JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY
*** Out of 5
Tagline- The Creator of the First Returns to Bring You the Last
Release Date- August 13th, 1993
Running Time- 93-Minutes
Screenplay- Dean Lorey & Jay Huguely
Director- Adam Marcus
Starring- John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Steven Culp, with Erin Gray, Steven Williams and Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees
Released in 1993 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was the 9th installment of the Friday the 13th franchise and first under New Line Cinema as the previous 8 were put out by Paramount pictures. This was billed as the final movie in the series and this wasn’t the first time since part 4 was called The Final Chapter and it was only for 1-year, but after Jason Goes to Hell it wouldn’t be until 2002 until we would see Jason again. The big selling point for Jason Goes to Hell besides being the last was the return of Sean Cunningham who directed the original film, produced this one.
Jason Goes to Hell often gets some mixed reviews from fans of the series. The problem with franchises is there comes a time when the formula runs thin and that’s when we start getting back stories to try and keep the series fresh. We’ve seen it A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween as well. When you break down the series the first 4 all follow the same formula than part 5 added a more exploitation feel. 6-8 changes the formula but doesn’t stray from it either. But while 6-8 are different than the first 4 it’s still Friday the 13th and Jason Goes to Hell has elements of past sequels but it also totally strays from the past films and actually a change or two Jason Goes to Hell could be its own movie and not even be part of the series. Even though this doesn’t use the Friday the 13th name it’s still part of the series and I respect something different was attempted, but this strays way too much.
The film opens with a woman (Julie Michaels) arriving at Camp Crystal Lake and has a classic Friday the 13th setup; Jason (Hodder) shows up and the woman runs off with Jason in pursuit. Suddenly Jason is surrounded by a SWAT team and they open fire then blow him up thus ending Jason’s reign of terror or so they thought. Jason’s remains are brought to a morgue and now we learn Jason has the ability to enter other people’s body and soon Jason’s rampage continues and we also learn the shocking secrets of the Voorhees family.
The screenplay by Dean Lorey & Jay Huguely is quite interesting as it only takes a couple of elements of the series, but mostly goes into a totally different direction and creates a backstory never even hinted at before and if anything this movie has far more of a supernatural feel. In terms of plot the Friday the 13th movies never really had one and if anything part 3 while the least amount of plot also has the most ideas it’s just never fleshed out. But Jason Goes to Hell is really the only film in the series with an actual plot, but its kinda sunk by straying too much from the concept. Like I mentioned earlier this could have been an unrelated film and I think the film while no classic would be better served. From a character standpoint this is one of the better parts if not the best. Characters have some depth and for the ones that don’t really add to the film are the very least entertaining.
Steven (LeMay) and Duke (Williams) are two of my favorite characters in the series and for some reason I’ve always loved Vicki (Allison Smith) and as I stated overall the characters are solid with some depth and even the lesser ones are entertaining in my opinion. The script really wasn’t bad at all, its not exactly one of the greatly written horror flicks but its fairly good and again Jason Goes to Hell would have been better served as its own film unrelated to the Friday the 13th films. As I mentioned as a series goes on we often get back stories or adding on to the mythology, but this one has a concept never once even hinted at. Overall the script was solid only brought down by straying too much.
Director Adam Marcus who also wrote the story delivers a fun well paced film that is pretty much action packed. This isn’t exactly horror filmmaking at its very best, but Marcus does craft a fun film that always moves at a fun pace. The suspense is light, but the fun factor makes up for that and Marcus also crafts some really great death scenes. For me the biggest problem with the direction is Jason isn’t Jason. Sure he might be in other people’s bodies, but its still Jason inside them and at times it’s a totally different character.
Adam Marcus also stages some really bizarre scenes such as a cop strapped down naked and Jason shaves him before entering his body. I guess like the script being brought down by straying too much the same can be said about the direction. I respect something different was attempted, but you still need to keep in tune with the series. Tom McLoughlin with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives was able to craft a film that stuck true to the formula, but yet bring something new and fresh to the series, without straying.
Like I said the film often draws mixed reviews with some loving it and others hating it. Honestly I would probably rate this as my least favorite because it strays too much but even if I ignored that it would still rate in my bottom 3 of the series. But I enjoy the whole series to some degree as even a poor Friday the 13th still has some fun to offer up. I do think the film itself is more of a 3.5, but I still even now writing this review 20-years after its original release still can’t fully embrace this due too straying too much even if I can watch it and enjoy it.
Back in 1987 there was an idea for a Freddy Vs. Jason movie, but New Line had Elm St. and Paramount Friday the 13th when the two studios couldn’t get an agreement the two franchises forged ahead with more sequels and when Paramount gave up on the series after the 8th installment, New Line got hold of the series and the ending of Jason Goes to Hell featured Freddy with his gloved hand snatching Jason’s mask and pulling it down to hell. That I remember got a lot of fans excited at the possibility of a Freddy and Jason movie. Who knew it would take 10-years to happen.