Before a lot of us horror fans were having the debate as to who was gonna win in the big showdown of 'Freddy vs. Jason,' a bunch of us were ignorant to the answer of the victor sitting right in front of us with 'Jason X' portraying Jason alive and well in our near future. But that may also go to show how incredibly forgettable this was for its time as well. Truth be told, I still remember seeing trailers for this on the big screen, having it just make me angry and thinking, "That looks ridiculous... WHERE is 'Freddy vs. Jason'!?"
I held an instant grudge against this movie because New Line could create a more than ridiculous story that puts our favourite killer outdoorsman into a completely science-fiction world, but the 'Freddy vs. Jason' movie the die-hard fans wanted was still somewhere on that back burner of theirs. It becomes the survival horror rip-off of any 'Alien' movie, making Jason the Alien and consists of a bunch of terrible dialogue that includes bad one-liners that are trying way too hard. It's still no 'Jason Goes to Hell', but I might be flipping a coin between this and 'Jason Takes Manhattan' as the second-worst of the bunch.
Captured in an alternative version of 2010 by the Crystal Lake Research facility, Jason (Kane Hodder) is held with the hopes of finding out what gives him his regenerative powers and hopefully using what they can find to advance their medical technology, which, we soon find out, they certainly do not need in any way shape or form, as nanotechnology when it comes to healing is already seemingly at its peak. Things kick off with Jason's immediate escape from his shackles, adding to his body count, and eventually getting shoved into a cryogenic tube and frozen along with would-be victim Rowan (Lexa Doig).
We then fast-forward to 2455, where Earth has become completely uninhabitable, forcing any survivors to flee to "Earth Two" (very creative), where students can learn about "Earth One" by taking field trips there. On one such trip, Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts), a handful of students, and an android named Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder) discover Jason and Rowan in their frozen states, and while Rowan shows clear life signs, Jason seems to be dead. The group brings them both aboard their ship, "The Grendel" to study. And, as any Jason fan knows by the tenth film, Jason isn't really dead; the killing soon ensues, and we get more of the same.
It all brings to mind the old adage, "Space is where Horror goes to Die". By this point, 'Hellraiser', 'Leprechaun' and even 'Critters' all did it, and the results were always generally the same poor results. This is no exception; it's Jason on a spaceship, doing his thing, and his biggest competition is Kay-Em. To fight Jason, Kay-Em is given what the movie calls an "Upload" in its dialogue, providing us with one of the worst lines in 'Friday the 13th' history! What's worse? The tagline for this movie was "Evil Gets an Upgrade." It's not like they didn't know the word "Upgrade" existed and its context.
For as much as I can sit here and tear this movie apart, however, like any of Jason's features, there's always some sort of redeeming quality to them. I would argue that this one is about the stylistic kills. There's at least a bit of originality behind a few of them, including one I may very well consider my favourite 'Friday' kill of all time, which is saying a lot considering how much I otherwise dislike this movie. Most of my problems have to do with bad dialogue here, but like most people who weren't into it, I've also got to mention that the whole thing feels absolutely unnecessary, and I can't imagine whoever asked for it to happen.
It really is a strange go-to for the filmmakers when you think about it, considering 'Jason Goes to Hell' was a whole seven years prior, and other than the possibility of 'Freddy vs. Jason' still coming along, no one really talked about the slasher horror of the 80s. It had died out, and the popular horror of the time was teen horror like 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. It comes across as a title that was cranked out just for New Line to hold on tight to Jason's name for near-future projects. But I am super happy to announce that, at least as far as I'm concerned, the franchise would not leave Jason hanging with a terribly received tenth chapter, as little did we know, the one we were all asking for was still right around the corner.
While 'Jason Goes to Hell' manages to do something very different with 'Friday the 13th' material, speaking personally, it doesn't feel like a proper close to the franchise (which it was meant to be at the time). I think it's the worst of the bunch, mainly because they suddenly seem to crowbar in a bunch of lore we didn't know about before and, basically, everything awesome and fun about this series is pretty much taken away, save for Kane Hodder's portrayal of Jason, maybe one other character, and some of the kills.
It's funny, but after its Home video release, it seemed like all my peers wanted to rent it. I tried watching it, but the heart-eating scene in the beginning kind of got to me, so I headed off to another room to watch 'Aladdin' instead. Eventually, however, I managed to warm up to these movies, going through them one by one on my horror-renting sprees I'd go on around the turn of the century. I think even back then, I probably considered this among the worst of the bunch, so I guess nothing has changed, and to this day, I'm still trying to wrap my head around why this one seemed to be so popular as opposed to the films that really made the franchise.
For starters, 'Jason Takes Manhattan' sees Jason die super hard in a flood of toxic waste (because apparently NYC just has this stuff in its sewers as a regular thing). It straight-up dissolves him to nothing. But after a few years, he returns in complete form and even finds his way back to Crystal Lake, somehow, because now that New Line had him (which is a whole other story), it was time to "kill Jason off". So, just to reiterate, New Line bought a property that may as bloody well already be done, and the only REAL reason to make 'Jason Goes to Hell' was dollar signs. But I digress.
This chapter opens with an undercover FBI agent (Julie Michaels) who heads to Crystal Lake to lure Jason (Hodder) into an ambush. The ambush is successful, and Jason blows up, sending his still-beating heart flying. While a coroner (Richard Gant) is examining the body, he sees the heart still beating and starts eating it (while I go watch 'Aladdin'), which, in turn, possesses him with what I like to call "Jason's Essence". Having taken over a new body, the killing starts, and "Jason" jumps from body to body as he seeks out a member of his own bloodline, allowing him to fully resurrect again as the Jason we all know and love... somehow complete with his hockey mask.
Jason's primary targets are his only living blood relatives, Diana Kimble (Erin Gray), her daughter, Jessica (Kari Keegan), and Jessica's infant daughter, Stephanie (Brooke Scher). Meanwhile their protectors are Stephanie's birth father, Steve Freeman (John D. LeMay) and a bounty hunter named Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), who provides just about the only reason to watch this from the hero's perspective. He's who figures out that Jason needs another Voorhees to resurrect. But unfortunately, it will also take a Voorhees to get rid of him once and for all, and the options, let's face it, are pretty slim.
There's not a whole hell of a lot more to the plot, though. It's essentially the race between hero and villain, and we go into it knowing exactly how it will end. Along with 'Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare', this was the movie meant to put the nail in the coffin for a particular horror icon because people were bored with it now. However, even at the time, we just plain knew things weren't over, as this film famously ends with Freddy Krueger's clawed hand reaching up, grabbing Jason's mask, and pulling it down to the depths of Hell. A tease that took 10 years to finally fulfill with 'Freddy vs. Jason' in 2003.
Aside from a few Easter eggs, some of the kills and Creighton Duke being a badass character, there really isn't a whole lot of redeeming quality to this. Maybe it's just a me thing, but I don't like the extra lore they crammed into things here. While much of it explains Jason's supernatural ability, I feel like it just goes off the rails a little too hard. And if you've come to see Kane Hodder kick ass and take names, you're out of luck because he probably gets about 5 minutes of total screen time. It's not without a moment or two, but there's too much "new" and "different" crammed in here, and the final showdown involves heroes I simply don't care about. I tend to stand pretty solo on this, but again, weakest of the series, and that says almost too much.
Up until now, Jason has been a home turf kind of killer. A trapdoor spider, awaiting his victims to stumble onto his territory so he can pop up, lash out and claim another unsuspecting victim. But it's only a matter of time until all of the ideas seem to have been done, and it's time for our Mr. Voorhees to head out into the real world and spread his wings. Fans were ready for Jason's biggest adventure when this chapter came along! Surely, taking Jason out of Crystal Lake and into the big city is a cool idea, right?
I still believe that, on paper, this concept is a good way to change things up, especially in 1989, when Manhattan was basically known as a crime-riddled area. There was some potential for Jason to amp up his anti-hero status, seeing him decapitate people like killers and rapists and whoever else we think might deserve the Jason treatment. However, a low budget for a horror movie can also be its undoing. It turns out, New York City is a pricey place to film, so the majority of this chapter takes place on the cruise ship... if you can even call it a cruise ship. So if you come into this movie expecting something more along the lines of 'Scream VI', you're in for a major disappointment.
For me, this is among the worst of the bunch, and that's frankly saying a lot. Mostly, these movies are a guilty pleasure, reflecting the slasher genre of the 80s. But there are still good chapters and bad chapters. This mainly "bad chapter" opens with the resurrection of Jason (Kane Hodder) via electricity from an anchored boat, which also provides him with his first couple of victims. The next day, a cruise ship is boarded from Crystal Lake by a graduating senior class, ready to head to New York City. Among them is our new lead, Rennie (Jensen Daggett), someone trying to overcome her aquaphobia, which somehow seems to tie in with Jason's drowning.
Rennie also has to deal with her overbearing uncle/teacher, Charles (Peter Mark Richman) who is the most obvious secondary villain to this. But she does take her inspiration from her teacher, Colleen Van Deusen (Barbara Bingham) who sees her as a shining star when it comes to her creativity. One is almost immediately reminded of the relationship between Tina, her Mom and Dr. Crews from the previous film. In the meantime, our other lead, Sean (Scott Reeves), is the kid who doesn't wanna follow in his sea captain father's footsteps. Neither character is particularly memorable, however, and it makes one either miss some of the previous heroes or finally conclude that this whole thing has officially run its course.
For once, I'm not gonna do a whole roll call for the cast because they are all incredibly "throw-away" with, perhaps, two exceptions: Julius (Vincent Craig Dupree), a winning boxer who really takes the fight to Jason and even goes one on one with him, weaponless, and Tamara Mason (Sharlene Martin) who, while not very important, does still play a tertiary villain here, much like Melissa, again from the previous film. So, just to break it all down, what we have here is essentially the exact same relationship dynamic between characters 'The New Blood' had, along with false promises of the film taking place in New York.
To be perfectly fair, a few of the ship's survivors (including Jason) do eventually make it to New York, as the film suggests. But besides a few establishing shots, plus one good scene of characters taking in Times Square, it could be any old city - and actually is, as most of it was filmed in various back alleys of Vancouver, BC, Canada and Los Angeles, CA. Once they are here, things do get kinda fun with Jason, and there are a few subtle laughs to be had. But it's just not enough to save the film. Sincerely, anything I do like about this film is based around humorous moments involving Jason, the film's jazzy soundtrack (I actually enjoy "The Darkest Side of the Night"), and seeing it as a film that's almost in the "so bad, it's good" category.
With all-around forgettable one-off characters, following the formula of the previous film and the overall disappointment that only about 30% of this movie takes place in New York instead of the other 70%, this is definitely one of the weakest entries in the series. While a lot of Jason's films can be considered guilty pleasures, this is one of three in this review series that I consider to be just plain bad, but not without a good moment or two. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of a chain of three, which makes it a crying shame that Kane Hodder, who may be the best Jason Voorhees there ever was, got stuck with them. All I can say is the man works well with what he has! But for me, 'Jason Takes Manhattan' marks the beginning of the end for Jason Voorhees.
I often feel like this one goes into the "underrated" category when there's quite a bit to appreciate about it. It furthers the ideas of the supernatural, brings a new and strong(ish) female lead in to fight Jason (instead of recasting Tommy Jarvis a third time), first establishes Kane Hodder as the go-to guy to play Jason (the only man to revisit the role at all, let alone three times after this), and, this is just personal, but this is by far my favourite rendition of Jason. More on that later.
When we last left our favourite horror anti-hero, he was chained to a boulder and left at the bottom of Crystal Lake, compliments of Tommy Jarvis in his final film appearance. Several years later, Tina Shephard (Lar Park-Lincoln), heads up to Crystal Lake (re-renamed since changing things to "Forest Green" made no difference) with her mother (Susan Blu) in an attempt to help her with her childhood trauma of once burying her own father alive under a dock by using her telekinetic abilities. And while that may sound ridiculous to some, I support the decision to think outside the box and give Jason some real competition.
Once at the old family cabin where it all went down, they meet with Dr. "Bad News" Crews (Terry Kiser), who claims to want to help Tina but is far more interested in what she can do, and studying her capabilities further. While Tina wants to figure her stuff out (including why she's seeing a strange man in a hockey mask who came up from the lake shortly after they arrived), this doctor douche-nozzle blames all of her problems on the guilt she must feel about killing her father. Meanwhile, by simply not listening to what Tina says, Jason is more or less ignored and free to continue his killing spree.
Said killing spree is, this time, based around a group of friends and the surprise party they are planning for when one of their own arrives. Chief among them is group heartthrob, Nick (Kevin Spirtas), who becomes quite smitten with Tina upon meeting her. Meanwhile a girl named Melissa (Susan Jennifer Sullivan) is smitten with him, and ends up being the secondary villain of the film by giving Tina and Nick a pretty damn hard time. Between her and Dr. Crews, you're not sure who should get it worse once Jason finds them. They both fully embody the idea to actually route for Jason and not treat him as the movie's primary villain.
The rest of the cast, for standard roll call, include couple Sandra (Heidi Kozak Haddad) and Russell (Larry Cox), birthday boy, Michael (William Butler) and his (assumed) girlfriend, Jane (Staci Greason), best friends Maddy and Robin (Diana Barrows and Elizabeth Kaitan, respectively) and their collective crush, David (Jon Renfield), aspiring sci-fi writer, Eddie (Jeff Bennett), and finally Ben and Kate (Craig Thomas and Diane Almeida, respectively), who pretty much portray (in my opinion) the average couple who may be in the audience, watching this movie for a good time.
The cast here follows closer to the formula of 'The Final Chapter' in that they are mostly driven by their hormones, and, for the most part, are honestly quite forgettable except for the main three, but by now we should all know that there's a formula of obviousness to these movies in which you can basically tell who is and isn't gonna make it. But for all of the film's bad, there's a lot of good all the same. Going back to Kane Hodder's first appearance of Jason, further credit really has to go to director and pro makeup/special effects guy, John Carl Buechler, who designed a more battle-scarred, more zombie-ish Jason, really making him look monstrous this time - a role Hodder carries out extremely well!
I tend to see this one as perhaps the most underrated of the bunch. Although the scattered cast is just following a typical formula, there's a certain hype for Jason that we were left with after 'Jason Lives', and once again, this film gives you two very convincing reasons (in the form of horrible characters) to route for the hockey-masked anti-hero. I also really like that this becomes a more brain vs brawn, toe-to-toe battle of the supernatural. Really, the only time Jason fights someone else with unnatural abilities before he takes on Freddy. It might not have the dark-comedic pull for me that 'Jason Lives' does, but it's still very fun and unique in its own way.
If one were to ask me what my favourite chapter in the 'Friday the 13th' series is, I would have to go hands down with 'Jason Lives'. Everyone has their favourite chapter for their own reasons, and my reasons lean primarily on the idea that this is the only title in the series that is also an utterly self-aware comedy. Since horror/comedy is my favourite genre, I may be biased toward this movie as the big stand-out. But when it comes down to what 'Friday the 13th' is to us today, it's a good one to go back on!
Rewind slightly to 'A New Beginning', where audiences really started to get split. While people like me could see the good they were trying to do, the bottom line was that Jason was not a part of it, even though 'Part IV' was supposed to be his last appearance. Sometimes an audience just can't be pleased. However, new writer/director Tom McLaughlin understood exactly what these movies were about to their audience and resurrected the franchise by reviving Jason (C.J. Graham) to please his loyal fans. The way he does it lets you know exactly what kind of movie you're in for, too.
It all opens with an homage to 'Frankenstein', where a slightly older than last time Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews), is headed to Jason's grave with his friend Allen (Ron Palillo) to dig Jason up so Tommy can ensure he's dead even though he's been buried there for years - presumably since Tommy was still a kid. But the man needs closure on his horrible nightmares. In further homage to 'Frankenstein' (complete with Allen holding an old-style lantern to guide their way), Tommy rams an iron rod into Jason's chest, Jason's struck by lightning, and... "He's back! The man behind the mask! And he's out of control!" (thank you, Alice Cooper).
This pre-credit sequence is capped off with an homage to James Bond, farcing the famous searching gun barrel Bond shoots at the beginning of every 'Bond' film. And while I probably consider Freddy more of a horror "Bond", the message is clear - Jason is THAT famous and recognizable now. Back to the plot, Tommy heads to the Forest Green Sheriff's Dept. to report to Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) that Jason has come back to life and needs to be stopped, but mostly, people must be warned. Garris ignores him, as adults tend to do in these movies, even eventually locking him up for trying to pull a shitty prank.
Meanwhile, a new group of counsellors arrives at Camp Forest Green, namely consisting of the Sheriff's daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke) and her friends Paula (Kerry Noonan), Sissy (Renée Jones), Cort (Tom Fridley) and Nikki (Darcy DeMoss). But this chapter also comes with a surprising first - actual campers! For once, we finally see how actual children might have to cope with a masked machete-manipulating madman. Going back to McLaughlin, knowing his audience, the guy gave the plot some kids that the kid viewers could relate to. Because trust me, kids were absolutely watching these movies.
Much to the Sheriff's dismay, Megan eventually meets the likes of Tommy. She may even give him some slack on the idea that Jason, a homicidal maniac who stalked Forest Green when it was still Crystal Lake, has returned and is all pissed off and ready to kill whatever gets in his way. This often results in some pretty great kills that are often brutal and frequently hilarious. To show even further evidence that this is something to just have fun with, one particular kill involves Jason slamming someone's face into a tree just for it to leave a "Have a Nice Day" happy face imprint.
Topping it off with a pretty metal soundtrack and Alice Cooper's tribute song for the film, 'He's Back! (The Man Behind the Mask) along with 'Teenage Frankenstein', this is a near-perfect mixture for everything a 'Friday the 13th' movie should be (at least in my humble opinion). The only thing really missing here is Kane Hodder, who will play Jason from parts 7-10 and is the quintessential player for the character. Otherwise, it's a fun horror ride with cheesiness, jokes, great music and all the brutal violence a 'Friday the 13th' fan could ask for. It is the only 'Friday the 13th' title that has since become a necessary go-to for me around the Halloween season... and that's saying an awful lot!
'New Beginning' is definitely one of the strangest titles in the franchise for me. Not for anything extraordinary that happens, but more in that Jason Voorhees has little to nothing to do with this. In this chapter, they are dealing with a copycat killer who has taken on Jason's M.O. It may not be the right guy behind the mask, but it's my personal opinion that, at the very least, the spirit of the last four 'Friday' films is still very present here. And while it's known to be a dud with fans, I think it gets a bit of a bad rap.
This one makes me think of what happened with 'Halloween III' in many ways. The star killer is missing from it, it takes a different route, and people don't necessarily get the product they want. But if people just take a look at things in a bit of a different light, the film is still enjoyable for what it is. When you really look at the horror aspect of this film and think it through, the genuine scares aren't really coming from this Jason copycat killer (Dick Wieand) hacking and slashing, but from the harsh P.T.S.D. Tommy (John Shepherd) has to deal with after his encounter with the real Jason. It feels clear from the intro to this that Tommy still thinks he might be out there somewhere.
With 'A New Beginning', we finally escape that fateful week of Jason's revenge killing spree that was the last three films. He is finally dead at the hands of Tommy, and five long years have passed for Tommy as he has gone from institution to institution following his traumatic experience. He is transferred to the Pinehurst Youth Development Center as the film opens. Run by Dr. Matthew Letter (Richard Young) and his assistant, Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman), Pinehurst is a much nicer institution for Tommy to reside in, offering certain freedoms that were previously unavailable to him.
Though none are explored, Tommy meets a collective of individual teens with their own problems. However, some characters offer hints as to why they may be there. Eddie (John Robert Dixon) and Tina (Deborah Voorhees [and no, that's not a mistake]) are a couple of sex-crazed lovers; Jake (Jerry Pavlon) has a stutter; Violet (Tiffany Helm) is goth-like with an attitude; Robin (Juliette Cummins) is... I dunno, I guess very serious; Joey (Dominick Brascia) is a simple, compulsive eater, and Reggie "The Reckless" (Shavar Ross), is a kid who's grandfather, George (Vernon Washington), works as the house's cook.
Tommy suffers from nightmares about Jason, and keeps to himself, almost as if he's afraid of hurting someone, knowing now that he's capable of killing. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is despised by their neighbours, Ethel Hubbard (Carol Locatell) and her dope of a son, Junior (Ron Sloan), due to Eddie and Tina constantly having sex on their lawn. We learn to hate Junior very quickly, and to this day, I claim that he is probably the most satisfying kill in the whole series, even if it's not at the hands of Jason. My apologies for the "spoiler", but I daresay, no significant loss on his part. I'd be hard-pressed to find a 'Friday' character more annoying.
Another among the group is Victor (Mark Venturini), who we don't see do much more than chop wood and eventually, chop poor Joey for getting on his nerves. This leads to Victor's arrest and the beginning of this chapter's new series of mysterious killings that completely fit Jason's M.O. The only thing is that this time, Jason is well-known to be dead and apparently cremated (which is a damned dirty lie). So, who is this new, hockey-mask-wearing, machete-wielding maniac? More importantly, can Tommy fight his fears of a potentially resurrected Jason to beat this guy? Well, 'Part VI' exists, so you can probably do the math.
I will admit that the film makes the killer painfully evident from the get-go. So much so that once revealed, I was ashamed for not knowing who it was the first time around when I was watching it a second time. While this still has the spirit of an average 'Friday' film, it provides a very hit-or-miss title for the fans. Although I give the film full credit for tackling mental health following a traumatic experience. It tends to be the title in the franchise I appreciate over other fans, knowing there are definitely worse 'Friday' titles yet to come. Going in with the right, open mindset is key to enjoying this. Otherwise, it's just a sort of "bridge movie", leading into our next chapter (which is my fave of the bunch!).
Note: The link to the 'Friday the 13th' timeline is coming soon!
Although this is a somewhat misleading title, at the time, they were prepared to follow through on the idea of this being "The Final Chapter" as suggested. But the way the film ends left things a little too open-ended, and the series ended up the way it is. However, in my mind, I still consider the title apt. Merely a fan theory, but I feel that this is where Jason Voorhees, the violent hobo, actually died, and from here, he becomes a true supernatural force. For more info on this, see my fan-theorized 'Friday the 13th' Timeline!
Diving right in, Jason's (Ted White) killing spree seemingly came to a close with the last film finishing him off enough to have his body hauled off to the local morgue. Here's where the not-quite-dead Jason kicks things off with a couple of what I call "launch victims" (the first victim or victims of any slasher movie, setting the tone for things to come). Anyway, he escapes the morgue and heads back home where, unbeknownst to him, a few more intruders are about to show up, and the hormones on these kids are potent! I never thought about it before, but as far as these films go, this is probably the most sex-starved group of Jason Bait to be brought to the franchise.
The two most memorable are Jim (Crispin Glover) and his cocky friend, Ted (Lawrence Monoson), who are simply looking to get laid on this friendly vacation. Otherwise, the rest of them are relatively forgettable and it seems apparent they're there to become Jason's playthings. Just to rattle them off as is tradition, a couple awaiting their first time, Sara (Barbara Howard) and Doug (Peter Barton), as well as the well-established Paul (Alan Hayes) and Sam (Judie Aronson). Eventually, the group is joined by a couple of local twins, Tina and Terry (Camilla and Carey More, respectively), who are there to enhance the dramatic factor.
This new crop of hormone-driven teens moves in for their vacation next door to a friendly, average family - Tracy Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her two children, Trish (Kimberly Beck) and *drum roll please* Tommy (Corey Feldman), who pretty much ended up being the main protagonist for the series after they realized they couldn't possibly end the series on the note that they did here. Once they finally meet, the story sort of splits in two. On one hand, the standard group of horny teenagers is ready to become meat. On the other hand, we follow Trish and Tommy as they meet and befriend Rob Dier, who is supposedly Sandra's older brother (Sandra being from 'Part 2').
Rob's character is an intriguing addition to the whole thing. He enters the scene as someone who seems to be just backpacking through the woods, meeting Trish and Tommy while they have car trouble. One could just as quickly suspect him of being some kind of killer, especially with how he talks about "hunting". But one way or another, we understand he's there to be a good guy. There to avenge his sister. I believe he's there to be a source of misdirection. Tommy would become what we were supposed to think Rob was, only to have the rug pulled out from under us. I'd call that a spoiler, but we've got two more movies featuring different actors portraying Tommy each time.
To give Tommy a bit of a better background intro, however, he's about 12 years old, loves video games, and has a hobby of making Hollywood-level monster masks. Tommy's also a bit of an early-age mechanic, as we see him tackling their car's engine when they break down (and somehow don't get attacked by Jason, as one would imagine). He's also pretty clever and studious, as we see him quickly pour over articles about Jason, only to develop a plan to trick him. He's also why things don't end with this particular title, and the series is made to move on with no less than eight more Jason-related titles... and that's just the movies.
Regarding acting, Feldman's and Glover's collective appearances give this chapter a little bump. Crispin Glover is just plain hilarious to watch, especially when dancing. But regarding Feldman, it is interesting to note that it felt like 'Friday the 13th' got to understand how young some of its fans were then. Part of the intrigue behind 80s slasher horror now is noting how young people were when watching these movies, despite their R-ratings. 'The Final Chapter' seemed to understand this and use it to its advantage, allowing who is ultimately a child to be able to fight and eventually... kind of... defeat the heavyweight champion of the 80s slasher world, Jason Voorhees himself.
I've always personally had a bit of a soft spot for 'Part 3' here. This is not only the chapter in which Jason receives his iconic hockey mask (from someone we really want to see Jason pick off), but I'm also a big fan of the gimmick that is the 3D aspect of the film. These movies are something I love for their "cheese factor," and all 3D does is add to that. When all is said and done, I dunno that it would be considered one of the "best" of the bunch, but it does deliver a suitable happy medium for long-time 'Friday' fans.
While the timeline for this series is pretty murky at best, it is abundantly clear through the dialogue that parts 2, 3 and 4 (aka 'The Final Chapter') occur within the same week. So this picks up immediately after Part 2, where we see Ginny Field (Amy Steel) getting hauled away in an ambulance. On the same night, Jason's loss of control is fully realized by audiences as he opens the film by simply doing away with a couple of local yokels. In this scene, we get a good dose of what we're in for, which includes not only Jason (Steve Dash) seemingly starting to go haywire, but the 3D tech of the time (through good ol' blue and red lenses) and that 80s horror cheese at its finest.
We are soon introduced to a fresh new crop of could-be victims. Our third lead, Chris (Dana Kimmell), happened to encounter Jason one summer a couple of years prior and survived his attack on her. She heads back to Crystal Lake with her friends to try to have fun again and move on from the nightmare memory - face her fears. Among her friends are sex-starved couple Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) and (pregnant) Debbie (Tracie Savage), hippie stoner couple Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard) and a practical joking, mopey, and even pretty creepy ass hat named Shelly (Larry Zerner), who the friends attempt to hook up with a lovely girl next door type named Vera (Catherine Parks).
Once they arrive at their lake getaway, we also meet Rick (Paul Kratka), Chris' romantic interest, thus giving Jason a grand total of four "couples" to potentially tear apart. Things pretty much play out as expected, except for giving these characters a bit more personality than last time, mainly Shelly. Granted, the personality of Shelly sucks. He's exceptionally down on himself and doesn't understand why no one likes him, yet he acts like a complete ass to all his friends, especially Vera - the one he's TRYING to hook up with. But with that, and without saying precisely what happens, guess who Jason takes his iconic mask from? It's... satisfying, to say the least.
Otherwise, things are "business as usual" for Jason here at Crystal Lake as he tears his way through this new group of campers, 3D style. I will admit that watching this in 3D for an hour and a half in the old blue and red style really messes up your eyes. Still, it is fun to live out the gimmick if you can get your hands on the special edition Blu-ray (which I believe is the only format currently with 3D available, but I'm not 100%). I feel like I'd further suggest, in addition to the 3D, that this is the chapter where things really start turning from just horror to FUN horror. You know, the kind of movie you wanna eat popcorn with.
When it comes to 'Friday the 13th' as a whole, I tend to like to start my introduction of it to newcomers through this movie. Most newcomers to the franchise now understand that it all started with Jason's mother, thanks to the opening scene to 'Scream,' the 2009 'Friday' remake, and the internet as a whole. It's one of those "spoilers that isn't a spoiler anymore." As far as Part 2 goes, I tend to tell people it's worth checking out if only to say they've seen it. But honestly, if you came to the party to see Jason BE Jason, I'd highly argue that one should start with 3 and take it from there. But that's just my opinion.
If we're looking at these movies regarding their overall quality, I would argue that this is one of the very middle-ground ones. I may have a lot of fun with the cheesiness and gimmicks involved, but not everyone will see that. It's still pretty slow-moving at times, and the characters aren't really likeable in any way, shape or form (which adds to the desire to watch Jason do what he does best, I must admit). The kills are a lot of fun, though, as so many involve old practical effects that stick out in a cheese-tastic way. I'll always have a soft spot for it, but there's no denying that it's not the best of the bunch either.
Concerning horror series timelines, 'Friday the 13th Part 2' provides an immediate "fork in the road" for attempting to determine certain aspects of where this chapter takes place. Not the least is how Jason went from a little creepy water troll boy to a grown-ass man in a matter of what seems to be mere weeks or months. That info will eventually be broken down in my part-researched/part-fan theory timeline. But it is important to note that this is one of the more impossible timelines to get right.
"Chapter 2" here opens in a sleepy little town (presumably somewhere very close to Crystal Lake) a couple of months after the events of the first film, where we see the "survivor girl" from the first film, Alice (Adrienne King), trying to get her life back together after experiencing the traumatic events of that fateful Friday the 13th. Unbeknownst to her, however, as she's going about her daily routine, a grown-up Jason Voorhees (Warrington Gillette) is now stalking her after witnessing her brutally decapitate his mother. WILL Alice survive this home invasion? Without spoiling too much, the film soon fast-forwards to (what I presume to be) mid-summer of 1984.
This one begins what I like to call the "Jason Week Trilogy" as 'Part 3' and 'The Final Friday' both take place immediately after this, as Jason hacks and chops his way through his single most productive work week. It starts much like the previous film, with a handful of camp counsellors participating in a training program hosted by a neighbouring campground to Camp Crystal Lake - or, as it's spun in this chapter, "Camp Blood". The whole story is unveiled that night about Mrs. Voorhees, her death, and the legend of Jason, who now (apparently) stalks the nearby woods. It's primarily shrugged off as a campfire story, but of course, we all know the legend of Jason is more than just a story.
On the second night, the counsellors are told they can have one last night in town before hunkering at their camp. A few go, including the head of the project, Paul (John Furey), his love interest, Ginny (Amy Steel) and a practical joker named Ted (Stu Charno). Meanwhile, the others settle in, projecting most of the stereotypes we know best in movies like this. Sexy Terry (Kirsten Baker), Cocky Scott (Russell Todd), Morbidly curious Sandra (Marta Kober) and her not-as-brave boyfriend, Jeff (Bill Randolph), a jock type named Mark (Tom McBride) and the smitten-with-him Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor).
One by one, Jason hacks and slashes his way through this group once he learns that people are in the area. Meanwhile, Jason has built a shrine to his mother, where he has kept her decapitated and surprisingly well-preserved head for the past few years. I presume it reminds him of what seemingly innocent people did to him and his mother. Loyal and obedient to his loving mother, he hunts and kills anyone interfering in his territory, much like a nastily trained guard dog. To some degree, I've always found Jason to be a sympathetic character because of all this. Regarding horror, I'd probably say he's the ultimate anti-hero.
Anyway, this tends to actually be my least favourable of the series. Still, to be fair, by the time I finally watched this, I'm pretty sure 'Jason X' was just on its way out, meaning I couldn't appreciate Jason's origin movie as much as I may have back before he was even a thing. I always considered him a big hulk of a man, but here, he's pretty weak and clumsy... to the point that I laugh. Ultimately, even though the original was pretty slow going, it's still scarier than this, if only for Betsy Palmer's performance - especially remarkable for someone who didn't really wanna be there at the time.
This just doesn't have the same historical pull that the first 'Friday' had, where it's a big part of the saga's history. I see this as more of a "bridge movie" that gets us to 'Part 3' which is far better, if only because they amp up the kills, Jason gets more challenging, more accurate, and receives his famous hockey mask. He's slow, easily tricked, clumsy, and almost non-threatening in this film. I can confidently say that every incarnation of Jason after this is much better. So, it's not to say that this chapter is just "the worst." It's still a fun, classic camp horror flick that many others put way higher on their list than mine. And to its credit... where would Jason be now without it?
It's debatable, but I might go so far as to say that the 'Friday the 13th' series is something that could be referred to as the pinnacle of American slasher horror. All of the fun stereotypes are covered, including teenagers making stupid and/or poor decisions, the setting being the secluded wilderness (think 'Cabin in the Woods'), characters we know are completely expendable upon first meeting them, and last but certainly not least, the big, quiet lug in a mask who's out to get you... Although, not quite yet.
What's perhaps most interesting about the series altogether is that it all began as a straight-up rip-off of the idea behind 'Halloween'. They took a spooky day of the year, threw in the teenage victims, but then sort of perfected things by keeping it out in the middle of nowhere, where there's less chance of escaping, AND, to be perfectly fair to the first film in the series, the killer is NOT Jason Voorhees, but the intriguing twist of it being someone who was once a loving, caring mother, which harkens back to 'Psycho' a little more and... honestly, that's one of those spoilers that shouldn't be considered a spoiler anymore - especially after 'Scream' mentions it in its opening act.
In 1957, one day while at camp, Jason Voorhees supposedly drowns in Crystal Lake while the counsellors aren't paying any attention. This leads Jason's mother to vengeance, and she begins her killing spree with no less than two victims the following year. After that, we jump to Friday, June 13th, present day, and this has lead to all sorts of debate on things to do with proper dates, etc. so this is a good time to mention that if there's any confusion about where I stand with such things, further details will be found on my 'Friday the 13th' Timeline as things unfold. ANYWAY, in "present day" 1980, we meet the happy-go-lucky Annie (Robbi Morgan) who's trying to get to Camp Crystal Lake.
Another famous America horror stereotype pops up here, perhaps best known as the "harbinger of doom". Annie is warned by some random guy known in town as "Crazy" Ralph (Walt Gorney) that she and her friends are indeed "doomed" if they go to Camp Crystal Lake; aka "Camp Blood" to the locals. In the meantime, her friends all arrive at camp to await her arrival; The responsible adult of the group, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer); our lead, Alice (Adrienne King); Jack (Kevin Bacon) and his girlfriend, Marcie (Jeannine Taylor); the quiet but fun Brenda (Laurie Bartram); the eccentric Ned (Mark Nelson); and the outdoorsy Bill (Harry Crosby).
As one would predict, the killing starts, and one by one a body count is built up. Bearing in mind that we're supposed to have no idea who's committing these murders, this puts a bit of a 'Jaws' twist on things by never showing the killer. I have to give the film credit for its time for keeping things a pretty solid mystery. Nowadays, we just know how things go. But if you study the film as though you were seeing it upon its initial release, when Jason was still an unknown entity, the idea of the killer being who she was here probably threw a lot of people for a loop - especially being Besty Palmer whom I understand tended to roll with a little more class... which of course makes it a way better twist!
This is one of those films that one has to give respect to because without it, we wouldn't have all the Jason movies that followed, and indeed, slasher horror probably wouldn't have taken off quite as well as it did. This had a lot of similarities in tone and atmosphere to 'Halloween', sure, but unlike 'Halloween', this was able to deliver some blood for gore hounds, compliments of the great Tom Savini. And while I very much appreciate how 'Halloween' executed it all by allowing our imaginations to go wild, the physical blood and gore here gives you something interesting to look at... No really, there's nothing quite like looking at these tacky special effects and pondering how it was all done.
Being from 1980, it might be a bit outdated for some who may yet be curious. To be fair, it does take a while for anything to happen, and there's a lot of fairly ineffective suspense building. There are some decent kills, but it's when we meet Mrs. Voorhees that the film really takes off, giving us a very creepy, well-shot chase through the night. So sift through that first hour or so 'cause it's totally worth it to see just why this movie has its place in the horror hall of fame. It's not a Jason flick, but completely worth the watch if you wanna get a nice slice of horror history, or even just have fun with it.