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John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984), the best in the franchise so far, and introducing zombie Jason.

October 26, 2017

MY CALL:  Perhaps the most exciting of the series so far.  This sequel may lack story-based substance, but it makes up for it with…everything elseMORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th Part IVObviously, Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) for sure.  Sadly, I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story continuity (it didn’t impress me at all, but many seem to favor it).  For more classic ‘early modern’ slashers one should venture A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Burning (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Part 3 SIDEBAR:  Part III ended as Chrissy (Dana Kimmell; Friday the 13th Part III, Sweet Sixteen) dreamed of being assaulted by an undead Mrs. Voorhees and awakened to her rescue by the police, leaving behind Jason’s dead body with an axe embedded in his head.  As for the timeline, with part 1 occurring in “present day” (1980), part 2 occurring 5 years later (1985), and part III starting the next day (also 1985); this sequel also takes place in 1985 immediately after the events of part III.

Director Joseph Zito (The Prowler) opens with a convenient recap doubling as a supercut of most of the interesting death scenes from parts 2-3.  We then watch as Jason’s dead body (as it lay dead in part III’s close) is transported to the local morgue.  And you know what that means, right?  Yup.  We finally have “maybe sort of undead” Jason.  As he cuts into his body count with some hapless hospital staff, we see his hands now (and for the first time) looking monstrous.

But he’s not “totally undead.”  He still fears injury, runs after victims and can get knocked out by a rambunctious final girl.  So, he’s really just yet closer to early Michael Myers in menace, and still short of Freddy Krueger in cursedness.  And like both of these other boogeymen, Jason’s purpose seems ever more obscured as the sequels deepen.  The first two films punished the would-be staff of Camp Crystal Lake, part III punished some random lakeside vacationers, and part IV targets yet more people who just happen to be in Jason’s cursed habitat.

BIGGER, BADDER SEQUELS:  Jason just keeps getting bigger, doesn’t he?  Ted White (6’4”; The Hidden, Demonoid: Messenger of Death) follows Richard Brooker (6’3”; Friday the 13th Part III, Deathstalker), Warrington Gillette (6’1”; Friday the 13th Part 2), and even “the boy in the lake” (Ari Lehman, 5’11”; The Barn, Friday the 13th).  No complaints about it—just an observation.  Oh, and he’s even uglier!

Although not as “cheaply” campy as part III, this sequel has its troped-up moments.  Crispin Glover (American Gods, Willard) offers one of the zaniest horror dance performances (up there with Freddy’s Revenge and The Cabin in the Woods), and women continue to skinny dip alone in lakes in the middle of the night (as in part 2) for no good reason at all except, perhaps, to provide the largest boob count of the franchise so far.  Meanwhile, Jason is up to his typical homicidal tendencies of amphibious ambushes (although not as dramatic as in parts 1-3), breaking windows, sticking people to walls with sharp objects (a la Michael Myers), and even his front-grab and stab from the rear technique (e.g., how his mother killed Kevin Bacon in part 1).

On that note, the death scenes are decent and well-paced.  Calling back part III’s speargun, a dude gets shot in the groin.  The death scene itself is just marginally okay, but the scene revels in the silliness of the notion and that will elicit satisfied grins.  But, honestly, the best kill was the very last one!  But the kills weren’t the only improvement.  We finally have some good characters, particularly the positively adorkable Tommy (Corey Feldman; The Lost Boys, Gremlins, Bordello of Blood).

Offering the most nostalgia, part 1 provided us with a cursed lake followed by the legend of Jason himself (part 2).  Then part III increased the campyometer (in the form of crudeness and nudity) as Jason got his hockey mask.  Now this sequel (part IV) made him “more” unstoppable, a mainstay that would last almost a dozen subsequent movies, and offered up perhaps the most “exciting” franchise installment so far.  I’d readily call this one (maybe) the most fun of the first four movies.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bret permalink
    October 26, 2017 9:37 pm

    Great review!!! This was the only storyline character excluding Voorhees Family. The Tommy Garvis story starts out great takes a turn and ends great. I don’t really care for the following movie but part 6th is a good finish to the story.
    In some ways this film has a reminist of Halloween 2 (maybe it’s due to being in hospital morgue) but am disappointed cause they still show non Jason style moments (like running).
    Lastly, something I heard years ago that would be great for discussion, the Tommy Garvis character was based off of the film’s makeup artist Tom Savini childhood (makeup/masks).

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 27, 2017 8:04 am

      The Halloween II vibe felt deliberately borrowed, but I was fine with it. But yes, funny how I went through 4 movies and only Jason, the recurrent theme of his mother (parts 1-3 intro) and now one little boy are the only characters of substance. That said, Tommy is a cool kid! I had completely forgotten this movie (having not since it probably since your basement movie-thons in the 90s). I doubt I’ll recall anything from V either. Was that the one with the telekinetic kid…or is that VII?

  2. November 3, 2017 12:32 am

    “It’s turns out Jason was only ‘Mostly Dead.'”
    – Miracle Max

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), more boobs, body count and masked killer shenanigans advance the Tommy Jarvis story arc. | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), introducing zombie Jason to more camp counselors and some of the most fun death scenes of the franchise so far. | Movies, Films & Flix

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