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Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie Penguin Monday: #23. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

When last we left him, Jason Vorhees was dead in a New York City sewer tunnel that had just been scrubbed clean by a fresh torrent of dangerous toxic waste. His body, which I guess was a weird, fleshy shell of some kind, was melted away, leaving the corpse of a much younger Jason Vorhees, who according to the writers of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Gone Fishin’, drowned in Crystal Lake when he was a child. Of course, those of us with an intimate knowledge of the series know that Jason Vorhees did not, in fact, drown in the lake while two teenaged camp counselors boned in the lifeguard stand, but rather resorted to his well-documented violent, stab-happy behavior after watching his mother be decapitated at the tail-end of her own misguided rampage. I mean, it’s the penultimate line in the first film, people! Alice asks about Jason, after being dragged underwater by a rotting ghoul during a dream sequence, and the sheriff of Crystal Lake reports to her that a boy’s body was never found. “That means he’s still out there,” Alice says, and we fade to a shot of Crystal Lake, tranquil and serene, before fading to black. Alice is summarily slaughtered by a grown up Jason in the opening moments of Friday the 13th Part II. It isn’t until Part VI, appropriately subtitled Jason Lives, that Vorhees even becomes a supernatural being. Once that happens, the series officially goes off the rails, though I would argue that Part VII: The New Blood, is one of the best in the series, my fairly scathing review on this very site aside. 

Over the past three weeks, I have watched 9 Friday the 13th movies. The tenth, the aptly titled Jason X, which I believe takes place in outer space because of course it does, will have been viewed before the end of this week. It isn’t important why I did this, but I did it, and because they are all currently fresh in my head, I feel as if I am a bit of an authority on the series. I have a little trouble keeping which kills occur in which movie straight because the films get awfully “samey,” but I think I understand Jason’s overall arc. As such, I can unequivocally say that nothing presented in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday has anything to do with any of the movies that came before it. I also feel pretty confident saying that, even without having seen Jason X yet, Jason Goes To Hell is the worst entry in a pretty awful franchise. So, naturally, this review. 

Turns out that inside Jason isn’t the corpse of a small, drowned boy with a wonky eye. No, what dwells inside of Jason is far more sinister, far more evil, and far more slimy. What lives inside of Jason and makes him so unstoppable is…a…slimy alien puppet. That we see once. In the dark. Before it disappears into a dead woman’s vagina. Ugh. 

But there I go getting ahead of myself. Jason Goes To Hell opens where most of the films in the series do, Crystal Lake, the site of appropriately named Camp Crystal Lake, where every cabin is simply perfect for premarital sex. In the ninth film, we meet a young woman visiting a charming cabin on the lake by herself. She wastes no time removing her clothing and drawing a bath. Sadly, she will never take that bath, because Jason shows up, and while he doesn’t succeed in murdering her, he does lead her on a merry chase through the forest, and I’m guessing that bath water is pretty cold by the time she gets back. Damn you, Jason.

Let’s talk about Jason’s appearance for a minute. I’m a big fan of the goalie mask look. The burlap sack in Part II didn’t do much for me, and the less said about Pamela Vorhee’s sweater, the better. After Part III, in which he acquires what would become his, as well as Roy’s, signature look, Jason officially became a horror icon. Horror fans and non-horror fans alike know Jason Vorhees. They may not always agree on his methods, but they all recognize that he gets the job done, the job, of course, being killing horny teens. The look remains consistent throughout the series, until Jason Goes To Hell. In this one, Jason’s mask seems to have shrunk. Either that, or his head, which is now covered in a generous amount of what seem to be tumors, has puffed up. I guess he developed multiple head tumors after being drowned in toxic chemicals at the conclusion of Jason Take Manhattan? Doesn't explain how he got back to Crystal Lake or why he’s not a small, drowned child (a child who cannot be Jason Vorhees, as we’ve already established Jason Vorhees never drowned as a child) or why he’s chosen to attack this particular woman at this particular cabin at this particular time. Anyway, he looks dumb. 

Also, Jason was set up. This woman is no ordinary thong-wearing, boob-admiring-in-the-mirror Crystal Lake yokel. This lady is in the FBI and she’s leading Jason into a trap, an exploding trap. That’s right: Jason Vorhee’s is blown to the bits in the first five minutes of the movie, meaning, you guessed it, no Jason for the majority of the film. Ugh, again. 

Why do movies do this, huh? Why would they take away what we all paid to see? I’m not at all interested in watching average citizens possessed by the spirit of Jason Vorhees stalk around disemboweling people. I want the Jason Vorhees doing that stuff. I don’t even need an explanation as to how he came back to life for the fourth time, OK? Just give him a machete and unleash him on a camp full of bra-less counselors. I don’t need some ridiculous story about how Jason is evil incarnate and how he is possessed by demons/bad lighting effects and how there’s a slimy puppet living inside of him and how only another Vorhees can truly kill him and blah blah blah. Didn’t Tommy Jarvis say in Part VI that Jason could only be killed if he was drowned in Crystal Lake, the site of his (not really) original drowning? That didn’t work, right? All it took was a visiting telekinetic to wake him up again. Who’s to say giving a member of the Vorhees family a magical knife to plunge into Jason’s heart will do the deed? It clearly doesn’t work, because a few years later, Jason was in outer space. Ugh again and again. 

All you really need to know about Jason Goes to Hell is that, a) he goes to Hell at the end and b) both The Book of the Dead of Evil Dead fame and Freddy Kruger’s claw make cameo appearances. Jason Goes to Hell is pure garbage, but worse than that, it’s boring. Oh, Jason, what have they done to you? Poor, poor Jason.

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