Thursday, July 12, 2012

Murderous musing...Friday the 13th:The Final Chapter

Friday the 13th

On a sleepless night, tossing and turning in my bed, during one carefree summer from my youth, I decided to sneak from bed and try catching some late night television.  I knew I would catch a scolding if caught; late night TV was adult prime time, not for kids.  Who knew what sick crap awaiting me, just on the other side of the screen?  When I made my way to the family room where we kept our television set (it was still during the time when having one was enough), I noticed a faint glow coming from the room.  The boob tube was already occupied, but by whom?  Entering my family’s living room I was surprised to find my mom and baby brother watching the sultan of slaughter, Jason, in the Final Chapter.  I think he was on an opposite schedule then, sleeping during the day, screeching at my parents at night, so I figured my mom was just trying to pass the time until he went back to dreamland and left her in peace.  I can’t remember precisely at what point in the movie I sat down for, but I do remember seeing Jason unmasked and having my prepubescent mind blown wide open.  My mom was quick to cover my brother’s eyes, but I’m betting cold cash she regretted not being able to cover her own!  That gnarled, pale face haunted my nights and waking day dreams for some time to come, and I was hooked on a feeling.  The Final Chapter was my gateway drug to the gore soaked kingdom of slasher films and stands as my favorite in the entire series.  Before I snatch the new TFC threads from Fright-Rags, I wanted to spend some time musing over the film itself. 

Any movie without exploding titles is completely understated.  BOOM! Friday the 13th in ya face!  Then a helicopter!  This is a big budget film, get a whirly bird in there; give the audience some gusto for their Benjamins.  Jason left a sloppy mess, but this time they got him?  Guess again bozo.  Jason’s just napping, and apparently he’s a restless sleeper with rubber arms.  An axe to the noggin will do that.  Then some guy in the helicopter calls out over a speaker “Okay boys and girls lets get going”.  I’m no expert in police procedure, but something tells me that they don’t wrap up crime scenes like that.  Maybe it was happy hour or Tully’s Tenders were like two for one or something.   

I loved the way the camera settled on the camp for a few moments in the beginning after the police leave and turn all the lights out, so all you hear is the sound of the wildlife by the lake.  Those quiet, eerie moments really stand out to me.  That one shot of the lake in the silent dark does more to unsettle me than everything that happened in the film prior.   We’re taken to the hospital where we get a quick glimpse of Chris from the previous entry weeping into the caring arms of her parents.  I liked that nod of continuity.  Then we follow Jason to the morgue, where Axle the horn-ball mortician slides him into the corpse freezer, but JESUS JUMPING CHRISTMAS SHIT, what’s this?  A small wisp of breath escapes the supposedly dead serial killer just before Axel closes the door to the meat locker.  Jason had a power nap, but he’s back for the body count and more brutal than ever.  Axel gets his head grotesquely sawed snapped backwards; the nurse is disemboweled with a scalpel, then its happy trails for Jason, all the way back to the lake. 

Perhaps wishing to pay respect, he stops at his mom’s grave.  The grave itself is seemingly located right off the main road to Crystal Lake.  It’s practically right on the curb.  I wonder if the authorities put her cemetery plot there on purpose, kind of like on e last “fuck you” from the good citizens of Crystal Lake to the Voorhees clan.  I can’t imagine them being all too pleased to be forever associated with the “curse” of Crystal Lake, and I’m sure emotions over the massacre ran deep, especially in a town that small.  Jason finds a hitchhiker hanging out by his mother’s burial plot.  Wrong place to have a picnic lady; she’s quickly dispatched while eating a banana, although it remains a mystery whether Jason ate the rest of the banana after or not.    

We’re introduced to the Doyle’s and I can understand Zito’s inclusion of the family element for the first time in the series.  When you see teens in these kinds of movies they are automatically assumed to be meat for the proverbial slasher grinder.  However a family has some genuine emotional attachment, there’s more of a sense of loss after their death.  I hated that they chose to gloss over the death of Tommy Doyle’s mom; she deserved a better send off.  By the end I practically forget she was around in the first place, and I thought her and Trish had a great dynamic.  They certainly seemed like a good mother and daughter pair, a natural fit.  Along with Tommy Doyle they really did seem like a normal family.  There’s a warmness there that is lacking in the characters from subsequent entries.

Tommy Doyle is the kid I want to be still.  He plays space ship video games and customizes horror masks in the middle of the woods; sounds pretty rad from where I’m sitting.  When The Final Chapter first came out everyone was surprised that the kid killed Jason at the end, but now it seems like a foregone conclusion.   Tommy understood monsters, and what made them tick, so he was able to pull some mind fudging on the poor mongoloid.  Fangoria saves lives!  If Jason ever comes at you just shave your head, all will be well.  Much like Phil Collins, he has a soft spot for hair loss.

Slasher films are usually sprinkled with a good dose of teenage sexual angst, but this movie is just bursting at the seams with it; sex sells and really what else are teens supposed to be doing? Crispin Glover is trying to hit some rebound sex, Ted is desperately looking for any angle or gimmick to get at the pussy, there are some Double-Mint twins thrown in the mix, I bet Jason could smell those raging hormones from across the lake.  I don’t think these people have a clue about how to shotgun beer though.