Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Friday the 13th part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)

Director: Joseph Zito

Now under the artful eye of Joseph Zito, "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" makes an attempt at a glorious finale. This is the fourth film in the series, and it picks up right where part three left off. Jason finally grows into an effective kiler. Tragically, this one is called “the Final Chapter” and Jason is actually dead at the end. So he finally perfected his art, and is promptly done away with. Poor Jason.

We begin with yet another flashback, but this time it’s a compilation of the first three films. It’s not as long, or as seemingly unnecessary as the ones in the last two films. They actually tried editing it. After that, we see the crime scene from the previous film being assessed, and Jason still lying in the barn, apparently not recovered yet from his axe-to-the-head injury -- c'mon, walk it off, Jason. Then, Jason’s body is carted off in an ambulance, much the same way the main female characters are taken away at the ends of the previous films. I expected the next scene to be Jason waking up in a hospital bed, asking “Is everyone dead?” to the town Sheriff. Well he wakes up alright, but he doesn’t care who’s dead. After swiftly killing the obligatory flippant coroner and a sexy nurse with a hacksaw and surgical knife respectively, Jason heads back for his precious lake.

That’s where our new set of teens comes in. A group of six friends (including a very young Crispin Glover) rent a cabin on Camp Crystal Lake. Is it possible that these kids are more annoying that those of the previous film? At any rate, we can’t wait for Jason to get down to business. Unfortunately, this film really seems to drag out the pre-murder tension. There are extended intervals, and a ridiculous amount of fake-outs to keep us awaiting the kill. All of a sudden Jason is taking his sweet time. Next door to the rented cabin is a family of three with a dog named “Gordon.” The family consists of a mom, her daughter Trish (played by Kimberley Beck) and her son Tommy (played by a 12-year old Corey Feldman), who’s a tech savvy tot straight out of “Home Alone.” The group of six friends meet a pair of sexy twin girls on a path one day, and they proceed to the obligatory skinny dipping scene. This is Tommy’s lucky day. After the initial nudity is out of the way, the killing can begin. In the meantime, Jason has killed a pudgy hitchhiker (another neck murder) just to keep from losing his touch; you gotta practice. Perhaps the most interesting addition to the cast is a “Jason Hunter” named Rob (played by Erich Anderson). It’s a shame he never actually "hunts" Jason. He sort of just waits to run into Jason, and then when he finally does, he’s quickly killed. Way to go, Rob. The deaths are less rewarding than they have been in past films. Jason is losing his touch. He basically chops people with axes, and knives, and corkscrews. Then he bashes a dude’s head into the bathroom wall, and tosses a girl out a window. He also finds time to kill a girl on a raft who was skinny dipping, and her boyfriend gets impaled right through the…well, let’s not get into that one. Again, we have a few “off camera” deaths, including the mother, and one half of the sexy twins.

They really make their bid for motion picture immortality in the climax. Trish and Tommy barricade themselves in the house after Rob took his chance to kill Jason and whizzed it down his leg. As Jason closes in on Trish, Tommy proceeds to shave his head in order to resemble a young Jason. This briefly works to distract Jason, but he loses interest quickly (much the way I did) and continues to advance on Trish. Tommy picks up Jason’s machete and gives him a good chop to the side of the head. Jason’s gotta stop leaving that damned machete lying around. To make matters worse, Jason falls face-first on the floor, causing the machete to go from flesh wound, to making Jason’s head into a shish-kebob. And wouldn’t you know it, Jason begins to move again. Tommy has apparently seen the previous films, and goes nuts. He wants to make sure Jason won’t get up as he always does to continue his reign of terror, and proceeds to chop him into oblivion. After all he’s been through, Jason is done in by a 12-year old Corey Feldman. Finally, Trish wakes up in the hospital. Who’s surprised? Tommy, still sporting his new "bald-cap" haircut, comforts her; but not before he gives a few ominous looks into the lens to close the film. It seems we have a new psycho to carry on this proud tradition. This may not be the “Final Chapter” after all…

It seems the “final” film in the series is the least like its predecessors. The film is dark and depressing. Even when there's enough light to see what the hell is going on, it's hard to tell what's happening. Jason’s kills are not inventive, and the characters are forgettable. They wasted the idea of having someone actually pursue Jason, and the ending seems to contradict the title. What used to be a fun adventure, turned into a gore-fest that barely makes sense or holds your interest. A sad ending to the story of a boy who only wanted to kill -- is that such a crime?

Best Death: Girl gets tossed out of a window and bounces off the roof of a Sedan.

No comments: