Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Director: Adam Marcus
Screenplay: Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely (story by Jay Huguely and Adam Marcus)
Stars: John D. LeMay (Steven Freeman), Kari Keegan (Jessica Kimble), Steven Williams (Creighton Duke), Steven Culp (Robert Campbell), Erin Gray (Diana Kimble), Rusty Schwimmer (Joey B), Richard Gant (Coroner), Leslie Jordan (Shelby), Billy Green Bush (Sheriff Ed Landis), Kipp Marcus (Officer Randy Parker), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees)
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 1993
Country: USA
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday DVD Cover

Credit should be given where credit is due: The filmmakers behind Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday tried. They really tried. Doing something original or different with the ninth installment of the Friday the 13th slasher franchise, which was largely derivative to begin with, was a significant task. That the end result is convoluted, lacking in logical coherence, and sometimes downright silly is not ideal, but you can sense the genuine desire to take the story in a new direction, and first-time director Adam Marcus gives the movie a much needed infusion of visual style.

As we all known, the star of the Friday the 13th series is the bulky, hockey-mask-wearing psychopath Jason Voorhees, who had already been dispatched numerous times in numerous ways and had turned into a supercharged zombie four movies earlier. Basically ignoring the end of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, screenwriters Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely (working from a story by Huguely and director Adam Marcus) open the movie with a literal bang: Jason is blown to pieces by a military SWAT team.

The new idea that is introduced is that Jason is a fantastical entity that can move from body to body. This is accomplished by Jason’s heart, which turns out to be its own parasitic creature that can be regurgitated from one mouth to another in scenes that are as deliberately and scatologically repulsive as the scenes of bodily parasite invasion in David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975). Thus, when his various charred parts are brought into the morgue, Jason simply takes over the body of the coroner (Richard Gant) and begins wrecking havoc all over again. Throughout the movie he takes over three different bodies, all the time in pursuit of the last of his remaining relatives because, according to the new mythology, only another Voorhees can be responsible for Jason’s complete rebirth or his ultimate demise.

Of course, because the movie relies so much on generating an entirely new explanation for Jason’s invincibility and longevity that in no way matches up with anything in the previous eight installments, Jason Goes to Hell relies a lot on long-winded exposition, not all of which really makes sense. Much of the talking falls to a high-price bounty hunter named Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), who seems to know everything there is to know about Jason, although there is no logical explanation for why he would have all this information (and where did he get the magical knife that can kill Jason, anyway?).

After winding its way back to Jason’s old stomping grounds at Crystal Lake, the narrative settles on two main characters—Jessica Kimble (Kari Keegan), who doesn’t know that she is Jason’s niece, and Steven Freeman (John D. LeMay), her ex-boyfriend and father of her infant child. Another central character is Jessica’ current boyfriend, Robert Campbell (Steven Culp), the sleazy producer-host of an America’s Most Wanted-style tabloid show who ends up being taken over by Jason at one point.

If the narrative in Jason Goes to Hell is ultimately sloppy and lacking in inner logic, much of the movie is saved by a giddy sense of humor. While not nearly as funny or creative in satirizing itself as Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Jason Goes to Hell has more than its share of in-jokes and references. The horror genre in general, and the slasher subgenre in particular, are both heavily fan-based. Few people derive pleasure from these movies other than dedicated fans who know what to take seriously and what to laugh at, and director Adam Marcus throws in lots of stuff that only horror geeks will get, including the inexplicable inclusion of the Book of the Dead from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, a memorable crate from one of the stories in George A. Romero’s Creepshow (1982), and a final shot that promises the Freddy vs. Jason movie that, nearly a decade later, still hasn’t come about.

And, of course, the ultimate characteristic of the slasher movie is that the villain is never, ever really dead. Thus, even though Jason goes to hell at the end as promised, we all know that The Final Friday is about as genuine a promise for closure as The Final Chapter.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday DVD
The Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday DVD offers both the theatrical R-rated version and an uncut, unrated version that reinstates significant amounts of sex and gore.
Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Subtitles English
DistributorNew Line Home Entertainment
Release DateOctober 8, 2002

1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is presented in a clean new anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio that looks quite good. The overall look of the movie is quite dark, but the transfer handles black levels and shadow detail very well. Colors generally look good, although some flesh tones come off as a bit too pinkish. Because Jason Goes to Hell is a more stylized movie than most entries in the series, the transfer also has to handle a significant amount of contrast extremes, especially during the carnage in the diner near the end. Grain is kept to a minimum, and there are virtually no artifacts of any kind.

English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
English DTS 5.1 Surround
English Dolby 2.0 Surround

Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and DTS 5.1 surround soundtracks are fantastic. Both are creative in their uses of imaging and directionality and keep the surround speakers almost constantly engaged in order to create an effective ambient environment. The scenes taking place outdoors are particularly well-done, with plenty of subtle background noises that mesh well with the musical score and sound effects.

Audio commentary by director Adam Marcus and cowriter Dean Laurey
Director Adam Marcus and cowriter Dean Laurey, old college friends who both went to NYU and were in their early 20s when the movie was made, offer their thoughts and reflections in this screen-specific audio commentary. They clearly do not take the movie very seriously and have fun talking and laughing about the endless continuity errors, the “formula” for slasher movies that demands either violence or nudity every seven minutes, and the various battles with the MPAA over the gore factor (interestingly, they didn’t realize they were watching the unrated director’s cut while recording the commentary until the scene with the coroner chomping into Jason’s heart). Listening to their reactions to the goriest moments (“Aghhhh! You know, you make these movies before you have children…”) is worth the listen alone.

9 TV Version Alternate Scenes
Because movies like Jason Goes to Hell have to be so significantly edited down in order to make it to network television, there is often a good deal of extra footage that has to be added in to keep the movie at a feature-length running time. Included here are nine scenes edited back into the movie when it is shown on TV. Most of them are just additional exposition and filler, and it is obvious why they were left out of the theatrical cut. Presented in 1.33:1 open-matte.

Jump to a Death
For those just looking for the gore and not wanting to waste time with the exposition in-between, the disc offers this feature, which allows you to go straight to any of the eight death sequences. They are conveniently labeled by both victims and instrument of death employed (hence, you can go to “Assistant Coroner, Skull Probe” and know exactly what you’re getting). It also offers a “Random Kill” option if picking a specific death scene is too much decision making for you.

Original theatrical trailer
Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1).

Copyright © 2002 James Kendrick

Overall Rating: (2)

James Kendrick

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