Friday, April 13, 2012

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

Movie poster designed by Cash Money Records
Happy Friday the 13th!  What better way to celebrate the day than by spending a little time with my favorite inhuman kinda-zombie-thing mass murderer, Jason Voorhees?  If you answered "with copycat murders," please turn yourself in now.  Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is the ninth entry in the series and the second to include "The Final" in the subtitle.  Take a moment to enjoy that bit of irony, because that's the most highbrow entertainment that you're going to get from this movie.

In a bold change of pace for the series, Jason Goes to Hell opens without a recap and doesn't even attempt to justify or explain how Jason survived the final moments of Jason Takes Vancouver.  After all, is there anybody out there who really cares about the continuity of this series?  If so, Jason's resurrection in Part VI should have been a deal breaker for them; at this point in the series, I like the screenwriter's "who gives a fuck" attitude toward setting up this chapter's premise.  Anyway, the film opens with a busty woman trying to take a shower in what appears to be a campsite, or at least a derelict vacation home.  Once she has disrobed and started the shower, she hears a noise, grabs a towel and comes face to face with Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder).  Instead of dying immediately, this lady runs.  I'm not talking about your typical slasher movie "victim running away" scene --- she books it.  She might be wearing only a towel (a very well-wrapped towel that never unravels) and no shoes (except in a shot where you can see her wearing shoes), but she is sprinting, diving, doing flips and all sorts of other things that undoubtedly caught JV off-guard.  When Jason arrives in an open field to finish shower girl off, he is met by gunfire; this whole thing, apparently including the whole get-naked-and-run-through-the-woods part, was an FBI setup to ambush Jason and blow him to Hell.
Mission accomplished, roll credits

We follow Jason's charred remains to the coroner's office, where the coroner is overcome by the burning desire to devour Jason's black heart.  You may justly ask at this point what the Hell is going on?  Jason has possessed the coroner and now occupies his body.  Well, that's an interesting/out of left field plot twist, isn't it?  
Also note: orange lights = evil possession
From this point forward, it's better to not think too much about the plot, because it's migrane-inducing.  I'll just cut to the chase.  Since his body has been destroyed, Jason must track down a family member to be reborn.  How do we know this?  Because this guy says so.
You might recognize Creighton Duke (Steven Williams) as having absolutely nothing to do with any of the other Friday the 13th movies; of course he's an expert.  According to Duke, "In a Voorhees was he born, through a Voorhees may he be reborn, and only by the hands of a Voorhees will he die."  Of course, people want to know his source for that obvious quote take his word for it and accept his crazy talk at face value.  Jason's niece (Kari Keegan) and her baby daddy, Steven (John D. LeMay) take an apparently mystical knife --- specifically designed, of course, to kill Jason --- and set out to make this film's title happen.  Oh, and did I mention that Jason Voorhees is a demonic worm? 
Or, possibly, a sexually transmitted mouth-slug?
And that when he was "reborn through a Voorhees," he magically regenerated his lumpy face, used mask and tattered jumpsuit?  No?  That's probably for the best.
Does his face look puffy?  Maybe he has allergies

What sets Jason Goes to Hell apart from the other Fridays is its complete disregard for the history of this series.  "Only by the hands of a Voorhees will he die"?!?  Since when?!?  And, even if that was true, why hasn't Jason hunted down and murdered his family members before now?  We know he's capable of stalking his prey (Part II) and tracking down individuals wherever they go (Part VIII), so that should have been a lazy Sunday for JV.  Honestly, I like the complete disregard for the earlier entries in the series, but I wish they had come up with something a little better than this.  An unstoppable killer hunting down his family?  That sounds suspiciously like another mute serial killer, doesn't it?  And I liked the homages to other films (was that Antarctic crate referencing The Thing or Creepshow?), but I would have liked some effort at explaining why The Evil Dead's Necronomicon was in Pam Voorhees' old house.  I assume this was meant to imply that the book is partly responsible for Jason's undying nature, but if you're going to clutter up a slasher film with mystical mumbo-jumbo and cross-references to other movies, you should go all out and actually explain it.
And look...!  There's a receipt from S-Mart!
But I think we can all agree that plot has never really been the strong point of the Friday the 13th series.  This is a franchise that is built on solid acting interesting direction violence.  Surprisingly, Jason Goes to Hell is lacking in that department.  Sure, Jason Voorhees explodes, and yes, a dude's jaw melts off.
Above: a lumpy, oozing body.  Below: his jawbone
Those were really the coolest special effects moments in the film.  While twenty-three kills is an impressive number for a horror movie, many of them were off-camera.  Almost as bad as those were the dozen or so weak kills; Jason would walk up to somebody, hit them once, and they would be dead.  The unrated version is a little better, if only because it actually shows this kill in all its glory:
Moral: there is no such thing as "safe" premarital sex
The teasing final moment was also kind of fun, especially the first time I saw the film as a pre-teen.
It took ten years to follow up on this tease, but it was worth it

Still, there is a lot of lameness in areas that should be this film's strengths.  Jason Voorhees isn't the sort of movie monster that can be stopped by brute force; you beat him by tricking him or luring him into a vulnerable position, where you can stick a machete in his noggin/leave him at the bottom of a lake/melt him with toxic waste.  In Jason Goes to Hell, though, JV spends almost two solid minutes near the climax fighting the nerdiest guy in the film.  It's not that Jason never hits the guy or grabs him by the neck or head --- he just doesn't kill the poor sap.  At one point, Jason even throws his victim into a jungle gym.
Not pictured: Jason patiently waiting his turn for the slide
You'd think the guy would have been impaled or that Jason was going to use the bars to tear his body apart at unusual angles, but no.  That's okay, though, because this happens only moments before JV's niece appears to run up a step-stool (that she must have supplied herself, since it is missing in the establishing shot) to attack Jason.
Look at her boot and note that she hasn't even jumped yet

Jason Goes to Hell is a pretty awful excuse for filmmaking, especially in regards to the basics.  If you've seen the movie once or twice, it's easy to notice inconsistencies in the continuity editing, like bloodstains vanishing or moving within scenes.  My favorite example of this is Duke's note to Jason's niece.  When she finds the note and realizes her baby is missing, the note clearly reads "I have what you want," but when her baby's daddy reads the note moments later, it has been changed to "I have your baby."  Of course, the baby may have been kidnapped and replaced several times over during the film, because there are at least two clearly different infants in this movie (hint: one is bald and the other has hair).  Also, why was the Voorhies place once referred to as the "Myers" place?  And the name on the (abandoned for 30 years) mailbox even misspelled the name.  And why is Jason's mask in the promo posters and the opening credit sequence made of metal?
Aside from "for awesomeness," I mean

None of that matters, of course.  Those are just things that you can nitpick on because they are "blatantly terrible" and "unbelievably amateurish for a professionally-made and -distributed film."  The quality of a Jason movie is not how "good" or "bad" it is; it isn't even measured by how "scary" it is.  I measure the Friday the 13ths (especially the later sequels) by how much they entertained me.  Jason Goes to Hell isn't a good movie by any means, but it is noticeably different from the other Fridays and that is even more important when you are the ninth and (maybe note really) final film in a series.  I will give it credit for boldness and not boring me with clips from other movies.  The sheer lunacy of the plot was enough to keep me interested in the story, even though the violence wasn't too impressive.  On a standard scale of quality, this film deserves
The ridiculous plot and technical mistakes also make this movie a blast to ridicule and/or watch while intoxicated.  It's not gory enough to wow you if you're too smashed; most of the humor comes from a conceptual level as you ponder aloud the implications of what you're seeing.  Still, that makes for one of the more entertaining entries in the series.  In Lefty Gold terms, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is a pleasurable


  1. Great write-up! Totally agree with your review, this was pretty fun most of the time.

  2. The crate is from Creepshow, th magic knife was also from Evil Dead Ii (KNB did fx for both films.) if I'm not mistaking the jungle gym was from The Birds.

    In terms of actual movies I think this is one of the better Friday movies.

    1. The knife actually reminded me of the two minutes I've seen of Lady Terminator. It's been a while since I've seen Evil Dead II --- thanks for giving me a reason to rewatch it! According to IMDb, you're right about the jungle gym.

      As for how actually good it is, I went in with that memory, too. Watching it sober makes a big difference, though. I will say that it is the least formulaic in the series and one of the more interesting. I would definitely rank it in the top half of the Fridays.

  3. Right, let's be clear, in comparison to real movies all Friday the 13th movies kind of suck.

    1. Agreed. Except for Freddy vs. Jason and Jason Takes Manhattan, which are masterpieces of the art form. Obviously.

  4. So with those horror movie references, does that make this edition the most clever Friday? The bar is not very high. A few well placed props may be enough.

    1. Well...if you think about it, the Necronomicon was a well-placed prop. So...yeah. I would agree that this is the cleverest Friday. It definitely takes the most chances and is the most conceptually complicated.

      Other bonuses include 1) a dude eats a human heart 2) obvious last-minute story changes (when Duke handcuffs himself to JV and says "remember me?" although nothing in the final cut of the film had them meeting before) 3) Kane Hodder in non-Voorhees costumes 4) a woman using a cardboard box for a crib and placing it on a shelf 5) BOGO JV-themed hamburgers