In the 1980s, the screen was littered with gore-filled slashers. It seemed like every couple of weeks a new one was ushered into the theaters, where teenagers were having sex and then being hacked to pieces.
Some of them were kitschy fun, but others were extremely boring.
A select few- were actually excellent, well-made horror films.
“Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” falls into the latter catergory.
This is the best film in the series. If only the series decided to live up to the title, “The Final Chapter” would have been a good conclusion to the series. Far superior to the first one, due to the gore effects of Tom Savani, the film also has excellent performances from the actors playing the teenagers. It would have worked well as a comedy and it is actually sad to see these characters be murdered.
However, again it is Savani,(“The Prowler”, “Manaic”) and his knack for creating the best at creating realistic gore flicks in Hollywood that truly elevates the film. Putting in a good amount of imagination into the on-screen murders in this film, they are the biggest reason to partake in this bloody adventure. Simply put, a teenager’s face being smashed against the shower wall, or a cork screw being plunged into someone’s hand come off very brutal and original, even for a slasher flick. The fact is that Savani makes the harmless cabin seems like one of the scariest deathtraps around is a testament to his genius.
Films of the slasher genre are not often made with such care.
The way Savani and director, Joseph Zito (“Invasion U.S.A”) handle the killings is what makes this film the best slasher of its time. It is a refreshing sight to see such work put into this genre by someone that knows what he is doing.
On top of the murders, Savani also put a lot of detail into the make-up for Jason. This creates the appearance of one of the scariest creatures put on film.
As far as the plot is concerned, the film begins where Part three left off, as an ambulance arrives and takes Jason to the morgue. He then escapes and returns to camp Crystal Lake.
Once back there, the film focuses on two specific cabins. One Cabin contains the Jarvis family and the other houses a bunch of care-free teenagers. Thrown into the mix is a man that lost his sister to Jason and wants revenge. The plot is simple, but is standard for the slasher genre. Nonetheless, the rest of the film is so inventive that this doesn’t matter if the film copies your standard plot.
Our young hero is Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman, “The Goonies”, “Stand By Me”) a young man with a passion for horror movie masks and effects. He lives with his sister, Trish, (Kimberly Beck, “Massacre At Central High”) and his Mother (Joan Freeman, “Jinxed”). Though the family dynamic scenes leave much to be desired, Jarvis always seems to be left alone at dangerous times, making the film the moody gore-fest it should be and anything but an episode of “Seventh Heaven.”
The best performance comes from Lawrence Monoson (“The Last American Virgin”) who plays Ted. Monoson’s character is painted perfectly by his advice to his friend Jim on the car ride upstate- “Jimbo, calling Betty is definitely a dead f*** thing to do. Look first rule of love: never get rejected by the same girl twice. I mean that’s useless. If you want to make a fool out of yourself, always do it with someone new.”
Advice to live by.
Ted is a laid back stoner that seems to voice his opinion on everything. He desperately wants to have sex on this trip, but everything goes wrong for him. Nonetheless, he keeps trying. Monoson proved what a good actor he was in “The Last American Virgin” and he elevates this character into something more. In the film, he is never seen as a two dimensional character, but rather a real teenager with a very funny sense of humor.
Ted’s best friend is Jim played by Crispin Glover (Back to the Future.) According to Ted, Jim is a “Dead F***” and that is why women don’t seem to be calling him back. In his performance, Glover manages to capture the awkwardness of those teenage years. The character is very funny and easy to identify with. Glover even has a hysterical dance scene.
The young lovers are Doug and Sara played by Peter Barton (“Hell Night”) and Barbara Howard (“White Palace”). The two of them share some genuine on-screen chemistry. Their first appearance on screen comes off like that goofy teenage love, that we’ve all experienced. Sara is shy and Doug helps her to mature. Their love is cemented by a very steamy shower scene.
The last of the characters are Alan Hayes (“Neon Maniacs”) who plays Paulie, dating the very sexy Samantha (Judie Aronson, “American Ninja”). Unfortunately, he has a wandering eye, which sets forth soap opera fodder for the film. The tension between them allows the film to start you down the slope of horror to come.
The other big stars in the film are the locations of Lake Minnewashta, Chanhassen, Minnesota and Topanga Canyon, California, which create the genuine tension of isolation. The area is beautiful, but also a place where Jason Voorhies’ unspeakable acts of horror can be carried out.
Just add a catchy tagline, “Three Times Before You Have Felt The Terror,” “Known The Madness,” “ Lived The Horror. But This Is The One You’ve Been Screaming For,” and you have a successful horror film. The film’s opening date was Friday April 13th 1984, which would be Jason’s unlucky day. The box office did so well that “Friday the 13th Part Five: A New Beginning” was put into production almost immediately.
Overall, “The Final Chapter” is a slasher film that packs a real punch. It provides horror film fans with everything their gore filled hearts could desire.