Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Dir. Joseph Zito
Jason revives at the morgue and sets off to Crystal Lake on another killing spree. He doesn’t count on the resourcefulness of twelve year old Tommy Jarvis though.
By this stage the formula for a Friday the 13th movie had become very recognisable. Heck, one could argue the formula was recognisable since Part II! Each consecutive offering has essentially been a reworking of the one that came before it. Because of the popularity of the series thus far, producers didn’t want to deviate away from what had gone before. Therefore, The Final Chapter follows the same structure as its predecessors: Jason revives, stalks some teens who are staying at Crystal Lake – completely unaware of the danger they’re in - violently kills them one by one, until only one is left. The final survivor, usually a plucky young woman, goes head to head with Jason until he is seemingly murderlised. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Final Chapter is slightly different in that it pits a family against Jason, as well as a house full of sexed-up teens. This film also introduces us to the character of Tommy Jarvis – who would go on to be a series regular for the next couple of instalments. A neat twist to the usual ‘Final Girl.’
Picking up straight after events in Part III – we even see Jason’s body in the barn – continuity feels a little more considered in this film (though that’s still not saying much!). There are police helicopters everywhere in the opening scene and the film just feels ‘bigger’ than the previous ones. There does seem to be an attempt to tie everything together and bring it to a head. There’s even a glimpse of Mrs Voorhees’ grave early on, talk of ‘the old legend of Jason’ and newspaper headlines about the previous killings. It would seem that since events in Part II, only a few days have passed until events in Part IV kick off. When his body is brought to the morgue, there is a feeling that this might become a hospital-set slasher in the same vein as Halloween II, Phobia or Visiting Hours. Alas, this is not to be the case – after he slaughters a randy morgue attendant and a nurse, Jason heads straight back to his old familiar stomping ground of Crystal Lake. Just how big is this fucking lake?
The Final Chapter was intended to be, well, funnily enough, the last instalment of the series. Slasher movies were on the way out by 1984, and Paramount wanted to give Jason a bravura send-off. As such, original special effects guru Tom Savini – whose work helped make the original Friday the 13th so memorable and gory – was enticed back with the allure of killing off Jason one last time. Of course, the kills and the splashy effects of the series have pretty much been its calling card, but there was just something about the ones featured in the first film that made them stand out. Savini’s work has stood the test of time and several of those kills still remain brutally effective. Part IV features more impalements, machetes to the face, heads crushed against walls, axes to chests, corkscrews stuck into hands and even boasts the gruesome sight of Jason’s head sliding down a machete when Tommy impales him with it. And while this was supposed to be the final film (who’s kidding who, here?), the denouement is still fairly downbeat, with the implication that Tommy has been traumatised enough so as to have sinister implications on his mental state. The look he flashes the camera - which also becomes the film’s closing shot - suggests he could take on Jason’s persona and continue the Crystal Lake killing spree.
One of the better sequels, and had the series ended here, it would have provided a decent send off.