Gateway Film Center, Columbus, Ohio – Friday, October 13, 2017*
To celebrate the most recent Friday the 13th falling in October, Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center pulled off a wonderful idea in high style: a back-to-back screening of the first four Friday the 13th films – known colloquially by many fans as “the good ones” – starting at 7:00 on the night itself and ending in Saturday the 14th’s wee hours, just like Friday the 13th Part 3 technically began. Naturally, I was second row aisle for all the carnage, and what follow are breathless, fragmented field reports from the scene, covering all the scenes that I saw fit. Read on if you’re maybe not above a little trespassing on condemned property, definitely not afraid of 3-D yo-yos, if you instinctively shrug off obscure talk downtown of a “death curse”, and know enough to come in out of the rain. We’re gonna party like Ted (Part 2) was bringing the booze and Ted (Part 4) was picking the entertainment…
*Obviously embellished after the screening, much as Kiss’ “Alive!” was later augmented (allegedly) with studio tricks – increased and/or focused crowd noise and the like. No way was I going to further disturb my already disturbed fellow patrons by whipping out my cell phone, or deny myself the pleasure of absorbing “Friday the 13th” on the big screen. I did, however, jot down big ticket items in between showings, and made sure to take copious mental notes throughout. It was a blast.
1:10 AM (approximately) – It’s probably best at this moment that 3-D and I go our separate ways. For Part 3, that neolithic gimmick, a favorite of mid-’80s genre hucksters, was equally a font of creativity and an albatross around its figurative neck. Those of you who routinely pay the big bucks to see the latest from DC, Marvel, or Michael Bay in 3-D probably haven’t experienced 90+ minutes of the joy that is your eyes trying to interpret spatial geography while marinating in red and blue cellophane, and I don’t recommend it to anyone but the truly committed. I just enjoy single vision renderings of characters and objects in living color too much. As this screening proved, I actually like Part 3 a good bit more than I routinely give it credit. Some of the 3-D gags looked just great, especially as the film itself picked up toward the end. At the same time, I took the glasses off altogether for a five-or-so-minute stretch during the middle distance and didn’t terribly mind the difference.
1:11 AM – Paul’s campfire yarn to his impressionable junior counselor troops from Part 2, in which the concept of Jason was finally broached independent of Mrs. Voorhees’ elliptical, entertainingly toothy ramblings, is repurposed, with the help of three films’ worth of footage and an ace editor, into what is undeniably one hell of pre-title montage. The previous opening salvos all leaned far too much on their predecessors’ endings, begging the question of how you can already be out of new ideas before even trying one. It just seems an amateurish tactic. To a one, the pre-titles are my least favorite part of their respective movies, with due respect to Alice’s fever dream recap from Part 2, though Part 4 at least tries hard to buck that trend. Ridiculous as it might seem in retrospect, The Final Chapter really was once envisioned as being Jason’s last ride, and, as such, Paramount, previously content to merely distribute the films widely and count the proceeds, allowed a level of extra production heft befitting the occasion.
1:13 AM – I mentioned Part 2’s extended hybrid flashback/contemporary telenovela of an opening before, which definitely sticks out among the big four’s various bumbling pre-title attempts. Oddly enough, it wouldn’t be until The Final Chapter’s obnoxiously ill-conceived immediate sequel that we finally got a pre-title sequence that featured no footage from a previous movie whatsoever…unless, of course, you count the timeless wonder that was then-fourteen-year-old Corey Feldman’s face. Whether this was a legitimate attempt to finally switch things up or just a painfully on-the-nose preemptive nod to that film’s abiding cheapness is something I guess we’ll never truly know, but I’m voting for the latter, since almost everything The Final Chapter was – creative, intense, both relatable and engaging on-screen and highly competent off – would be eschewed wholesale by A New Beginning, leaving intact only its prodigious body count and manic preoccupation with sex. You know, the essentials.
1:17 AM – As police and paramedics deconstruct the sprawling Higgins Haven crime scene, including a convincing mock-up of the barn where Jason made his historic first final stand, I find myself struck most by the blase attitudes of all but one of the attendants – these folks have presumably been worked to the brink of collapse, after all, by two separate massacres in as many days – and, of course, by Jason’s runaway fingernails, which look like those folding mini-shovels conveniently available (in packs of five?) at your neighborhood camping outfitter.
1:18 AM – I’ve never quite understood the shot of the emergency personnel – cops, paramedics, lights all ablaze – spontaneously getting the F out of Higgins Haven in what seems like an unbroken caravan, especially when director Joseph Zito lingers on the formerly chaotic scene, now black and still, for another seven or so seconds, as if trying to prove some elusive philosophical point. Why would everyone just split at once? Was Dallas on?
1:18:30 AM – As we transition to the local morgue, Zito cleverly mounts a camera on Jason’s gurney to provide extended POV as he negotiates the halls. I also really appreciate the momentary insert shot of a distraught couple in an ancillary waiting room, with the husband standing and stoic and the seated wife comforting a brown-haired girl in pink with her back to us that I assume is supposed to be Part 3’s Chris. Really nice touch, and it won’t be the last. Zito may not have Sean Cunningham’s gift for arresting visuals, but he does have an apparent way with young actors and an appealing eye for details.
1:19 AM – We are introduced to Wessex County, New Jersey’s head coroner, Axel. A class act and consummate professional, he greets the paramedics with his mouth full, resting a half-eaten sandwich on the barrel chest of the momentarily-late Mr. Voorhees (wait, Spoiler Alert?!) just long enough to sign over the chain of custody form while making a casual inference to necrophilia that is more than sufficient to speed them on their way. Axel is played by D-movie “that guy” Bruce Mahler, also notable as the oblivious, accident-prone Officer Fackler from the Police Academy franchise. You gotta hand it to the guy’s agent for insisting only on prestige parts.
1:19:30 AM – Who knew there was so much sexual intrigue to be found in a county morgue, or snappy banter between sniping lovers that sparkles like a DIY production of His Girl Friday? You’re probably rethinking your career path as we speak.
1:20 AM – Cascades of snickering laughter from the gallery behind me at the repeated shots of the racy “exercise” program Faxler is watching in the cold room. I don’t find it hard to believe something of the like existed in 1984, but its place on the television dial a single channel away from the local news does raise eyebrows. These girls seem like go-getters and are unassailably limber. I personally find their enthusiastic commitment to fitness inspiring.
1:22 AM – “I’ll tell you where I’m going! I’m going crazy!” Dunno why I enjoy that throwaway line so, except perhaps as proof that, despite being up for occasional hijinks in the cold room with him, the quick-thinking Nurse Morgan – and, given this series’ intellectual pedigree, she is a Mensa member – is superior to her pesky, pervy paramour in every way conceivable.
1:23 AM – I assume everyone else noticed the wisp of exhaled air escaping from Jason’s mask just before the door closes as he is loaded into the morgue freezer?
1:24 AM – The first non-montage murder of the movie is arguably its best, as Jason uses a bone saw to slit Faxler’s throat with extreme prejudice, then almost twists his head off his shoulders for good measure. It’s the sort of set piece that would, a scant year later, make the already visually paltry New Beginning appear unbearably cheap by comparison. SFX deity Tom Savini is back in the saddle for The Final Chapter, and, like a multi-Olympic champion, boldly sets a high bar right out of the gate to test himself, then proceeds to attack it with unflagging gusto and impressive success.
(cont.) Farewell, Nurse Morgan. The infliction upon you, in rapid succession, of first Faxler and then Jason would have to qualify, I’d think, as the textbook definition of a bad night.
1:25 AM – Sorry, but I simply cannot get over this fact: At the beginning of Part 3, Ma and Pa Yunkfud are watching breaking news on Farmer Jason’s massacre at Packanack Lodge, which means that, at worst, Goalie Jason debuted on Saturday the 14th of the same weekend. At the beginning of Final Chapter, we see police and EMT literally mopping up the aftermath of Goalie Jason’s assault on Higgins Haven, meaning that this movie could’ve instead been called One Hell of a Bender, since it apparently starts on Sunday the 15th of that same long, bloody, insanely bacchanalian weekend with no letup in sight. Why the hell are Trish and Mrs. Jarvis jogging around “the lake” innocently, as if two dozen kids, bikers, cops, and town crazies hadn’t been brutally murdered in their backyard since the start of happy hour Friday? I’m telling you again: go visit Aunt Millie in Hoboken. You’ll live longer.
1:25:30 AM – Tommy’s introduction – a precocious kid casually playing “Zaxxon” on a Commodore 64 home computer while wearing a self-designed alien mask beneath a red baseball cap – pulls off the neat trick of being charming without being cloying, and descriptive without being overbearing. Immediately, we know who Tommy is and we like him. By extension, we like the Jarvis clan a bit more as well, despite the fact that riding out the aftermath of Goalie Jason’s rampage in their backyard earmarks the whole lot as morons.
1:26 AM – But hark, what mechanical beast rounds the bend o’er yonder? Why, ‘tis a car veritably teeming with morons! We’ll meet them all in turn, of course, but I will say up front that they’re a reliable, arguably even above average, assortment of series cliches intermixed with a few who have no established precedent. In Breakfast Club parlance, we could identify them as “The Bland Guy” (Paul), “The Sweet Guy” (Doug…yeah, I had no idea either), “The Virgin” (Sara), “The Sexpot” (Samantha), “The Nebbish” (Jimmy), and “The Creep” (Ted). Besides the preordained conjugal couple – Samantha and Paul if you’re keeping score – Final Chapter breaks somewhat new ground on two fronts: first of all, in pairing off (almost) every other member of its teenaged contingent into a couple of his or her own instead of just leaving them pining alone, and, more importantly, by introducing, in the oddball/sleazeball pairing of Jimmy and Ted, the series’ first true platonic hetero couple, although, admittedly, one seizing on more of a Bert/Ernie than a Segal/Rudd vibe.
1:27 AM – Ah yes, there it is: the immortal descriptor “Dead F$%k”. Ted’s poisonous sexual invective against the terminally insecure Jimmy; Twitter shade in ancient form. It’s the improvised elephant in Final Chapter’s living room, and so I have to mention it, though I’ll at least try to keep repeat references to a minimum, less because this is some kind of family blog than because this unfortunate bit of blown-up improv is one of the eighteen or so things that, to me, keep Final Chapter from the supreme being status so many Friday fans want to bestow upon it. Ted’s kind of the little cartoon devil that sits on Jimmy’s shoulder, reminding him with a smile or a scowl just how weak and inadequate he is. That’s what friends are for. Fun fact: in the time it took to write this, the “Dead F$%k” counter is already up to three.
1:28 AM – The Final Chapter’s two major contributions to series canon are, of course, the introduction of Tommy Jarvis, who would go on to become Jason’s longest tenured adversary, and bestowing upon the late Mrs. Voorhees the first name Pamela. Fans take it for granted now, but before the tasteful if not subtle zoom in on an otherwise nondescript headstone, we only knew her as Mrs. Voorhees. A smile of warm nostalgia always lights my face when I see the grave’s inscription: “At rest”. Yeah, don’t you dare believe it, buddy.
1:29 AM – Lots of fans seem to remember the random murder of the banana-loving hitchhiker fondly. To me it’s also the grossest thing in the movie, and for reasons having little to do with special effects. Always chew your food before swallowing, kids, and, also, try to swallow your food before being stabbed in the throat. Knowing is half the battle.
1:31 AM – Zito has said in interviews that he lingers on the shot of Mrs. Jarvis observing the incoming kids as they decamp and move into the impressively gothic, not-at-all-evocative-of-Psycho mansion next door because he wanted to sow seeds of doubt in the audience that mothers of any sort in this series could be trusted. He’s reaching, obviously, but even though there’s no practical room for such a conceit to co-exist with a full-on Voorheesian rampage, that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t kind of intriguing.
1:32 AM – Final Chapter’s compulsion towards Halloween-esque, “realistic” teenage dialogue reaches its premature nadir with the weird conversation about the perks and perils of promiscuity between Sara and Sam, ostensible best friends more conveniently known for our purposes as The Virgin and The Sexpot. Sara’s Hallmark Channel-certified journey of self-discovery on the way to becoming 20% more sexually assertive is one of several subplots with the kids that Zito follows to the end. As for the misunderstood Sam, Judie Aronson parlayed her status as the most consistently nude cast member in the series’ first third into a role as Wyatt’s dreamgirl in Weird Science, which, yes, is how I first became aware of her, now that you ask.
1:34 AM – You know how some child actors just have, not simply the face of an adult but their own actual adult face, already fully formed, and a glaring, superimposed, four-alarm distraction even at the age of twelve? That’s Corey Feldman. To his credit, the kid works overtime to be memorable here, and the scene of him going into hyperdrive watching Sam and Paul make out through his bedroom window remains a winner, but my god, I can still only suspend disbelief so far. Part of why Tommy Jarvis, despite the efforts of all involved, never really resonated with me as a character until Jason Lives was because I could never fully disassociate him from Corey Feldman. All this irrepressible scamp needed was an earring and a coke habit and he’d be effortlessly fusing together generations, posing a likely threat to the space-time continuum.
1:35 AM – Look, authentic British Doublemint twins! Who just happen to be former Playboy Magazine models! Innocently riding bikes down the same hiking path as our heroes! Ask the gods of plot contrivance, and ye shall receive, apparently. Just wow.
1:35:30 AM – By the way, I’m never impressed by the sudden, unwelcome appearance of daylight in these woods (again), each instance of which causes us to reset our mental clocks and sends the series’ already tenuous continuity sliding further into an abyss of its own creation. Let’s say the second day of Part 2, the one with all the stabbing, happened on Friday the 13th legitimately, and, somehow, the entire massacre at Higgins Haven got squeezed into the next day. Jason escaped the morgue in that morning’s wee hours and set back off, reinvigorated in more ways than one, on his path of hitchhiker-ending destruction just as Trish and Mrs. Jarvis were finishing up their daily ritual of “once around the lake”. The kids move into the not-Psycho house that night. And now it’s the morning of “Monday the 16th”, which most definitely does not roll off the tongue.
1:37 AM – So when a sexy British model invites you to go swimming with she and her twin sister, the appropriate response is definitely (not) some variation of, “No, we have no suits!” Just when you thought they couldn’t possibly concoct a character more socially retarded than Shelley, here comes Jimmy, bless him. Friday the 13th really had its finger on the fluttering pulse of awkward teenaged boys everywhere. The resulting coed skinny-dipping summit is arguably the most chivalrous, or at least equanimous, scene in a series that has historically aimed low on the gender relations front and, even then, consistently missed its mark.
1:38 AM – Tommy gets another eyeful, this time of some synchronized twinning, when he wanders onto the periphery of Skinny Fest, already in progress. Zito does a fairly clever thing with Tommy, making him into the audience’s avatar, at least early on. Who cares if the movie is pitched at the emotional maturity level of a horny teenager if we’re already processing it through a twelve-year-old’s eyes? Trish’s quip about being overdressed when Ted tries to bait her into the water is its own deft little maneuver, allowing herself to approximate the appearance of still being fun while maintaining her distance from the kids next door, which, in the end, is a big part of why she survives so long.
1:41 AM – Strangely, Sam makes for a more convincing fake corpse – playing a mean but effective prank on hapless, good-natured Sara – than she will in a little while as a real one – with Jason using her as a prop in a far crueler trick, this time on her wayward boyfriend.
1:43 AM – From this point forward, Zito completely segregates the houses from interaction with one another, bringing forth the hedonists to battle Jason and their various sexual urges in no particular order while largely leaving the young Jarvises to amass for the climax. The introduction of Hitchhiker Rob as a sort of adjunct fourth Jarvis helps even the numbers a little, and the family takes to him with the sort of zeal for a reasonably friendly face you frankly might expect from lonely people living so far off the beaten path. Tommy hauls the mysterious drifter upstairs to show him the full breadth of his homemade, admittedly impressive – almost overly impressive, and obviously Savini-aided – SFX studio, while Trish immediately crushes on and confides in him, all but offering their unlocked home up as a waystation in case of foul weather. Pretty much everyone in this movie has sex on the brain.
1:45 AM – Isn’t it almost prohibitively difficult to make out in a baseball cap worn facing forward? Frat bros of the world unite, and back up my completely unsubstantiated theory here.
1:46 AM – Even in a brutish film soon to be lousy with escalating hostilities, Jimmy’s spastic icebreaker dance with, or, rather, in the vicinity of Tina is an unequivocal high point – not just of The Final Chapter but also the entire series. Crispin Glover brings so much of his own innate oddness as an actor to Jimmy’s soul that the kid eventually, and happily, transcends his boilerplate origins and becomes a character that the audience actively wants to root for. The crowd at GFC was hooting throughout and even applauding in spots as Jimmy literally danced like no one was watching. Legendary.
1:47 AM – By contrast, Ted’s maul-happy seduction technique leaves absolutely everything to be desired, driving a retreating Tina into the flightpath of the nearest semi-available non-Ted in the room, in this case Sam’s be-hatted boyfriend Paul, and inadvertently causing a chain reaction that will end in tears down by the lake a few minutes hence. Zito doesn’t overly dwell on any of his numerous soap operatic beats, but at least makes the effort to flesh the kids out on something just north of a superficial level. It makes a minute but noticeable difference in the final product.
1:50 AM – And with that, the “Dead F$%k” counter is up to seven. Maybe the last? Oh wait, no, there’s also the scene later where Tina, who gets around, reassures Jimmy he’s actually good in bed, which you have to admit, questions of their looming – nay, stampeding – fate aside, is a pretty sweet gesture on her part, and a nice, small victory, however fleeting, for Our Man Jim.
1:53 AM – Even more than his, you know, spontaneous frigging resurrection in a freezer drawer at the Wessex County morgue, Sam’s death while sulking and pining for Paul out in the inflatable raft marks a true crossing of the Rubicon for the Jason character, who, for the better part of two movies, was presented as particularly fearsome and murderous monster, but also a more or less recognizable human being. This superhero is coming into his powers now, however – chief among them, the apparent ability to breathe underwater, raising nary a ripple or air bubble, for as many stacked minutes as it takes to arrive at the perfect dramatic moment to strike – and there is officially no going back.
1:57 AM – Somewhere in a private vault in the recesses of Tom Savini’s gleefully demented mind, Paul’s death sequence, wherein he is hoisted by the crotch of his jean shorts by a speargun that is then deployed as a ruthless sort of exclamation point, exists in a version untouched by the prudes and killjoys at the Motion Picture Association of America. Neither you nor I have ever seen it, and at this point I think I can speak for the men in the audience when I say that such censorship is not always necessarily a bad thing. R.I.P. to Paul, though back at the house his valiant blue hat lives on.
1:58 AM – In a notable departure for a series in which the characters generally have the awareness level and reaction times of a senior living sewing circle, Hitchhiker Rob is roused out of his peaceful evening’s routine by the sounds of Paul extreme groin pull down by the lake. Rob sets off from base camp, machete in hand, to investigate, only to find his tent ransacked upon returning. You are not going to win this one, mortals; you are simply outclassed. Aunt Millie’s in Hoboken is looking better by the minute, I’d wager.
1:59 AM – Sam and Paul must’ve really primed that bed for destruction if it can only bear the combined weight of Tina and Jimmy for a few seconds before collapsing. Poor Jimmy, even if he is about to get laid. On some level, he can’t even get into bed without making a spectacle of himself. The 13th brain trust would move away from the inclusion of an oddball in every cast immediately following this movie, and, enervating as they sometimes were, their loss was felt. For all their outsized and convoluted faults, Ted, Ned, Shelley, and Jimmy were very often the straws that stirred these movies. The removal of further characters of their ilk would have ripple effects on the series, most crucially introducing a yawning personality deficiency from which, in some ways, to some critics, it would never fully recover.
2:00 AM – If it’s 2AM, that must mean Part 4 Ted (please never confuse him with Part 2’s spear-wielding, practical joking, handheld game-playing “sixth man of the year”) has found reels of barely watchable primitive porn and, in preparation for the hilarity to come, is getting high as F this very moment. The stag viewing party sequence goes exactly nowhere for far too long – distracting certain cast members long enough for others to get offed without arousing suspicion – and, as with many of The Final Chapter‘s problematic moments, Ted is the catalyst. Even though I despise his character, I do have to grudgingly admire how far Zito was willing to let Ted go, how much of an unfortunate imprimatur he imparts on the movie, like a messy brand on a newborn calf. Notice also how, since he’s an asshole not an oddball, I purposely left Ted out of the discussion above.
2:02 AM – I would’ve enjoyed twin Terri’s death far more – her shadow is impaled by a spear of some kind, silhouetted against the not-Psycho house in a flash of lightning – if her body wasn’t then immediately stapled to the exterior, spear and all. Don’t go to the trouble of creating an elegant, visually interesting murder and then walk it back in the next breath. The act itself brings the shock factor; the “shocking” follow-up is anticlimactic.
2:02:30 AM – Meanwhile, downstairs in the grips of reel to reel Nudie-palooza, Sara has reached a truly momentous decision. Tonight, she will ask Doug to share the bottom bunk. This is handled with all the gravity and ponderousness of a single mom learning to live again in a Lifetime movie. Thankfully, the process takes a fraction of the time.
2:05 AM – The sequence where Mrs. Jarvis comes home out of the rain and searches the darkened cabin for her kids is a rather nice excuse to luxuriate in mood for a change, rather than just throwing another couple of plot elements into the Zito-matic 5000 and setting it on “puree”. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Jarvis is the only victim we don’t see either being killed or afterward (she was the deus ex machina in the film’s controversial and kinda amazing original ending), and I prefer it that way. Her reaction before cutting away probably tells more story than Savini could effectively show, not that he’d be shy about trying.
2:08 AM – Unable to raise her mother back at the homestead, Trish does the only rational thing, leaving her twelve-year-old brother alone so she can go traipsing through the rain in search of…who knows? Rob, sufficiently on edge from his previous near miss, possibly overreacts to the presence of someone in his pup tent, and slashes his way in with a machete instead of trying the door. Am I the only person who senses, when Trish yells at him, “What are you trying to do, kill me?”, a bit of legit ambivalence in the stare he returns?
2:09 AM – So the last “Dead F$%k”, foreshadowed earlier, brings our final counter to nine – I admit I’d thought it would be much more before committing to the actual tally – which, perhaps you’ll agree, is still a whole lot of stupid misapplied in the hope of providing just a little bit of background color. Maybe on-set improvisation isn’t always a good idea? On the bright side, Jimmy, she wants to do it again! Ted must be informed at once.
2:10 AM – “Ted, Ted…Ted, oh THERE the hell’s the corkscrew!” Crackerjack timing, J.V. Definitely golf clap-worthy.
2:11 AM – I spoke a little earlier about Jason getting a feeling for what can only really be classified as his new superpowers. The scene where he waits on the ledge outside of Terri’s bedroom window just on the off chance she should press her face up to it proves that advanced script-reading and dramatic interpretation is also in his expanded toolbox. Dude just reaches through the glass of a closed window and flings Terri through it and out into the driving rain. It’s quite a striking visual, particularly when the station wagon’s windows all blow out simultaneously as she bounces off it.
2:12 AM – Rob’s backstory ends up being just another cool little detail that the film chose to include despite not needing to whatsoever. It turns out that, under the cover of “hunting bear”, he’s actually looking for his kid sister, Sandra, who you might remember as the half of the conjugal couple that saw Farmer Jason’s shish kebob spear coming in Part 2. Trish protests that Jason is dead, because that’s what the liberal media’s been telling her, but Rob finally wears her skepticism down. Leaving Tommy alone back at the cabin could have been a more responsible choice in retrospect.
2:14 AM – After a movie spent making doe eyes at one another and repressing their feelings until it finally began to affect the way they walked, Sara and Doug are now showering together. At this rate, the fabled bottom bunk might have been merely another stop on their nine-city “Victory” tour…if not, of course, for psychotic goalie intervention.
2:15 AM – Thankfully, Ted was offed before his cackling interest in black & white stag reels from the turn of the century could lead the chauvinist schmuck into a career in film development. He died alone, as was his destiny. This bit of business also affords Doug and Sara another minute or so to bask in the afterglow before their blossoming relationship crashes back to Earth like a derelict space station. Why must love be so cruel?
2:17 AM – In a ten-tier wedding cake of murder and mayhem, Doug’s utterly brutal demise – literally having his skull pushed in by an especially in-your-face Jason – is the centerpiece and cherry on top all at once. Gah, his singing in the shower wasn’t that bad.
2:18 AM – In the course of just over an hour, Jason has transformed from bona fide corpse to a reanimated mega-corpse to a budding superhero, and now, to a time and space-bending show off, ending Sara’s emotional roller coaster ride by somehow throwing a wood-chopping axe through a locked door and directly into her fluttering heart in a single stroke. This cold-blooded uber-assassin will spot H-O-R-S to anybody with the stones to challenge him, and still take his ass to the cleaners. Sheesh. Sara too, dude! I think another reason why Part 4 leaves me kinda cold at the end is because, by that point, Jason has already killed a quarter dozen or more kids at the Not-Psycho house that I like far better than the surviving Jarvises.
2:23 AM – I don’t know quite how to explain the shot where Gordon, the Jarvis family’s faithful Golden Retriever, escapes the not-Psycho house by jumping through a closed second story window in an apparent mad panic and then is never mentioned again. This does neatly foreshadow Trish’s own forthcoming jailbreak swan dive, and it’s a flashy, if empty, use of slow motion, which Zito adores the way I love pickles and craft beer. If, as they say, animals can sense evil, I imagine finally taking a big whiff of Jason would be sufficient cause to depart the premises with all speed. Learning from Muffin’s fakeout demise in Part 2, and determining to avoid a similar fate, would also be unimpeachable logic.
2:23:30 AM – Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Tommy has found and is now rifling through Rob’s handy complete dossier of newspaper clippings on the Voorhees legend. His wheels are clearly turning.
2:24 AM – Trish and Rob make both a cute couple and a solid expeditionary force, as far as that goes. But then he makes the mistake of exploring the not-Psycho house’s basement while she surveys the damage upstairs. Soon enough, Rob’s running afoul of the business end of one of those multi-pronged garden hoes. Before this screening, I’d forgotten just what an impressive percentage of the series’ best individual moments were spent exploring dark basements or similar musky enclosures.
2:26 AM – Why the hell did Trish return to the basement stairs after a particularly histrionic false start? What, Rob not dead enough for you yet? His repeated pleas, delivered with his literal last breath, to “RUN, TRISH, RUN!” too wishy-washy? Ugh.
2:27 AM – Jimmy’s corkscrewed corpse is essentially crucified in the doorway of the not-Psycho house’s kitchen, which in itself is crazy enough – Trish busts out and then crawls through the window above the sink to avoid touching him – but the way an all-business Jason idly tears him down as he storms through is just wicked.
2:27:30 AM – An awful lot of exposed windows in the Jarvis cabin – just sayin’ – and Jason, as we’ve seen, doesn’t exactly have trouble with glass on his worst day. T-minus five and counting until somebody/some body comes crashing on through. My money’s on Rob.
2:29 AM – The sequence where the surviving Jarvises barricade themselves in Tommy’s room only to have Jason bash his way in anyway is one of unrelenting high drama, plus a stealth lesson at the end on the dangers that too much television can pose to your brain.
2:30 AM – Faced with a choice between pursuing a cornered Tommy back into his room or following Trish down the stairs and, again, out into the rain, Jason fatefully, inexplicably picks Trish. Time for a command performance of “Tommy Jarvis and the Amazing Monochrome Bald-Cap”. Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats.
2:31 AM – In a(nother) desperate bid at escape, Trish dives headfirst through and out of a different second story window than Gordon did, careening violently off roof and awning alike during a slow-motion descent, only to settle, semi-conscious and flat on her back, into a posture I could best describe as “mud angel”. I’m sure her provocative skirt placement is pure coincidence, although I suppose there might be a scientific explanation. For that, you’ll have to ask noted physicist Joseph Zito, PhD.
2:34 AM – Tommy with a haphazardly shaved head looks, in the end, about as much like moss-eaten mongoloid Jason as Ginny in a dirty sweater looked like Mrs. Voorhees during the climax of Part 2, but we’ve already established that, as undead superheroes go, Jason is weirdly susceptible to this sort of nostalgic chicanery. A predictable shame then that Trish, taking limited advantage of the distraction, somehow misses him with her wild machete swing yet still manages to knock his mask off. Trish is not exactly a clutch hitter.
2:35 AM – I hate to quote myself. I’d rather you as the reader get your money’s worth out of a rambling 6000-word essay without me having to import even a sliver of its content from elsewhere. But the hour is especially late, and I’m more tired than you are, guaranteed. From 2014’s DAE feature “Ranking, dissecting the Friday the 13th series”:
“The Voorhees facial reveal has traditionally been an underwhelming aspect of most every Friday, but Savini makes the most of his spotlight, providing Jason with his most memorable makeup since the original climax in the lake by using that as his inspiration then building and expanding on it. We’d never quite see the likes of this incarnation’s twisted, grinning, utterly ghoulish face again, although many would try and fail. The coup de grace, when Tommy buries the machete in the side of Jason’s head, then stands by in horror as Jason sinks to his knees, falls forward and proceeds to slide slowly down the length of the embedded blade, blood pouring, eyes bulging…well, words can scarcely do it proper justice. Bravo, sir. Bravo.”
2:36 AM – Lots of spontaneous laughter, both uncomfortable and outright, at Tommy getting his hardcore machete on here, post-climax. By now, we’ve seen a variety of “final girls” – including his sister – whiff on their chances to off the killer outright, but all Tommy has to see is a twitching hand and the adorable little moppet straight goes medieval. Somewhere, I’m convinced, exists a thumping EDM club mix sampling his vocal duet with Trish during the fade-out – “Tommy! [DIE!] hack TOMMMMMMMIEEEEEE! [DIE!] hack hack hack” – where every upbeat is a machete striking a cantaloupe, or whatever scenario Savini had to concoct to make that sound.
2:37 AM – I’m always enchanted at the appearance of the obligatory mansplaining authority figure, a penultimate scene horror tradition dating back to that insufferable psychiatrist in Hitchcock’s Psycho. The cop here looks like he’d rather be off somewhere clipping his toenails.
2:38 AM – And with that final freeze frame and fade to white, COREY FELDMAN SHALL (officially) HAUNT YOUR DREAMS. Drive home safe, everybody!
Season’s Greetings, all, and my sincere thanks for playing along. This was terrific fun to experience and (mostly) to write, and, I hope, enjoyable on the flip side as well. Thanks also to the three fellow fans – two of whom drove from Cincinnati for the occasion – with whom I chatted away amiably in between showings. And special thanks to the Gateway Film Center for being so frigging awesome with such ridiculous regularity. No better possible way to spend a Friday the 13th.