THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Directed by Adam Marcus
“Jason Goes to Hell at least attempts to break from the tired formula and does something new.”
Friday the 13th has always played second fiddle (or second knife? No that doesn’t work) and has been considered a second rate slasher franchise compared with Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween (especially considering it was created to imitate the success of Halloween). While equally popular with fans and box office receipts, Friday the 13th entries always looked a little cheaper, played a bit cheesier, and never really made a lot of sense. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because let’s face it: Friday the 13th has always been a hell of a lot of fun at Crystal Lake as it never gave a damn about fancy things like plot and character development. Now, all the great horror franchises progressively f*ck up whatever worked in the first place, however, that’s not to say there isn’t some good stuff out there.
Case in point: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.
Ok, sure. This is the one that effectively killed the franchise as fans knew it. After New Line acquired the rights from Paramount Studios to create the eventual Freddy vs Jason (funny enough, we reported on June 5th that Paramount once again has the rights back), they decided to move the franchise in a new bold direction by dropping the majority of the previous storylines. This one starts off with Jason set up by a very hot and very nude undercover FBI agent to chase her around Crystal Lake, leading him into a government sting where he’s finally shot and blown up to death. What the FBI (and audiences) didn’t know? It turns out some sort of demon lives within Jason, who once dead he can jump from person to person until fully reborn.
As dumb as all that sounds, I dig it. Jason Goes to Hell at least attempts to break from the tired formula and does something new. The bad part is that Friday the 13th part 1 director/writer/producer Sean S. Cunningham returned and decided to go the Michael Myers family route. As if the Friday franchise already wasn’t a Halloween knockoff, now we have Jason (now inhabiting various bodies) needing a Voorhees in order to respawn. So…enter his half sister, half niece, and her half baby (ok, it’s a full baby). According to cowboy bounty hunter Duke, only a family can kill Jason forever, and he can only live via a Voorhees body (I think. It's all very unclear...especially with Evil Dead's Necronomicon making an appear. Was Ash going to show up?). Thankfully, her very, very nerdy and incapable looking ex-husband Steven (I actually had to look that up who he was supposed to be. Somehow I missed that dramatic plot twist) swoops in to save the day.
I’d have to put Jason Goes to Hell perhaps the weirdest damn Friday the 13th ever made. Granted, Jason X, where he gets sent to space, is beyond absurd, but this is the one where things get all supernatural. Even stranger, Jason and his hockey mask rarely are even in this thing, only appearing in the first and last ten minutes of the flick. That doesn’t make a lot of business sense to have your main character, the horror icon, only make a cameo, but it somehow still works. I love Dr. Pepper...like a lot, but every so often it's nice to try a Pepsi. It's kinda refreshing without having to play to the cliched expectations that we all so love as Jason continually switches bodies (like 1998’s Fallen) to keep characters and the story off guard.
Sure, sure…it’s rather obvious when Jason’s takes someone, (he essentially tounges his soul into a victim’s mouth and then they walk around all Jason-y) and they could have created an tad more mystery, but what the hell. Fans still get want they want: blood, gore, death, and boobs. And we get those things in abundance. Heads get squished. Bodies are split in two. One dude’s skin melts until his jawbone falls off. Jason snaps an arm in half, which doesn’t sound as rough as the other stuff, but it doesn’t look pretty. And there's a whole lot of nudity with the tent sequence probably the most graphic (both sexual and gore) in all of the Friday the 13ths. The most bizarre comes from the final battle, where Jason and Steven fight to the death via things found in a garden: a rake, a shovel, and a jungle gym. And speaking of Steven, he manages to stop several versions of Jason with simple punches to the face. Since when did Jason become a weak-chinned wimp?
What Jason Goes to Hell is obviously best remembered for comes at end. After Jason has been sent to hell, we're given the image that fans had to wait a decade for when Freddy's claw bursts out of the dirt to make sure Jason has his mask in hell. Too bad we only got one round between Freddy and Jason. That's something that New Line truly f*cked up.