October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Tom Savini, as with Martin Becker before you, I salute you. In a film that otherwise struggled at times to hold my attention, the exquisite onscreen deaths perpetrated by Jason Voorhees and engineered by Savini saved the day. From the morgue attendant attacked with a hacksaw and a vicious neck twist, to the harpoon crotch lift, to the young lover whose skull is crushed against a shower wall, to the most brutal machete attack put to film since Apocalypse Now, there wasn’t much that was mailed in, and I have a suspicion a good deal hit the cutting room floor to bring the film down to an ‘R’ rating. All that sweet, sweet blood, and the occasional chest shot, is really the only draw to the film. Juvenile? No doubt, yet Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is still a sight better than most films in the Friday the 13th franchise.

Thankfully, director Joseph Zito reined in most of the caricature that made Friday the 13th Part 3 so unwatchable. Some of it is still there, but only in brief glimpses, such as when Crispin Glover’s girl shy Jimmy Mortimer buries the needle on geekiness in a dance floor routine that has to be among the highlights of his career. Glover knows what his job is, and he plays his part sweet and sincere to the bitter end, encapsulating in one performance every bit of empathy that was missing in Part 3.

Another solid performance was turned in by a then twelve year-old Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis, the hero of the film. No spoiler here. The direction of the plot is pretty clear the moment Feldman is first seen on screen. A good rule of thumb is to avoid films with a mostly adult cast that has a child in a pivotal role, especially if the viewer is allergic to squishiness, but no worries here. Feldman’s Jarvis is a genuine portrayal of adolescence, right up until he turns into Captain Willard.

So that’s the good. What about the bad? Well, Final Chapter is an exploitative hackfest, every bit as ridiculous as its predecessors, and with just as few redeeming qualities. No one will ever mistake one of these films for fine cinema, including the people who made them, which is good, not bad. What the hell, it’s a slasher flick. It’s so far away from genuine murder that it’s a joke. Now about those deaths…

I had a hard time choosing my favorite in this film. There were a good number that managed to get past the censors at the MPAA. But I had to go with Crispin Glover’s demise. What pure, operatic tragedy. Glover’s character Jimmy was hardly the moral lightweight of the movie, but Jason plays no favorites. Post-pubescent, mischievous gleam in the eye? Dead. And Jimmy had just turned a corner in his life. He was flying high after having bagged one half of a twin bill, deciding to celebrate the occasion by opening a bottle of wine.

“Hey, Ted! Where the hell is the corkscrew?!” Oh, Jimmy. Oh, poor Jimmy. Jason’s got the corkscrew. And a butcher knife.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, is better than Alien: Resurrection. And that’s it. The Final Chapter. No more Friday the 13th films. This was the last one, just like it says in the title. Yep, no more.