Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#1,724. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Directed By: Adam Marcus

Starring: John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Kane Hodder

Tag line: "The creator of the first returns to bring you the last"

Trivia: There were plans for a high tech video game based on this movie. The game was actually created but never released

After Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason takes Manhattan, Paramount threw in the towel and decided to sell the rights to everyone’s favorite campsite killer, Jason Voorhees, to New Line Cinema, which had been chomping at the bit to team the terror of Crystal Lake with their own franchise star, Freddy Krueger (of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame). Bringing Sean Cunningham, the producer of the original Friday the 13th film, back into the fold, New Line produced what would be the 9th movie in the series, Jason Goes to Hell, which, incidentally, was also slated to be the last (hence its subtitle “The Final Friday”). Hoping to breathe some new life into the old boy, Jason Goes to Hell tosses a few supernatural elements into the slasher mix to explain, among other things, why Jason seems to be immortal. And while I certainly understand the studio’s desire to mix things up, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is a total mess, and is considered by many fans the worst entry in the series.

After he’s been blown to bits by the FBI during a sting operation, Jason Voorhees’ remains are brought to a coroner’s lab for analysis, when, all of a sudden, the killer’s heart starts beating again. The coroner (Richard Gant), unable to resist its power, begins to eat the heart, at which point the soul of Jason enters his body. As the coroner picks up where Jason left off (killing a few campers who’ve made the mistake of pitching their tent at Crystal Lake), bounty hunter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), the only man on earth who knows how to kill Jason Voorhees, is searching for the killer’s last living relatives. It just so happens that Jason’s sister, Diana (Erin Gray), is still alive, and what’s more, she has a daughter Jessica (Kari Keegan) as well as a grandchild. When Jason’s spirit (now inside a cop) shows up at Diana’s house and finishes her off, Jessica’s old boyfriend Steven (John D. LeMay) is blamed for the crime and arrested. While in jail, Creighton Duke convinces Steven that “only a Voorhees can kill a Voorhees”, meaning that Jessica and her child are the last ones alive capable of putting Jason down for good. Steven, who still loves Jessica, agrees to help Creighton track her down, but when Jason finds his way into the body of unscrupulous reporter Robert Campbell (Steven Culp), who's also Jessica’s new boyfriend, it may spell the end of Creighton Duke’s chances to end Jason’s reign of terror once and for all.

The problems with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday are well documented. For one, Jason himself is barely in the movie; what we get is his spirit jumping from one person to the next. So instead of a hulking behemoth in a hockey mask, we get a middle-aged coroner and a devious newsman (among others) who, despite the fact they’re possessed by a killing machine, simply aren’t as frightening as the real deal. More frustrating still is the movie’s supernatural angle, which has Creighton Duke spouting such craptacular lines as “In a Voorhees was he born. Through a Voorhees may he be reborn. And only by the hands of a Voorhees will he die” (no explanation is given as to why Jason ignored this "prophecy" for so many years, letting dear old sis live as long as she did). Even the Necronomicon, the otherworldly book featured in the Evil Dead series, makes a brief appearance in the film, adding yet another ridiculous twist to what is already a preposterous tale. Jason Goes to Hell isn’t without the series’ standard gore (one scene, set in a tent, is bloody as hell), but with a story as laughably convoluted as this, you lose interest in it halfway through (many of the kills scenes are a letdown).

The standard formula for the previous Friday the 13th movies was simple enough: horny teens head into the woods, where they encounter a psycho in a mask who, it turns out, is invincible. There were deviations, of course: the first Friday the 13th stood apart from the rest in terms of its killer, while Part VII: The New Blood had Jason battling a character almost as powerful as he was. Yet, despite these few anomalies, the series maintained the same basic premise I mentioned above. Again, I don’t condemn New Line and the filmmakers for wanting to try something new, but to go from one extreme to the next in a single bound was foolhardy.

When all was said and done, the only thing Jason Goes to Hell managed to accomplish was that it replaced Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning as the series’ shittiest entry.


Dell said...

I'm a huge fan of the series and you're totally right about this one. It's just really bizarre, especially when compared to the rest of the franchise.

Steven Millan said...

The filmmaker and the producers figured that in order to get away with as much splattery gore as possible was to have various possessed people instead of Jason doing the killings,via openly borrowing from the similar plotlines of both THE HIDDEN and SHOCKER. It's not a great film,but at least New Line Cinema attempted to do something ambitious and different with their FRIDAY THE 13TH./Jason film(while Paramount allowed the series to creatively stagnant[and repeat the same formula in every sequel]).

NyderOfSkaro said...

Worth noting that actually the only film New Line directly made was Freddy vs Jason. With both this and jason X it was Sean Cunningham who was pretty much in charge, and New Line took the finished product they were given. According to some reports Cunningham wanted even less hockey mask and Jason, and at one stage even planned to make a Jason-less film until new Line stepped in.