Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #360
Number of Views: Three
Release Date: August 13, 1993
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $15,900,000
Running Time: 91 minutes
Director: Adam Marcus
Producers: Sean S. Cunningham, Debbie Hayn-Cass
Screenplay: Jay Huguely, Adam Marcus, Dean Lorey
Based on Characters by Victor Miller
Special Effects: Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger
Cinematography: Bill Dill
Score: Harry Manfredini
Editing: David Handman
Studio: New Line Cinema, Sean S. Cunningham Films
Distributor: New Line Cinema, Alliance, Pathé
Stars: John D. LeMay, Kari Keegan, Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, Steven Culp, Erin Gray, Rusty Schwimmer, Richard Gant, Leslie Jordan, Billy Green Bush, Kipp Marcus, Andrew Bloch, Adam Cranner, Allison Smith, Julie Michaels, James Gleason, Dean Lorey, Diana Georger
Suggested Audio Candy
Harry Manfredini “Jason Goes To Hell”
By 1993, the once evergreen Friday The 13th franchise had well and truly lost direction. It had been coming for some time and Paramount Pictures had struggled to maintain their core audience after a couple of less-than encouraging entries and new owners of the Jason Voorhees property, New Line Cinema grasped onto the poison chalice and took the reigns for the very first time. They were desperate to take the series in a fresh direction and accepted that the well-trodden formula just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday represented the only outing for the juggernaut during the insipid nineties horror slump and proved to be the final nail in his coffin also.
First up, this wasn’t The Final Friday as it claimed but that should have come as no surprise to the long-suffering fan base after The Final Chapter promised such nine years prior. You can’t keep a good man down, especially when he still commands a turn out at multiplexes and the wagon rolled on relentlessly, with wildly differing results. However, for as much as Camp Crystal Lake was Jason’s home base, the last truly notable Friday was Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives and even the emergence of Kane Hodder as the man-mountain failed to halt the somewhat inevitable slide. It seemed only right then that New Line be gifted the opportunity to resurrect the franchise.
The change in personnel afforded a much-needed fresh perspective and Adam Marcus’ effort vacated its picturesque setting once and for all. It also marked a distinct departure for Jason who was no longer the key threat, at least, not in the way his audience expected. Jack Sholder’s commendable body swap sci-fi thriller The Hidden provided evident motivation and Voorhees used the same host system to navigate his victim roster via parasitic demon. Originally subtitled The Dark Heart of Jason Voorhees, his evil was now transferable thanks to his blackened organ, and nobody could resist the overwhelming urge taking a bite. In many ways, this wasn’t a Friday film at all and a focus on action was a trend further explored in 2003 when Ronny Yu’s monster mash-up Freddy vs. Jason finally received the green light after a decade on the mortuary slab.
That’s not to say that Jason was a mere passenger for sequel number eight, the big man was still omnipresent, albeit cunningly only exposed through reflection and fleeting flash cuts for the most part. Marcus attempted to innovate and first-person viewpoint à la The Terminator afforded the addressee the chance to climb behind that hockey mask and pick his worm-infested brain which showed ambition if nothing else. Alas, where fans should have connected on a more cerebral level due to this shift in perspective, it backfired as they ended up even more distant on account of so much tinkering with the formula. As a result, a somewhat disheartening show in theaters, coupled with the inevitable critical mauling it received, consigned it to the sin bin indefinitely.
“Through a Voorhees was he born… Through a Voorhees may he be reborn… And only by the hands of a Voorhees will he die”
It’s shouldn’t take a degree in biochemistry to decipher Marcus’ logic when introducing a couple of key characters Jessica (Kari Keegan) and scenery chewing bounty hunter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams). Duke was the only cat who had any idea how to stop the curse whereas Jason’s own niece Jessica was given the unenviable task of calling time on his rampage. Good old-fashioned all-American family values came into play as only another from his family tree could halt his insurgence. However, for as much as this practically guaranteed her mortality, other fringe members (of which there were many) weren’t quite so fortunate.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday may well have been many things but stingy wasn’t one of them, clocking in with an impressive twenty-three dispatches. Marcus also wasn’t shy with regards to the grue and his effort is one of the bloodier entries with a couple of rather splendid standout kills courtesy of predictably bankable trio Greg, Nicotero, Howard Berger, and Robert Kurtzman. However, something was evidently amiss. While there was an attempt at sustaining tension, ultimately discombobulation was the addresses’ main concern. You couldn’t fault it for ambition but, by the same token, placing it on a pedestal would have been the equivalent of pre-loading a coconut shy as it completely misplaced its identity.
Many faithful Friday advocates refer to this as the series’ lowest ebb and hold New Line contemptible for slaughtering their beloved franchise. On one hand they have a point. It’s unfocused, often inane, and disrespectful to its roots which could be viewed as unforgivable. Despite numerous failings and such a distinct departure from vintage Friday values, it still forms a decent double-bill with Freddy vs. Jason if you’re that way inclined. Indeed, in many ways, this provided a fitting prologue to their ultimate stand-off which convinced cinema-goers to put their hands in their pockets one more time for the road. It’s a lot easier to distance yourself from expectation when that was already no longer applicable. Taken on its own merits, Jason Goes To Hell is one of the easier Fridays to revisit. It’s not big, certainly not clever, and not particularly respectful of its once great heritage, but it’s 91 minutes of passable fare and anyone culpable of suggesting Jason Takes Manhattan to be a better overall film may want to go take another look.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: The kills were a mixed bag and range from bloodless to reasonably tenacious. The pick of the litter would undoubtedly be a hark back to the Crystal Lake shenanigans of yesteryear as an unhappy camper is soundly ventilated then split in half during her climactic throes of ecstasy. This also provided the quota of skin which Friday fans clamored for and it seemed fitting said skin should be protruding from a sleeping bag. Elsewhere, we are offered heads being pressed into grills, hearts being chowed down upon followed by gory regurgitation, the old head in the deep fat fryer, heads shut in car doors, crushed by bare hands and banged together like petulant schoolchildren, shots fired, knives flung, backs stabbed, and punches gloriously deflected. Now that’s diversity right there.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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