31 by 31 Challenge #3: FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)

Originally intended to be the concluding installment in the saga of one Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is certainly one of the more refined entries in the blockbuster franchise, and without question the last serious outing before the bonkers weirdness takes hold for parts five through ten. While the story is cut from the slasher cloth, the script itself is good, the cast is game and likable, and the gore effects–courtesy of Tom Savini, returning to the franchise for the first time since the original–are top notch.

The day after the events of Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Jason’s body is taken to the morgue where, much to the horror of the hospital staff, it turns out he’s not dead. As Jason (Ted White) dispatches nurses and hitchhikers, a new group of rowdy teenagers make their way to Crystal Lake, unaware of the horrors that have recently gripped the community. The teens shack up in a rented cabin next to the home of the Jarvis family. Trish (Kimberly Beck) and brother Tommy (Corey Feldman) make nice with their new neighbors before meeting lone camper Rob (Erich Anderson), who is on a secret mission to finish Jason once and for all. But there will buckets of blood before the night is out, leading us to a chilling, satisfying finale.

Final Chapter is interesting a number of ways. It’s the first film in the series without any real sense of mystery. Jason is firmly ensconced as the killer now, he’s completed his visage, we know what to expect. It’s a very settled film. Aside from the next installment, Part 5, the mystery departs Friday the 13th for good at this point, and so Final Chapter really becomes the model for all the remaining sequels.

For all that it does to set the standard framework, Final Chapter still takes time to let its characters breathe, a choice that the following films would make to lesser and lesser degree. All the subplots and minor threads close successfully before their the slicing and dicing kicks into high gear, and there’s arguably more memorable characters here than in any other Friday film. And when the characters are dispatched, you feel it. The kills are mean and brutal, heightened by some of Savini’s best work on the effects.

As the conclusion for what we might think of as the first “cycle” of Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter is a strong film. It knows what sort of beast it is, and it takes itself seriously just enough. The result is a well-rounded production any self-respecting slasher fan will cherish, bumps and all.

For more on Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, check out Episode 69 of the podcast, available here.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

  • 5 – Totally Terrifying
  • 4 – Crazy Creepy
  • 3 – Fairly Frightening
  • 2 – Slightly Scary
  • 1 – Hardly Horror

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