Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984)

Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter

Written by Barney Cohen
Directed by Joseph Zito

Tommy...Corey Feldman
Teddy...Lawrence Monoson
Jimmy...Crispin Glover

The film begins with a campfire flashback to the previous installments, bringing us all back up to speed, and then we return to the farmhouse of Part 3 where the police are dragging Jason Voorhees and his victims from the rubble. Jason is taken to the morgue where he is witness to a failed seduction of a nurse by the disgusting coroner who looks vaguely like comic journalist Dave Barry. The sheer testosterone of this act is enough to get Jason's blood pumping again, and he's back in action post-haste.

(On a side note: Why are morgue attendants ALWAYS shown eating while accepting a corpse?  And am I the only one who thought this early sequence was strangely derivative of Halloween 2?)

Soon enough, Jason is making his way back through the Crystal Lake forest where he stumbles upon the Jarvis family: the unnamed mother, teenage daughter Trish, young son Tommy, and their faithful hound Gordon. The kids are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new neighbors, the ever-present group of horny teenagers that Jason just loves to make mincemeat of. As we're awaiting his final judgment, all manner of depravity unfolds.

In short: Teddy gives Jimbo too much grief about his being a "dead fuck." Slutty Sam lectures virginal Sarah about the joys of sex. They all meet a couple of hot-to-trot Doublemint Twins and decide to go skinny dipping, at which point there is scattered ass as far as the eye can see. They throw themselves a party, and Ted and Jimbo declare dibs on the twins. Jimbo's twin turns out to be a bit of a prude, and Ted's seems to be more interested in Sam's boyfriend Paul. When Paul turns her down to hunt down Sam, who had decided to go on an angry moonlit swim, she then moves on to Jimbo. Jimbo passes the twin's soiled panties on to Ted as proof that he isn't a "dead fuck" after all, and Ted settles down to a silent-era reel-to-reel skin flick, which puts Sarah in such a mood that she invites her boyfriend to take her virginity. Yes, there's more partner-swapping than Eyes Wide Shut.

Needless to say, Jason has a field day amidst all this immorality, which ultimately leads up to a showdown at the Jarvis house and a bizarre head-shaving scene that seems somehow inspired by Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver. And leave it to a Goonie to realize that just because he's lying down doesn't mean he's dead yet! Someone should really pass the word along. Thanks to this epiphany, we're treated to one of the coolest machete scenes in the history of film.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of here, but a few really stand out for me.

Teddy is the requisite douchebag who seems to fancy himself as a modern day Chachi, only he doesn't get Joanie. He just gets blue balls and a vintage stag film.

Jimmy is the affable loser, played effortlessly awkwardly by the effortlessly awkward Crispin Glover. He's pretty restrained here, cutting loose only during a hilarious dance scene, but he still steals the show.

There's also a hunter of sorts--the brother of former victim Sandra who is trying to hunt down Jason and put an end to him. He was woefully underused, though, and I could have used more scenes with his character and less with the typical teenage slaughter fodder. It also would have been nice if he did something useful instead of just pulling a Scatman Crothers when the shit hit the fan.

Tommy Jarvis, played by a young Corey Feldman, is the closest that this franchise has to a heroic icon, and one of three characters that spring to mind when you mention Friday the 13th, along with Jason himself and Crazy Ralph. As a young fan, he was the one we could identify with. He was kind of dorky, kind of lonely, definitely a monster kid. Not only did he get to spy on the naked girls that moved in across the street, but he got to tussle with Jason Voorhees and live to tell about it. That's one hell of a childhood.

Jason has finally evolved into the man we know and love--silent, mysterious, dangerous, and merciless (although he does still break into the occasional sprint). His seeming resurrection from the dead is proof if his endurance, but in my eyes it's not until his Frankenstein-like return in Jason Lives that he joins the rank of true supernatural killer.

The violence is typical slasher stuff, but we are treated with an excellent shot of Jason impaling a young girl the moment that lightning strikes, and the fact that we see it all only through their shadows is somehow creepier.

A good entry in the franchise, and a definite step up from the blandness of Part 3...even if it does only take place in two measly dimensions.

Rated R
97 Minutes
United States

The End.


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