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review added: 10/31/02



Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
1993 (2002) - New Line

review by Robert Smentek of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday Film Rating: D-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/B-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): B/B+

Specs and Features

93/89 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (by director Adam Marcus and screenwriter Dean Lorey), theatrical trailers, DVD production credits, "Jump to a Kill" scene selection, scene access (26 chapters), language: English (DD 5.1, 2.0 and DTS 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

If anyone's to blame for Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, it's Freddy Krueger. Really.

You see, back in the late 90s, arguably the biggest creative lull for horror films, New Line Cinema made a movie called Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. This movie explained that Freddy Krueger was an agent of hell, who sold his soul to a couple demons to escape death, thus, effectively killing the whole ghost-story-'round-the-campfire aspect of the Elm Street films.

Since Freddy's Dead was a box office hit (and in 3-D, no less), New Line Cinema, after acquiring the rights to the Jason Vorhees character (but not the Friday the 13th name), decided to add a supernatural element to the series. Jason Goes to Hell is the result. This film reveals that Jason is not merely a mongoloid maniac, but a body possessing demon that looks a lot like a worm. After all, they had to explain his consistent, and thoroughly ridiculous, resurrections somehow. Right?

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday really could have been 10 minutes long... and would've been ultimately more satisfying than the complete film. The movie begins with a young woman visiting an abandoned cabin in the woods. After getting topless, she runs into everyone's favorite masked murderer. Narrowly escaping the cabin, and sure death, she lures Jason into the woods, where an FBI task force surrounds him. In seconds, the cops open fire, and Jason Vorhees is blown to... well... Hell. All that's left are a few pieces of meat, and a really big black heart.

Roll credits. The end.

Nah. Not really. Unfortunately, director Adam Marcus chose to continue the story, making the most convoluted, over-scripted slasher movie in the genre's history. What follows is a mess of a film involving Jason's sister, niece, and grandniece, a tabloid news reporter, a traveling schmo and a badass bounty hunter in a cowboy hat. Basically, that really big black heart needs to find it's way into a Vorhees blood relative in order to gain eternal life or something. Along the way, "Jason" inhabits the body of a medical examiner and a cop, leaving a trail of corpses behind. Friday the 13th fans certainly won't be disappointed in the bloodshed in this flick, particularly a truly repulsive scene in which Jason performs his own style of coitus interruptus.

While you don't watch a slasher movie expecting high art, Jason Goes to Hell sucks (to borrow a scholarly film term). The acting ranges from amateur hour to scenery chewing. Steven Williams, as bounty hunter Creighton Duke, is so over-the-top that Eric Roberts would tell him to take it down a notch. Even Wilma Deering herself (Erin Gray) cannot keep her dialogue from sounding like a Lifetime flick. The biggest problem with Jason Goes to Hell is what plagues most slasher films -- it's just not scary. By their very nature, slasher films rely on body count. When characters are introduced, they practically wear signs that read "Dead Meat." It's simply not suspenseful when you know someone is going to be killed.

That said, Marcus is not a horrible director, especially given the fact that he was in his early 20s when he made Jason Goes to Hell. He clearly has a love for the genre, and plays with many of the cliches and conventions of the slasher genre. He also displays some genuine style, notably in various "mirror shots" (which provide some of the film's only glimpses of the "classic" Jason). Also, Marcus tips his hat to horror trivia buffs with little in-jokes and cameos. Look for the Necronomicon from Evil Dead and the Crate from Creepshow. Also, one of the leads was actually the star of the old syndicated Friday the 13th TV series. And of course, there's the movie's final, and most famous, scene... which sets up the long-in-development Freddy vs. Jason movie (which is certain to run away with all the trophies at Oscar time).

While the movie itself kind of looks like it was made for TV, the picture is very clear, and is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1). The audio is pretty great, actually, as it's not likely to raise any complaints from those who want more sound clarity during the head crushing scenes.

You gotta hand it to New Line Cinema. Even Jason Goes to Hell, with its budget of 16 dollars, gets a decent DVD treatment. In fact, the DVD's commentary by Marcus and screenwriter Dean Lorey is EXTREMELY entertaining, making the film immensely more watchable. These guys share some great anecdotes, including one about producer Sean S. Cunningham desperately wanting to get rid of Jason's signature hockey mask (which wasn't present in the first two Friday films). Much of the commentary is loaded with self-deprecating humor. You really get the impression that while they had fun, even the filmmakers didn't think much of the final product. The disc contains both the theatrical and director's cut, the aforementioned commentary, some alternate scenes that were used in the television version, and the repugnant "Jump to a Death" scene selection.

While slasher movies tend to be a guilty pleasure among movie fans, the only guilt you're likely to feel after watching Jason Goes to Hell is the pang of regret from losing an hour and a half of your life. If you must watch this one, turn the commentary on.

Robert Smentek
robertsmentek@thedigitalbits.com




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