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‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 14, 1993

Some people suffer from triskaidekaphobia -- fear of the number 13.

More people suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia -- fear of Friday the 13th.

Not many people suffer from jasonparaskevidekatriaphobia. In fact, it's most prevalent among movie critics, who know it as fear of "Friday the 13th" movies. It strikes perhaps once a year and apparently there is no cure -- not even the promise implied in the word "final."

Since 1980, there have been nine such films, the latest (but probably not the last) of which opened yesterday. Charmingly titled "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday," its only star is Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked, machete-wielding antihero who popped up as a gimmicky afterthought at the end of Sean S. Cunningham's original film, but soon became an icon of modern horror as the unstoppable bogyman. Like Jason, the movies just kept coming, reduced to a banal formula but obviously capable of big box office grosses ($200 million so far). Call it serial cinema.

This "Final Friday" reunites Jason with his creator, Cunningham, who is listed as producer after having sat out the previous sequels. But it is no better than the dreck of recent years (remember "Jason Takes Manhattan"?) with the director's chair occupied by Adam Marcus, who was an 11-year-old gofer on the set in 1980.

Marcus may have been a good gofer, but he's an uninspired first-time director hemmed in by genre (and Jason) conventions. There are a whole school of red herrings (visual and audio), and sex still equals death. But then, so does everything else in this series -- when the director says "cut," he means "action" -- and the body count is as high as ever -- close to 20.

Of course, the script borrows its central concept from "The Hidden"; Jason's "Aliens"-like spirit is transferred from one unwilling body to another by a gross kiss of death. Those inhabited then take over the killing; the hockey-mask-wearing Jason (Kane Hodder) appears only at the beginning and end of the film. The film kicks off with the demolition of Jason by the FBI, but we know better. So does a bounty hunter who watches as Jason is apparently blown to bits and says, sarcastically, "I don't think so."

Those are Jason's sentiments, exactly, and his spirit wends its way through various citizens who still live in Crystal Lake, the only town whose population scoreboard rolls backward. They're almost all adults too -- seems the teenagers have all been used up.

The scriptwriters try to conjure some history/mythology to validate the plot's twists and turns, but the whole thing ends up more confusing than "Days of Our Lives" on fast-forward. There are a few moments of comic relief, but the film also includes the current -- and repulsive -- trend of "the imperiled baby." (In horror films, this tends to be more graphic and far less amusing than in, say, "Look Who's Talking.") The adult deaths run the usual gamut from slashing and piercing to deep-frying -- it's Bodies by Jason.

Not to give away the plot, but as one character intones: "Through a Voorhees may he be reborn and only by the hand of a Voorhees will he die." Not to give away the sequel: It's Freddy Krueger's hand that pops up out of the earth to retrieve Jason's hockey mask after this most recent death. Not to imply anything, but this "Final Friday" comes from New Line Cinema, which supposedly buried Krueger last year. Perhaps we should start looking forward to "Freddy and Jason Meat Abbott and Costello?"

"Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" is rated R and contains nudity, gore, bad language and bad acting.

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