Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
With this 4th entry in the iconic series the quality begins to take a rapid decline. Sure, none of the Friday the 13th movies could be considered great art or anything, but at least they felt as if they were made and performed by competent people.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter begins where we left off in Part 3 as medics haul away the supposedly dead body of Jason. At the hospital, Jason rises up yet again and kills two obnoxious employees (one with a hacksaw to the throat and a 180 degree head twist, the other gutted with a scalpel) and lumbers back towards Crystal Lake.
The doomed this time occupy a couple of lakefront houses. In one is 'final girl' Kimberly Beck, little brother Corey Feldman and their mom, and they've rented the other to a group of personality and talent-free teens. We'll just call this a kind of Jason Voorhees buffet table.
Anyway, you know how it all goes: one by one these dunces are picked off by a variety of methods including, but not limited to, axes, spearguns, cleavers, corkscrews, knives and garden trowels until all that's left are Beck and Feldman (Jason is a softie when it comes to kids). In the finale, Feldman shaves his head to appear more Jason-like and then gets the upper hand with a machete, nearly bisecting Jason's head and chopping him up like so much liver. Since this is 'The Final Chapter' there shouldn't be a cliffhanger but, naturally, there is, as there is the allusion that Feldman has had a psychotic break himself and may (or may not) take up Jason's mantle.
Okay, so what's good about Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter? The makeup (by Tom Savini) is good and the deaths are pretty effective (although, how Jason's appearance beneath the hocky mask could change so much from Part 3- this being the very next day, remember?-is a question left unanswered). It's also interesting seeing the early-career performances of Corey Feldman, a pre-Back to the Future Crispin Glover and a pre-The Young and the Restless Peter Barton.
Unfortunately, the acting here is pretty lame by everyone concerned. Although Beck has a nice set of lungs to scream with, a great thespian she is not. But then again, the screenplay barely gives any of them anything to do or say; they barely have names let alone personalities. Even more so than any other film in the series is the fact that Jason, a monstrously huge psychopath in a hockey mask, can move around the close confines of these houses without detection. He must be part chameleon. Also, you have to wonder about the stupidity level of everyone involved who would stick around Crystal Lake after two previous nights of mass butchery.
Even though this film is called Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, it's anything but. I would be tempted to rank this one a bit lower if it were not the fact that the rest of the movies in this series keep getting worse and worse. Compared to Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.