Slashing Toward a Finale: Friday the 13th Part IV and the End of Jason
Hockey-masked slasher Jason Voorhees returned in 1984’s Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, billed as the concluding chapter in the gory franchise. While the end turned out less than final, the fourth installment remained a fan favorite for upping the carnage and bringing young Corey Feldman into the mix.
Picking up right after Part III, a wounded Jason escapes the morgue, leaving a trail of corpses. Before long he is back at Crystal Lake, offing a new batch of vacationing teens at a nearby house. Despite the formulaic setup, director Joseph Zito amps tension through inventive kills and a likable young cast.
Among the newcomers is Feldman as Tommy Jarvis, a monster-mask making tween who will go on to play a pivotal role in subsequent films. Unlike the indistinguishable partiers of earlier films, Tommy and his sister Trish are given traumatic familial depth, making the stakes feel higher.
When Jason’s killing spree culminates in a window-smashing rainstorm of gore, it’s Tommy who ultimately stops the rampage, bringing some closure to the murderous chapter. Of course, Jason’s demise was short-lived, but Final Chapter still stands apart through stellar gore effects, taut energy, and a young Feldman’s magnetic presence that hinted at future franchise importance.
Upon release, many critics still dismissed the film as derivative hackwork, but Final Chapter deserves credit for pumping new blood into a stale formula before the temporary conclusion. It remains a slasher highlight, wrapping the series up on a giddy high note before Jason’s inevitable resurrection.
Looking back it seems kind of strange that this particular installment in the series would be subtitled the ‘Final Chapter’. Did the studio really think they were going to kill off Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th franchise once and for all? What were they smoking in 1984? It’s alright, though, because all the hardcore Jason fans knew better. One thing I can say is that since they intended this one to be the ‘final’ chapter they went all out with it. The story is decent, the acting is improved over the previous films, and the kills in this installment will surely please the most hardened gore-hounds. Plus, as an added bonus we get none other than Marty McFly‘s dad himself, Crispin Glover, in an early role in his career.
Now, of course there are some parts of the plot that are the same as the plots of the previous three films. It basically goes something like this:
“Hi, I’m a horny male teenager. You wanna have sex?”
“Sure, I’m a horny female teenager. Let’s do it.”
(Jason enters the room)
“No, please, don’t, no-HACK, SLASH, CHOP-we now have two dead horny teenagers.
Yeah, that parts pretty much the same in all of them. What’s different is that Jason has two adversaries in the form of Rob Dyer and Tommy Jarvis. Rob is after Jason for the death of his sister, Sandra. Tommy is the precocious younger brother of Trish Jarvis, the final girl of the film. His love for horror films and make-up effects will play a major role in the final battle with Jason.
This is the best film in the series. I don’t know if it’s because it was supposed to be the final film; or if the film makers were just following on all cylinders. If the series had ended here, it would have gone out a winner. However, after six more sequels, Freddy vs Jason and the remake, that’s just not how it happened.
Body count: 13
It has been said that the only reason Tom Savini worked as makeup artist on this film was so he could kill the character he created (Jason Voorhees).
According to Corey Feldman, the screams he made when Jason (Ted White) grabbed him through the window were genuine; he was truly terrified.
Kimberly Beck as Trish Jarvis
Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis
E. Erich Anderson as Rob Dyer
Crispin Glover as Jimmy Mortimer
Peter Barton as Doug
Directed by Joseph Zito
Story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow
Screenplay by Barney Cohen
Characters by Martin Kitrosser, Ron Kurz and Victor Miller