The unwritten law of horror movies is that no matter how many times the title of said horror movie has the word final or end in them, you shouldn’t believe them! Let’s have a look at the evidence, Saw: The Final Chapter had another chapter after it with another on the way. Freddy’s Dead was definitely not The Final Nightmare and as we all know, Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter was certainly not the last word on unlucky Fridays! I always thought it would have been silly to end the series there just as it’s getting into its stride story wise but did the makers of the Friday the 13th franchise get this new beginning right? Or was it as reckless as Reggie’s brother getting into a portaloo and trying to duet with ‘Jason!’
Now, I will have to give away spoilers for this movie – those of you who read regularly will know that I will try not to give any spoilers in case anybody hasn’t seen it – however I can’t avoid it here but in any case, it has been over 35 years since it was released so I won’t feel too bad about it! But we’ll start where everybody should start. At the beginning.
The pre credits opening scene has a very cool cameo from Corey Feldman reprising his role as Tommy Jarvis – Feldman was reportedly due to play Tommy again in part 5 but his career really took off after part 4 so was unable to do it. Feldman takes part in scenes strangely reminiscent of the opening scene of part 6, except that here, Tommy is watching two randoms digging up Jason’s grave whilst hidden in the bushes. Inevitably Jason rises from the grave, kills the two grave diggers and comes for Tommy. Jason swings back his huge machete as Tommy is frozen in fear and just as the knife is about the make contact, present day Tommy wakes up in the back of a psychiatric hospital van and we are soon introduced to the main setting of the movie, Pinehurst.
Pinehurst is a psychiatric rehabilitation facility that has been, unfortunately, set up a little too close to Crystal Lake. It does however provide a perfect backdrop for the movie though with plenty of troubled teens being scared half to death and, in Tommy’s case, he doesn’t know if what he’s seeing is real or not. He is plagued by visions of Jason even when awake and through the early part of the movie has trouble distinguishing between the images of his tormented brain and real life.
The atrocities at Pinehurst begin with an admittedly annoying patient called Joey who is doing his best to help out around the place but just can’t seem to stop messing up. Joey ends up asking the resident psychopath if he can help cup would with him and won’t take no for an answer which isn’t a great course of action when speaking to someone holding their chopper in their hands – I mean a wood chopper before the innuendo police get me! Joey gets hacked to pieces in what I genuinely think it’s quite a shocking scene considering all the grisly deaths in this series but the way it’s done is quite brutal and instantly serves to get the sympathy back for Joey.
This is where things start to go awry for the group at Pinehurst. It’s almost as if Jason has sensed a murder and instantly risen from his grave… off camera! You know that if you haven’t seen Jason come back to life then something is off here but who else is it going to be? Nobody else is going to dresses up as Jason surely? They are, and don’t call me Shirley!
The original intention for this movie was that it was going to set up a new direction for the franchise in that Jason really was dead and gone but there would be different killers under the mask – kinda like Scream a little over a decade later. Personally, I always thought this could have been an interesting idea and might have given some different avenues any sequels to go down – true, we may not have got Jason Vs ‘Carrie’ in part 7 or a trip to ‘Manhattan’ in part 8 but I seriously doubt that few would mourn the loss of those films!
Unfortunately, however this direction was short lived as the movie bombed and fans just didn’t buy into having anyone other than Jason be the killer and so the new killer in every film was canned and we had Jason Lives instead for part 6 which admittedly is a great movie and I couldn’t imagine that not being a part of F13 folklore. I’m not too sure what people hated about having a copycat Jason so much because I remember my first reaction to seeing that it wasn’t Jason who was the killer, it was a great twist that, I felt, provided a great shock right at the end of the film, especially as the final confrontation shows Tommy facing off against ‘Jason’, seemingly confronting his demon. Then to find that it wasn’t Jason at all makes you wonder where that leaves Tommy in all this – thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to find out!
If there is indeed any of you who don’t know who part 5’s killer was then look away now… … … Ok, so the twist here was that Joey’s father, Roy Burns, was the killer who went on the rampage as revenge against the people he views as responsible for his sons death – basically a male Pamela Voorhees! Tommy, as you might expect, was pretty psychologically damaged by the end of the film and, as you can see from the picture above, was even teased as being the killer for part 6 which would have given us a massively different movie. As I said before though, the studio basically pulled the plug on the whole thing as they didn’t think there was money in it. People just wanted Jason. It’s very similar to Halloween 4 that teased Jamie Lloyd being the killer for part 5 of the Halloween series but fans reportedly didn’t buy that either.
One of the other major characters in the film is Reggie, who I think endears himself to pretty much everybody in the audience, unless you have a heart of stone! Reckless Reggie, to give him his full title, is at Pinehurst due to his grandfather being the chef there, not sure to any psychological trauma, at least not to begin with anyway! He is a kid who likes to think he is streetwise and had a smart mouth and is oblivious to his brother basically being a drug taking vagrant although their relationship is quite a sweet one really even though Reggie attempts to pass off one of the head Psychologists as his girlfriend at one point which I think would be questionable these days to say the least! One of his best scenes, however, was a very Mr T style bursting out of a garage door or a barn door on a tractor to take out the non-Simpson’s Mr Burns in his Jason gear! Honestly, I don’t think this film would be the same without Reggie in it and it’s pretty unusual for a horror film to feature a child and not portray them as an annoying side character.
Unfortunately, Reggie’s delinquent brother, Demon isn’t quite so lucky despite the strangely sweet nature of his relationship with Reggie as he gets bumped off following a toilet based prank by his girlfriend after a mildly amusing duet between the two of them. Obviously the girlfriend gets bumped off too during all this. I would kinda think there might be room for a film featuring a grown up Reggie, trying to deal with the loss of his brother and his grandfather and somehow having to face off against Jason again to avenge his relatives. Possibly a better story line than Jason X right?!
In amongst all this, we still have Tommy battling his personal demons. He’s been seeing Jason/Roy Burns practically everywhere and the poor lad doesn’t know if he’s ill or a total fruit loop! It does lead to an interesting final battle where Tommy believes that he is finally confronting his own demons and nearly meets his end at the hands of Roy, only to find that Jason, the object of his psychosis is still haunting his dreams due to Tommy not actually facing his demon which almost causes him to become what he is so afraid of. All in all, there’s a lot going on in this film which includes character Violet (fun fact for you: the character of Violet is played Tiffany Helm, who is the daughter of Brooke Bundy who played Elaine Parker in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and 4) inventing the robot dance that you see in the Friday the 13th Video Game! The movie is well worth a watch and I would implore anybody to ignore the negative reviews and comments and make you own minds up about this.
Just before I go, there is one final observation I would to share with you all. That particular observation is that when the sheriff and mayor are talking about who is responsible for the murders and Jason’s name gets mentioned, it is stated that Jason was cremated, not buried. If this is correct then they’d no way that Jason himself could be back for part 6 and there is a case to answer that the Jason that is reanimated in part 6 is actually Roy Burns!! Every subsequent iteration of Jason would have to be Roy if Jason was actually cremated after part 4. I’m sure the makers would argue that the character who said this was mistaken and that the real Jason was actually buried making part 6 feasible again. But imagine if it were Roy, lots a slightly different spin on all subsequent parts doesn’t it?!