“Suddenly I stop, but I know it’s too late, I’m lost in a forest…”—The Cure
Some people never learn. Wisdom comes with age, and the youth repeat the same mistakes time and time again. For instance, kids are slaughtered by a crazy mask wearing killer in the woods. The news and history of the locale are known by pretty much everyone, but yet—another group of kids who are young, dumb and full of…Karo syrup, venture to the cursed woods, once again. Not saying the kids deserve their outcome or to prove Darwin was correct, but come on, have some situational awareness folks. This is exactly the predictable set of circumstances that befall our young characters in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter or IV (1984).
Chapter IV starts the night where III ended, as Jason Voorhees, the uncredited Ted White of Starman (1984), is transported to the morgue after being presumed deceased. But, we know better than that though don’t we? Jason, still breathing, escapes but not before slaughtering the medical staff with anything he can get his hands on, minus the kitchen sink.
The next day; our stereotypical group of teens: Paul, Clyde Hayes of The Gingerbread Man (1998), Sam, Judie Aronson of Weird Science (1985), Sara, Barbara Howard of Amityville: A New Generation (1993), Doug, Peter Barton of Hell Night (1981), Jimmy, Crispin Glover of Back to the Future (1985) and Ted, Lawrence Monosoon of Mask (1985), are enroute to a cabin in the woods for a weekend excursion full of partying and skinny dipping.
The teens arrive at the cabin and meet their neighbors, The Jarvis’, Trish, Kimberly Beck of Independence Day (1996), and her mask making/horror enthused little brother Tommy, Corey Feldman of The Lost Boys (1987). Before you know it, girls are naked (a lot), a bear hunter is added to the mix (what?), and drama ensues at a cabin party by the sex crazed and hormonal overloaded, emotional teenagers. Luckily, Jason is already aware of the deep woods debauchery (he always is), and makes his presence known as he starts picking off each person (body count of 13) in interesting and violent ways (the harpoon to the groin is quite memorable).
As the teenagers are slowly terminated, Jason’s focus is now directed next door on the Jarvis clan. The dynamics of Jason and young Tommy are introduced late in the flick but are still effective as this storyline was imperative to carry onto future sequels to help keep the franchise afloat. Without spoiling the end of Act III for you, it does end quite differently than the previous three, it was unique and enjoyable compared to other slasher flicks of the day.
The Final Chapter was directed by Joseph Zito (a rumored tyrant on set) of The Prowler (1981), and written by Barney Cohen of TV’s Forever Knight (1992), was released this week back in 1984. Chapter IV was made on a shoestring budget of less than 2 million filmed entirely in California, and successfully banked over 32 million at the box office. This was a good little investment as it proved there was still a solid fan base for the franchise and the genre as 1984 also saw the likes of Children of the Corn, Firestarter, and The Nightmare on Elm Street.
IV was a favorite for horror/special effects magazine Fangoria in the 80s, partially due to their love with the makeup effects of Tom Savini of Friday the 13th (1980). I will confess that I was indeed intrigued with the magazine and Savini through my youth, and still am to this day. Savini did “Shemp” for Jason in the above mentioned harpoon scene and was rumored he took the job was for the fact he could finally kill off the character and move forward with his career. The Final Chapter, has been become known for its rough production behind the scenes due to budget, and egos leading White to demand his name not be credited while deeming to press the film “a piece of sh*t.” Overall, IV is still a success with a fair amount of humor, great effects, and enjoyable performances by young, still strange Glover, and 80’s staple Feldman.
So, give Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter a view and you might agree it is one of the better installments of the series…much better than the flawed F13: A New Beginning or V (1985) a.k.a. Camp Crystal Lake Celluloid Crap O’ Rama. Chapter IV is a must see if you are a fan of the 80s, a gore hound or a student of slasher subgenre. So have a great weekend, stay safe and whatever you do, STAY OUT OF THE WOODS!