Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday Movie Review

I rented this in high school not because I thought it would be any good or even because I thought it might scare me, but just out of some kind of loyalty to the series. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see this thing through to the end. Wasn't scary in the least.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

When the torch for Friday the 13th was passed from Paramount to New Line in the early 90s, the series had already gone from bad to worse before passing into Oh My God That’s Terrible. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday pushes past the limits of “so bad it’s good” and falls into an abyss I would like to call “so bad it has virtually no redeeming value and should never have been considered and those responsible should lower their heads in shame as they fall on their swords.” It takes the whole mythos of the franchise, lights it on fire and then pisses on the ashes. It doesn’t even have the redeeming value of being movie at whose shortcomings you can laugh.

The story is absolutely ludicrous. It opens with a sequence that calls to mind a lot of the conventions of the previous films. A lovely young woman arrives at a cabin at night. As she enters, the light goes out. She has to go out to the shed for a new bulb and the door mysteriously slams shut behind her. The jumps and frights keep coming and then we have the obligatory nude scene as she steps into the shower. Then the lights go out and Jason chases her around the house as she goes running, towel-clad, into the woods. The shocker, however, is that she’s leading Jason to a trap involving multiple firearms and explosives that will destroy him for good. This idea is fleetingly amusing for employing a method of extermination that probably countless filmgoers had asked themselves and their friends why it wasn’t used in other films: “Just blow his ass up,” you can imagine people shouting. Well now they have.

But with Jason blown to bits in the first 10 minutes, where can the film go? Oh, I wish you hadn’t asked because the story by Jay Huguely and Adam Marcus with a screenplay by Huguely and Dean Lorey takes idiocy to new heights. Jason’s various parts are taken to the morgue, but not before a shot of his heart lying on the ground – still beating! The mortician becomes transfixed by the heart and then completely out of nowhere, as if the screenwriters just couldn’t figure out how to get to the next part of the story, he consumes the heart. Yellow and orange optical effect glowing lights leap into the mortician’s body as he becomes (presumably) possessed by Jason.

Then the movie really gets nuts. An entirely new back story has been invented to give Jason further purpose in his slaughter. He now apparently had a sister (Erin Gray) and that woman has a daughter (Kari Keegan). And the daughter has a young baby. Why is this important? Well, thankfully the screenwriters have written in the character of Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), a peddler of wild stories and superstition who inexplicably knows not only all about Jason, but what Jason must do to make himself alive again. Apparently only a blood relative can kill Jason and it must be done with some special knife that Duke carries around. This is, without hyperbole, the worst story writing I’ve ever encountered in a movie. Some producer read this script and thought it made enough sense to put into production? Where were the New Line executives to say call for a rewrite before sinking another penny into the project?

New Line Cinema gave this film an entirely different feel from the eight films that preceded it by giving it a larger budget and adding a whole supernatural element. The entire production design and shooting style is so completely different it might as well not even be in the same series. It actually looked and felt a lot like Halloween 6 to me.

The film has no sense whatsoever that anyone involved with the production thought for a moment they were trying to make a serious film. It’s as if everyone knew it was total garbage and the writers tried their hardest to include the craziest crap their feeble imaginations could muster. It has no credibility as a horror film. It is very long on plot and woefully short on ideas and execution. At the very least Kane Hodder plays Jason for the third straight film. He’s the only one who provides the audience something interesting to look at.

It’s hardly worth my time to summarize any more of my reaction to the film so I’ll close with a list of things in the film that just baffled me:

-          Steven Culp got his big feature film break in this? Seriously?
-          When a body possessed by Jason looks in the mirror, his “true” form of the hockey-masked killer is revealed. What?
-          Why does Steven (John D. LeMay) even listen to Creighton Duke, who should be disregarded by anyone who engages in conversation with him as a kook?
-          The Voorhees house suddenly has great importance, being the place Jason seeks as refuge. Huh?
-          Why does the Voorhees house have a trap door in the living room?
-          Why the f--- is the Necronomicon from The Evil Dead in this movie? I’m not joking. It’s seriously there.
-          Why has Crystal Lake shifted from New Jersey to Connecticut?
-          The knife that must be used to kill Jason changes appearance when Jason’s niece takes hold of it. WTF?
-          Why does a little baby Jason come crawling out of the dead body? Is this supposed to be some weird Alien reference? WTF is happening?
-          When Jason is reborn in his sister’s dead body, he reappears as the Jason we know from previous films including the hockey mask. I’m at a total loss for words.

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)

Total deaths:  23 (3 off screen)
Average rating: 2.91/10
Highest rating: 6

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       The first coroner eats Jason’s heart and becomes possessed. As a death, I suppose this is a technicality and pretty boring, but an extra point for the fancy light show upon the possession (2).
2.       The second coroner gets a probe to the back of his head (2).
3.       Two security guards (one played by Kane Hodder) are killed off screen (1 each).
4.       Alexis is killed by a mystery object that I may not have been paying close enough attention to identify (2).
5.       Deborah is stabbed by a fence spike with lots of blood splatter (5).
6.       Luke gets killed by the fence spike off screen (1).
7.       Enda has her head crushed by a car door (3).
8.       Josh is strapped to a table in a bizarre gothic setting and the possessed coroner passes the heart (which looks like poop) from mouth to mouth and later he melts (4).
9.       Diana gets a sharpening steel plunged into her back (3).
10.   Steven Culp gets pooped in his mouth by the possessed cop Josh and later he is run over, shot and skewered in the stomach (4).
11.   A female cop has her head crushed (2).
12.   Two cops have their heads bashed together (5 each).
13.   Ward’s wrist is snapped and his head smashed (6).
14.   Someone eating in the diner has his head smashed on the counter (1).
15.   Another person in the diner is accidentally shot by Vicki (1).
16.   Shelby’s head is plunged into the deep fryer (4).
17.   Joey B.’s elbowed in the mouth and her jaw is smashed (5).
18.   Vicki gets a metal pole in her stomach (2).
19.   The police chief is stabbed by Jessica (2).
20.   Duke is crushed by Jason (3).
21.   Jason takes the special shape-shifting dagger to the chest and is then pulled into hell (3).

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