(Release Date: August 13, 1993)
Both claims were bullshit.
This one even upped the bullshit ante with assurances in the bullshit advertisements that this was your absolute last chance to see Jason Voorhees on the big screen. Bullshit taglines included "Jason goes to hell, and he's NOT coming back!", "The creator of the first returns to bring you the last" (a reference to Cunningham's embarrassed limp back to the series) and "this is your final chance, to see it." Since this "Final" flick left theatres fifteen years ago (at the time of this writing) there have been two more Jason movies (each of which shared continuity with this one almost as much as Doctor Faustus shares continuity with episode 36 of Mork and Mindy)... and there's another one on the way in 2009. Then again, in the nine years between Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday there had been five Jason movies and one Friday the 13th TV series, so I guess the travesties are all relative. The main difference between the fourth flick and this ninth scab is that when the fourth one ended fans were so jazzed that more entries in the series were in demand. After the 9th movie, though, we were all shown just how long-in-the-tooth this once ground-breaking series had become and we were ready to see it go, fitting end or no fitting end.
This affront attempts to sum up the entire series by going back to the beginning and telling us something new about Jason Voorhees in a way that was supposed to have been exciting and interesting. To this end, we find ourselves back at Camp Crystal Lake where a beautiful woman checks into her cabin, then strips down to her sweet little thong. Then she takes that off. The film certainly starts out well, I'll give it that. Soon, though, Fat boy Jason is up to his nasty-ass old tricks again and decides he wants to kill this naked hottie. And let me tell you, Jason here is anything but a Hottie. In fact, he's never looked worse. His bloated, bumpy head (now so deformed it actually has grown over his trademark Hockey Mask in most places) less resembles the forlorn and deformed look of the Campy Hermit than it does one of the "Wart Monger" characters from NBC's The Smurfs. Lucky for us (and for hotties everywhere) but not so lucky for Mr. Voorhees, this particular naked hottie is FBI Naked Agent Elizabeth Marcus (Julie Michaels) and she's brought the whole cavalry with her to blow Jason's ass to Queendom Come! Pretty spectacular, I would say.
However, instead of descending into hell a la Spawn, we find out that Jason Voorhees really wasn't just some picked on kid at camp who "drowned" and came back with a Mommy Complex and a serious Mad-On for partying teenagers! No siree, BOB, Jason was actually some bullshit malevolent demon all along and the body he "wore" was "just meat". Okay, then. Basically what that means is that Jason is now a bullshit free-agent who can... ha ha ha... possess the bodies of anybody he chooses to come in contact with, from Coroner Richard Grant to lame investigative reporter Robert Campbell (Steven Culp from Desperate Housewives) to some unconvincing rubber puppet that looks like a cross between Freddy Krueger, that Larva Baby from The Fly and an angry parrot.
And when he needs to switch bodies, or just crawl around wreaking havoc, the body Demon Jason is "wearing" at that point simply vomits him up, proving that Sean S. Cunningham and writer/ director Adam Marcus (along with his co-writers Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely) had also watched Poltergeist II before they put this putrid screenplay together.
All of that idiocy (and a shit ton more as the "film" plods on) is explained to various vaguely interested characters by a shadowy bounty hunter named Creighton Duke, played, as all shadowy mystery men of the era seemed to be, by Steven Williams. Of course, I'm not sure how helpful this jackass is, considering he likes to break people's fingers (especially those of John D. LeMay's Steven Freeman) in return for his answers. I have to say, though, that listening to his inane dialogue is painful enough without the digit fracturing.
Don't worry, by the way... while Jason is being played by other, unmasked actors besides Kane Hodder, Hodder gets to earn his paycheck by playing a mullet-haired security guard. He keeps the bad hair trophy until radio personalities Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps show up for their brief cameo as a couple of well-voiced cops.
We learn that this time the Un-Jason has a goal relating somehow to a Waitress named Diana Kimble (Buck Rogers' Erin Gray) and her daughter Jessica (Kari Keegan), both of whom have a bullshit forgotten tie to J-Dawg's Linneage. So, in other words, Sean, Dean, Jay and Adam also sat down to watch the similarly titled Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare before they smeared this thing onto your dollar cinema wall.
The worst crime of Jason Goes to Hell is that it not only shares next-to-nothing with the previous or subsequent films in the series, but it can't even follow its own brainless progression. At times it seems like each day's work was done while the entire cast and crew were wacked out of their minds on drugs, causing the following day's work to be done with no recollection whatsoever of what came before. Some crap about Jason needing to be "reborn" from a Voorhees pretty much negates the concept that the body he was wearing was "just meat". And that's not the dumbest thing in this movie. The nods to other horror flicks, cameos and campy lines all work in a conspiracy to topple this movie from its Yertle the Turtle precarious position.
I will say that the plot-upstaging nudity of Kathryn Atwood's Alexis and Michelle Clunie's Deborah provided a much-needed and nearly flawless diversion from the otherwise wasteful movie. The latter's sex scene with Michael B. Silver's Luke is a convincing spectacle (possibly because Silver and Clunie had dated prior to their casting here). Still, I'd have preferred to see the same scene shot with Atwood in Silver's place.
The whole thing leads up to a "Yeah, So?" end that milks the one-note twist of this movie for way more than it's worth. The result is a finale rich in terrible optical effects accompanied by the silly synth scoring of Harry Manfredini. And these two things really point to one of the biggest issues with Jason Goes to Hell: It hasn't aged well. The series had gone too far anyway ("Jason Takes Manhattan"? How about "Jason Jumps the Shark"!), but this canker sore neither provided a fitting end, nor a satisfying explanation of Jason's beginning. This movie's campy, over-the-top, silly nature, coupled with the bogus McGuffin (which was never touched on again, in spite of the fact that Cunningham produced the subsequent films as well), poor special effects and dated score keep this one from being viewed as much more than an unintentional comedy (with the primary unfunny parts being the actual comic relief).
The one endearing thing about this movie WAS the suggested set-up of a Freddy Vs. Jason film. That film didn't arrive for another full decade (and two days), so the seconds-long setup fueled fan speculation for quite some time. Now that the promised matchup has come and gone, it's hard to see a whole lot of remaining value in this accident in the short pants of early '90s Cinema.
Ah, yes, New Line Cinema, you bought the rights to the Friday the 13th series from Paramount Pictures, twisted around and ruined just about everything that made the series what it was, then shot Jason into outer space, then pit him up against your own Horror Icon. Might we ever see a real Friday the 13th again? Ask me in 2009. As for Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (the bullshit working title of which was Friday the 13th Part IX: The Dark Heart of Jason Voorhees), it gets a Dog! Yeah, this one is bad. It violates continuity like an ass-grab at a frat party, coughs on its own special effects and takes itself almost as seriously as Silly Putty. What a shame. Well, that's the Friday the 13th review for Friday the 13th of June 2008. If you follow continuity (unlike this film), today is Jason Voorhees' 62nd Birthday... and my 10th Wedding Anniversary. Let's hope that's not an omen! Happy Birthday, Jason and Happy Anniversary, Suz. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm thinking of a little camping trip of my own... without leaving my bedroom
See you in the next reel everybody! Do Not Disturb!
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