Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter [DVD]
Director : Joseph Zito
Screenplay : Barney Cohen (story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow)
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1984
Stars : Kimberly Beck (Trish Jarvis), E.Erich Anderson (Rob Dier), Corey Feldman (Tommy Jarvis), Barbara Howard (Sara), Peter Barton (Doug), Lawrence Monoson (Ted), Joan Freeman (Mrs. Jarvis), Crispin Glover (Jimmy), Alan Hayes (Paul), Judie Aronson (Samantha), Camilla More (Tina), Carey More (Terri), Bruce Mahler (Axel), Lisa Freeman (Nurse Morgan) Wayne Grace (Officer Jamison
Viewed in retrospect, knowing that there have been an additional seven sequels plus a recent remake plus an already planned sequel to that remake, the attempts at finality in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter are nothing less than laughable. Not that anyone took them very seriously 25 years ago either, when the fourth entry in the venerable movie-a-year slasher series debuted in theaters to packed rows of boisterous teenagers and the collective moans of many respectable critics. Although the filmmakers swore up and down that the purpose of the film was to end the series for good, to finish off the relentless Jason Voorhees by giving him a death from which he would not return, it is hard to imagine that at least some of them weren’t doing so with fingers crossed behind their back given the consistent clanging of the cash registers every time a new Friday movie came out.
Regardless of its intentions, The Final Chapter remains one of the favorites among fans, if only because it returned the series to a gorier, more expressly horrific tone after the lousy attempts at crude humor and campy use of 3-D in Friday the 13th Part III. It also marked the return of make-up effects maestro Tom Savini, whose diabolically clever work with splattering blood and torn flesh in the original Friday the 13th (1980) had helped elevate him to the status of Fangoria poster boy. With the MPAA’s increased policing of graphic violence in slasher films, Part 2 (1981) and Part III (1983) had been decidedly less gruesome affairs, but for whatever reason they seemed to ease off the editing button a bit this time around, perhaps because they, too, had been promised that this would be the end of the line for the Friday series.
The story picks up exactly where Part III left off, with Jason Voorhees (now embodied by stuntman Ted White) supposedly dead on the floor of a barn with an axe buried in his skull. Director Joseph Zito, who had made a slasher film called The Prowler (1981), which also featured effects by Savini, and went on to make a minor name for himself in the mid-1980s helming B-level action fare like Missing in Action (1984) and Red Scorpion (1986), gets the movie off to a good start with an impressive long take that swirls around the bustling crime scene before finding Jason’s prostrate body being taken away to the morgue. However, once at the hospital we are introduced to a cartoonishly crass undertaker (Bruce Mahler) and the eye-rolling nurse on whom he is constantly hitting (Lisa Freeman), and we know we’re right back in familiar, uninspired genre territory.
However, this is not to say that screenwriter Barney Cohen doesn’t throw a few generous curveballs. Granted, there is no getting around the need for a houseful of partying college-age kids to provide Jason with plenty of student bodies to hack, but at least they are placed next door to another house that features an honest-to-goodness family composed of a recently separated mother (Joan Freeman), her teenage daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck), and her adolescent son Tommy (Corey Feldman), who amusingly dedicates his prodigious creativity and intellect to making monster masks and puppets (a little meta-defense of the film’s gory endeavors?). The idea of planting a broken family in the middle of a Friday the 13th has potential, and while Cohen doesn’t really do much with it, having characters who are something other than self-absorbed party hounds at least breaks up the monotony. The Final Chapter also features one of the better cast of the series, with Crispin Glover, who was still a year away from pop-culture infamy as George McFly in Back to the Future (1985), playing an amusingly odd riff on the quintessential sexually frustrated nerd, and Corey Feldman proving that he was one of the better child actors of the ’80s.
The middle section of The Final Chapter lumbers doggedly through all the expected plot developments, with plenty of skinny dipping, pot smoking, and sexual angst regularly interrupted by various forms of bloody killings, many of which are visual variations on the original’s prime shocker moment in which an arrow tip came unexpectedly out of a victim’s neck. By this time the slasher-movie equation of “sex equals death” was already a cliché, which the filmmakers play to an almost ridiculous degree (when one of the virginal girls who is a prime candidate to be the “Final Girl” gives it up in a steamy shower interlude, you know her time is up). Zito adds a few moments of aesthetic flourish that make The Final Chapter one of the better directed films in the series, but it isn’t really until the victims have been reduced to Trish, Tommy, and Rob (E.Erich Anderson), a hunky stranger whose sister was killed back in Part 2, that the movie picks up any steam.
The climactic showdown has some genuine suspense and intensity, partially because the “Final Girl” duties have been divided between Trish, who is notably aggressive in her self-defense, and Tommy, whose childhood innocence provides an interesting foil to Jason’s reign of terror. The fact that it is Tommy who delivers the final blows gives the film an added tinge of real horror (watch the child succumb to the most animalistic of impulses), and it also allows for a final shot that does the most important work of all by leaving the door open just enough to justify another sequel.
|Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter Deluxe Edition DVD|
|Subtitles||English, French, Portuguese, Spanish|
|Distributor||Paramount Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||June 16, 2009|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter has been given a new anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks quite good. This is one of the more polished-looking films in the series, and the transfer does it justice with natural colors, strong detail, and solid black levels. Given that the final is now 25 years old, it looks very clean, with no signs of dirt or age. The original monaural soundtrack has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 surround that enhances the ambient effects and also gives the notorious rasping theme music more depth.|
|For its third iteration on DVD (following a single-disc, supplement-free disc from 2000 and its inclusion in the eight-disc “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” boxset from 2004), Paramount has added enough supplements to keep fans of the series appeased. The disc boasts not one, but two audio commentaries, both of which are arguably much more entertaining than the movie itself. The first is a straightforward retrospective commentary by director Joseph Zito, screenwriter Barry Cohen, and editor Joel Goodman, while the second is a boisterous “fan commentary” by filmmakers Adam Green (Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), who early on admit that the only reason they got to record it is because they kept pestering Paramount to let them do it. “Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a solid, if somewhat short, 11-minute retrospective featurette that includes new interviews with Zito, Cohen, Tom Savini, and actors Ted White, Kimberly Beck, Bonnie Hellman, and Erich Anderson. (Good as it is, I find it surprising that they couldn’t wrangle Corey Feldman into the studio for an interview. Is he that busy?) There is also an 18-minute faux news documentary called The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part 1 that fans will find amusing, but not much more. Fans will delight, however, in “Slashed Scenes,” which consists of 15 minutes of raw footage of the various gore effects. This is not footage that was part of the movie and then cut out at some point, but rather the unedited dailies that the editor had to pick from. This footage is in extremely good condition and is presented in anamorphic widescreen, but the accompanying sound has been lost so instead we get Zito providing a commentary. Also included is a dream sequence alternate ending that is narrated by Zito and Kimberly Beck, as well as two minutes of outtakes of Crispin Glover doing his infamous dance and the original theatrical trailer. Finally, this disc includes the fourth installment of Lost Tales of Camp Blood for those who are interested in the amateurish video series.|
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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