Night #13: Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

Faithful reader. I’ve travelled back to Camp Crystal Lake (Or thereabouts) just for your pleasure. Well mine too of course but mainly for you guys. So today we’re privy to the fourth entry in the series. Is this really the final chapter?

No.

That moniker is really nothing but a gimmick. It always was. Paramount Studios was never going to kill off a cash cow like this, but the promise of ‘This is the end!’ meant extra bums in seats. It’s not hard to see why audiences would’ve fallen for this, it was unprecedented at the time to keep sequels rolling on like this. It’s not like people had any reason to believe that Jason would go on to feature in a further eight movies after this one.  At least when Saw did the whole ‘Final Chapter’ thing they meant it. Thanks for lying to us guys.

I wonder if, while making Part 3 there was any real idea for Part 4 being hatched. This marks the first entry in which Jason is essentially a supernatural killer. He’s killed with a machete to the head at the end of 3, it’s a confirmed kill. So we start here on the day after, with police cleaning up the crime scene. Bodies are carried away, including that of our killer. Into a morgue he goes, before being woken up by…well I don’t know. The film doesn’t think about it so neither should you. He just comes back to life OK. God.

It’s not long before he’s on a killing spree again. Because that’s just what he does. I wonder if he thinks about a life without killing? Probably not.

So Part 4 is basically a course correction from Part 3, ditching the creative team who helped guide the franchise up until this point and setting about things anew. We’re treated to a flashback scene of all the films thus far, framed around the campfire story in Part 2. It’s a neat way of introducing us back to the franchise, if somehow you needed reminding that there was this dude who killed people. But still, it serves as a Greatest Hits compilation up until this point and gets us stoked for the film ahead.

It also boasts the most likeable cast since the second film. We have our cast of teens here, who are all horny as it turns out. They’ve rented a holiday home for the weekend and end up next to a family, the son of which is played by one Corey Feldman (In one of his earliest roles). Along for the ride is a Jason hunter. Which makes no real sense. His sister was killed in Part 2 so he’s come to find the man that did it. But based on the timeline of the films that was just the previous Friday. By this point, at best, we’re on a Monday/Tuesday. He’s also ineffectual in his task – brutally so.

And hey, it’s actually a pretty good film. For some reason I’d always been slightly dismissive of this entry but I can’t think why now. It’s up there with Part 2 and 6 as the best entries in the series, and is in some ways the quintessential 80’s slasher. I think by this point the formula was pretty tight and well-worn, so this time the makers were able to have some twists on it. There’s nothing mind blowing here and it definitely isn’t the tongue in cheek stylings of Part 6 (Which was doing the Scream thing before Scream), but the sex=death formula is rampant throughout. This gets the film theory nerd in me a little excited. Consider the first death at the morgue. A horny porter and his lady-friend go at it before she gets creeped out because…well she’s in a morgue. I don’t care how horny you are. It’s a MORGUE. Instead the man, who’s been eying up some aerobics on the TV takes to watching it as some…stimulation. There he’s dispatched by our masked friend, who kills him by visibly twisting his head away from the gyrating women in front of him. It doesn’t end there, two couples are killed post cotious, a midnight skinny dip is cut short and one guy is killed while watching a porn film. One poor hitchhiker is killed while eating a banana – no fruit is more phallic – complete with an extra close up of it being squeezed in her hand during death. It’s the modus operandi for the movie, sex in all forms is to be punished. Sexual imagery leads to shocking violence. The other films skirt around it in a meta-way, that the sexual prelude is just a sign to the audience that the killing is coming up next. Here though it seeps through every frame. It’s telling that it’s the most nudity heavy entry, and arguably the most violent.

As for The Final Chapter. It actually sort of was. Part 5 (A New Beginning) was actually meant to spin things off into a different direction, but had a resoundingly bad twist ending (Spoiler – Jason isn’t the killer in that one, it’s just some guy. Jason is very much dead in the end of this film) that instead had them returning to Jason for Part 6 with the subtitle Jason Lives not only clueing you in to the tone of that film, but seems an admission that they were aware they fucked up the previous movie. They want you to know it’s Jason in that one.

But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Need more convincing on how great this film is? Watch the greatest dancing outside of Footloose right here.

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