If you wanted evidence that the Friday the 13th franchise was horrible, cynical, money-grabbing garbage from its early days, look no further than this. Part 3 was intended as the end to the series – Jason has an axe in his forehead, the lake is calm, it’s all over. Of course, that one made enough money that the producers decided part 4 was the way to go, and this time they’d definitely call it “the final chapter” to entice people who wanted to see the end of Jason, for real (after thinking they’d seen the end of him before). Of course, we know how well that stuck, and they decided on the same trick for part 9, subtitled “The Final Friday”; there were only two more movies after that, I suppose.
So what’s the second of the franchise’s three endings like? Well, the first character we meet is a morgue attendant who make a few too many jokes about being a necrophile; luckily he’s found a nurse who’s as big a freak as he is, so they have sex next to the freshly delivered corpse of Jason Voorhees. Now, IMDB says in their plot summary that he “spontaneously revives” (literally no-one could be bothered to think of a reason, it seems) but I think it was the illicit sex. He’s got a “people having fun” detector, and it’s so strong it can bring him back from death! Anyway, there’s a couple of well-done deaths, and Jason is on his way to…Crystal Lake, probably?…to do his thing one more time.
This would be the strongest movie of the series, if only for its cast. As a car full of people in their early 20s drives up to a rented house for a weekend of partying, we see in the back seat having a debate about women, Lawrence Monoson and Crispin Glover. Glover is an oddball superstar, with roles in “Back To The Future”, “Hot Tub Time Machine” and some of the weirdest chat show appearances of all time; Monoson was the star of the bleakest teen raunch film ever, “The Last American Virgin”. Plus, when they get to the house, living in the place across the road is Corey Feldman! Of course, being 13, you know he’s going to survive, but it’s still fun to see him.
We get lots of nudity, thanks to a bit of middle-of-the-afternoon skinny-dipping; and if you’re keeping track of the number of fake-outs and jump scares there are in this one, you’ll need some sort of five-bar gate system, because there’s loads (I got bored and stopped counting at 10). Those two things and a psychotic killer are pretty much all you need for a slasher movie, right?
The mind wanders in the middle of these movies, so I’d like to talk about the hitch-hiker. While driving to the house, they pass a woman holding up a sign for “Canada and Love”. They drive past, Monoson loudly mocks her, and she flips round the sign to reveal “Fuck You”. Jason, on his way to the same place, kills her a few seconds later and she’s now part of bad movie history. But look at the road they’re on. Not a turn for miles, no houses anywhere nearby, absolutely the middle of nowhere. What scumbag dropped her off there? She doesn’t look like the sort of woman who’d already walked 20 miles that day. Tell you what, see for yourself.
So, the slutty girls and asshole guys get killed, but it all seems a little more fun than the previous chapters. Only a little. It’s not particularly bloody, but Jason does love posing a corpse, being sure to leave them in places designed to scare the crap out of the survivors. He’s also a super-ninja, as despite being a hefty guy he’s never heard sneaking up on someone, ever, and manages to virtually teleport himself from place to place (he kills a guy in the bathroom, then evidently hops out of a window to get himself round to the front door to kill the person he’s accurately predicted will be going there next).
It looks a lot nicer than parts 2 and 3, so congrats to the technical people, and with the fun actor choices, it’s easily the best of the series so far (not a ringing endorsement). The use of Corey Feldman at the end is a surprisingly bold choice too…and Jason is definitely, honest, no fooling, dead this time. One story about the filming makes me unusually well-disposed to it, though. Judie Aronson filmed a scene on the lake in the middle of a freezing cold December night, and was so cold she started crying. The scumbag director didn’t care, naturally, but Ted White, the guy playing Jason, threatened to quit on the spot if she wasn’t given breaks from the extreme cold (she actually caught hypothermia). Good work Mr White! And look at that face above, she’d clearly stopped caring by that point.
Rating: thumbs in the middle