... aka: Friday the 13th, Part IV: The Final Chapter
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III (1982) was a huge financial success and made nearly as much as the original thanks in part to the added attraction of 3D. Producers then had to scramble to come up with another gimmick that could somehow surpass that of blood, shattered glass, yo-yo's and errant eyeballs leaping out at moviegoers. Unfortunately, the best they could come up with was knowingly taking a concept that's extremely popular with audiences and then threatening said audience with pulling the plug on that very thing they love. This is it for Jason! This will be the last time you'll be able to see him on the big screen! Better rush out now and get your tickets to this monumental event! Titling this "The Final Chapter" is now something horror fans chuckle about seeing how there were still eight more of these things to come over the next few decades.
Despite repeatedly announcing this one would be the last (which they'd already done with entry #3), of course Paramount wasn't going to just abandon a lucrative franchise until it stopped making them money. It all boils down to the almighty dollar at the end of the day and these things just kept drawing huge crowds, critics and moralists be damned. The Final Chapter had the widest release yet for a Friday film, was the #1 box office draw the week of its debut, had a then-record setting 11+ million dollar opening weekend for Paramount and made 33 million domestically in total on a budget of 2.6 million, which makes it the third highest-grossing of the original eight Paramount films. Clearly, this series wasn't even close to reaching its expiration date just yet.
Drafted to direct this time out was Joseph Zito, who had previous experience in the genre having already made Bloodrage (1980) and the slasher THE PROWLER (1981), and he brought along cinematographer João Fernandes, who'd shot Zito's other films and, probably unbeknownst to the producers at the time, otherwise mostly hardcore porn up to that point using a variety of aliases. Frank Mancuso Jr. and his production team were back and Harry Manfredini did the score once again. The biggest draw, however, would be make-up fx man Tom Savini, who had also previously worked with Zito (on the aforementioned Prowler) and gladly returned to the series as it gave him a chance to finally kill off the character he had created four years earlier. Or so he thought!
Due to the success of the previous films, some bigger names than usual and more promising up-and-coming young stars were brought on board. Former child actress and familiar TV presence Kimberly Beck was cast as female lead Trish Jarvis, while Corey Feldman, who'd just wrapped Gremlins (which went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of 1984) was cast as her younger brother, Tommy. Among the "teen" victims are Peter Barton (The Powers of Matthew Star), Lawrence Monoson (The Last American Virgin) and, most notably, the always-weird Crispin Glover and his stilted line delivery. Brought in to don the hockey mask and swing the machete was veteran Hollywood stuntman Ted White, who'd previously doubled for such stars as John Wayne and Clark Gable... and was nearing 60 years old at the time! In the Crystal Lake Memories documentary, White doesn't have very nice things to say about either the director or Feldman, whom he referred to as a "mean little devil" and added, "I couldn't stand him." White refused to receive screen credit as a result and later turned down offers to play Jason in the fifth and sixth entries in the series.
Final starts out with a flurry of clips from previous entries as sort-of "greatest hits" up to this point. We're then taken to the scene of Jason's last massacre as Higgins Haven, where the bodies of the victims and you-know-who (with an axe planted firmly in head) are being rounded up by police and paramedics. Jason's "dead" body is shipped off to a morgue, where he quickly springs to life. He slaughters a coroner (Bruce Mahler) and a nurse (Lisa Freeman) and then high tails it back to his stomping grounds to resume his old ways, starting with stabbing a rotund hitchhiker through the throat while she eats a banana. Living at Crystal Lake now are divorced single mom Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman), her teen daughter Trish and younger son Tommy, who's sort of a mini-Savini prodigy whose favorite pastime is making latex monster masks.
Renting the house next door is an unfortunate group of mostly-annoying and unlikable young folks that includes Glover's geeky Jimmy, Monoson's cocky and obnoxious Teddy, Barton's nice guy Doug, the shy, sweet and virginal Sara (Barbara Howard) and couple Samantha (Judie Aronson) and Paul (Alan Hayes). Four guys and only two girls? Seems a little lopsided, eh? Well never fear, Tina (Camilla More) and Terri (Carey More), a couple of slutty identical twin British bicyclists, soon come to the rescue. A party including beer, pot, sex, stag films, terrible dancing (thanks Crispin) and lots and lots of death follows.
While the dialogue is incredibly insipid this go-around and seldom funny (I didn't find the scenes between Monoson and Glover and their "dead fuck" back-and-forth banter amusing at all like some viewers apparently do) and this somehow manages to have even less of a plot than the first three, it does at least deliver on the carnage with plenty of bloodshed, a high body count (the largest up until this point in the series) and a wide variety of kills. For your money you get a hacksaw throat slicing followed by a nifty little head twist, a scalpel gutting, a knife through the neck, a machete through the stomach, a harpoon to the crotch, a corkscrew hand stabbing, a cleaver to the face, an axe to the chest, a head crushed against shower tile, a machete slowly sliding down a head through the eye socket and a great stunt where someone is thrown out of a window and lands on top of a car. This also has more nudity than the three previous films combined.
The cast includes Erich Anderson as Rob, a guy hanging out in the woods trying to avenge the death of his sister and simultaneously throwing the series' timeline completely out of whack, Paul Lukather (Dinosaurus!) as a doctor, and Tom Everett (PRISON), Wayne Grace and Larry Buchanan and S.F. Brownrigg film regular Gene Ross as cops. Kevin Yagher was a member of the make-up effects team.
There were a few cuts made to the film to appease the MPAA which included snips to the hacksaw, scalpel and impaled-while-on-an-inflatable-raft murders. An alternate ending dream sequence where Trish finds her mother dead in a bathtub was filmed but not used. While that footage is included as an extra on the DVD, there's no surviving audio for it. This remains one of the most popular, and highest rated, films in the entire series, though not one of my personal favorites due mostly to not liking the characters or dialogue all that much. Savini's work is worth watching, though.