There’s a whole lot of plot in this shitty movie. Friday the 13th was a franchise tottering along towards its demise by the time Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was released in 1993. The producers must have thought that expanding the lore around Jason Vorhees would make up for older plot ideas that had gone stale. It was the wrong way to go.
Directed by Adam Marcus, from a convoluted screenplay (the victim of precipitous rewrites, apparently) by Jay Huguely and Dean Lovey, Jason Goes to Hell is one gigantic mess of a movie. A viewer could be forgiven if they thought this flick was a continuation of the previous film in the series, as characters refer to previous, unseen events to which they were witness. But the flick before this was Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. None of the characters in that shitfest are in Jason Goes to Hell. Nor are any characters from Part VII, VI, V…all down the line. This movie feels like a sequel to a movie that wasn’t made, and that’s kind of weird.
The film takes place in 2003, believe it or not. Why? It doesn’t matter. Just know that by 2003 the feds had had enough of Jason Vorhees (Kane Hodder) tearing a swath through the naughty teenagers of the Crystal Lake area. So, they set up a trap for Jason and blow him to smithereens. It’s a cheesy scene that ends with an impressive amount of gore. That’s pretty much the tone of the entire film. Everything is over-lit and very 1990s shitty movie vintage, down to the low-rent synthesized soundtrack by Harry Manfredini.
Jason’s remains are taken for autopsy, and it’s in the morgue that we discover not even explosive dismemberment can keep Jason Vorhees down. The body in pieces on the slab is no good to him anymore, but, given new supernatural gifts by the screenwriters, that doesn’t matter. The spirit of Jason possesses the pathologist (Richard Gant, who gave the best performance in the film), and goes on a new killing spree.
There’s a new celebrity bounty hunter on television. He is Creighton Duke (Steven Williams). He promises to rid America of the Jason Vorhees menace. His secret is knowing Jason’s motivations, which are to acquire a new, permanent host body, as the ones he just grabs off of the street don’t last that long. Spirit Jason is leaving a trail of bodies all the way back to his hometown, where relatives still reside. There, Spirit Jason hopes to take over the body of an infant in the family so that he may live again. The Vorhees blood is important, because that’s what the screenplay says. This is the plot bloat I was referring to earlier. No one cares if Jason Vorhees has any relatives. And no one wants to see a bounty hunter in a duster take up valuable screen time that could be better used by Jason killing oversexed teenagers.
In fact, there isn’t a whole lot of Jason Vorhees in this flick. Most of the onscreen killing is done by Jason’s surrogate bodies, and that’s just not satisfying. At least the gore is nasty.
It’s essential for the film that viewers understand and care about the characters in this movie. Marcus did not succeed in doing that. They have names and backstories and all that other crap, but there’s never a coherent enough narrative to make that matter.
The only value this cheap horror flick has are the gore shots. There’s not nearly enough of Jason Vorhees, and the title is something of a false sell. Sure, Jason does get dragged down to hell in the finale, but it’s a moment that lasts all of thirty seconds. It sure got a lot of play in the title for being such a small part of the flick.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is crap. It’s no more of a money grab than any of the other films in the franchise, but everything seems so lazy in this installment. It had been a few years, so it was past time to roll out another Friday the 13th film, I guess. Instead of punching up the things that had worked for the franchise in the past, the filmmakers decided to ditch the summer camp angle and make it all about bloodlines and some such. It was too much for them. This shitty movie falls pretty far down in the Watchability Index, slotting in at #165 between The Toolbox Murders and Riddick.