Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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(Reviewed in 2002 as part of a retrospective on the “Friday the 13th” series.)

Part four in the “Friday the 13th” series is called “The Final Chapter.” It should not be confused with part nine in the series, which is called “The Final Friday.” It should also not be confused with the previous three films, which are all vastly inferior to “The Final Chapter” — which, despite its false-advertising title, is actually not a very bad movie.

I know; I’m just as surprised as you are. A new director (Joseph Zito) was called in, and he displays some signs of competence. Not style or panache, mind you, but competence. Some shots are actually kind of cool, and it appears there was a good deal less cocaine circulating around the set than in past “Friday the 13th” endeavors.

Some legitimate actors were called in, too. Not John Gielgud or Robert DeNiro, but Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, anyway. (For the record, Corey Feldman was known as the “John Gielgud” of ’80s actors named Corey. Corey Haim was the “Jason Bateman” of ’80s actors named Corey. Jason Bateman was the “Ricky Schroder” of ’80s actors on “Silver Spoons.”)

And the characters … well, there are some, which is unusual. I mean, there are always people in the movies, and those people generally have names. But it would be a stretch to call them “characters.” “Bodies” would be more like it. In the past, we’ve never cared who Jason killed, because everyone was either bland or annoying.

This time around, we have a few people who are somewhat interesting. Feldman plays a little kid named Tommy who is fascinated with the Jason legends, leading to some creepy possibilities (which are squandered in subsequent films, but that’s not “The Final Chapter’s” fault). And Crispin Glover is actually — yes! — FUNNY as a teen who is unlucky at love, and then he gets some action, and then he gets killed. I really, really hoped he would live.

Now for the bad stuff….

The film opens mere moments after Part 3 ended … except that Part 3 ended in the morning, and it’s nighttime now. (Honestly, I don’t think they’re even WATCHING the previous movies before they make new ones.) Cops and paramedics are cleaning up the aftermath of Jason’s latest slaughter. Jason himself lies dead in the barn where he was killed several times in Part 3.

Later, he busts out of the morgue, the rumors of his death apparently having been greatly exaggerated. He kills some morgue attendants (including one who exclaims, humorously, “Holy [deity] jumping Christmas s***!”). Then it’s back to Crystal Lake for him, his homeland, his Mecca, his own private Idaho.

At the lake, we meet a small family. Mrs. Jarvis is divorced from her husband but maintains her pride and dignity and jogs every morning with her teen-age daughter, Trish, who is approximately five years younger than she. Trish’s little brother is the aforementioned Corey Feldman. They are a happy family. Surely one or more of them will soon die.

Across the way, some amorous teens (is there any other kind of teen?) have rented/borrowed/stolen a cabin for the weekend. They do their thing. People are killed.

OK, so the plot is utterly the same as the previous films, up to the finale, which is at least original, if not at all believable. There is also a large amount of nudity, and when the teens aren’t nude, they are wearing the Daisy Duke shorts that made episodes one and two so disturbing.

With a hint of good acting, a glimmer of character development, and an overall more-professional look than its predecessors, “The Final Chapter” is not bad. It’s not scary, either, which prevents it from being good. But at this point, we’ll take whatever we can get.

C (; R, all the usual swearing and blood and what-have-you.)

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