Tag Archives: Slasher

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

Such a shitty poster

Such a shitty poster

You may have noticed my reviews of the Friday the 13th films stopped rather abruptly. I thought this was a couple of months ago, but was shocked that it has been 12 months. Basically, I was struggling to get my hands on a copy of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). Luckily for me it reappeared on DVD here not so long ago and I was able to snaffle a copy. This was especially lucky, because this is a cracking slasher entry and continues the strange theme of the later entries in this series generally  exceeding the earlier ones.

Right from the start Jason Goes to Hell is a much creepier effort than the rest of the series. The isolated atmosphere is really well done in the prologue style opening, blown light bulbs shading a frightening return to Crystal Lake. The culmination of this prologue is a smile inducing early twist that sets the plot off in a unique direction for the franchise, though it is reminiscent of Shocker (1989) and perhaps one of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels (but I can’t recall which one). Changing of mythology in a series can really rub people up the wrong way and that has often been the case for me. But this change to the Jason formula felt like a real regeneration. All of the initial set-up is great, moving from Crystal Lake to an autopsy scene that changes up the rhythm you would expect from a slasher, with a literal black heart beating strong. The narrative approach, diverging more than you would expect from the slasher formula, is one of the chief joys of the film. There is some nice reflective ideas, a current affairs program reporting on Jason’s murders, without ever going into over the top meta territory.

jason hell head

One of my major criticisms of this franchise is that the films are not particularly frightening. But this is easily the scariest of the lot. There is far more tension here than any of the other films, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that Jason as we know him featuring less prominently. That lends an unpredictability to the action and narrative that is thankfully not overused by the plot.  Tension also comes from the quality of the writing, especially of the characters, which is better than average. We care about these characters more than in most of these films and as a result, care a lot more about what happens to them. None of these films are overly stylish, but Jason Goes to Hell looks and feels better than most of them. There is a charming quality to most of the style, with funky looking camera movements and unnerving angles used, whilst the soundtrack joins Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) as one of the  best in the franchise. It is used really well too, foreboding tunes setting up the atmosphere initially and helping enhance the many scares.

Verdict: Jason Goes to Hell is the scariest film in this iconic series, and one of the best too. The narrative conceit feels original, boldly giving us less of ‘Jason’ as we perceive him, but making the story beats feel different to what have come before. And if you don’t know of the final scene in this film, then whatever you do go in cold – it’s a cracker and I wish I didn’t know what was coming.  Stubby of Reschs

  1. Friday the 13th Part VII
  2. Jason Goes to Hell
  3. Friday the 13th Part 2
  4. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
  5. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  6. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
  7. Friday the 13th
  8. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
  9. Friday the 13th Part III

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Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

A delightfully to the point tagline

‘Jason is going to kill you!’ – a delightfully to the point tagline

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) is a refreshing rebirth for the series. By both integrating itself into the rest of the series and having a sense of humour without being too ludicrous, the film is one of the most enjoyable films in the series.

Gross

Gross

In a change for the series, the opening of the film is atmospheric and genuinely scary. Riffing on Frankenstein (1931), the film opens in a foggy, dark cemetery, the vibe well and truly heightened by solid use of the soundtrack. Further inviting comparisons to the James Whale classic is the grave robbing that takes place in the early part of the film as Tommy (another ‘creepy not Feldman’) opens up the tomb of Jason Voorhees to ensure he is well and truly dead. Jason’s maggot infested body is one of the visual highlights of the series up to this point and the reanimation of his corpse (erm… spoiler, Jason comes back) is a wonderfully schlocky scene combining the slasher genre with some more supernatural elements. Specifically it is a bolt of lightning that gives Jason life, reinforcing the Frankenstein correlations even further. But it never feels derivative in that sense, rather it feels like a really fun homage. Another point of difference and a very important one for this film is that the kids actually make it to camp this year. That sets up the most intense elements of the film, which balance the humour this film brings to the table. This is taken some pretty intense and shocking places which is a change from the constant over the top body count with no real stakes that has occasionally featured in this series and also does in some parts of this film.  It also delivers one of the lines of the series when seemingly nearing death, one little dude enquires of another “so, what were you gonna be when you grew up.”

'Creepy not Feldman' mach 2

‘Creepy not Feldman’ mach 2

One of the reasons that the film does feel like a rebirth of the series is that it manages to engage with the earlier films, rather than completely starting over. The inclusion of the character of Tommy connects the film to number IV. Even though the series at this point has almost done away with bothering with narratives for the films (which is not always a totally bad thing, as in this case), that connection at least gives a sense of some narrative substance. At least one character in the film has some motivation. What this film does better than any other in the series and better than a vast majority of slashers that attempt to do the same, is inject humour into proceedings. When it works well in this film, which is a reasonable amount, there is an awesome and genuinely funny schlockiness that manages to avoid veering into the silly. Even those aspects which absolutely could be silly, such as the James Bond reference in the opening credits manage to avoid that.

As a general rule, slashers that also try and be funny are the absolute worst. Not so Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, which manages to maintain some focus on the slashing and not totally concern itself with making terrible 80s jokes.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Series ranking thus far:

  1. Friday the 13th Part 2
  2. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
  3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  4. Friday the 13th
  5. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
  6. Friday the 13th Part III

Like what you read? Then please like Beermovie.net on facebook here and follow me on twitter @beer_movie