A large majority of fans tend to agree that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was the installment where the series finally hit its stride, odd, considering it was initially intended to be the end of the series. Jason’s got his hockey mask, his machete, his Tom Savini and no 3D gimmicks or anything like that to get in his way. As a matter of fact, many fans tend to point to this movie as the best example of “Classic Jason” above most other sequels.
Steve Miner takes leave from the series he helped mold, passing the torch on to Director Joseph Zito. Zito’s take on the series isn’t anything special, and The Final Chapter blends in seamlessly with the three Friday the 13th flicks that came before it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, as at least the series thus far has been pretty consistent in tone and direction. If anything might stand out, The Final Chapter features more boob shots than the previous films. As a somewhat related aside, the scene in the morgue tends to linger more on the workout program/softcore porn flick than Axel’s death.
While Friday the 13th Part III had quite possibly the worst cast of any film in the series, The Final Chapter manages to upgrade the acting quality by an acceptable margin. While the acting is still bad, it’s less excruciating and more entertaining this time around. I point to the death of Rob as a prime example of this, as Jason is hacking him to pieces, he summons up the courage to scream “Oh God, he’s killing me!”. The Final Chapter also happens to be the most “star-studded” installment in the series, featuring Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover.
So far as the chronology of the series is concerned, The Final Chapter marks a couple turning points in the storyline. Firstly, it’s the last film in the series to feature a “human” Jason. Starting with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Jason will become a zombie. No longer will he run after victims, but simply walk slowly behind them and eventually catch up to them somehow. Some fans prefer the more “human” Jason over the super zombie, though I don’t mind either way.
The Final Chapter also ushers in a story arc fans like to refer to as “The Tommy Trilogy”. Three consecutive movies with the story focusing on the character of Tommy Jarvis. Tommy’s evolution throughout the series is a bizarre one, as he goes from well-adjusted kid, to near-mute, muscle bound psychopath, to kinda well-adjusted teenager. It’s interesting to see Jason match wits with a 10 year-old boy as, up until now, he’d never interacted with another child before. It is rather amusing that a house full of eight drunk, stoned and horny teenagers failed to stop a rampaging maniac, but a kid with a Bic razor and some Barbasol had no trouble solving the problem.
Tom Savini, makeup artist from the first Friday The 13th, returns to bring us the last. His work is great, as the kids all die a number of wonderfuly gory deaths, although cut down by the MPAA, they might seem a little mundane. Jason’s appearance is also one of his best, as he looks less like the hilarious heavy browed mongoloid and more like a rabid maniac who is going to eat your babies. The “unmasking” scene always used to be a big part of the Friday the 13th series, and The Final Chapter boasts one of the coolest.
While Paramount would almost immediately break their promise of The Final Chapter and go on to make Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, they’d at least keep Jason dead throughout that one. Anyhow, this is certainly one of the better installments in the series, even if the scenes involving the partying teenagers can tend to drag on for way too long. Good movie marathon fodder.