Jason Goes to Hell is a perfect example of how Slasher franchises tend to go bad. The franchise creators spend four, five, six or more films simply prodding their killer through the motions, then feel the baffling need to explain exactly why their monster has been going through those motions—the motions of killing people, of course—in the first place. And, for some equally baffling reason, they usually resort to half-assed mysticism to explain the killer’s motives.
When we last saw Jason Voorhees he had somehow been transformed into a chubby eleven-year-old and remained curled in a fetal ball under the streets of New York City. Now we find him stalking a woman in a gravity-defying towel . . . until he gets blown-up good by a team of FBI agents armed with enough firepower to, well, blow up Jason good.
So that’s weird. I mean, Jason is in chunks, right. But wait, his heart is still beating and, once eaten (yup, eaten), allows Jason to possess whoever ingested his ticker. But that’s not all! Jason can actually hop from one body to another, travelling via regurgitated demon worms. Remember the shit-weasels from Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher? Well, these are puke-weasels.
What this means is that Jason Voorhees spends about, oh, ten minutes onscreen. The rest of the time we see only a random collection of people infected by a puke-weasel and possessed by Jason’s . . . I don’t even know, is it his essence, his soul, his mind? And if it’s his mind, why is it that some of these people, once possessed, appear to be higher-functioning than Jason himself? One of them actually talks.
So whereas Friday the 13th: A New Beginning had a killer who looked like Jason but wasn’t Jason, Jason Goes to Hell has many killers who don’t look like Jason but are Jason. The end result, though, is no Jason.
And exactly how did Jason gain these new abilities? Well, remember how we learn, in Freddy’s Dead, that Freddy Krueger was granted his powers by a trio of demon sperm? Remember how Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers taught us that Michael’s power came from his ties to some demonic cult? Remember how terrible those revelations were, how lame, how infuriating those “explanations” were? Well, warm up those frowning muscles ’cause here we go again.
Seems that Jason has always had these powers and he gets them from demons, probably those puke-weasels. There’re also hints that his mother was the one to raise these demons—and that she used the Necronomicon to do it. Not the Lovecraftian Necronomicon. The Raimi Necronomicon.
So this film asks us loyal fans to abandon the notion that Pamela Voorhees killed a bunch of camp counsellors for neglecting to save her son Jason from drowning, that she was killed and that Jason, still alive, witnessed her murder and went on a revenge-driven killing spree of his own. Nope, forget all that. According to the makers of Jason Goes to Hell, Pam was actually some amateur witch who granted her son the hell-born ability to move from body to body. Why hadn’t he used this power until now? Who the hell knows. Maybe it only gets activated by being blown up good.
Anything good about this film? It looks pretty good. The photography and set-design are fine and Manfredini’s music is great. The Final Friday also features a few decent kills, including a woman being split from the sternum up, and a guy who melts like Frank Cotton in reverse. The movie’s also peppered with some pretty fun Easter eggs, like the aforementioned wink at The Evil Dead, the crate from Creepshow, and, of course, the ending that set fanboy hearts aflutter when it was first revealed.
But none of these make up for the massive shark-jump that is this movie’s storyline.
As far as I’m concerned, this movie should be skipped and ignored by anyone but the purest of purists. It is quite possible to move straight from Part 8 to Freddy Vs Jason (yes, I intentionally omitted Jason X—and, actually, while we’re on the subject, I’d recommend going from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter to Freddy Vs Jason and skipping everything in between).
There is really no need to watch this movie.
Length: 91 min