Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Evil has finally found a home.

After being set up and then blown apart by an FBI ambush, the body of Jason Voorhees is taken for an autopsy. However his spirit still lives on and he possesses the body of the coroner, forcing him to return to Crystal Lake to continue his murderous rampage. It is up to one of his blood relatives and a bounty hunter to finally put him to rest.

 

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was both the most expensive and least profitable entry into the series. Not only were audiences sick of seeing Jason slice his way through armies of drunken and promiscuous teenagers but they were sick of the sub-genre in general. During a restructuring exercise, Paramount opted to sell the rights to the series and they were picked up by New Line, who owned one of the other ‘big three’ slasher franchises in the form of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. After Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991, New Line let him rest up and decided to give Jason his first outing under their banner. What eventually came out of the studio is Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, a total franchise killer if ever there was one.

People may argue about the merits of each individual instalment all they like but surely common consensus must lay the title of ‘Worst in the Series’ to Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. After being axed in the head, electrocuted, drowned, shot, stabbed with a machete, buried under collapsed buildings and then washed with toxic waste, you’d have thought the guy wouldn’t want anymore. But New Line clearly tried to reboot the franchise by injecting some fresh life into the story by completely re-writing it! Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday starts promisingly. A young female in a cabin in the woods. Brief nudity. Jason then trying to kill her. A quick chase through the woods. It’s all of the staple ingredients which made the previous films so successful and it is condensed down into a nine-minute sequence (minus the gore since no one dies). But then Jason gets blown up! Literally just blown up. I can appreciate the logic in the script with the FBI taking note of Jason’s mass slaughter over the years and deciding to do something about it. It makes perfect sense as it’s exactly what would happen in real life. But it makes for terrible viewing.

The film rapidly goes downhill from here on and it turns into a body swapping horror film as Jason’s spirit hops from one body to the next. The explanation that Jason is some kind of small creature which possesses human bodies is absurd, comes out of nowhere and makes a mockery out of the previous eight films. Jason is now in the bodies of other people and you won’t see much of your favourite hockey-mask wearing killer, only other characters pretending to be him. This is not only a shame for the story but for Kane Hodder, the actor who has played Jason in the previous few films. Apart from a few moments in the infamous mask, Hodder is consigned to a throwaway cameo. You’ll miss his hulking Jason stomping around woods slaughtering teenagers. How anyone could green light the idea that Jason, some massive undead zombie-like killer, is actually a tiny creature which needs a host body is beyond me. But the script is happy to throw in whatever it wants to keep the film moving – the introduction of Jason having some previously unmentioned long lost relative just smacks of desperation.

At least the film doesn’t skimp on the gore and it’s one of the bloodiest entries in the series with the best kill being a woman having sex with her boyfriend in a tent when Jason rams a pole through her back, out of her chest and then proceeds to tear her in half upwards. Some editions of the film have the money shot cut out but track down the film uncut and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best kills of the series. There are other gory kills too so it’s good to see some of the hallmarks of the series have remained untouched. Not only are there graphic deaths but the heart-eating moment early in the film is pretty nasty. In order for Jason to swap bodies, he needs to transfer his tiny body orally which leads to all manner of silly ‘making out’ moments which rank high on the gross scale and low on the common sense scale.

Being the only one who knows this information at the start of the film, Creighton Duke, the bounty hunter, is one of the best characters of the entire series. Played by Steven Williams, he makes for a great adversary for Jason and, should there have been a direct sequel to this one, he’d have made for a welcome return. Swaggering around the screen like some horror version of Shaft, Williams is clearly better than the material he’s surrounded by.

Apart from Williams, the highlight of the film and the most talked about moment comes right in the last shot with the appearance of Freddy Kruger’s glove – hinting at a mouth watering confrontation between Freddy and Jason which would take a staggering ten years to make.

 

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday is the worst of the series by a long way. Yes, it’s good to see a series try and reinvent itself and try something new (Halloween III: Season of the Witch anyone?) but when it’s executed as poorly and sloppily as this, it’s not worth the effort. Skip the film and just watch the Freddy bit on Youtube.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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