Although labeled and billed as Jason’s swan song, THE FINAL CHAPTER proved to be anything but when Part 4 in the franchise saw receipts that would make any studio reluctant in closing the book on such a popular and profitable character. Holding steadfast to the template set in the original, THE FINAL CHAPTER does make a slight change to the series' tried and true recipe with the addition of a young and unassuming foil, one who would haunt Jason for several pictures to come.
After the massacre that is Part 3, Jason Voorhees' lifeless body is recovered and transported to the morgue of a local hospital. Despite having been taken down by an axe to the skull, Jason is again up and at ‘em before the tag can hit his toe, proving that you just can’t keep a good slasher down. Like swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, Jason's internal navigation compels the silent brute back to Crystal Lake where a fresh batch of teenagers have just arrived to enjoy a relaxing week in the country.
Renting the house next to his, young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman, THE LOST BOYS) finds himself with more than just the monster masks he crafts in his room to distract him from cabin fever, as the group of reckless teenage tenants next door waste little time in getting down to business. Underage drinking, skinny dipping and late night viewings of old stag films however prove to be catnip to Jason, who immediately zeros in on the summer home and its new promiscuous occupants. Bodies begin to pile up as Jason makes swift work off the gaggle of high school stereotypes, leaving Tommy and his older sister Trish (Kimberly Beck, MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH) every reason as to worry about the whereabouts of their mother (Joan Freeman). Having cleaned house, Jason turns his gaze on the Jarvis home next door, where backpacker Rob (Erich Anderson) has been waiting to take revenge for the death of his sister Sandra, who was killed in Part 2. However, Rob proves inept against Jason's deadly talents, leaving Tommy to step up and channel his inner demons, if he or his sister are to live to see the morning.
THE FINAL CHAPTER marks the return of Tom Savini to the franchise he helped mold back in 1980 and re-teams the effects wizard with director Joseph Zito, whom he had previously worked with on THE PROWLER (aka ROSEMARY'S KILLER). A master at his craft, Savini drives corkscrews into hands, buries machetes into faces and smashes heads beyond recognition and does so in such a fashion that you can't help but winch at the carnage that is unleashed. The majority of THE FINAL CHAPTER’s kills are quick but effectively brutal, save for the final, fatal (well, intended fatal) blow, which drags out Jason's demise all too sweetly. Equal credit should be given to director Zito, for choosing to refrain for lingering on most of the film's gorier elements until the picture's end, allowing for Jason's splitting finally to be all the more dramatic and gut wrenching. Zito also does an admirable job in satisfying the already built up sense of expectancy that anyone familiar with the first three films is bound to sit down with. Never skimping on the gratuitous nudity, bloodshed or inventive kills, Zito sticks closely to the series' standard formula of teens attempting to engage in sex only to be murdered, which does start to become all too recognizable, but if you’re forking over your time and money for Part 4 in damn near any horror franchise, there’s a good chance you already know what you’re getting yourself into and wouldn’t have it any other way.
A year before starring as George McFly in Robert Zemeckis BACK TO THE FUTURE, Crispin Glover cemented his place in oddball cinema history as Jimmy, a twitchy teen who just has to dance! If there is any moment in THE FINAL CHAPTER that requires repeated viewing, it's Crispin's spastic, strangely charming dance routine. Picture a preppy scarecrow having a seizure at a 1980s hair metal concert and you’ll come close to the awe inspiring lunacy that is Jimmy’s late night living room tango. Allegedly Crispin was prone to bust similar moves while out on the town in Hollywood and thankfully decided to incorporate a bit of his personal life into the character of Jimmy. Making his big screen debut, a very young Corey Feldman displays an impressive range early on in his career as Tommy Jarvis, a character that was obviously set up as a possible replacement to Jason, but was instead morphed into a reoccurring adversary who would match wits with the masked one for two more films. Corey grows from an innocent young boy into a creepy, steely eyed antagonist who plays mind games with Jason in his attempts to bring the towering killer to his knees.
Paramount initially released THE FINAL CHAPTER on DVD in October of 2000 and again in October of 2004 as part of an Ultimate Edition DVD Collection titled "FRIDAY THE 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan". For its latest resurrection, Paramount presents THE FINAL CHAPTER with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that has been mastered in High Definition. With only a whisper of grain, the picture is as sharp as a knife with no noticeable trances of debris or other blemishes to distract form the onslaught of carnage. Topping previous incarnations, audio is presented in a new 5.1 surround mix that allows for every "ki” and “ma” in Harry Manfredini’s score to send a shiver of anticipation up your spine. The disc's Set Up menu also allows the choice of the film's original English mono, as well as French and Spanish language tracks and subtitles which are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Extras include two audio commentaries, one featuring director Joseph Zito, screenwriter Barney Cohen and editor Joel Goodman and another featuring Adam Green and Joe Lynch, the directors of HATCHET and WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END respectively. Both tracks offer insight and trivia about the film, but Adam and Joe’s fan commentary is by far the more entertaining of the two. I hadn’t watched THE FINAL CHAPTER since the early 1990s (at the latest) and after re-watching the film my opinion of it, that being an entertaining if not mediocre slasher, didn’t really change, but after hearing the enthusiasm and love that both Green and Lynch share for the film I couldn’t help but find myself with a newfound appreciation for the picture. It’s still pretty mediocre but compared to some of its successors, say JASON X, its damn near brilliant. “Lost Tales From Camp Blood –Part 4” is a six minute excerpt from a short film about a hooded killer in a hospital parking garage. I haven’t seen the film as a whole, so the final product may in fact be interesting but this particular chunk plays like an over-stylized commercial to a product for which I neither need nor have interest in.
Fifteen minutes of slashed footage will undoubtedly prove to be a highlight for fans of both the series and Tom Savini, as the majority of the cut footage is of extended kills trimmed from the film's final cut. As such clips feature no sound, the footage is narrated by Joseph Zito, who is quick to point out why such trimming was often necessary, such as Bruce Mahler's inability to stop laughing while getting his throat sliced open and his head twisted around to face his ass by Jason in the film's hospital morgue sequence. Zito and Kimberly Beck both narrate over recently discovered footage of the film's lost ending, a dream sequence in which the fate of Mrs. Jarvis is finally revealed, which was wisely cut from the finished product. “Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER” is apparently culled from material used while shooting the recent documentary HIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY, and features interviews with Joseph Zito, Tom Savini, Kimberly Beck, Erich Anderson and Ted White. “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 1” is an 18-minute faux documentary, BLAIR WITCH style, that pokes fun at the series while basically providing a recap of the franchise's first four films. It has its moments but runs on a little too long given its humorous intentions. “Jimmy’s Dead Fuck Dance Moves” is two minutes of Crispin’s scene-stealing performance, narrated again by Zito and along with the film's theatrical trailer helps to cap a rather extensive batch of extras. Packaged with a spiffy lenticular cover, Paramount’s "Deluxe" treatment is certainly worthy a double dip and will more than please fans of the unstoppable Mr. Voorhees. (Jason McElreath)
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