Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
The things which most die-hard Friday the 13th fans dislike about Jason Goes to Hell are the things which I believe make it one of the best later entries in the series. Namely, its the movie's departure from the tried and true Crystal Lake formula that makes it interesting and actually engaging. Of course the plot, which we'll get to in a minute, is a little more involved than that of some of the previous films, but Jason Goes to Hell is full of little details that should have been part of the series for a long time and it even attempts to explain Jason's darn near immortal status. I had just about lost hope for the franchise after Jason Takes Manhattan, but director Adam Marcus and his co-writers Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely, manage to give us a Friday movie with some actual story that tries to tie some loose ends together and which, wisely, decides to jettison some dead weight from previous films.
To get things going with a bang, Jason is literally blown to pieces at the start of the movie during an FBI sting operation. The charred and bullet ridden body parts are taken to a Federal morgue for autopsy. Soon, however, it is clear that things aren’t quite over for the citizens of Crystal Lake yet. While examining the killer’s malformed heart, the coroner falls into a trance like state and suddenly devours the organ. Now possessed, the man take out another doctor and two security guards and begins the long bloody journey back to the old home town.
The focus of the movie now changes back to Crystal Lake, where the citizens are celebrating the final destruction of Jason and cashing in on the notoriety which the killer, his crimes and his spectacular end have brought the town. The local diner is selling Jason Burgers (in the shape of hockey masks) and Voorhees Fingers (fries). The first sign that things aren’t quite right is a bounty hunter who has been hired by tabloid show American Casefile after he claims that Jason isn’t really dead and that he knows the way to finally put an end to the killers reign of terror. It seems bounty hunter Creighten Duke, played very well by Steven Williams (who "X-Files" fans will recognize as the late Mr. X), knows that the demonic entity which that makes Jason Voorhees so invulnerable can and will seek a new body now that its old one has been destroyed. The only problem is, these others bodies can’t support its power like Jason’s and its "hosts" quickly break down and begin to dissolve into unappetizing goo. The only way that it can return to its permanent home is to find and possess another Voorhees. Duke, however, also knows that from a Voorhees the monster was born and only by a Voorhees can it be definitively slain. Thus, the stage is set for a race between Duke and the body hopping "hellbaby" to reach Jason’s long lost sister. Diana Kimble, her daughter Jessica and Jessica’s infant daughter. Thown into the mix is Steven Freeman, Jessica’s estranged boyfriend and father of her daughter. He joins Duke in trying to protect the girls, but all are kept on the run by the unstoppable demon who possesses several townsfolk and American Casefile personnel to achieve its murderous ends. Of course some bystanders get in the way and are dealt with soundy.
Now I know this plot sounds a bit off the beaten Friday path, but I for one believe that this is the freshest take on the Jason mythos to date. What is this demon and how and why was in born in the form of Pamela and Elias Vorhees’ only son Jason? Well, we are never expressly told, but during a brief visit to the abandoned and run-down old Voorhees house, we are given a quick glimpse of an old book that looks very much like The Necronomicon from the Evil Dead movies. We are led to believe, I assume, that Elias or Pamela or perhaps both may have been dabbling in demonology or some form of the black arts way back in the early 1940s before their son was born. Also, the fact that Elias has never been seen and is only mentioned briefly in this movie makes us wonder what happened to him and what he might be up to. It would seem apparent that Mrs. V. was single during her killing spree in the first Friday so perhaps her husband was already dead or.... Well, nobody knows, but any plot that can get fans speculating like this is a good thing. In a series that had become more formula that fright, this was much needed shot in the arm.
Another thing that make Jason Goes to Hell a more interesting movie is the reaction of the town and even the entire nation to the goings on in around Camp Crystal Lake. One thing that always bugged me about this series is that people kept going back into the woods even though well over 100 people had already been killed there. I mean, every small town has a shunned place, but some places are shunned for a reason. The events of Friday parts 2, 3 and 4 all take place within a three or four day period, but people are just going about their business like nothing has happened. You’d think the brutal slayings of 20 or so people would make the news. In Jason Goes to Hell, though, everyone knows about Crystal Lake and the camp really has been abandoned for years. Jason is the most famous serial killer in America and, as mentioned before, the FBI is has launched a full-scale operation to not just kill, but obliterate the maniac. This approach is a much more logical take on things and it makes the town of Crystal Lake seem like more of real place and not just some place for fodder to pass through on the way to their summer jobs at the camp. Not since the original has the town and its residents seemed so much a part of the story.
All in all, Jason Goes to Hell is a great addition to the series and succeeds greatly in erasing the memory of previous disasters (parts 5 and 8, I’m looking at you) from the viewer’s minds. The 20 something to 50 something cast is very competent in their rolls and they seem not to have the "Who cares, it's just a Friday the 13th movie" attitude that some folks have had in the past and most, if not all, of them have the talent to pull off their roles convincingly.
One gripe a lot of fans have with this movie that actual Jason in only onscreen for the beginning and climax of the film. However, there is plenty of good old school Friday the 13th mayhem to be had and, in fact, the kills in this one are probably the most graphic in the series since The Final Chapter. Some of the murders, believe it or not, actually rival and even surpass Tom Savini’s master work in TFC and are a welcome boon to were getting bored with the watered down slayings that plagued the series since around part 6 or so.
We discover (through the patches on the police uniforms) that Crystal Lake is in Cunningham County (named, one can suppose, after the director of the original film, Sean S. Cunningham).
Many of the props in this film are shared with the Evil Dead series.
Look for the crate from Creepshow in the basement of the Voorhees house.