13 Fridays is a 13-week look at the entirety of Friday the 13th series, starting on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, and running through Halloween 2021. It will run parallel to other series we’re running in late summer / early autumn, including another round of No Sleep October essays. Every week features an essay about one of the Friday the 13th films in chronological order, written by new and regular Midwest Film Journal contributors and staff writers. Some have seen the whole franchise. Some are novices and neophytes, jumping into the movies without watching the rest of them to offer unvarnished thoughts.
Before he went to Manhattan, hell and outer space, Jason Voorhees was just a man. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is the end of that version of Jason, but it also hints at the supernatural monster he would become.
I was born the year this movie came out (1984), and when I got around to watching Jason movies, the first one I can remember watching is Friday the 13th: Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. At that point, Jason had become comically powerful, and it only got crazier from there (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason). As far as I knew, Jason was always indestructible. I was aware the killer in the first movie was actually his mom, but other than that, I had never watched the first seven movies … until now.
Imagine my surprise watching Parts 2 and III and seeing Jason portrayed as some regular asshole. Well, he’s still murdering people simply for existing near him, so he’s not regular. But he’s regular compared to Jason in Jason X. He’s not all that physically imposing, and he even grunts and yells when he’s attacked. It seemed like he could actually be killed by one of these horny young people. His “deaths” at the end of each film could have easily been the end of the character; the fact that he survives both films is the only borderline supernatural element.
The Final Chapter is the bridge between the two different Jasons. Here, he’s still just a guy (he even runs at one point!), but he seems bigger and even harder to kill. When his hand is nearly split in two, he merely looks at it as if he’s wondering why he doesn’t feel pain. It’s clear that Jason is turning into something more than human. And while the truly gruesome death at the end of the film (an awesome special effect by Tom Savini) feels pretty “final,” you know he’s probably coming back — especially if you’ve already watched, or are even aware of, the subsequent sequels.
The Final Chapter marks the end of any attempt at reality for this Jason. The next film in the series, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, is still based in reality, but the Jason of that film is just a copycat. The filmmakers knew that fans wanted more from the character. The idea of being murdered by a silent, masked psycho can only be scary for so many movies. Part III leaned into the humor of the series, and The Final Chapter runs with it. Jason is still a frightening character, but you’re also waiting, with amusement, to see how each person gets killed.
After the copycat storyline in A New Beginning fell flat with fans, the producers looked back at The Final Chapter and realized that fans just wanted Jason. Starting with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (such a subtle title), the focus of the series veers more toward what Jason is up to rather than the victims. This is why watching the first few films after starting with the later films is so jarring. While watching The Final Chapter, I began to wonder: Why was the story following all these future dead people so closely? What is Jason up to while they’re all skinny-dipping?
Having revisited the entire franchise in preparation for this article, I think the bridging aspect of The Final Chapter makes it my favorite in the series. It gives you the classic slasher style while also venturing into crazier, supernatural territory. It truly was a final chapter for Jason, and he would never be the same after this film, for better or worse.
Oblivious Young People
Perhaps my second favorite element of the Friday the 13th series (after Jason) is the obliviousness of the victims of each film, especially the horny young people in The Final Chapter.
In case you’ve forgotten, Part 2, Part III and Final Chapter all take place back-to-back-to-back. So the young, horny partiers in this movie have absolutely no problem renting a house in the woods in the middle of the deadliest week in that area’s history. Yes, according to the news, the killer is dead, but these are still some very fresh murders in the area. (I’m not counting Rob with this group because he is there to hunt Jason down even if his backstory doesn’t exactly add up with the timeline.) That’s not to mention: The people who were killed were almost exclusively young, horny people. I fucking love how none of them even mention what’s going on around there.
Crispin Glover, the most noticeable young victim, spends an inordinate time worrying about being a “dead fuck” in a sexual manner when he should’ve been worried about becoming a literal dead fuck. The same misguided focus goes for the rest of the house, too. We’re talking about young people so horny that they break out a projector and start screening some old-timey flapper-girl porn that they find in the house. It’s like they were shining the bat signal for Jason to come and kill all of them.
I love how oblivious these characters are because it makes them likable in their stupidity. In future films, a lot of the victims are such assholes that you root for Jason to kill them. Here, you’re still supposed to sympathize with the victims, but you can still laugh at how ridiculously unaware they all are of their dire situation. It’s the perfect balance for victims in this franchise.
Random Thoughts / Favorite Quotes
- AKA Sunday the 15th, Monday the 16th and Tuesday the 17th. Although that title has a Romanian abortion movie title, so I can see why they kept it simple. (You weren’t expecting a 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days reference in a Friday the 13th article, were you?)
- Ah, yes, the “final” chapter … followed by eight films (including the remake).
- The cops at the beginning just put the blade part of the ax in an evidence bag. I think possible fingerprints on the handle are important, too, fellas.
- It’s crazy to think that the events of Part 2, Part III and Final Chapter take place over the course of a few days. That’s quite the rampage.
- Not to mention it means Jason has recovered from a machete wound at least 10 inches into his shoulder and an ax to the head. This is before the series went supernatural, by the way.
- “Axel, you are the Super Bowl of self-abuse!”
- Out of all the dead bodies to try to start fucking next to, Jason Voorhees’s is probably the worst.
- Smash-cutting from a nurse being disemboweled to a mother-daughter jog is jarring.
- And did the daughter accuse the mom of being horny at the end of that scene? What?
- The dipshits renting the house even stop by Pamela Voorhees’s grave on their way to the murder house.
- Pamela Voorhees got a hell of a prominent plot location in that cemetery. And who paid for that headstone? And did anyone have any qualms with burying a headless body? Did anyone look for the head? Or was it like every other aftermath situation in this series in which the authorities haul ass out of there as fast as they could?
- Jason hates sex so much he’ll even kill a woman for daring to eat such a phallic fruit as a banana.
- Just when I thought this movie couldn’t get any hornier … and TWIIIIIIIINS!
- And one minute after the twins show up, everyone gets naked.
- Young child to hitchhiker he just met: “I got something real neat to show you up in my bedroom.”
- And remember, this is all taking place right after a maniac killed a bunch of people in the woods.
- The Crispin Glover dancing scene should have gone on for another 15 minutes.
- I did not think Crispin Glover being called a “dead fuck” was going to take up so much of the plot.
- Ha ha! A spear-gun to the dick! Take that, you horny idiot!
- “Hey, Ted, where the hell’s the corkscrew?”
- I love the slo-mo scene of Jason tossing Tina out the window.
- “Tommy, stay here and lock the door.” You know, the door we just busted the window out of to unlock.
- “Oh my God, he’s killing me! He’s killing me!”
- In a behind-the-scenes featurette, Corey Feldman talks about the “arty” films he has done, among which he includes The Lost Boys. Well, it does have that sweaty sax man; I guess that’s kind of arty.
- In that same featurette, the director claims that at an early screening a “thousand” people were cheering and dancing in the aisles after Jason’s death scene. Jesus, how much blow was he doing that night?