It’s always struck me as funny when films call themselves the “final” something. It’s just like being at a concert and hearing that phony goodbye that bands give before they come back on stage and play 3 or 4 more songs. We know it’s not the end. Any marginally successful intellectual property will always come back for more.
After 8 iterations of the Jason Voorhees legacy spanning everything from his mother’s lakeside rampage in the original to his battle with a telekinetic chick and his eventual invasion of New York City, it’s obvious that something about a kid who drowned in a lake because of the neglect of his teenage summer camp caretakers resonated with people. I guess maybe the director of this film felt that it was time to put the legend to rest.
After his relaxing vacation in New York, the nearly invincible Jason Voorhees returns to the screen in a whole new, horribly unoriginal sequel called Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. The movie is so bad that its own title has to reassure you twice that it’s going to be the last in the series.
The opening of the film is just like any other. A somewhat cute girl alone in a cabin when the lights go out. Cut to Jason chasing her through the woods, machete in hand, but then the plot decides to take an unpredictable turn. As the young, unsuspecting Camp Crystal Lake vacationer is about to get her head lopped off by that signature big rusty machete blade, a flood of work lights go up all around them. The much beloved masked murderer is riddled with gunfire by an ambushing S.W.A.T. team and ultimately demolished with a well-placed grenade.
Loyal fans who feel rewarded after waiting patiently to see the big guy finally killed in a bloody, cinematic way are then tortured with the fact that Jason Goes To Hell has just transformed into a completely different kind of movie. Instead of the large, ugly, hulk of a man that we remember so fondly from our childhood nightmares, we’re greeted with a reptilian-looking demon that dwells in Jason’s pitch-black heart. It turns out the body we’ve all come to know and love was none other than a maggot-ridden vessel for this lowly creature.
Once again, horror fans in the 90s are treated to a bullshit sci-fi storyline that totally undermines the terrifying ambiguity of an infamous slasher icon. I think that’s why I picked this film to review because I already had that sour taste in my mouth after watching Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. In a decade of so many great 90s movies, horror fans had to be greeted with 2 steaming piles of shit in the horror genre. Not satisfied with just being terrible movies of their own design, they also took the liberty of ruining 2 memorable antagonists.
Now, we have to endure a film where Jason’s inner demon hops from body to body, carving a path of total mutilation along the way. Fans want to see the familiar hockey mask shambling through the woods, not a coroner or police officer. It makes the killings completely pointless and without motive. In the old films, Jason had a vendetta against promiscuous teenagers out of reason and revenge lust. Now, he’s just a possessed host body with no real purpose. Lame.
To add to the stupidity, a Texas rebel of a bounty hunter named Creighton Duke is the only one who understands the truth. He explains how Jason needs to find a new body and he knows that the machete-wielder’s long-lost niece is the only one who can provide him with one. I don’t understand how Duke knows any of this. Is there some kind of “For Dummies” book on the subject? What the fuck were they thinking?
The original films weren’t Oscar-worthy character pieces, but their premise was interesting and their violence actually had meaning. Jason Goes to Hell is more a film where the writers decided to throw in lots of unnecessary bloodshed for the sake of cashing in on the Friday the 13th namesake. Jason’s soul in other people’s bodies is neither scary nor visually interesting and it actually makes the kill scenes extremely boring.
I’m throwing this film a single point for the last scene alone. After Jason’s niece roundhouse kicks her magical dagger into his rotten heart, tiny blue lightning bolts fall from the sky all around him. Suddenly, MUPPET HANDS OF DOOM punch through the dirt and grope Jason in an obviously non-consensual manner. Although they succeed in pulling the monster down to the bowels of hell, the hands look like Jim Henson rejects from Sesame Street. I swear, I could see these things on Snuffleupagus.
Anyway, after all is said and done and Jason is safely out of the picture, his quintessential hockey mask is left lying undisturbed in the dirt, toying with the viewer. Out of nowhere, we’re greeted with the single best shot of the film. A gloved hand with blades on the fingers pops out of the ground and grabs the mask. That’s right, folks, Freddy Krueger’s hand grabs Jason’s mask and pulls it underground and we’re treated to the sound of Freddy’s unforgettably evil laugh. The single redeeming scene in this film is a couple seconds of setup for the eventually-produced Freddy Vs. Jason crossover film.
To put it simply, Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday is just as awful an experience for the viewer as it is for the hapless victims of the sadistic slaughter. That opening and the last 5 minutes of the film are the only scenes worth watching and the rest put the Friday the 13th franchise to shame. Studios need to learn that fans don’t want new angles and crazy new perspectives on their favorite characters. They’d be perfectly happy with a violent revenge romp like all the others in the series. If it’s not broken, why the fuck are you trying to fix it?