The Screaming Mini: Play Misty for Me

The Screaming Minis are a new experiment in short (well, shorter) individual reviews, as way for us to talk a little more about the other movies of note we’re watching but without the involved, in-depth discussion delivered as a duo. The name comes from The Screaming Mimi, the 1949 pulp novel by Frederic Brown that inspired Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

please

Play Misty for Me 
Director: Clint Eastwood
Released: 1971
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills, John Larch, and James McEachin
Running time: 102 minutes
Genre: thriller

Before it was an MST3K joke, Play Misty for Me was a effective thriller, and Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut to boot.

KRML DJ and all around happening ladies man Dave Garver plays smoov jazz and poetry all night, at least till it’s time for bar-hopping and lady-bedding to begin. One night he picks up Evelyn, who turns out to be more than he can handle. He picks her up–or vice versa?–at his hangout, the Sardine Factory bar. Once they’re at her place, Evelyn admits that she’s the voice in the night who frequently calls to request that he play “Misty,” and that she went down to the bar purposely looking for him. Though Dave makes a token statement to the effect of being “sort of hung up” on a “good girl,” when Evelyn makes the old “no strings” play, he goes for it without hesitation. He heads out the next morning, ready to go on to the next thing. Only, Evelyn’s intent on being the only thing.

She shows up unannounced at his place some time later, and when Dave tosses “no strings at her,” she lobs back with “seconds.” Conceeding the point, Dave takes a moment to educate her on the use of a phone and making plans, then succumbs to steak and wine … and free tail on delivery. When she leaves in the morning, she’s off his mind again, for his old flame Tobie’s back in town, the one that got away, and Dave makes a play for convincing her that she’s The One, his main squeeze, and that he’s done with all the others. “I haven’t exactly been the monk of the month or anything like that, but I have been making an effort,” he tells her. With Tobie back in, Evelyn’s out, and she doesn’t take kindly to it. Evelyn escalates her bids for attention with calls, gifts dropping by, dropping by in the nude, and so on. But though Dave tries to subtly explain that he’s just not into her, he’s also just a guy who can’t say no.

I can’t help but see this as a personal film for Clint, not just because it was his first, and his chance to do it right, but because well, it’s essentially an ideal him: Silver-tongued, big-haired Don Juan tooling around Carmel-By-the-Sea in his Jag roadster, living the life of the jazzy bachelor cocksman out and about at swingin’ joints, boozing it up with with with stalwart barkeep Murphy (Don Siegel, real-life five-time Eastwood director), knee-deep in rampant totty–but still TROO IN HIS HART to the one that got away–and literally driving women MAD. As a noted serial womanizer himself, it’s hard for Clint to escape comparisons to Dave Garver and his predatory nature.

Regardless, here we have a satisfying and savvy little suspense film (later ripped off by the reactionary Fatal Attraction). Evelyn’s escalating efforts are never too aberrant, but do convincingly ramp up the tension as Dave’s selfishness and self-indulgence further confuse her feelings. Despite charges of misogyny, Misty is anything but callous to Evelyn, who comes across as funny and sensitive–and not a little bit psycho. This is thanks as much to Jessica Walter’s scarily good performance as it is to Clint’s direction or Jo Heims’ story. Clint’s Dave is also nuanced, played as detached, irresponsible, and weak, and most of all, absolutely complicit in the destruction of a damaged woman. Whether he learns from it remains to be seen.

Misty does run a bit long, however, dragging when beefed up by indulgent footage from the Monterey Jazz festival, and during a decidedly embarrassing interlude o’ love set to Roberta Flack’s “The First Time I Saw Your Face.” I cringed. The mise-en-scène is rather delightfully dated (I particularly dug the gold paint and Klute-esque shags), and though I loathe jazz, Gator Creek’s “Dirty Boogie” and some funky shocking lime titles over shots of Clint cruising down 101 make for one of my favorite title sequences. Anything but a vanity project, Clint’s directorial debut holds up forty years later, a low-risk thriller that paid high dividends.

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Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI

NOT IN 3D

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Released: 1986
Starring: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen
Running time: 86 minutes
Genre: horror, slasher

Maybe “lives” isn’t really the best word. There is only one thing that Tommy Jarvis fears … Jason. Tommy convinces his Sweat Hog friend Hawes from the group home (he’s still there?) that he has to face that fear, Maury-style. They road trip to Jason’s burial site in the small, rural community of Forest Green (formerly Crystal Lake). Tommy, however, plans on doing more than just confronting his fear: He plans to murder it by torching Jason’s corpse. After digging up the grave, seeing Jason in the casket triggers one of Tommy’s violent episodes and he repeatedly stabs the body with an iron rod, reliving his boyhood trauma of killing Jason. After the cathartic stabby-stabby, he leaves the rod in Jason’s chest and goes for the can of gas, but a sudden blast of lightning strikes the iron pole, Number-5ing Jason back to a semblance of life. Hawes becomes the first of J’s post-life victims, but Tommy escapes, heading into town to warn the people of Crystal Lake Forest Green that Jason is back and more dangerous than ever!

Naturally, when the survivor of two previous mass murders in the area with a common MO bursts into the Crystal Lake Forest Green police station, screaming at the cops about a killer on the loose, back up is called and they investigate immediately. NOT! Sheriff Garris and his deputy (probably Holocaust deniers) dismiss Tommy as a nut, informing him that they changed the name of the town to put all that Jason crap behind them, and then they lock him up for the night. Meanwhile, Jason is killing the shit out of random people on his way back to the camp, which is just about to open for the season.

The next morning Megan Garris shows up at the station with her friends Sissy, Paula, and Cort to ask her dad to look for a couple counselors (dead, d-e-d dead) that never showed up when they were supposed to. Tommy, still in the cell, not being a complete idiot like the CLFGPD, connects the dots and tries to warn them about Jason.  Megan takes notice of how cute the psycho in the cell is, but her dad shoos her and her crew away. He and Deputy Cologne escort Tommy out of town and send him on his  way, warning him not to come back. But Jason is out there and the body count isgrowing. Kids are showing up at the camp. Megan’s friends (and a bunch of other people) are dying. Only Tommy believes. And only Tommy can stop Jason and save those lives, but the authorities are sure that Tommy himself is the killer and none of his books on the occult will help him if he’s locked in a cell or shot full of holes. “He picked the right day to pull this shit. Happy Friday the 13th.”

never a good idea

number 5’s alive!

this should be a tip off for what to expect

Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment. A crowning moment in the series, IV is arguably one of the very best Friday the 13ths. Production values are high, there’s talent on screen and off, and a charming self-awareness. Presaging the meta stylings of New Nightmare and Scream by nearly a decade, Jason Lives reinvigorated a series ailing from slasher ennui and the vitriolic reactions to A New Beginning. It also classes up the joint, sadly being the first Friday the 13th to not suffer cuts due to an X rating, and also being totally lacking in boobs. You win some, you lose some.

Bill: I wonder if any of the post-A New Beginning movies actually happened or if they’re just the increasingly bizarre nightmares of an insane Tommy Jarvis. That would actually explain a lot. The facts in Jason Lives aren’t consistent with the previous movies in the series. Jason is said to have killed Tommy’s mother and friends, but the people that Jason killed in The Final Chapter could hardly be called Tommy’s friends and there is no mention at all of his sister. Oddly, there’s no Mention of Roy-Jason either when Tommy’s history comes up.

Fisty: It basically retcons the end of ANB, dropping the idea that Tommy could be the new killer. And Tommy kind of implies that Jason really did drown way back in the long long ago and has always been supernatural, and not a baghead feral mountain man-child. Plus, they claimed Jason had been cremated in ANB.

Bill: The timing doesn’t add up either. Tommy has aged at least ten years, but Jason’s corpse doesn’t seem to have been in the ground for nearly that long. And, though the age difference between Tommy and Megan and her friends isn’t that great–handful of years, maybe–Megan acts as if the children of Crystal Lake Forest Green were raised believing that Jason was just a legend, despite the presence of an actual grave with a headstone marked “Jason Voorhees,” and the previous films showing TV coverage and newspaper stories about his killing spree(s). Jason Lives fits so poorly with what we know came before that Fisty was wondering whether Jason Livescould be classified as a reboot of the series. But I’m going with dream, not reboot.

lightning is striking again and again and again and again

do i offend?

trailer or carbonite?

Jason Lives starts out with what is essentially a fleshed out rehash of Tommy’s dream of Jason’s resurrection from ANB. What brings Jason back? Lightning. Does that make any sense? Not really. Does it matter? Not really. It was good enough for Frankenstein and Short Circuit, so it’s good enough for Friday the 13th. Undead Jason then starts doing some really amazing things, like punching his fist through torsos and tearing arms off, folding people in half backwards. I guess he was always strong, what with his being able to smoosh people’s heads (he does some more of that in this one, too) and pop their eyeballs out and whatnot, so maybe that isn’t that unusual for him. Dropping down out of the trees like a hockey ninja, however, is definitely new and very un-Jason-like. Oh, and that one kill that always bugs me: Jason smashes someone’s face into the wall of a motor home and, rather than nose breaking, lips pulping, teeth shattering inward, the victims face makes a perfectly intact face-shaped indentation in the metal of the vehicle. (Lightning resurrection? I’m all in, but my suspension of disbelief stops at face-molds.) But if this is all in Tommy’s head as he sits around in a straightjacket somewhere, drooling, then the non-smooshy face-smoosh doesn’t bother me so much.

Fisty: Okay, I’ll give you the Tommy’s Dream theory, which goes a long way toward explaining the rest of the franchise. Despite the presence of the supernatural, this is the last of the “natural” Friday the 13ths, and it very neatly nails shut the coffin of the Tommy Jarvis Trilogy as well as the Wild Child Jason Hexalogy, while opening the door to the Killing Machine Super Jason as Myth Pentalogy … though if we agree with Horace (“Five acts a play must have, nor more nor less.”) then the franchise is off-kilter. Most fans would blame A New Beginning due to it’s Jason-less status, but I would argue that F13 is rather two pentalogies linked by a standalone episode, that being Jason Lives. “What the fuck are you on, Fisty,” you ask? Hormones and classics, my friends. But really, taking a step back and examining this installment and the franchise as a whole from a distance provides some clarity.

F13P1 through P5 chart the development of Jason, and later Tommy Jarvis. It’s the story of how a lovable little mongo kid drowned, his mother took revenge by murdering those she held responsible, and when she in turn was killed, her wild child takes his turn at vengeance, only to be brought down by an intended victim, little Tommy Jarvis, who then himself suffers the consequences of violence and takes refuge in insanity, even possibly becoming a killer himself and continuing the cycle. Again, this is all very classical, with Jason’s saga recalling The Oresteia (I was always kind of pissed that SPOILER Orestes got away with it; Clytemnestra is a much more sympathetic character to my mind).

stroke for bloody stroke

a mask tells us more than a face

going mano a mano

Bill: Whoosh! Right over my head! I get what you’re saying about the linked pentalogies, but I don’t think you can really break the series down that way. For one, you can’t really consider Jason Lives a standalone movie. It would have to be part of the Killing Machine Super Jason cycle and that would throw off your numbers. Plus, wtf? You’re counting Jason X and Freddy Versus Jason? You can’t count those. Neither of them are by title Friday the 13th movies. Jason X is still great and sure the X can mean ten, but it’s still more of a spin off movie than truly part of the F13 series, a Laverne and Shirley to the Happy Days of F13. And lets just ignore FvJ. Seriously, Jason’s afraid of water now? Fuck that movie. That leaves us with nine movies. Traditionally,  they’re broken down into two bookend standalone flicks, Mother at one end and Parasite at the other, with three overlapping trilogies between them, being comprised of One Weekend (2-4), Tommy Jarvis (4-6), and Zombie Jason (6-8). That works, but, if you really wanted to simplify it, I think it makes more sense to break the franchise down into two tetralogies, an ascending tetralogy and a descending tetralogy linked by ANB as the apex movie.

Now, I don’t pick ANB as the standalone because it’s not really Jason, but because it comes between Jason’s death and rebirth, when he existed purely as legend, as a boogeyman to be mimicked, as a sort of Candyman to refer back to one of the captions from our review of ANB. The Ascending Cycle begins in a pre-Jason era with Pamela, has Jason taking the murder-reins from her, moving out into a wider world away from the lake in P3 (IN 3D!!!) and the beginning of The Final Chapter, then returning  to die and become true legend. Then, after A New Beginning, the series begins to move in reverse back to the beginning, although in a more exaggerated way. Jason returns to life, after a movie or so in the immediate area of the lake, goes back out into the world, returns to a child state, then a practically fetal state, and eventually passing into non-existence/Hell and leaving a Jason-less world. And Jason Lives, as the first movie of the Descending Cycle, perfectly signifies this switch into reverse, as it’s basically all of the previous movies played backwards: Tommy comes back to CLFG from Pinehurst, Jason starts off dead and unmasked, returns to life, remasks himself at the beginning of the movie, (Fisty: Notice also that he starts out by killing random folks, then moves on to counselors), the camp opens and Jason ends up in the lake. And, from what I read about what was removed from the script but left in the novelization, Jason’s parent, his father this time, would’ve appeared at the end of the movie.

Fisty: Sooo, Jason is Orpheus? (Bill: No, but he was an Argonaut! *ba-dum-tish*) And wait a minute, they don’t overlap as trilogies, only as tetralogies. Not by my reckoning of the franchise timeline. And even then it doesn’t come out even because you’re jettisoning Jason X. I count what I count! PLUS, FIVE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER. Damn it, math is hard. I have to move on because all these numbers are blowing my mind.

One thing that’s a bit puzzling is the presence of the Jason as Myth in Crystal Lake Forest Green. After all, 2 through 4 went down what, ten years ago? That’s a pretty short timespan for culling a murderous episode from a town’s history (how very NoES) to the point that no one believes it ever happened. How is it that all of the kids were raised on the Jason as Myth and Camp Blood Legend, yet don’t remember any of the news reports of that era? And how do they not even remember that the town was called Crystal Lake only a decade previous? I guess that could be more support for the Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory, since dreams have their own logic and that logic only needs to meet minimum requirements to keep the story rolling. Like how Jason’s grave is different in both ANB and Jason Lives–though I will grant you the former as clearly being a dream gravesite–and especially how Jason in Jason Lives is granted a plot in a fancypants cemetery, while Pamela Voorhees is relegated to a plot on the side of the road in The Final Chapter. Dream logic! Or gaping holes in continuity! You decide!

say, what?

he is risen

this book reads like stereo instructions

Bill: What? Of course the trilogies overlap. But don’t yell at me about them! That’s not my idea! I just mentioned them as  that’s how I’ve seen the series broken down by other people. I like my Ascending/Apex/Descending idea better, mostly because it gives ANB more of the respect and importance that it deserves in the franchise. Five is the magic number, as in PART 5!

I touched on the timing of that Jason as Myth thing a bit before.  It really doesn’t add up.

Fisty: No, it doesn’t. Let me put it to you like this: Jason as Myth is not the same as the Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory (or TTJDT), but is the STORY of Jason that emerges following the events of The Final Chapter, after Jason the Feral Murderous Man-Child is killed by Tommy Jarvis the Civilized Murderous Man-Child (Wait–is Jason Enkidu? Can we really afford another digression?). Once he”s dead, whether it’s his legend being used by Roy or his reanimated bad self slaughtering the innocents, it is Jason-as-Myth, the Jason of legend and folklore, from the mouths of babes. Ten years is not adequate time for Jason the Fact to be erased and replaced by the legend.

Bill: So, if I go by your Jason as Myth theory, does that mean everything from A New Beginning on are just Jason’s legend, stories told around the campfire? Are the further sequels just the increasingly exaggerated re-tellings of Paul’s campfire story from The Final Chapter from after the real Wild-Child Jason’s death? (Hey, whatever happened to Paul?) Wow. That’s like Frank Miller framing 300 as an oral, fireside tale so he can trick out the history however he chooses. And I think it works even better than my TTJDT (Telekinetic Tommy Jarvis Dream Theory).

Honestly, I don’t really think it was a dream or anything like that, just bad continuity. The series has always been pretty shitty at keeping the story straight. That doesn’t really bother me. This movie is probably the worst of the bunch in that regard and it’s full of silliness, like the face smoosh I mentioned earlier. I don’t care. I still adore it. It’s a good thing we spent so long talking about the franchise as a whole because really, I could never review Jason Lives with any kind of objectivity. My attachment to it is even greater than my attachment to The Final Chapter. This movie started getting heavy rotation on cable at just around the time I moved beyond needing someone to watch a scary movie with me. I had seen all the other movies in the series, but I’d watched them with my sisters or my mom or my brothers. I was finally old enough to sit and watch them by myself and BAM! Jason Lives is on every other night. So I watched it every other night. And it’s so damn fun. And so funny! This was also about the time I started buying Gorezone and Fangoria, a very special time in my life.

he’s everywhere you want to be

darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter

rising up to the challenge of his rivals

Fisty: I would love to take this all the way back to Paul. (What happened to him!?) But why do you keep shooting down your own crackpot theories?!

Bill: Because I keep having new ones! Just wait until I suss out my ideas on this new Crystal Lake as a Static Pool in the River of Time/Jason as Nexus of All Realities theory I’m developing.

Fisty: Well, I care not for other crackpot theories on the F13 timeline, and before we spend the entire review arguing over it (seriously, you cannot separate 1 from 2! CANNOT!), we need to move on.

Jason Lives is fun because it’s so self-aware. McLoughlin knows he’s making a movie for horror fans, and that they have certain expectations, so he lives up to them while playing with them. From nods to Universal horror, to breaking the fourth wall, to metareferences like Lizabeth’s “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly,” the film is peppered with meta. Everyone–except perhaps the principals of Tommy, Megan, the Sheriff, and perhaps Jason–is aware of being in a slasher.

McLoughlin takes the humor over the top, bringing the film into parodic territory. The silly face smoosh you mentioned is just one of those ridiculous moments, like the smiley face kill. Personally, they take it a little too far; I don’t think kills have to be silly in order to be funny, and these are points against Jason Lives in my book. But McLoughlin recovers with the other jokes; I was especially fond of the campers themselves (is this the only F13 to actually feature kids at camp?). The comics and Sartre and No Future boys are probably my favorites. “What did you want to be when you grew up?” They’re no Reggies, but they’re cool little dudes.

we could’ve gone to camp north star, but no

reading material for the cool

reading material for the uncool

Bill: “I think we’re dead meat.” I love those two! And that comic the one sleeping kid has is actually an issue of Heroes for Hire featuring Power Man and Iron Fist, two of the coolest superheroes ever, inspired by Blaxploitation and Kung-Fu movies, respectively. The kids in this (and I think they are the first kids we’ve seen since the first movie) have better taste in reading material than the counselors do. Sissy is reading some lame Men at Play magazine? That’s not nearly as cool as Debbie and her issue of Fango from Part 3. Still, I like Sissy. I liked all of Megan’s group. Cort, especially, got some laughs out of me. Oh, and Nikki … there may not be any noodz in Jason Lives, not even during the sex scene, but a quick google titty search of Darcy DeMoss will be very rewarding. Sadly there’s nothing out there for Jennifer Cooke or Renée Jones. And I liked Farthead Martin, too, even if he isn’t quite as cool as Crazy Ralph.

I didn’t mind the smiley face kill. So the guy’s face just happened to land on a smiley face. So what? At least it didn’t leave a face-shaped impression in the tree. Stupid RV death, ugh. Besides, while there are a few silly kills, you do get some good ones, like the back-crack and a full-on, Zito-style window smash. (Two windows broken and two people defenestrated in Jason Lives, and one exploded door. Perhaps it should be titled Zito Lives?) And Lizabeth’s death (that’s the girl with the VW) is, I think, one of the most upsetting in the franchise. The way she futilely offers Jason her money and credit cards to spare her just makes me really sad. I did miss Jason’s creative body arrangements from the previous films. He did have the presence of mind to stick one head in a parked car, but that’s nothing compared to his old pop-up corpse shenanigans. Though, I suppose, in this movie, no body he left behind could be as gross and gnarly as his own. Ugh, there’s a scene in this sequel that might be, to me, the grossest thing in the franchise. Jason himself gets hit with a boat propeller and the result is that the water looks like bloody, chunky, rotten Jason stew and it always skeeves me out. I’m getting sick just thinking about it and I don’t get sick easily. Maybe I’m weird. Fisty, is that as gross to you? Anyway, I guess that makes up for the lack of gouged eyes and stacked bodies.

have a nice day

don’t leave home without it

does she or doesn’t she?

Fisty: All lakes are gross to me; I just don’t trust water that doesn’t flow. It’s the island girl in me, I guess.

I can’t believe you didn’t mention “The Man Behind the Mask,” though! For what, the first time ever a Friday the 13th movie has a decent soundtrack!? And it’s ALICE COOPER!? Hells to the yeah!

Jason Lives is one of the last hurrahs of the slasher genre before its final, inevitable decline. Though the peak was past, films like Jason Lives  and the same year’s April Fool’s Day played with the audience’s familiarity with the genre. Though its parodic elements may turn off some fans, its reputation as a fan favorite stems from the humor just as much as it does the slick direction and photography, and a talented cast, things that also made it one of the slashers most accessible to non-fans. The climax of an ailing franchise, Jason Lives effectively (though briefly) rejuvenated a dying genre. And it’s just plain fun. 

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

it's final, and we really mean it

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
aka Friday the 13th, Part 4
Director: Joseph Zito
Released: 1984
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 …

murder just isn't relevant to their interests

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.

final girl trish defenestrating

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.

FUCK GLASS

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.

we're just a bunch of crazies

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.

even jason loves tommy

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.

we love him!

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.

now these are engaging characters

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!

banana fatty does not like being called 'banana fatty'

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!

sara's bloody axe wound

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.

plus, TWINS

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!”