Classic Horror Month: Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter

Last October, I ended the Classic Horror Month with a movie that almost everyone has either seen or at least heard of. However, I had one movie in mind that would be my last review for the season, but I decided Halloween was a little more fitting.

As someone who adores horror movies (especially from the 70's to the early 90's), the Friday the 13th films have been my favorite. I know it's not for everyone but hey, they're fun, campy, and violent. One of the few times I can sit with my friends and cheer on the villain.

With that in mind, I wanted to kick off this season with one of my favorite horror movies (and easily my favorite from the franchise), Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Redefining the word final since 1984.

So the movie begins at Higgins Haven, picking up where Part 3 left off (Sort of. Part Three left off in the middle of the day, but this one picks up at night. Whatever). As you can imagine, it seems that Jason has finally been defeated, while cops and ambulances are everywhere, tagging bodies that lay around the camp. Per usual, paramedics ship Jason's body to a hospital to be examined or whatever. I never understood that, just get rid of the damn thing. But the plot had to start somewhere I guess. It's best not to dig too deep into these movies.

This movie wastes no time as an MD and a nurse get sleazy next to Jason's "corpse", until his cold hand slides off the bed and touches the nurse (Jason's hand was only filmed moving like that because the actor botched his role and started moving before the director said cut. So they ended up using that shot and working around it), spooking her and thus, driving her out of the room. Thankfully, the MD can fill his naughty needs as he begins to watch one of the strangest programs on television. It's some kind of aerobics program, but it's almost soft-core porn. Within seconds, Jason wakes up behind the doc and starts off the first kill of the film: hacksaw to the neck and then some.

Part IV does not mess around in the blood department. Especially since we have the great Tom Savini doing the special effects (funny enough, he refused to do other Friday films after the first one because the movie was never supposed to have any sequels. Allegedly, Savini got on board with this one because he finally wanted to kill Jason and put the series to an end). It's arguably the most violent one and if you don't believe me, just watch the thing. It's easily the "darkest" out of the series. The previous three were dark and violent, sure; but there was always some light-hearted touch n' go with the characters that sort of distracted you and made you forget you were watching a slasher film. Even most "flinching" parts played out slightly comedic and relied on cheap laughs. Not this time. Part 4 is absolutely vicious.

The plot? You guessed it: four kids heading to a lake house for the weekend. There's no point in mentioning all the names of the teenagers since they're all killed off sooner than later, but we have to mention some characters. Jimmy, who is portrayed by Crispin Glover (McFly!), Trish (lead chic), Rob (hitch-hiker alpha male) and later we meet Tommy Jarvis who is played by freaking Corey Feldman. Tommy lives in the family cabin next door and has a knack for making his own monster masks. Clearly, you can tell Savini made these things on his own time because no 10 year old kid would be able to make those things. That always bugged me.

At any rate, Tommy shows of his special-effect skills to one of the guys while the other kids settle in for a night of partying and ridiculous dancing. More on that later.

Of course, Jason returns back to his own private Idaho and sniffs out the party-goers, taking them out one by one. We got corkscrews, cleavers, knifes, harpoon guns, axes, and crushing someone's skull in the shower. But we're not done yet! When Rob and Trish return to the party house to find a trail of bodies, they realize they need to... run to the other house? But leave Tommy behind! He can't come with. Safety first, ya know?

While Rob and Trish run off, Tommy comes across newspaper clippings about Jason Vorhees himself and begins to devise a plan.

More cat and mouse games ensue before Jason finally gets a hold of Rob and kills him with some gardening tool (Rob actually screams, "He's killing me! He's killing me!"). Trish makes it back to the house where Tommy is and warns him of what's going on, so he dashes upstairs and locks himself in the bathroom.

Jason makes his way into the home, spots trish, whips a hammer at her from across the room (I actually love that part), and begins to chase again! It only lasts a few minutes and in the midst of Trish defending herself, a pale, bald, Tommy Jarvis runs downstairs and screams Jason's name.

You see, any distraction that serves as Jason's own self or his mother will stop him in his tracks. Tommy is able to play it cool and stay in the role of a young Jason for long enough so Trish can get an open shot at Jason's face with a machete. Because this is a Friday the 13th film, she completely misses and only hits his hockey mask.

But wait! We finally get a good look at what Jason has become. And it's pretty disgusting. The earlier movies, we do get some nice shots, but this one is really something.


Trish is mortified with the decrepit face staring back at her, but Tommy uses this moment to grab the machete and finishes the job! He delivers a swift hack to the side of Jason's face, bringing him to his knees, as his head slides down the blade nearly cutting his entire face in half. It's Savini at his best.

Tommy and Trish hug it out, while this chopped up body remains on the floor, and all is well. Suddenly, Tommy snaps and picks the blade back up and continues to hack and slash at Jason’s head another 10 or 20 times. I always lose count. Why is it that a 10 year old kid does the most rational thing out of all of these films? Everyone always walks away after assuming Jason is finally dead, but Tommy wants to make sure that he's dead. Anyway, the scene fades the black and we see Tommy at a hospital with a blank face and all crazy eyed. Spooky!

Wait! Rewind that!

I love this movie so much, I don't even know where to begin. But let me say this: I review these movies as a low budget, 1980's horror fan. This movie probably sucks to some people, as it doesn't offer much plot or character development, but that isn't why I watch them. Moving on!

Speaking of character development, this is one of the few Friday movies that actually has some decent acting. You already have Glover and Feldman, and the others aren't doing a bad job either. However, a lot of actors were unhappy due to the weather conditions while filming. Shooting during the middle of winter that involves getting naked in a lake doesn't go over too well with some people. Oh yeah, that scene I mentioned earlier. The dancing.

Okay, there is a scene when the kiddos are settling into the cabin and the party is just starting. Most of the guys have paired up with their ladies, while Jimbo (Crispin Glover) puts on a record to set kill the mood. The song he put on was originally an AC/DC (Back in Black) song, but in the final cut, they settled for Lion's "Love is a Lie"- Twice as good, right?

Once Jimmy asks one of the girls to dance with him, he begins to look like a man possessed. Honestly, his movements resemble that of a spiritual manifestation. You know when you see someone completely lose all self control and go completely nuts after a religious or spiritual experience? Check it out for yourself (and he still gets the girl!):

I already spoke about Tom Savini doing the effects in this one and I'll repeat; he doesn't let down. Unfortunately, if you end up watching this movie, you'll probably get the R-rated version and not the unrated one. I'm picky about this kind of thing, so I'm always looking to find the unrated version instead, as it shows off all of Savini's work. Believe me, it makes a difference.

I also want to point out Corey Feldman’s character, Tommy. It's awesome getting to see Feldman in a Friday film, but I can never take that last scene seriously. With his bald head and the way that shirt sits on him? I don't know, I burst out laughing each time. It's also neat to point out that Feldman was legitimately terrified when Jason crashes through the window to grab him near the end of the film, as Feldman had no idea that was how the scene was going to happen.

Finally, Ted White, the guy playing Jason. In my opinion he was the best out of all the films. Everyone knows Kane Hodder mainly because he played Jason in part seven, eight, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X (shudder). I'm not knocking on his performance, he did an awesome job, but as the "undead" version. Part four is the last "human" version of Jason and Ted nails it. He's this menacing killing machine, going as far as telling the actors to actually hit him during their scenes.

Originally, White didn't want to take the role, but he needed the money since he was only in movies as a stuntman. He even went as far as to request his name to not be credited in the movie. However, he almost quit halfway through the film because the director, Joseph Zito, treated the actors like shit. As I mentioned earlier, there is a scene with Samantha (Judie Aronson) filming her death scene that required her to lay naked in a raft. Over time, she developed hypothermia but Zito would not allow her to leave the raft until she finished the scene. Ted White told Zito that if he wouldn't allow her to go inside and warm up that he would quit, and since Zito was pressed for time and money, he let her go inside.

Anyway, there isn't much more that can be said at this point. If you want to see some awesome special effects paired with some decent acting for a slasher film, check this one out.

Body Count: 13