For the next day until Friday, April 13th, I’ll be watching and reviewing the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise from the very first through Jason X (I’m up in the air about including Freddy vs Jason).
I’ll be counting kills, observing the bad behavior that gets teenagers
killed at Camp Crystal Lake, chronicling the ways Jason and the other
killers in the series bite it at the end, and awarding my favorite kill
of the movie. Needless to say this is going to be heavy on the
spoilers, so if you’re some kind of movie virgin who hasn’t yet bathed
in the spring of Jason Voorhees et al, be wary.
Special thanks to Litmus Configuration for the amazing image above!
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Kills: 24 (two offscreen presumed meltings, one autopsy probe to the neck followed by a face melt through a metal grating, three offscreen and uncertain, one razor slashing, one bisecting with a pole, one totally gooey onscreen melting, one pole through the back, one head smash to a locker, two heads knocked together, one death by – apparently – compound arm fracture, one crushed, one fryolation, one face punched in, one accidental shooting, one impalement followed by head smooshing, one dumb sherriff impaling himself on a mystical dagger, one cut in half and expunged of a slimy puppet, one bear hug to the finish.)
Best Kill: A girl is giving her boyfriend the ride of his life when a pole pops out of her stomach – and then rips upward, tearing her in half. Poor dude never got to nut.
Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: An FBI lure gets naked. Three kids go to the woods to smoke pot, skinny dip and have unsafe sex. One guy steals his girlfriend’s mother’s corpse and boasts about it on a huge cellphone.
The Comeuppance: Stabbed by a magic dagger, huge Ben Grimm hands drag Jason to hell.
The Movie: After Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, federal agents raided Paramount’s Hollywood lot and rescued the hideously tortured franchise. Well-meaning authorities tried to find the series a suitable home, but as is too often the case in abusive situations, Jason Voorhees was placed with a studio that would continue to make him do completely unnatural things.
Here’s the sticky thing about Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday: taken on its own, it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. But taken as part of the franchise it’s a complete disaster. I have to wonder if this wasn’t a script intended for the A Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween (which had already begun devolving into mumbo jumbo at this point) franchises – it has a scary old Voorhees house with trap doors, a magical dagger, a bounty hunter who knows about some mystical Voorhees curse, and Jason jumping from body to body as a disembodied spirit. This is some seriously dumb shit, even in a series whose main character is an unstoppable retarded zombie.
I took to viewing this movie as an alternate reality take on Jason Voorhees, although since he only appears for maybe less than ten minutes in the whole film, it’s easy to just view this movie as part of a franchise all its own. Ignoring the end of Part VIII (and pretty much every other goddamned movie in the series), Jason Goes to Hell opens with a lone girl coming to Camp Crystal Lake and getting naked. Jason pops out and she leads him on a chase, but it’s a sting! The feds are laying in wait for Voorhees and, after pumping him full of hundreds of bullets, destroy him with an airstrike. I kind of love that – I actually love the whole opening. It’s a great idea, but it’s the sort of idea that leaves you nowhere to go except with a hypnotizing heart.
See, Jason’s exploded remains are taken to a morgue, where his heart begins beating again and hypnotizes the coroner. It hypnotizes him into eating it. Kids, never eat a beating heart unless you’re under the supervision of Joe Rogan. Anyway, the heart transfers Jason’s little balls of reddish orange light to the coroner, who begins a rampage that will bring him back to Crystal Lake.
Jason Voorhees is big news, as is the disappearance of the coroner and the subsequent massacre at the morgue. A tabloid news show is excited to cover the mystery, and they bring on bounty hunter Creighton Duke, known for taking down serial killers, to explain why Jason Voorhees isn’t dead and what it will take to kill him. Jason Goes to Hell is unique among Friday films in that it actually has a number of actors that you’ll easily recognize from other work (and weirdly stars Billy Green Bush, who I just saw as Zipper in Electra Glide in Blue. Still in police work!), and this scene puts two of my faves against each other: Steven Culp, aka RFK in Thirteen Days and Rex on Desperate Housewives, interviews Steven Williams, X from X-Files and Captain Fuller from 21 Jump Street! Erin Gray’s in this movie as well, and she later gets a monster in her pussy, but let’s not jump ahead.
Anyway, Duke explains that Jason Voorhees can only be killed by a Voorhees, but that he can also be reborn through a Voorhees. This is stupid in the extreme – he was just a retard who couldn’t swim back in 1980! But it is what it is. It turns out that Erin Gray is Jason’s long-lost half-sister, that she has a daughter and that her daughter in turn has a child. They’re the reason why Jason is returning to Crystal Lake – to either kill them or be reborn through them.
Why did this never bother Jason before? Hey look, the coroner arrives in Crystal Lake and slices a naked girl graphically in twain! I can hear the filmmakers sighing in relief that tits and gore have taken your mind off the movie’s absurd plot, but not even Caligula-level debauchery could keep us from pondering the sheer idiocy that is yet to come. Jason begins body hopping seemingly at random, and it isn’t eating a heart that does it anymore – he pukes a snake into your mouth to take you over. By the time that Jason takes over Steven Culp (who is schtupping Jason’s niece, conveniently enough), I began to think that maybe the toxic waste in Part VIII had sent Jason on some kind of crazy psychedelic trip and this was all in his head and maybe – hey, wait, the guy who used to be Jason is now melting in extremely yucky detail! What was I just wondering about?
RFK Voorhees now begins stalking Jason’s niece and her ex and baby daddy, some 30 year old dweeb in a letter jacket (whose insane costuming choice was this?) and follows them first to a police station and then to a diner, where some excellent carnage takes place – say what you will about how silly this movie is, and it’s pretty fucking silly, the unrated cut on DVD delivers the violence. It doesn’t deliver the logic, plot or tension, but the violence is all right there.
The final showdown takes place in the old Voorhees house (I’m still too annoyed at the idea that, in their attempt to shove every fucking horror series into this movie the filmmakers took the house from Psycho). It’s Letter Jacket Dweeb, Jason’s Neice and Steven Williams. They have a magic dagger (don’t ask where it came from. No, really, I have no fucking clue, the movie just presents it. Maybe this dagger was introduced in an earlier Friday film in whatever alternate universe Jason Goes to Hell takes place in. Maybe it was Friday the 13th Part V: Jason Takes Mordor) and Jason’s Niece needs to stab the current Jason body with it. The film, which had been previously ignoring series continuity now ignores its own – the newest Jason host can talk! Anyway, they cut him in half but a little Ghoulie crawls out, finds Erin Gray’s corpse (long story, not worth telling) and climbs into her pussy.
Let’s slow down a moment and drink all of this in. I was sort of grooving with the movie before now; sure, it’s awful and it has the production values of a Sci Fi Original movie and it’s maybe just a little too tongue-in-cheek for its own good (I have long complained that modern B movies are too self-aware, and that the old B movies we love are the ones that actually try to be movies), but it was agreeably insane, and the lack of anyone walking around in a hockey mask allowed me to sort of just enjoy it on its own goofy merits. But all of a sudden a human body is cleaved and a stupid slimy puppet crawls out of it, scampers around, gets into a very fakey looking fight with Letter Jacket Dweeb (although I do love puppet vs actor battles where the actor is obviously just shaking the puppet) and then SLITHERS INTO KATE SUMMER STRATTON’S CUNT. The puppet enters the vagina of Wilma Deering. I don’t think even Buck Rogers pulled that stunt off.
If Jason Goes to Hell is Jason’s toxin-induced acid trip, here comes the peak: once the monster is snuggled in a Voorhees vag, Jason gets reborn – in a hockey mask and in the same raggedy outfit he had on at the beginning of the film. Oh, and still as a zombie. Does this really count as being reborn? This is so stupid that you realize what ‘Don’t Give A Shit At All’ filmmaking looks like. This is some avant garde stuff here.
The finale keeps spiraling into lunacy – once stabbed with magic dagger, Jason is pinned down by a light from heaven. At this point in the movie I felt like the lone drunk at the beginning of an old monster movie – you know, the first guy to see the monster, who then looks at his bottle of booze and says something like ‘I’m done with this!’ and tosses it aside. I sat on my couch in actual disbelief when the heavenly light hit Jason, but that isn’t even the best part. Giant fucking rubber hands come out of the dirt and drag Jason to hell. All that’s left is the hockey mask… which the hand of Freddy Krueger snatches at the very end of the film.
Jason Goes to Hell actually outdoes the misleading title of Jason Takes Manhattan by having Jason only go to hell in the last 90 seconds of the movie. With that logic it should come as no surprise that the original title of Jason X, the one that sees Jason in outer space, was originally Jason On the Road to Zanzibar.
I don’t know how much New Line paid for the rights to this character (but obviously not the title). Whatever it was, it was too much, since they barely use anything that is recognizable from the previous films. The whole deal was obviously to set up the Freddy vs Jason movie, but then why bother making this weird conglomeration of badness? Was there an exec at New Line who honestly believed the fans needed a whole movie to explain why Jason would be in hell, or wherever it is that Freddy found him (confession: I have not ever seen that movie. I am still deciding whether to do it as a bonus film for this series, but to be frank these last few movies have made me feel like I’ve done a couple of rounds of rooftop boxing with a guy in hockey mask myself)? If so, the answer was not to make a movie that just ignores all previous continuity (such at is in this series). Jason Goes to Hell is a weird anomaly in the series, a Friday entry that feels more like it would belong on the same named TV show. Even Jason X has Voorhees running around as Voorhees and doing his usual slasher gags… albeit in fucking space.
Still, Jason Goes to Hell has the best opening in the series (well, except for the Jason Bond bit in Jason Lives), and unlike earlier, tepid installments (I am so looking at you, Part II), it’s never quite boring. Annoying, yeah, but rarely dull. In fact, if the movie had just left out some of that magic garbage at the end, I might actually be able to like it in an almost non-ironic way.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday scores:
Two Retard Jasons out of four.
Next: Jason kills David Cronenberg and then goes to space. You can’t accuse New Line of just remaking the same film again and again.