Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Despite eventually being followed by “Jason X,” 1993’s “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” was intended to be the ultimate coup de grace of the Friday the 13th series. Much like Jason himself, though, the franchise is incapable of dying. And thankfully for horror nerds everywhere, it hasn’t. In the meantime, let’s take a trip down memory lane back to 1993 when New Line Cinema promised us the true death of Jason Voorhees but instead gave us glorified setup for “Freddy Vs. Jason”.
To start off, the film is one of the only ones in the series to take a self-referential look at the legacy of Jason and magnify it tenfold. Unlike its predecessors, “Jason Goes to Hell” takes place in a world where Jason is no longer merely a campfire tale used to scare kids but instead an accepted and well-known legend. The film is also the last of its kind to take place exclusively at Crystal Lake, which gives it a look and feel that is still very 1980s (despite being released in 1993).
Of course, “Jason Goes to Hell” isn’t without its own terrible gimmick. “Jason Goes to Manhattan” finds Jason in the the Big Apple, “Jason X” is merely the logical progression of every other horror franchise that has long since run its course by sending Jason into space, and, of course, “Freddy vs. Jason” is basically the end-all, be-all of crossover flicks. In “Jason Goes to Hell,” Jason has the newfound ability to possess the living and jump from body to body, which just goes to prove that despite being sent to New York, the outer reachings of space and back again, the Friday the 13th series truly scraped the bottom of the barrel with Part 9.
The entire premise for “Jason Goes to Hell” can best be summed up by a line in the movie which states, “In a Voorhees was he born, through a Voorhees will he be reborn, and only by the hand of a Voorhees will he die.” Having been successfully killed in the opening sequence of the film via a FBI sting, Jason proceeds to possess a series of host bodies, starting with the coroner, and slowly making his way toward one of only three living family members he has left in order to be reborn again.
The only family Jason has left are his half-sister Diana, her daughter, Jessica, and her infant granddaughter, Stephanie. Amid this bizarre family reunion is the single worst protagonist in the series in Steven Freeman — Jessica’s ex-lover, Stephanie’s father and a total dweeb incapable of seemingly any physical activity let alone the plethora of karate moves he executes throughout the film.
If you can’t seem to wrap your head around the Voorhees family tree, don’t fret because I don’t think the producers could either; the idea of Jason having a half-sister that has never been mentioned in the series up to this point is just preposterous. In any regard, this movie wasn’t meant to make much sense, seeing as how it’s the ninth installment in a horror franchise and all. Still, I did expect a lot more than what was delivered. The Friday the 13th series stands to be my favorite of the ’80s onslaught of horror icons, and “Jason Goes to Hell” stands to be the worst of the lot.
The characters themselves are completely forgettable and, just like the film implies, mere vessels whom Jason possesses. No matter how terribly vapid nerd-o Steven is, he still doesn’t even stand as the worst character in the movie.
That award would go to the character of Creighton Duke, a bounty hunter who, for no apparent reason, holds all the secrets behind Jason and the means with which to kill him. While playing a word association game with a reporter, Duke manages to spit out this head-scratcher of a gem when given the words “Jason Voorhees”: “That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress sticking a hot dog through a doughnut.” I have to hand it to the writers because within less than three seconds of dialogue, Duke manages to set up exactly what kind of movie is in store.
Of course, the film is not all bad per se. The special effects in particular are quite possibly the best in the entire franchise — such as the face-melting sequence, which basically takes a page from “Hellraiser,” and, of course, the Jason worm creature which crawls from a decapitated head straight into his deceased half-sister’s body via her vagina. Again, hats off to the writers for concocting such a glorious, instant “Schlock Vault” classic.
This brings me to the final scene, an ending so memorable that it quite possibly rivals the original “Friday the 13th.” As I alluded to earlier, “Jason Goes to Hell” is basically a prelude to the eventual crossover that was “Freddy vs. Jason” — a hellish journey more than 20 years in the making (originally proposed back in 1987) and a movie that came out a whole decade after even this nightmarish movie was released.
Still, I hand it to New Line Cinema for satiating horror fans everywhere. The moment you see the Freddy Krueger hand come out of the ground and drag Jason’s mask to hell, you realize that what you just sat through was seemingly worth the trouble. Despite being a 90-minute schlock fest, “Jason Goes to Hell” delivers a top-notch ending, although I’m sure even the most loyal horror fans couldn’t have anticipated waiting another 10 years for the franchise to come through on its crossover promise. But thus is the movie business.
All in all, “Jason Goes to Hell” exists not as a great movie but a memorable one for its iconic ending and poorly conceived plot alike. A truly great horror movie doesn’t necessarily have to wow you with fear, but instead, I revel in the horror that is a truly bad movie. Whether intentional or not, “Jason Goes to Hell” realistically brings the viewers to hell (albeit a cinema-related hell) alongside Jason himself. It also goes to show that nobody learns from their mistakes because franchise films with little to no sequences involving the titular character never work. Consult “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” for further proof.