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Last Call Blog | Retro Review: ‘The Final Chapter’? Well, we all know how that turned out …

In the wake of Tom Savini's guest spot on "Maniac," last week's first feature on The Last Drive-In, we take a look at "Friday the 13th, Part 4: The Final Chapter," one of Savini's special effects masterpieces in this week's Retro Review from Joe Bob.

Joe Bob looks at what some consider to be the best of the Friday the 13ths in this week’s blast from the past

Editor’s Note: This review was originally published on April 20, 1984. Some stuff has changed since then.

Remember when Betsy Palmer got her head sliced off with a machete and movie history was made? Course you do. We all do. I think all our lives were changed on June 13, 1980, the original “Friday the 13th,” the dawn of the eighties, the day red meat came back into the American diet. In “Friday Numero Uno” Betsy played “I’ve Got a Secret” one too many times, and then when she shot Bing Crosby’s son through the eye with an arrow, let’s face it, it was all over, the woman was setting herself up for the Benihana treatment.

I don’t want to get all choked up talking about past history, though. I’m not even gonna mention the ax in the face, the double-reverse blade through the bimbo’s throat or the national “Friday the 13th, Part 2” scandal when the Motion Picture Airhead Association told everybody they were gonna X-rate the sucker unless the spear-through-the-twin-humps scene came out. We all have our personal favorite “Friday the 13th” highlight scenes. Mine is the one in Numero Two-o where Jason sticks Betsy Palmer’s mummified head in Alice’s icebox. That scene always said a lot to me personally. In my book, it pretty much stated the final word on the subject of personal grooming in America.

I’ve said it before, but I’ve got to give credit where it’s due. Some people know how to make sequels and some people don’t. Like “Halloween III,” the one that didn’t have Jamie Lee Curtis, we all know that was a joke. But these “Friday the 13th” people know their sequels. These people don’t just make up a new story. These people made the exact same movie four times in a row.

I guess you know what I’m leading up to. I guess you know what day it was last week.

It’s time again.

“Friday the 13th, Part 4” starts with Jason getting crated up and put in the ambulance and took off to the morgue so they can put him in the deep freeze. We all know this don’t mean diddly to Jason, specially since he already spent 22 years growing moss on his arms at the bottom of Crystal Lake, and while he was down there he had time to find a hockey-goalie mask to wear over his lizard face.

First thing off the bat, this nerd working at the morgue is horsing around the utility room trying to get a nurse to get down on the concrete and make like wrestler Fritz Von Erich trying to execute a double leg lock. Only all the bimbo will do is toss off lines like “I am not going to fake any more orgasms for you,” and “You’re the Super Bowl of self-abuse,” until the guy gives up and goes back to watching TV Aerobicise to get his jollies.

We know what this means. It’s biodegradable human garbage time. These two jerkolas didn’t even have actual human sex before Jason decided to turn their bodies into grape Jell-O. They just thought about it a lot. (One thing I like about these numbers is they have a lot of moral philosophy mixed in.) He gets a hacksaw to the throat with a twist. She gets sliced open like a fried catfish. And then a few minutes after that this fat girl is sitting by the road eating a banana and trying to hitch, and somebody comes along and shoves a knife through the back of her throat so it comes out the front, and I know, you probly have problems with this one.

You’re thinking, is the fat-girl throat-gouging necessary to the plot? After all, she didn’t have sex. She didn’t screw around with anybody. She didn’t even get a ride. But you have to remember, she was fat.

As you all know, I don’t approve of gratuitous violence unless it’s necessary to the plot. That’s why I had to explain about the fat girl being fat.

Okay, who can tell me what happens next? That’s right. The kids go back in the woods.

Why do they go back in the woods? Because they think Jason’s dead? Because they’re horny? Because they like to drink Coors and play Def Leppard on their Sony Walkmans and make like fruitcakes?

Nope. Basically, it’s because they’re all dumb as a box of Ritz crackers. This, of course, is why they all deserve to die.

Down to the nitty. First this brunette sex machine (Judie Aranson) decides to take off all her clothes in the middle of the night and go down to Crystal Lake and swim around and lie in the life raft. It’s not so bad when Judie gets a metal underwater surprise, but when her boyfriend (Alan Hayes) swims out there to find her, we’re talking shishkebab action right through the lower privates. Then Jason puts his hockey mask back on and starts breathing around the screen and we get some more plot development: corkscrew through the hand, butcher knife in the forehead, bimbo-through-a-plate-glass-window, a particularly nice scene where a guy is stabbed through the stag-movie screen, a guy who gets his skull mashed into the bathroom tiles and his eyes gouged out with Jason’s thumbs, a little nympho who gets an ax through her terry-cloth jumpsuit, another guy who gets his hands nailed to the door, the big paint-the-house-red finale, and some stuff that the high sheriffs won’t let me put in the newspaper. There’s also some grisly scenes.

They’re calling this sucker “The Final Chapter,” maybe because Jason’s head gets turned into a box of melted Milk Duds at the end, but I wouldn’t worry about it. He’s died four times now.

We’re talking 13 bodies, as usual. Sixteen breasts. Ted White does a hell of a Jason. Two gallons blood. No motor vehicle chases. No Kung Fu. Heads roll. Hands roll. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Kimberly Beck, the blond fox Jamie Lee Curtis screamer role; Corey Feldman, this creepy kid who hangs around making slime glopola masks; and Camilla and Carey More, as identical porkchops who ride around on their bikes trying to have mindless sex in Jason’s woods. Joseph Zito, the director, gets one-half star off for cutting away too quick, especially on the butcher knife to the forehead scene. It’s Joe’s first time out, so I’m letting him off with a warning, but I want to tell you this one more time, Joe, if you’re gonna make a sequel, make a sequel.

Three and a half stars. Red Meat Champion of 1984.

Joe Bob says check it out.

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