basically the same distraction/kill reasons. It actually makes sense when she does it — here, not so much. I guess the idea is that Tommy is a little creepy even before he starts with all the enthusiastic stabbing, so it supposedly makes sense that he would read these articles and understand Jason’s brain or something, but . . . yeah, no dice, guys. An interest and talent for making creepy Halloween masks doesn’t automatically make you, I don’t know, in tune with the psychology of an immortal serial killer or something.
I will throw out that the level of Tommy’s excitement when he’s spying on the naked teenagers is . . . kind of creepsome and weird. I guess that could be a foreshadow for Clearly Evil Tommy at the end, but it doesn’t seem like enough to me. And regardless, I think the Lil’ Jason cosplay isn’t executed nearly as well as it could be.
3. Oh, and about Tommy’s monster masks: there’s a line about how Tommy’s modifying these masks, not just making them by himself from scratch. This is probably for the best, considering that they are clearly professional masks and really not the kind of thing a thirteen year old kid in the 1980’s makes by his lonesome in the middle of nowhere. (I actually don’t know how old Tommy is supposed to be. Feldman himself was twelve or thirteen at the time, but I got the impression Tommy was supposed to be a little younger.)
4. Here’s another character who could have been neat but totally wasn’t: Rob Dyer.
Rob has come to the woods to stop Jason ONCE AND FOR ALL. See, Jason killed Rob’s sister, and Rob’s not real happy about it, presumably. He’s all prepared with weapons and research and shit — for instance, the articles Tommy reads — but it’s all for naught. While investigating the Cabin of Dead Teenagers, Jason captures Rob in the basement and kills him. This could have been kind of awesome, our bad guy killing the Alpha Male Hero well before the final climax of the film, but there are a couple of problems here.
A. We don’t have any idea who Rob’s sister is. I’m sure he mentions her name at some point, but there have been a lot of dead teenage girls in these movies — this is one of the rare times where a brief flashback clip would actually have been acceptable. I had to look her up to figure out that Rob’s dead sister, Sandra, is one of the more annoying girls from Part II, the one I always think of as Amy Irving’s Stand-In. (It’s the hair.)
B. More importantly, though, Rob’s death is just laughable. And I do mean that literally — Mek and I actually started giggling.
Here is what happens:
Rob and Trish separate like morons to explore the Cabin of Dead Teenagers. (Actually, Rob tells Trish to stay right outside the basement while he investigates. She decides to explore upstairs on her own cause . . . you know . . . standing still is so boring.)
Trish finds a body nailed to a bathroom wall, understandably — if unwisely — starts screaming her head off, and runs to the basement to tell Rob that Jason is here and everyone’s dead. Rob’s like, “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” and starts running with her up the stairs. But then his foot gets stuck or something, and he . . . loses his shoe? I can’t actually tell. It’s a little too dark to see what he drops, but apparently it’s important enough to go back downstairs and find it while an invincible killer is running around the house. You know what’s important enough for that? Nothing is important enough for that. Maybe, maybe, the machete might have been worth it, but Trish is holding the machete, so . . . no. This is a fail, Rob. You don’t linger in the Cabin of Dead Teenagers because you want your fucking Reebok.
But Rob doesn’t listen to me, and of course Jason pops up and starts stabbing the shit out of him with some handy nearby tool. Rob screams for Trish to run. He also screams, “He’s killing me! He’s killing me!” as Jason is stabbing him in the chest.
People, I about died, I was laughing so hard.
5. It should be said that I don’t really know how Jason manages to find himself in the basement with Trish and Rob at all. In fact, the whole scene is kind of problematic.
Writer Joe: Okay, I think I found a plot hole.
Writer Susan: Gosh, Writer Joe. Since when do we worry about plot holes?
Writer Joe: Since . . . now. Look, Trish is supposed to find a body in the bathroom, right? And that’s why they hightail it out of there, or try to —
Writer Susan: I still think it’d make more sense if Rob dropped the machete —
Writer Joe: Writer Susan, we’ve been over this. It’s going to be his shoe. I won Rock-Paper-Scissors fair and square. But listen — Jason killed one of the Doublemint Twins by dropping her out a window. Wouldn’t Rob and Trish see her body before they entered the cabin? And then, you know, maybe they wouldn’t go into the cabin at all?
Writer Susan: Oh, don’t be silly, Writer Joe. Jason moved the body. You know how he loves to do that.
Writer Joe: Okay, that makes sense. So, Jason moved the body and then went to hide in the basement. Rob dies. Trish runs out of the basement, hyperventilates in the hallway for five seconds, and then . . . immediately runs BACK into the basement?
Writer Susan: Yeah.
Writer Joe: For the love of all that is holy, WHY?
Writer Susan: Because . . . she’s . . . worried about Rob? She feels guilty she left Rob behind, maybe. Yeah.
Writer Joe: Trish just watched Rob get stabbed about fourteen times in the chest. Rob is very dead. The time to bravely act is past. Why is she going back for his corpse?
Writer Susan: Well, I don’t know, Writer Joe. Maybe she left her shoe behind.
Writer Joe: You’re not a very gracious loser, are you?
Writer Susan: No.
Writer Joe: Fine, Trish goes back into the basement for some mysterious reason. Jason grabs at her. She hacks at his arm with the machete, breaks free, and runs for the front door . . . but one of the Doublemint Twins is now lying dead on the porch.
Writer Susan: Right. Cause Jason moves around bodies. That’s why Young Crispin Glover is now crucified against the back door.
Writer Joe: Okay, but . . . HOW? Jason had to move the bodies after Rob and Trish have already entered the house. But Rob goes almost immediately to the basement. There’s certainly not enough time for Jason to be crucifying dead people into doorways before sneaking into the basement before Rob. But there’s no way Jason could have come in after Rob without Rob noticing. So . . . what?
Writer Susan: Well . . . I like it. I think it works.
Writer Joe: Well, I don’t.
Writer Susan: Then I guess there’s only one way to decide. One . . . two . . . three . . . HA! I WIN!
Writer Joe: Writer Susan, do you think we we should stop making important story decisions based on Rock-Paper-Scissors?
Writer Susan: Not a chance, Writer Joe. Not a chance.
6. Actually, here’s my question: why does Jason always move the bodies of his victims around? I mean, I get some of them, but the dude in the bathroom? He was in the shower when he died, and Jason moved him to . . . the other wall? Seriously, I don’t get this.
7. Mind you, Jason isn’t the only one making questionable decisions. Let’s go back to our heroine, Trish, and discuss some of her more questionable choices because, really, there are a lot of them.
7A. Trish tells Rob that her little brother always leaves the front door open to her house. Because this is exactly the kind of thing you want to tell strange men you just met fifteen minutes ago.
7B. Trish can’t find her mother, so she goes out in the rain to look for her. Unfortunately, Mom doesn’t show up in the three seconds Trish actually spends searching, so when she comes across Rob’s empty tent, Trish decides to just . . . sit inside it like kind of a creeper.
Seriously, you barely know this guy. It is absurdly weird for you to just be sitting in his tent while he’s not there. I get that you’re probably cold and all, but you know, maybe you should have thought about putting on some pants before frolicking through the rainstorm. (Er, trousers, UK readers. I do assume she’s actually wearing underwear. Probably.)
7C. Honestly, Trish appears to have some kind of moral issue with pants. I’m not sure what they did to offend her, but she is seldom wearing anything longer than mid-calf.
7D. And I know I already covered this, but . . . why the hell does Trish run back into the basement after Jason has killed Rob? She just goes right back in there and stares at Rob’s dead body for a minute, uselessly, as if Jason will have suddenly vanished and will no longer a threat. It makes no sense of any kind.
7E. After escaping the basement (again), Trish runs back to her house where Tommy is and starts . . . boarding up the front door. Which might work, maybe, if she had a couple of hours and a shit ton of boards and nails to work with, but she doesn’t. What she has is a cabin with gigantic fucking windows and maybe two minutes before Jason arrives. Instead of boarding up one door, sweetie, how about we at least try getting to the car, okay?
7F. Trish also jumps headfirst out of a second-story window. Okay, she’s doing it to escape Jason, so it’s not the worst decision on this list. Except, you know, how she’d be dead — cause real glass does not work the way it does in movies. If she jumped headfirst like that, she’d probably have sliced open her face in seven places. Not to mention her neck. Trish has just accidentally severed her own carotid artery. Just saying.
And still somehow Trish is less annoying than Chris from Friday the 13th: Part III. How is that even possible? (It must have something to do with the acting. Trish herself is dumb, but I buy Kimberly Beck’s screams well enough, and even though her fighting style is a little flail-y, it’s violent, you know? Like the punches aren’t great punches, but she’s going for it anyway. I appreciate that.)
8. I feel like I should point out that Trish never finds her mom. Or, for that matter, ever mentions her again.
Presumably, Jason kills Mom offscreen, but we only see her terrified reaction and then . . . she disappears. Her body does not pop up in the Cabin of Dead Teenagers because then it would not be aptly named. I feel a tiny bit bad for her. Dear Old Mom is deemed unworthy of even a basic Dead Body Reveal.
9. About those dead teenagers —
They’re pretty much all annoying, and I’m basically glad that every one of them dies. (Well, not the first girl, the supposed slut character. I kind of liked her, even if she did think that midnight canoeing by herself was a bright idea.) Especially Young Crispin Glover and his Pothead Friend, who were both incredibly obnoxious.
I know I’m supposed to hear Crispin Glover and think Back to the Future, but the truth is I almost always go to Charlie’s Angels and the Creepy Thin Man first. Although maybe I’ll think of this movie now and his truly spectacular dance moves. I mean, wow. I can’t dance. I know I can’t dance. But for Christ’s sake, even I dance a little better than that.
But my problem is not with the dancing. (Well. Not my serious problem anyway.) Here’s the thing: as with most, if not all, of the Jason movies, each teenager is killed off one by one. None of them run. None of them fight. Most go undiscovered by the rest, and if one guy does manage to find a dead body, he’s quickly killed himself in a matter of seconds. I kind of like that the teenagers are just a bunch of redshirts, but this is well over half your main cast. It wouldn’t hurt to pretend that at least one of them might make it, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Cause, you know, the suspense in scary movies comes from the characters being afraid. If the characters are basically just standing in place, waiting to be slaughtered . . . you know, there’s not much horror to that.
10. Of course, there was one girl who might’ve made it out of the woods alive . . . except she decides to have sex for the first time and is, naturally, promptly killed for it. I’m trying to think of a horror movie that has a Final Boy instead of a Final Girl. I can’t come up with one offhand. Can any of you? I want to know if virginity is only an important character trait if the last man standing is, in fact, a woman.
11. I feel the worst for the hitchhiker in this movie. She didn’t do anything to anyone — hell, she’s trying to get out of Jason’s woods. And yet, Jason kills her anyway.
For shame, Jason. She had the best hitchhiking sign ever.
12. On a positive note for our animal lovers in the audience, I think the dog miraculously lives throughout the movie. At least, I don’t remember him getting chopped up. That’s impressive.
13. I suppose you might consider the sheer amount of boob shots in this movie also impressive. I mean, I kind of doubt it, but there are an awful lot of them packed in a relatively short amount of time.
Writer Susan: I think this movie is going to be a winner, Writer Joe. I really do. I just feel like it’s missing something . . . oh, I know!
Writer Joe: Logic?
Writer Susan: Of course not, you silly man. Boobies. We don’t have nearly enough boobies — I just can’t think of a good way to introduce them without the girls doing every scene topless.
Writer Joe: I don’t have a problem with that.
Writer Susan: No, no . . . oh, here’s an idea. That stupid stoner you insist is going to be funny —
Writer Joe: He will be! Everyone likes stoners!
Writer Susan: Yes, well, he can find this old, weird porno movie in the cabin and start watching it. It will have, like, a bunch of different topless women dancing or something. It’s perfect!
Writer Joe: Or we could just have all the girls in the cabin go topless because of Reasons. That happens, right? That’s something you would do at a cabin with all your friends?
Writer Susan: Let’s just Rock Paper Scissors this and get it over with. One . . . two . . . three . . .
Writer Joe: DAMMIT!
Writer Susan: Always with the scissors, Dean.
Writer Joe: . . . did you really just do a Supernatural reference?
Writer Susan: Hells yeah, I did. Cause I’m a WINNER.
14. I appear to have unintentionally done this review in a mostly reverse chronological order, so it seems as good of a time as any to ask if it’s a requirement for morgue attendants to be creepy fuckers. The guy at the morgue when Jason resurrects certainly fits the bill. I’m starting to think it might actually be on the job application. “Oh, you’d qualify yourself as less of a creepy fucker and more of psycho jerk? This might not be your line of work — I’d suggest applying for orderly at the nearest mental asylum. But you, you want to have sex with a nurse right here in the morgue, directly in front of a serial killer’s dead body and with what appears to be exercise porn on the television in the background? Congratulations, you’re hired! Please enjoy what little time of your life there is left before you are skewered by an undead thing.”
15. Finally, I see that this film has continued with the lazy ass device of just throwing up old footage from the last few movies to catch the viewers up. It’s probably not a signature I’d want associated with my franchise, but oh well. Do what you must.
Axel: “Jesus Christmas! Holy Jesus! Godamn! Holy Jesus jumping Christmas shit!”
Axel: “Hey, hey. Where are you going?”
Nurse Morgan: “I’ll tell you where I’m going! Crazy!”
Doug: “Sara, I think I’m in Heaven.”
Sara: “I think I’m in love.”
Jesus Christmas. You’re fucking killing me, people.
It’s not actually that good of a movie, but it’s watchable. A billion times better than Part III, but not as good as Part I or II.
To kill a killer, you just need to get in his head. A couple of newspaper articles and a razor should suffice for that.