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Friday, April 3, 2015

Matt's Movie Mortuary: My Favorite Friday

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – Only If You Stop Counting

By Matt Wintz

Release Date: April 13, 1984 – U.S.
Rating: R
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 91 Minutes (Theatrical), 
97 Minutes (Uncut)
Director: Joe Zito
Writers: Barney Cohen and Bruce Sakow
Cast: Corey Feldman, Kimberly 
Beck, Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, 
Crispin Glover, Peter Barton, 
Lawrence Monoson, Camilla More, 
Carey More, Ted White

A bit of a bonus review for the Mortuary since it's been a while, as I wanted to take my first stab into the "Friday the 13th" series. Instead of starting at the beginning though, I decided to look at my favorite entry and also the movie that I think pulls off a perfect slasher film: the 1984 fourth chapter dubbed "The Final Chapter" although that would be untrue. However, that wasn't how it was originally planned.

The movie is pretty standard for the slasher genre at the time, thanks to the slasher boom in cinema the first "Friday the 13th" started in 1980. A group of teenagers/twenty-somethings are vacationing by a lake just days after Jason Voorhees had been taken down (as seen in flashback scenes from "Friday the 13th Part 3"). The movie does a great job of giving anyone new to the series some backstory, using "Friday the 13th Part 2's" campfire story from Paul, mixed in with scenes from the first three installments, to set up the Jason Voorhees mythos. We then get a shot of Jason still motionless in the barn, axe imbedded in his mask and head, and taken to the morgue. While Jason revives and murders a nurse and morgue attendant, we get introduced to the main characters Tommy and Trish Jarvis, and the house full of expendables. Notable entrants in this movie are Corey Feldman as Tommy and Crispin Glover as Jimmy. Just a year later, both these two would see great career moments with The Goonies and Back to the Future respectfully.

We are given insight that young Tommy is a monster mask/special effects kid and he goes through the swing of being a kid with young women next door, which makes for some interesting moments in the film. Trish is the protective older sister, trying to keep Tommy from both breasts and a serial killer throughout the movie, all-the-while with a feeling of young adult angst that she doesn't partake too much in the partying next door. As stated above, the house next door and the young people inside aren't of serious consequence, they are fodder for Jason. The character of Rob, a big brother from one of Jason's victims in "Friday the 13th Part 2," is portrayed as a possible male hero, but even he falls to Jason. This leads to the fateful showdown between Jason and Trish and Tommy, one in which Tom Savini's make-up effects are on full display to end Jason once and for all.

Or at least, that's how the movie was originally intended. Like I said, from a story aspect this movie doesn't do anything slasher films haven't done before, but it's in the spirit that they are done that make it excel past a majority of the movies done before it and during its time. Slasher movies are, to their detriment at times, formulaic. This movie is not a break from that, but its embrace of the formula is what makes it work. Jason isn't relegated to being a shadow a lot, you see him do the killing. The special effects, by wizard Tom Savini, marks Savini's return to the series since the first installment, and he shows off some of his great work here. It has even been mentioned that the reason he came back was to make sure Jason stayed dead. Joe Zito directs with a steady hand, showing that this wasn't going to be just a slapped together effort. The movie, from a slasher and horror film fan's point of view can be quite close to perfect: iconic villain, fun relatable hero, excellent special effects and kills, nudity and sex, drugs, weird 1980s dancing, and a good amount of jumps for a first time viewers.

The movie was intended to be the final chapter in Jason Voorhees' legacy, but that changed when the movie became such a hit. Made for only $1.8 million, the movie grossed $32.6 million and cemented the idea that movie-goers weren't intent on saying goodbye to Jason quite yet. This led to the resurgence of the series and the fifth film (which I know I'll review later), but this is the final chapter of "real Jason." Part five has a twist ending and part six begins the "zombie Jason" films, so here in part four we are given our last look at a realistic Jason. While some might think to themselves "How can he be real if he was chopped in the head with an axe in part 3?", and that question is not without merit, it can be explained as just being a serious wound not a kill-shot. The movie also creates Jason's most notable nemesis Tommy Jarvis, who appears in parts four through six, although Feldman wouldn't return to play him full-time.

Personally, this movie is not only my favorite of the series, but my favorite slasher movie ever. I watch this film on any "Friday the 13th" I can, and I remember fondly when I saw it for the first time. A good friend of mine and I would rent VHS horror movies from Hollywood Video when we were in high school or right out of it, spending our $2 a tape on four or five movies. We'd then go to one of our houses, grabbing food on the way, and settle in for an all-day horror fest. There were days when we'd get there in the morning when they opened and nine hours later bring back the movies, kindly rewound, and pick up more. "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" was the fourth of the series I had ever seen (in order – Part 3, Part 9, Part 1, than Part 4) but as soon as I saw it I was hooked. Jason Voorhees became my favorite horror movie character, I learned what the term "Dead F––" meant, and Corey Feldman became much more than just a Goonie to me.

So in honor of this amazing film, I don my hockey mask and remind you that the Mortuary is now closed.

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