Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
By this, we mean that Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday is not the worst horror film we've ever seen. It's not even the worst Friday the 13th film we've ever seen. But it is pretty much pointless, and loses what little cleverness it has after the first ten minutes of screen time.
That said, let us focus on those first ten minutes. Like many other such films, Jason Goes To Hell opens with a young woman arriving at an isolated location. She spends a few minutes making said location (in this instance, a cabin at Crystal Lake) more habitable, and is startled a few times by slamming doors and bursting light bulbs. Behaving logically, she then takes off her clothes and hops in the tub.
Because this is a horror film, the lights go out, and our heroine must depart the tub wearing only a towel to investigate the cause of the power loss. This turns out to be a psychopathic madman with a sharp object. (One of these days the young woman will merely replace a fuse and return to her shower, but not this time.) And so, our hockey-masked friend Jason Voorhees chases the girl out of the cabin and into the woods, where she falls down, moans pathetically, and scrambles back to her feet, obviously terrified. She's going to die.
Or is she? Hey, is that a clearing up ahead? Why is she diving behind that log?
Jason is suddenly caught in the glare of a dozen spotlights. It's a trap! Hooray! Someone finally got smart and sent a battalion of policemen (or FBI agents, or something) after this freak! Jason is blown away in short order and his pieces are carted away in a zip-lock bag.
If only the movie had ended there.
But no, we are then treated to the autopsy, during which Jason's heart (a nasty black thing) possesses the doctor, reincarnating the killer in the doctor's body. A couple of gruesome deaths later, Jason is out and about once again.
By way of a segue, we are treated to a couple of interesting additions to the Jason mythology. The best is the fact that Jason is apparently famous, nationwide, as a serial killer. The "American Case File" tabloid tv program spotlights Jason's killing spree in the morgue and asks a famous bounty hunter, Creighton Duke, to speculate on what Jason's next move might be and how to stop him. Duke (Steven Williams, best known as Mr. X from The X-Files), of course, lights out for Crystal Lake after the interview, because killers always return to their haunting grounds.
The upshot of all this is that Jason moves from body to body trying to get in a position to kill or possess Diana and descendants. The weakness to this scenario is that Jason is in the bodies of other people, so we don't get to see our favorite hockey mask-wearing psychopath for most of the movie. We end up watching various unappealing character actors stalk and kill other unappealing character actors for most of the hour and a half that this flick lasts.
On the plus side, our favorite horror movie convention is invoked: Those who have premarital sex are slaughtered -- and wow, that's pretty explicit sex! Too bad you guys decided not to use the condom. In today's politically-correct world, Jason punishes those who decide not to practice safe sex. Just look at that dramatic shot of Jason's foot treading on the unused prophylactic.
Perhaps the greatest thing in this movie's favor is that the woman resolves the plot. Some of our more astute readers may have noticed our continual annoyance at women who scream their way through an entire movie, waiting for a man to come solve their problems. None of that here -- all the man gets to do in this movie is get his butt kicked. It's all up to Jessica to put Jason away once and for all -- until the next movie.
Speaking of the next movie, the final dramatic shot of this film is one in which Jason's mask is dragged underground by the clawed hand of that other horror movie great, Freddy Krueger. This, of course, is in preparation for New Line Cinema's next magnum opus: Freddy vs Jason. Coming soon to a theater near you.
Review date: 1/18/98
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