Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

I understand why many fans of the Friday the 13th series hate Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.  A big problem, and the one I have with it, is that it's Jason on a boat and largely taking Toronto instead of Manhattan, even though there is a good scene in Times Square.  By this time they had already gone through about every idea they had: Jason's mother is the killer, Jason is alive after all, is Tommy Jarvis the next Jason, the humorous route with zombie Jason and a fight with a psychic girl.  The rumor was that Paramount was trying to churn out 13 of these, even though Sean S. Cunningham meant the original to be one and done. 

At the end of number eight Jason is trapped in the sewers of New York during the nightly release of toxic waste.  Instead of turning into a C.H.U.D. he melts away and once again becomes a child before dying.  Most people didn't care, with word of mouth getting around about the misleading title.  Paramount decided to turn the series over to New Line but, with the series getting long in the tooth, Cunningham decided it was time to put it down and send Jason to hell.

Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is lured into an ambush near his old stomping grounds in Crystal Lake.  After being blown up he is taken to a secure lab in Youngstown, Ohio.  Unfortunately, the coroner (Richard Grant) becomes enamored of Jason's oversized heart and decides to consume it, thus infecting him with the parasitic demon that controlled Jason since he was brought back from the dead.  

Meanwhile bounty hunter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams) heads to Crystal Lake, believing that Jason is not really dead.  His sister Diana (Erin Grey) still lives there, and Duke is convinced that Jason will come for her, either to possess her or be reborn.  When Diana is killed and everyone thinks it is a local boy named Steven Freeman (John D. LeMay), who happens to also be the ex-boyfriend of Diana's daughter Jessica (Kari Keegan) and father of her grandchild.  After meeting Creighton in jail Steven escapes, determined to protect Jessica and his child, while Jason jumps from body to body in pursuit of his kin.

This was the first movie director Adam Marcus made, and from what I understand he made a mess of it.  He never looked at the dailies - much of the footage that reached the editors was unusable - and a good portion of the movie was people talking.  Sean S. Cunningham had to step in and direct some of the finale as well as reshoots to salvage the whole project and was not pleased with what came out.  Neither were audiences.  I was not, and still am not, a huge fan of the movie series, but I was of the Canadian television show, and seeing John D. LeMay from Friday the 13th: The Series and a story that owed more than a little to The Hidden was fun for me.  For fans, not so much, especially since this movie has the least amount of Jason in it since the first and the fifth. 

When Kane Hodder actually gets to play him he's great, but mostly it's the parasite inhabiting one body after another, without any real rules.  I'm still wondering how the last guy it inhabits can talk when most of the people are silent just like Jason.  However, upon leaving one body, we get a great melting scene of its former host.  Also, the unrated version is worth it to see the full death of one minor character rather than blood just splattering on her boyfriend's face. 

Despite the movie being salaged it made a little more than Jason Takes Manhattan and was the highest grossing horror movie of the year.  Many fans, due to the major departure from anything in Jason lore that came before or after, despise Jason Goes to Hell, but I like it despite all the problems it has.  There are a number of great kill scenes and some imagination behind it and, though derivative, if Marcus had decided to make a more traditional Jason film and save this for another story it might have been better received.  At least at that point he would have had the wind knocked out of some of his arrogance and had a better idea of what had gone wrong.  

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Time: 87 minutes
Starring: John D. Lemay, Kari Keegan, Erin Gray, Kane Hodder
Director: Adam Marcus



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