Friday the 13th: Part 4 The Final Chapter (US - DVD R1)
Gabe witnesses the death of Jason. He swears that this is the last one...
Here we go. This is more like it. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is my personal favourite entry in the Friday the 13th series, and I honestly can’t see many reasons to disagree with this stance. Perhaps you’re a traditionalist, or don’t like the iconic character Jason Voorhees, so you pick the first film as your fav. Fair enough. Maybe you have a special affection for the Universal Monsters style of Jason Lives. I could see where you were coming from. But really, The Final Chapter is where it’s at. The fourth film features the best pace, the most likeable and memorable characters, it’s the second most important film to series continuity (arguably), it’s the second best directed ( Jason Lives does win that battle), the most indelible poster art, and probably most importantly, it’s one of the series most brutal entries.
Director Joseph Zito (the guy who made The Prowler, which is better than the vast majority of the Friday series) is a smart exploitation filmmaker, who knows the genre, but has just enough artistic integrity to move the camera. Sean Cunningham (director of the first film) is anything but a real filmmaker (he’s an idea man), and Steve Miner (director of the second and third films) exudes the wrong brand of grindhouse (the inept kind). Zito sharpens his cut teeth here on a pervasively dark atmosphere, eerily realistic happenings (for a Friday film), and he gets a lot out of his cast. The Final Chapter suffered just as great a slashing at the behest of the MPAA, but overcomes the problem by creeping so grotesquely through each build up and after math that the actual amount of on-screen mayhem is almost unimportant.
The storyline doesn’t break away from the series’ mould, but it features subplots and character moments the rest of the series doesn’t touch. One might even go as far as to admit they actually feel bad for Jason’s victims in this film. Who didn’t shed a tear for Crispin Glover when he gets wacked right after losing his virginity? The fourth film’s story is also interesting because it takes place the day after the third film (which in-turn took place the day after the second film, making it Sunday the 15th). Despite the thread bare and often repetitive plots found in the series (not to mention the timeline is next to impossible) these movies are rare in that they encompass a continuous story right up to the seventh film, and the introduction of the Tommy Javis character in this one is the catalyst for parts five and six.
The kills aren’t just brutal, and more successfully trimmed for the R-rating than the rest of the series, they’re clever. I mean, there’s a few brainless axes to guts, but there’s also a role-reversal Psycho homage, and a scene where Jason attacks from behind a projection screen. With the exception of the not so gracefully aged animatronic Jason head (which is still quite cool) The Final Chapter features some of make-up maestro Tom Savani’s most successful and convincing work. It’s not as gross as Maniac or Day of the Dead (which is still the man’s masterpiece), but the kills hurt, and the blood is definitely the right colour.
I think we all know we can expect a Blu-ray release of every single one of Paramount’s Fridays, but some of us don’t have Blu-ray players, and others have very short attention spans. This transfer, like the previous DVD re-releases, appears to be the same transfer that dawned the eight movie collection. It’s acceptable, but there is some room for improvement when the Blu-ray is released, though I’m sure plenty of folks out there will think a hi-def version is unneeded. The Last Chapter is a very dark film, even by the series’ standards, and the key lighting is more natural than found in the later episodes. The shading is a bit muddy here, and many warmer shades are swimming with compression noise. I’m guessing a hi-def release will feature sharper contrasts and cleaner colours, but for DVD, and considering the source material, I’ve got no real complaints for you.
This apparently new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix continues the re-release trend of presenting the cleanest mix possible, with a remixed musical track that actually encompasses the surround channels. Once again the music is definitively cleaner than the rest of the soundtrack, but not horribly so. There isn’t much more to report, except that this particular mix is a little muddier than the parts one and three mixes, but it’s such a slight difference it’s almost not worth mentioning. Things are pretty even and consistent, and based on these facts I’m expecting that the eventual Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD track will be a bit warmer and smoother.
Extras begin with two audio commentaries. The first features director Joseph Zito, screenwriter Barney Cohen, and editor Joel Goodman. The filmmakers leave more blank space than I would’ve liked, but are generally informative concerning the pre-production, the filming process, and the arduous task of getting the film past the MPAA with an R-rating. Zito is also very aware of his audience, and talks to the series fans rather directly, without placation, which is rare. The second commentary is a fan commentary with Adam Green (director of the overrated neo-slasher Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (director of Wrong Turn 2, which I haven’t seen), who are occasionally a little annoyingly geeky, but do pull out some real insight during their ninety minute blabber festival. Probably one of the better ‘fan’ tracks I’ve ever heard.
Next are the long, long awaited gore deletions (15:15). There’s no production audio here, and the outtakes are presented as daily footage, but is still pretty well cleaned. Every single kill is revisited. Because there’s no production audio Zito walks us through the footage via commentary. It would be great if Zito had a chance for a director’s cut, but he’s not going to get it out of this noiseless, raw footage. Still, fans should be happy with Paramount’s effort, even if it took them three DVD releases to find the damn footage. The footage is augmented by ‘The Lost Ending’ (03:20), which features a commentary track, music, and subtitles in the place of production audio. Unlike most alternate endings this one is actually different than the one that ended up in the film
‘Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter’ (10:00) is fast paced (almost too fast) run through the making of the film, covering much of the stuff already covered in the commentaries, which is ultimately pretty satisfying. The featurette is made up with footage from the original film, more outtakes, and interviews with Zito, Cohen, Savani, and a few members of the cast.
‘The Crystal Lake Massacres Part 1’ (18:00) is a cut section of a pretend documentary on the ‘real life’ Jason killings. The ‘doc’s’ cast is made up of recognizable fans from some of the other disc’s extra footage, along with other obvious non-actors, but everyone puts in a nice effort, and the thing is stylistically similar to real made-for-cable documentaries. The photo recreations of little Jason are especially amusing, as is the expert commentator that points out all the inaccuracies in the timeline. The fan service stuff also includes another entry in the exceedingly dull Lost Tales from Camp Blood series. Part four (06:00) is a little more stylish and eerie than the previous entries, but still quite obviously a fan film.
Everything ends with an extended look (read: repeating) look at Crispin Glover’s silly dance, and the original theatrical trailer.
Jason Voorhees’ best adventure hasn’t quite made its way to Blu-ray yet, but if you don’t really care about high definition upgrades, this DVD release should actually satisfy with its fair collection of new extras. The raw gore dailies are the most exciting addition, but the commentary track and behind the scenes featurette are pretty fun too. Next up: the only Jasonless entry in the Friday series.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 16th June 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby 2.0 Mono English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer/Editor Commentary, Fan Commentary, Lost Tales of Camp Blood Part 4, Slashed Scenes, Jason's Unlukiest Day, The Lost Ending, The Cystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 1, Jimmy's Dance Moves, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Joseph Zito
Cast: Erich Anderson, Crispin Glover, Judie Aronson, Kirsten Baker, Anthony Barrile, Peter BartonJose
Length: 91 minutes
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