FRIDAY THE 13TH 4, The Final Chapter, 1984
Director: Joseph Zito
Stars: Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover and Kimberly Beck
Review by Mark Engberg
It's summertime in Camp Crystal Lake. Time for some teenagers to die.
Originally billed as "The One You've Been Screaming For" in the franchise's dishonest ad campaign, "The Final Chapter" is the fourth, and far from last, entry in the "Friday the 13th" canon. Clerks creator Kevin Smith refers to it as "The First Lie" for the series.
Years before New Line Cinema deceived fans into thinking that Freddy was dead, Paramount Pictures tried to sell audiences the idea that Jason would ultimately die in this installment. Remarkably, this is only the first of two times that the series will falsely indicate closure. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday made the same promise in 1993, only to be followed by Jason X in 2001.
"Quite simply, the public still wanted to see these films," reasoned producer Frank Mancuso. "So until they really stopped coming, why not continue to make more?"
That's sensible logic to a Hollywood executive, especially when your film has a budget of $2.6 million and grosses close to $33 million, which was the case with The Final Chapter. But this installment stands out from its predecessors not for its sense of finality or difference in story structure, but for its inclusion of actors who are worthwhile watching.
Before he was cast as George McFly in Back to the Future, Crispin Glover gave movie audiences a taste of what was to come in his long-lasting career of portraying eccentric characters. His character, Jimmy, does not get any preferential treatment in regards to Jason's murderous wrath, but Glover animates him with such insecure teenage spontaneity that it's a joy watching his spastic behavior collide with the surrounding social atmosphere.
There is even a scene when he entices a girl by dancing hysterically to "Love is a Lie" by Lion, even though the music played during production was AC/DC's "Back in Black". After knowing Glover's oddball personality for so many years, it seems plausible that director Joseph Zito probably told the actor to dance naturally as if it were a club. The sequence has got to be one of the most visually amusing moments in the entire franchise.
The other respectable talent is none other than Corey Feldman. Before he was Mouth the Goonie, Feldman was cast as Tommy Jarvis, a precocious child with a talent for creature special effects and mask making. The character of Jarvis would go on to assume the protagonist role in the next two Fridays, but portrayed by different actors. In this film, Feldman manages to personify him with an innocent playfulness that somehow seems threatening and menacing. The final shot of the movie is a haunting freeze of Feldman's thousand-yard stare, suggesting that Jason's torment has infected the young boy's crippled mind.
Many of the special effects for the film were supervised by horror movie legend Tom Savini. Known primarily for his groundbreaking make-up effects, Savini defiantly hated the Friday the 13th sequels even though he helped design the image of Jason's deformed face in the original movie. He agreed to work on The Final Chapter so he could finally kill off the character he helped to conceive.
Savini's expertise in the field of special effects can be observed by the impressive collection of horror masks in Tommy Jarvis' bedroom. Since Tommy's character is meant to be a brilliant movie buff capable of great artistry, this entitles him to some excellent horror props that are covered in Savini's fingerprints. They are more fun to look at than crushed beer cans and condom wrappers, anyway.
This is a fairly good episode for the Friday saga, but it is by no means anything spectacular. The premise and storyline format are just about identical to those from all the other episodes. It is not as good as III or VI, but far better than VII, VIII, or A New Beginning, which is the fifth chapter that would truly test the loyalty of the franchise's fanbase.