Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Franchises: Friday the 13th. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
The film starts out like a typical Friday the 13th: a sexy woman drives up to Crystal Lake and prepares to spend the night when she's attacked by Jason Voorhees. He chases her out to a large field and just as he's about to do her in, he's ambushed by a large squad of FBI officers. As it turns out, the woman was an undercover agent and the whole thing was an elaborate trap. After being shot hundreds of times, they launch an explosive from the air that literally blows Jason to pieces and his remains are then taken to a nearby morgue. However, Jason's evil spirit takes control of the coroner and makes him eat his heart, allowing him to possess the man's body. Now back on his feet, Jason journeys back to Crystal Lake, jumping from one person to another along the way, in order to find his last living blood relatives so he can be reborn again.
Besides a new type of story, Marcus and Lorey said they also wanted to create a mythology for Jason that hadn't existed before, and I can't say I like that much better. This concept of Jason needing to be reborn through another Voorhees is just all kinds of "what the hell?" to me. I always liked the idea that Mrs. Voorhees was a normal, loving mother who had a disfigured son who was accidentally drowned and that she went crazy as a result. Add to that the idea that Jason apparently didn't drown but was really living in the woods, became a homicidal maniac, got killed, and was later brought back to life through some supernatural means, and that leads to something else I always liked about the series, which is that Jason started out as an ordinary boy and eventually, through both normal and then supernatural twists of fate, became the monster he now is. But this mythology makes it seem like the Voorhees were some sort of evil family from the start, that they had ties to voodoo and the occult. And as for that dagger being the only thing that can kill Jason? Who carved that, gave it its power, and, above everything else, why? Was it someone who knew that the Voorhees family was evil or something? Speaking of which, the Voorhees family apparently has connections to the Deadites because the freaking Necronomicon is in the Voorhees house (let's not even attempt to figure out a way that connects The Evil Dead to this mess). It also amazes me that that house is still standing, considering all the scorn Crystal Lake must now suffer from the rest of the country due to Mrs. Voorhees and Jason's killing sprees. You'd think they would have torched that place years ago, as happened to Ed Gein's house shortly after he was arrested (of course, if we're going by that logic, I might as well ask why they never burned down the Myers House in Haddonfield).
Exactly when this movie takes place in the series' timeline is a mystery as well because it ignores the ending of Jason Takes Manhattan and doesn't explain at all how Jason changed back into the hulking, hockey-masked monster that he is. I understand why they ignored that since that ending was crap but this movie seems to also ignore that film completely and Marcus has even said that it does. So, if that's the case, when exactly does this one take place? Who knows? Oh, and just in case they weren't flying into the face of enough of the series' established backstory and lore, Jason now suddenly has a sister. Yeah. I don't know about you but I've always felt that part of the reason Mrs. Voorhees went insane was because Jason was her only child, which she even mentioned in the original film. If she had another child, I'm sure she would have still been heartbroken but would have been able to move on. And when was this daughter born anyway? After Jason's drowning? You'd think Mrs. Voorhees would have stopped holding a grudge and tried to raise this second child right, making sure that tragedy didn't repeat itself. This also damages Mrs. Voorhees' character because, as I said, even though she was insane, she was a great mother who would both kill and die for her child; if she neglected another child and only focused on Jason, that makes her, and, as a result, Jason, less sympathetic.
Erin Gray plays Diana Kimble, Jason's sister (ugh). Not much to say about her other than she seems like a nice enough lady who would like to see things be made right between Steven and Jessica. (Ultimately, Jason is reborn through her body.) Steven Culp plays Robert Campbell, the host of an America's Most Wanted-type show who is dating Jessica and later turns out to be a complete scumbag because he steals Diana's body from the morgue and hides it in the Voorhees house in order to use it to spice his show up. It's right after that when he becomes possessed by Jason. Rusty Schwimmer plays Joey B., the foul-mouthed owner of a diner. I must confess that I do kind of like her because she's an over the top stereotype like Ethel in Part V but, other than that, she's not as likable or memorable. I have nothing at all to say about Leslie Jordan as Joey's boyfriend Shelby or Adam Cranner as her son Ward (I think that was his name). Billy Green Bush has a small role as the sheriff who has feelings for Diana and Kipp Marcus plays Randy, a cop who's friends
with Steven and tries to help him but gets beaten up multiple times for his trouble. He also ends up being the last person Jason possesses before his rebirth and Jason actually talks when he's inside his body! I actually kind of liked him since he was such a decent guy and was bummed when he got possessed. There are other nothing characters like Allison Smith as Vicki, a waiter at the diner, veteran actor Richard Gant as Phil, the coroner whom Jason possesses first, and Andrew Bloch as Josh, the second person he possesses. The latter is the focus of the most bizarre scene because Jason kidnaps him, takes him to the Voorhees house, straps him to a table completely naked, and shaves his beard before possessing him. Um, does Jason secretly have some obsessions we didn't previously know about?
because the skin is starting to grow around it. His wardrobe looks more like the jumpsuit that Michael Myers wears and he makes way too much noise as well, grunting and yelling a lot during his brief appearances and actually roaring when he's being shot to pieces by the FBI. Kane Hodder once again plays Jason and does the best he can given his limited screentime but it goes almost unnoticed. When his body is destroyed, we find out that his heart is larger than a normal heart, is filled with a black viscus fluid, and apparently is where his evil soul is housed. The thing seems to hypnotize the
Where I will give this movie props is when it comes to its gore and makeup effects because they're just spectacular. This movie really benefited from being made in the era of laserdisc, where it ended up being the first Friday the 13th that you could see uncut, because KNB's effects are so amazing that they deserve to be able to be seen in all their glory. Given the nature of the story, they're far more than just typical stabbings. After chewing up the heart, the possessed coroner smashes this other coroner's (writer Dean Lorey) face on a table and then stabs his head with a probe. He kills two security guards (one of which is played by Kane Hodder) off-camera but you get to see the bloody aftermath. There is a typical Friday the 13th camp scene where Jason kills three horny teenagers who are dumb enough to camp near what was once Camp Crystal Lake. He slices one girl up with the probe
literally melts in an absolutely disgusting but amazing effect, particularly when his jaw is ripped off by sticking to the floor. Jason then goes on a rampage at the police station, killing two cops by bashing their heads together. He later kills Ward by snapping an arm off, throws Shelby into a deep-fryer, smashes Joey in the face so hard that her jawbone is forced back into her head, and squeezes Vicki's head until her brain flies out. Duke is eventually killed by being impaled and the sheriff actually got killed by Jessica by accident.
I also must admit that Jason's final descent into hell is a memorable one. After a drawn-out fight with Steven (I have no idea why he didn't just the kill guy since he easily could have), Jason gets stabbed in the chest with the dagger by Jessica. A bunch of lights shoot out of his body up into the sky and gigantic hands burst out of the ground and grab him. Jason tries to drag Steven along with him but Jessica saves him (again, after actually having to think about it, though) and the two of them kick the dagger all the way into Jason's body, permanently sealing his fate. He's pulled down into Hell, leaving behind only his hockey mask, and Steven and Jessica walk off into the sunrise with their baby. And finally, to let audiences know that Freddy vs. Jason was coming, Freddy's hand bursts out of the ground and drags the mask down while he laughs evilly. (I don't think that was Robert Englund laughing, though.) I do think that was a good teaser for that movie, even if it didn't come out until a decade later. So, all the problems I have with the film aside, I have to admit that, if nothing else, this climatic battle was exciting.
After having been absent from the previous two films, with Jason Takes Manhattan totally lacking any compositions from him old or new, Harry Manfredini returns to do the score. Unfortunately, he might as well have not done it because I don't really like this film's score (I'd say it and Jason X are the two Friday the 13th scores I don't care for). The main theme has never struck me as being that good and just sounds uninspired and repetitive, as does the majority of the score. There are some cues here and there that are okay, and the, "ki, ki, ma, ma," is used in a nicely done way where it sometimes almost sounds like part of the environment, but it's ultimately a very ho-hum score. The title itself is interesting, with the fire within Jason Goes to Hell and The Final Friday dripping with blood, and the credits do come up in an interesting way between shots, but that's about all I can say on that score.