Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
aka Friday the 13th, Part 4
Director: Joseph Zito
Starring: Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, Judie Aronson, Peter Barton, Erich Anderson, Ted White
Running time: 91 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher
Giving it to you straight: Opening with what’s probably the most skillful recap in F13 history thus far, we’re treated to a framing device of a campfire tale as told by … PAUL! How YOU doin’?! Familiar faces flash by as we watch Jason’s history unfold narrated by our favorite Missing Person–even into P3, in which Paul was noticeably absent. Thankfully skipping Chris’ stupid dream from P3, the movie proper begins with Jason’s body still lying in the barn where he fell. We get to dig on a little CSI: Crystal Lake, watching the police bag evidence and bodies get shipped off, until Jason is loaded into an ambulance and carted off. Changing channels, we then get to watch some of the 1980’s slasher equivalent of Scrubs as horndog Dr Axel attempts to seduce Nurse Morgan. That goes down like a lead balloon and she takes off while he slowjacks it to some spandexed aerobitards. Sick of that shit, Jason makes like a tree and kills off the lecherous medicos before making his way back to Crystal Lake.
Speaking of Crystal Lake, over in those environs we find Trish Jarvis and her mother on their usual early morning jog, apparently unaware of the tragic events that have been unfolding elsewhere on the lake over the past few days. Is Crystal Lake that huge or are they just that unconscious? The Jarvis family also includes budding geek and horror fanboy Tommy (Corey Feldman), and dumb dog Gordon, and they seem to have relocated to their lakeside cabin permanently following divorce from absentee father Mr Jarvis. Hot topics of conversation for the Jarvises include “who’s renting the cabin next door,” “what’s for dinner,” and “why are we drinking OJ with salad,” rather than “who’s killing teenagers in Crystal Lake.” Their lack of interest in current events will come back to haunt them …
Next-door-neighbors/victims to-be are en route to Crystal Lake even now: Generic Hot Guy Paul (don’t get confused!), Cheerful Slut Samantha (a pre-Weird Science Judie Aronson!), Lesser Generic Hot Guy Doug, Shy Virgin Sara, Horny Jerkwad Ted (Lawrence Monoson of The Last American Virgin), and Horny Shy Dork Jimmy the Dead Fuck (Crispin Glover). Courtesy of Gordon, Trish and Tommy get a Meet Cute with the party kids next door while Mom looks on in approval–and maybe a little jealousy. The next morning brings twins Tina and Terri, who are going to Crystal Point–despite riding their bikes down the trail in the opposite direction–and some gleeful midday skinny-dipping. We’re also introduced to the mysterious backpacker Rob, brother of Sandra from F13P2 (she who was shish-kebabed).
Night falls on Tuesday the 17th (or whatever day it is now), and the party kids settle in with their Coors and begin switching off partners, while Mama Jarvis and Gordon go AWOL (shades of Muffin!). When Trish and Tommy get home from wherever they’ve been, the lights are cut, Mom and Gordon are missing, and the fun is ready to begin. Jason shows up, people get defenestrated, and every single window gets broken.
Put that in your computer, Teddy Bear: Fan favorite and the standard by which all other Fridays should be judged, The Final Chapter is the first movie to feature, for the entirety of the movie, the true Jason as he would forever be. It introduced his greatest nemesis in the character of Tommy Jarvis, gave the franchise its reputation for nudity, and featured the single greatest dance sequence in the history of cinema.
Bill: Since he recapped all the way through Part 3 (in 3D!) can we say that Paul I isn’t dead? Or did he perhaps have a way to see into the future and read our reviews, as Zito seems to have done. He begins his entry in the franchise with the very campfire scene that we said would’ve been the logical starting point for Part 2. It’s the first time in the series that the recap doesn’t seem overlong and a bit annoying. This Zito guy knows what he’s doing. He knows how to handle a lippy window, too. Rob breaks a window to get into Tommy’s house. Trish, rather than use either of two doors that are only barely blocked, breaks a window to escape. Later, she jumps through another. Jason smashes one window, pulling someone out of it who then falls and shatters all the windows in a car. Later, Jason throws a body in through one window and jumps through another, smashing both. He also smashes through a shower door, which, really, is just a frosted, sliding window on a bathtub. Even the dog, rather than face Jason, jumps through a window, breaking it. I’m positive that if Rob’s tent had a window, it would’ve gotten broken. I’ve never seen so much broken glass in a movie. Not since DC Comics’ Hitman #18, when Garth Ennis introduced a character called The Defenestrator, have so many bodies gone through so many windows.
Fisty: You’re totally wrong about that, Bill. Oh, what? Sorry, I was on auto-pilot. You’re actually a hundred percent correct about the defenestration factor in Part 4, so much so that I wrote the number out. (And I, for one, am grateful to Zito for his penchant for defenestration, and for giving us the excuse to write the verb ‘defenestrate’ and its various conjugates about forty thousand times.) If it weren’t totally in poor taste, Zito probably would have subtitled Part 4 Kristallnacht instead of The Final Chapter.
Aside from shards of broken glass (which I am uniquely qualified to appreciate since I used to collect shattered glass), Part 4 is also littered with insanity. The Jarvis clan is a whole family of crazy–but it’s the kind of crazy we’ve grown to know and love ever since Part 3. Notice how, despite a weekend’s worth of killings somewhere else on the lake, Mrs Jarvis still would rather hang out in an isolated cabin with her two children rather than retreat to somewhere uh, safer. She and Trish for for sunrise jogs around the lake (so it can’t be THAT huge), leaving Tommy unsupervised, and she often sends her children off to town or outside to hang out in the woods with a psychopath. Before you say, “Hey, any reports would have mentioned that the killer was caught and killed, so it’s all good,” allow me to point out that, A) people tend to be illogical and paranoid when it comes to the possibility of danger to themselves and their children, and B) Zito shows Mrs Jarvis hanging out on the couch reading a newspaper with the headline “MASS MURDERER’S BODY MISSING.” (And as we see from Rob’s collection later, there was ample news coverage of all the slayings.) Now, considering the history of the area, and also the weird, unspoken conspiracy of adults a la Nightmare on Elm Street demonstrated in Part 3 (and elsewhere … notice how Pamela Voorhees’ grave is right on the side of the road, isn’t that spot a little prominent for a mass murderer? That’s a grave that’s just begging for desecration), you’d think she’d have like, an ounce of concern over this. But no. Maybe she just has a deathwish though, considering her penchant for wandering around outside on scary, stormy nights. A nasty divorce will do that to ya, I guess.
And what the fuck is up with their dinner? Green salad, tuna salad, and orange juice for dinner? No wonder Trish wanted some pizza. Gross me out.
Bill: Maybe Tommy has a gluten allergy? That boy is just as nuts as the rest of his family, but I still love him. They kind of winked at the die-hard fans like Fisty and myself in Part 3, by having Shelly love silly make-up pranks and showing Debbie reading some Fango, but with Tommy, they went full out. He is us. He is the scary movie fan in a scary movie, the proto-Randy-from-Scream. That Fango Debbie was reading? It was probably left there by one of Tommy’s neighbors after they borrowed it from him. I had my make-up effects phase at his age, too. I was reading Gorezone and Fangoria and planning on being the next Savini, Baker, or Bottin, using whatever I could find around the house to create effects that’d freak out my family or some strange guy at the corner store that didn’t speak English and thought I needed to go to the hospital (true story.) It’s fitting that “The Final Chapter” would pit Jason against one of us, that his greatest enemy would be one of the only people that would really know what it takes to kill the unkillable. I love Tommy because he lets me be a character in the movie. We even had the same toys. You can clearly see a Dungeons & Dragons figure on his shelf. That was one of my favorite monster toys when I was his age. Hell, when he saw Samantha and Paul 2 getting it on through the only unbroken window in the movie, he behaved exactly the way I still act when I see a naked girl.
Fisty: Yes folks, he really does. Speaking of naked girls, we get a lot of them in Part 4. Really, it’s the most boobage of any of the sequels (Can we get an actual count? Who has these statistics?), and gave the franchise its (not entirely deserved) reputation for nudity. Let’s see, we have daylight skinny-dipping–including twins (twins!)–evening skinny-dipping, shower sexing, and even vintage burlesque boobies. Finally, after the desert that was Part 3! This almost makes up for the low red count; notice how there are kills galore, but not as much blood, or nasty sloooooow deaths.
Jason finally comes out of his three movie identity crisis and settles into the Jason we all know and love: Giant, implacable, puckishly-humored, creative, and finally, dead. He finds time in Part 4 to indulge in some interior decorating, and also goes in for poetic justice in his kills (witness Jimmy being screwed to death).
These little things all add up into what is ultimately the ne plus ultra of Friday the 13th sequels; it’s not just that it is the fan favorite, but also that if you had to pick just one movie of the franchise to really showcase all of its virtues and flaws, The Final Chapter is it. Though Part 2 is still my ultimate favorite, I admit that it has a very different, very Seventies feel, really showing its influences, and it isn’t perfectly representative of the Friday the 13th ethos the way Part 4 is. Part 4 really distills everything that made up all of the previous movies, and presents the perfect franchise formula, what every sequel thereafter would try to replicate.
Bill: One of the things we like about the F13 sequels we’ve reviewed so far, as we’ve mentioned before, is the strength of the characters. Contrary to the notions people have of the slasher genre, F13P4, like the earlier films in the series, has victims that, for the most part, are more than just cardboard standees and who subvert the expectations of their characters. Slutty Samantha is more sage than slut at times and even gets out-slutted by one of the twins. Virginal Sara is actually way down to fuck, which she adorably informs Doug of by saying she wants to go upstairs, but she’s not tired and she wants him to sleep in the bottom bunk, but she doesn’t want to sleep in the top. Dead Fuck Jimmy, who seems to be the strange Shelly-esque character of the film actually bags one of the twins and Ted the Data Entry King can’t seal the deal with her sister. Paul 2 starts to look like a Rick for a while, but then shows his true decency by rejecting the super hot twin trying to climb up his johnson and staying true to his girl Samantha. Then the Doublemint Twins turn out to be nothing alike, despite their matching clothes. It’s kind of a shame that these kids are just fodder for Jason, as I like all of them more than Rob or either of the Jarvis women, who seem like lesser characters. Trish and her mom are pretty boring and Rob, while it is nice to have a hunting-the-hunter type fella in the film, is a far cry from the Ahab that Tommy becomes later in the franchise and doesn’t exactly set the screen on fire.
Fisty: Rob is boring–at least Date Rape Rick was interesting. And Final Girl Trish is almost unbearably dull, too. She is my least favorite Friday Final Girl thus far, by a wide margin. She exhibits some very poor decision making skills, like chillin’ with Strange Dude with a Knife with all the mass murdering going down in the neighborhood. It’s kind of weird how the Jarvises hardly interact with the party kids at all. Plus, she seems very elderly and prissy–except when she’s fighting Jason, because she really whales on him with hammers, machetes, whatever–and that distances her from our party kids. I guess because she looks thirty, and Tommy so young, that’s part of why they Jarvises and the party kids don’t interact, but I don’t like it. Rather than a cohesive group, we get two distinct groups: Fodder and Finals.
Bill: I can overlook those few bland characters and I can forgive the irrational behavior of the Jarvis Bunch, them being crazy and all. I can even forgive the lack of flowing red stuff that Fisty mentioned a few moments ago, since I did get to see naked, synchronized-swimming, teen twins, but there are a handful of silly plot holes that are harder to ignore. These are my biggest complaint about the movie. For instance, way more than in the earlier films, Jason seems to be in multiple places at once. At one point he seems to be: upstairs, scaring the dog; outside, arranging bodies; and hiding in the basement the whole time. The whole sequence of events irks me. …but at least I got to see Banana Fatty get killed!
Fisty: Awww, poor Banana Fatty. She’s not even that fat!
I do dig how this installment subtly turns that sex = death argument on its head. On the face of it, yes: The sexual kids die. But then, so do the non-sexual. Tina (or is it Terri), the twin who isn’t down to ride anything with a pulse, gets hers when she’s leaving the party after refusing to get down with Teddy. Unless Jason just couldn’t tell them apart by their color-coded matching outfits. And Zito actually treats First Girl Slutty Sam as something more than fresh, naked meat, by casting the bubbly and sincere Judie Aronson. Plus, though she dies for it, he handles Virgin Sara’s Quest for Booty with all the dignity and charm–and sweetness–afforded to our Darling Vicki in Part 2. Even the musical chairs-like swapping of partners during the party scenes smacks of well, typical high school and college situations, with some people trying to exert their sexuality, contrasting with others who are comfortable with their roles, and others who are trying to find their places. So wholesome!
My single biggest peeve is the Tommy transformation at the end. The kid is a budding monster FX maven, and he spends what feels like twenty minutes cutting his hair and then Bic-ing his head in the SLOWEST AND LEAST CONVINCING TRANSFORMATION EVER. While Trish battles Jason downstairs–and to her credit, she really takes a good forty whacks at him with the machete, you go, girl!–Tommy dicks around with shaving cream and a Bic. Come on, Zito! The kid makes monster masks! You’re telling me he doesn’t own a single fucking Latex bald cap? My ass, he doesn’t. In the time he took to cut his hair and then shittily shave his head, Tommy could have snapped on a bald cap, some hillbilly teef, and whipped up some prosthetics so he’d really look like Li’l Mongo Jason. Fucking A.
Bill: The choice of disguise is also a pretty strange leap in logic for Tommy to take. When Ginny grabbed Pamela’s sweater it seemed like the natural move to make, but did Tommy actually think that he was going to confuse Jason into thinking he was seeing himself as a little boy? Oh yeah… insanity, the Jarvis curse. So of course it worked. Makes me wonder if Tommy’s mother didn’t have Voorhees as her maiden name.
Still, despite these gripes, and a whole lot of continuity errors, Part 4 remains one of the funnest films in the Friday the 13th franchise. What a shame that it was “The Final Chapter,” as I’d have liked to have seen a few more of these.
Doctor Kitten Yo: we didn’t talk about the Dead Fuck Dance
living0dead0punk: I know. I really wanted to talk about how the band Lion also did the theme for Transformers: The Movie, and how that’s AWESOME
Doctor Kitten Yo: you know he was really dancing to ac/dc
living0dead0punk: I know
Doctor Kitten Yo: and that’s so much more awesome
living0dead0punk: no, that would be too cool for Jimmy the spaz. Lion is just cool enough
Doctor Kitten Yo: you fool
Doctor Kitten Yo: him dancing to ac/dc is perfect; it adds a tiny thread of coolness to a spaz, highlighting just how spazzy he really is, making it so much sadder. pathos!
living0dead0punk: But, when I said to someone last night, “You know when Crispin Glover dances in f13p4, it’s to a Lion song? You know what else they did, right,” I was answered with, “FUCK YEAH, I DO! THEY FUCKING RULE!”