Jason's 'Final Friday': Let's hope so No surprises as veteran stalker does same old stuff

August 17, 1993|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

"Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" proves that the road to Hades is strewn with bad intentions.

Is there a morsel of energy left in the old stalker formula? If there is, director Adam Marcus sure doesn't find it, instead settling for a rehash of the customary whackings and dicings appended to a plot of stupefying banality, held together by a skein of logic that might be regarded as sub-neanderthalian. This one is strictly for the entry-level trade.

The big news, if you're a connoisseur of such things (and you shouldn't be), is that Sean Cunningham, who wrote and directed the original "Friday the 13th" 13 years ago, has returned to steward the last edition out of existence. But the film takes on the irksome ambience of a vanity project, with producer Cunningham splashing self-referential strokes about, most notably setting the infamous Crystal Lake in the undiscovered country of "Cunningham County," on all the police cars and uniform patches. Who does this guy think he is, Hitchcock?

That irritation aside, little sustains "Jason." Even the old shhh-shhh-shhh-ah-ah-ah on the soundtrack seems to have less zing and too much echo.

Cunningham's writers Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely completely re

verse the premise that has buttressed the series by revealing that it's really Jason's heart that was driving him; it has a life and will of its own, like an alien creature. Thus when Jason's body is literally blown to pieces by a government SWAT team (where these guys when they were needed at Waco?), his surviving heart re-enters the body of the coroner and takes him over, to launch yet another reign of horror. So why didn't this happen back in 1984 or '86?

Soon, necking and fornicating teen-agers are being turned inside out all around Cunningham County, as Jason's heart trades up in body-shells until at last he is born again in toto. It looks like the worst possible news for a while: Maybe we're going to be stuck with nine more movies! But then, for some obscure reason,

it's revealed that one of his relatives can finally and totally kill him. See, it's a . . . relationship movie.

Literally nothing is new, except that possibly the camera lingers less upon the actual killings a few seconds less than in earlier editions and the premise is slightly more connected to science fiction than brainless horror, though there's no science and it's still brainless. Two things would have marginally helped: A theory which at least unified the data of Jason (I mean, other than: "Cash from debauched suckers is good!") and a final

money shot of Jason entering the dark place. We needed an image of him burning up far below; instead, a bunch of garden-gloved hands pull him into what looks like a swimming pool excavation.

And as for the statement in the title "The Final Friday" -- promises, promises.

And finally: Hey, exhibitors, what about enforcing that R-rating? The theater in which I saw the picture was jammed with kids

under 18 and I didn't see their moms anywhere in sight.

Next time, I'll name names.

MOVIE REVIEW

"Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday"

Starring Kane Hodder and John D. LeMay

Directed by Adam Marcus

Released by New Line

Rated R

0 stars

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