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Old 06-10-2009, 09:59 AM
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Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter: Deluxe Edition





Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: June 10, 2009

Released by: Paramount
Release date: 6/16/2009
MSRP: $16.99
Region 1, NTSC
Progressive Scan
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
1984




Forget Mrs. Voorhees and the film that started it all, forget Muffin and all those campfire stories, yes, even forget Higgins Haven and all that 3D business. For most Friday the 13th fans, the be all, end all Jason flick is fittingly The Final Chapter. Jason’s settled into his mask, Tom Savini’s behind the effects, Crispin Glover’s dancing and there’s of course the promise that Jason truly does die. Of course there is so much more, but despite all the film’s notables, it’s remained a neglected film in the days of digital. The first film has seen different special editions here and abroad, and all the lesser New Line entries have robust special editions. Earlier this year we finally also got acceptable special editions of the second and third films. Still, not much love for a film of such reverence for Friday fans. Until now. Paramount has pulled all the stops in what looks on paper to be the biggest and best Friday special edition yet. Two commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, remastered audio and video and the alternate ending. Sounds like this could be the final word on The Final Chapter. Is it?


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The Story

I have an affinity for the second film. As a slasher film it’s damn near perfect. So how can the fourth film possibly hope to win me over? How about beginning with my favourite part from Part 2? “Let me give it to you straight about Jason...” With those foundation laying words a series canon was born, and once more they return to start what’s supposed to be the final Jason entry. Unlike all the dopes in Part 3, The Final Chapter makes sure, first and foremost, we start with context. After suffering an axe to the face, a hanging, and probably the cruelest fate for an illiterate mongoloid – an avalanche of novels at the end of Part 3, Jason is officially out of commission. He’s brought to the coroner’s office, where between autopsies the doctor’s watch cheesy aerobics videos and sloppily eat their food over dead corpses. Call it Jason’s affinity for jelly-filled donuts, but Jason suddenly comes back from the dead to twist some necks and catch the first ride back home.


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Back in Crystal Lake, the Jarvis family returns for another summer of fun and relaxation. They must not have heard about all the mass murders that have been happening there over the past few decades (for those who have been following, there were the initial murders from Mrs. Voorhees back in the 60s, then “Camp Blood” massacre of the first film and finally the events that followed five years later in the span of a couple days that were Parts 2 and 3). Just like there is no room for men when it comes to the Final Girl showdown, there’s no room for father figures in the Voorhees universe. We never know Jason’s dad, and we never meet the father of the Jarvis clan either – there’s little Tommy (Corey Fucking Feldman), teen sister Trish (Kimberly Beck) and Mrs. Maternal who is so motherly she doesn’t even get a first name (Joan Freeman). They also have Gordon, the golden retriever, notable for being so fucking scared of Jason that he jumps through a third story window just to escape his grasp. He didn’t even need to witness a murder or read newspaper clippings – that’s the kind of badass aura Jason emits.


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Speaking of newspaper clippings, there’s also a “camper” in the woods, Rob Dier (Erich Anderson), with a bevy of newspaper clippings to help keep him motivated on his hunt to kill Jason. You see, Jason killed his sister (wait...didn’t they do that in the remake, too?), but in probably the worst oversight in the series, the filmmakers fail to make the connection to just who his sister is from previous films. Also heading Jason’s way is a carload full of horny teenagers. There’s Teddy “wants a kiss” (The Last American Virgin’s Lawrence Monoson), Jimmy “have you seen the corkscrew” (Crispin Glover) and a bunch of other pretty teenagers just looking for some sex and sun. The teenagers shack up right beside the Jarvis homestead, giving Jason the convenience of only a few footsteps between victims. The night falls, a storm swells and even a couple of twins join in at the Dead Fuck party, but pretty soon they will all be dead. These are Jason’s woods, and tonight is his night, even if by this point it has to be about Wednesday the 18th at this point. But can a little boy stand in his way?


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It’s tough to not look at this picture as the iconic film in the franchise. Hell, just look at that VHS cover that surely haunted each and every kid who walked the horror isles of video stores the world over. A bloody mask with a knife through the eye. It was so good they even used it for the intro screen for the NES game. I remember the lore friends and I would drum up from hearsay we had heard from older brothers or sisters who had actually seen the film. “The only way to kill Jason,” my friend told me, “is to remove his mask. That takes away his powers and makes him human.” Yeah, it seems almost logical now, but at this point in The Final Chapter he still was human. Of course Jason would be brought back several times after this falsified final chapter, but he was never quite the same. He was a zombie – either of the Frankenstein kind in Jason Lives or the so-water-logged-he-can-only-be-played-by-a-body-builder-with-“HATE”-engraged-on-his-inner-lip kind in all the Kane Hodder follow-ups. By the sixth film, Paramount, who surely wanted Jason dead so they could salvage their reputations as the studio behind Oscar films like An Officer and a Gentleman or Terms of Endearment, had come to the realization that you just could not kill Jason.


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In The Final Chapter, though, Tom Savini had not yet received that memo. A spoiler to none, I’m sure, Jason truly gets what’s coming to him in this finale, falling, with his mutated face exposed, slowly and without obstruction onto an open knife blade. Down his prosthetic head goes down the blade, with chicken bones being ground in foley on the soundtrack for added effect. Jason really does die here in fine fashion. No knock to Tom Savini, but honestly, as the films have progressed, each ending has tried to trump the last in terms of the damage done to Mr. Hockey Mask, and in some cases, like John Carl Buechler’s The New Blood or Jason Goes to Hell, they probably even succeeded. So much has been done to Jason in the 25 years(!) since this picture that what must have been watershed at the time sort of seems almost ho hum today. Still, Jason finally getting killed in gory detail by the man who first birthed him (remember that it was Savini’s idea to create that seat jumper finale that introduced us to Jason in the first film) is still pretty damn iconic.


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Thankfully it’s not only Tom Savini who brings his A-game for Jason’s (first) last stand. The cast here is uniformly exceptional, just like they were in the previous three pictures. The victims often get little press in the Friday world, but honestly, Paramount did a pretty damn good job assembling, picture after picture for the first four films, affable sets of unknown non-actors to really give each film personality. It’s true that no horror film is ever broken by bad acting, but I’d argue that in these films at least, it’s these wonderful groups of teenagers that really make the series so lovable. It’s true that the careers of the memorable folks in the first three films (Adrienne King, Amy Steel, John Furey, Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner) didn’t really amount to much, in The Final Chapter we at least get a few bona fide stars out of the mix. Teen idol Coredy Feldman would of course leave his mark on future films like The Lost Boys, The Goonies and the best camp comedy ever made Meatballs 4, but here as Tommy Jarvis he creates a compelling new persona that would serve as the focus for the next two sequels. Considering Jason had been after teenagers so long in the previous three films, it was pretty novel to pit him against a little pip, especially considering Jason is such a man-boy himself. Feldman rose to the occasion, though, creating a pretty courageous squirt in what could have easily descended into a House by the Cemetery Bob or a Troll 2 Joshua. The other star is the future Back to the Future star Crispin Glover, and the only guy whose interview on David Letterman could make Joaquin Pheonix’s look sane. Crispin is equally eccentric here, but his crazy dial is set to goofy and almost charismatic. Director Joseph Zito lets his teenagers have fun here, and whether they’d become stars or not, they again create a cast to care about before they’re all lead to slaughter.


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Now, I love Joseph Zito. He is the man. But my one criticism for the film is just how ruthless he lets it become. The other films always had a sort of fun in counting down the campers. The first makes for a playful guessing game during the Ten Little Indians countdown. Part 2 always has a sense of humour, whether it’s the Muffin to a grill of hot dogs jump cut to the whole dress as Mrs. Voorhees finale. Part 3 is probably most jokey of all, what with all those self-referential 3D gags and those hijinx with the bikers. The Final Chapter, though, is just nasty. Jason rips each camper to shit, courtesy of Mr. Savini’s immaculate gore effects. These aren’t just mindless teenagers getting it, either. It’s Crispin Glover the second after he gets laid. It’s camper Rob well before he gets any chance at vindication for his sister’s death. Hell, the virginal pseudo-Final Girl gets killed (in a cleansing shower, no less) before she even has sex! At least in the previous films the campers did something deviant to at least partially validate their deaths, whether it was pot smoking with Kevin Bacon, or all those silly pranks from Larry Zerner. Here, it’s as if Zito has a field day punishing teenagers without merit, just tearing them any any notion of teen innocence to shreds.


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The Final Chapter is an iconic film and a memorable film, but it’s also a brutal film. Of all the films in the franchise, it’s certainly the most nihilistic – the most depressing, even. To some that’s quality, and no doubt the film succeeds at truly making Jason one of the screen’s most ruthless monsters. Yet, at the same time it makes it tough to enjoy the film in repeat doses the way the other films go down. I can watch the second film endlessly, the same goes with 1, 3, 6 and 7. But The Final Chapter is many times too much. I mean, it’s not even the teenagers that get it this time – usually the end of a Friday the 13th has one final scare or play on the truth of Jason’s death. Here, though, Jason certainly lives on, but at the expense of the innocence and sanity of a small boy. Fuck, even the dog commits suicide. That’s some pretty hefty stuff for a film built on the foundation of being little more than a rollercoaster ride for teenagers.


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Now that’s not to dog the actual quality of the work, because this is a superbly crafted picture – each death is crafted with skill and variety, hitting each and every scare with a blunt swoop. There’s even some screenplay depth to go along with the murders, from the familial parallels between fatherless Jason and Tommy (try to find the fathers in Parts 7 and 8, too) and even the whole notion of the thrills of the medium, as two people die watching women in various stages of undress in motion pictures. The actors make it interesting, but Zito always makes it painful. As a man who crafted some serious action pictures in his day (and of course the excellent slasher, The Prowler), he knows how to handle death, but here in The Final Chapter and with Tom Savini, he does it a little too much, and a little too well. For Sean S. Cunningham or Steve Miner, death was fun, but for Joseph Zito, it truly is the final chapter.


Image Quality


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If you’ve seen my comparisons of the previous three Deluxe Editions, you’ll know what to expect here. There is again so much more picture information with this new disc, the levels boosted so what was once covered in shadow now comes out with texture and color. Many scenes that were previously too dark in the original DVD now come through clearly here. Colors are boosted and improved too, with skin tones a bit more rosy, lamps a bit more orange and the blue moon hue that much more blue. There are a few times when things seem boosted too much – the gamma raised to the point where contrast suffers, or the gain increased to the point where there is some colourful pixel noise. The first part of the film, at parts, is even sometimes darker than the original DVD. On the whole though, this is a big improvement – there is even a significant amount of added picture information on all sides, with Paramount zooming out a touch on this telecine.


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Now, the original DVD transfer had some odd imperfections that always stood out. The most glaring one was during the shower scene. In the original cut, Jason comes in, turns off the lights, and then smashes prettyboy’s face into the linoleum. On the original DVD, though, the lights never turn off, since that was something that was done with color correction. So it just looks weird, when Doug reacts to essentially nothing, and then in the next scene, the camera tracks in when the lights are actually out (and in a terribly battered print, no less). Thankfully here, that’s all been rectified. That really grainy tracking shot has been cleaned up to match the rest of the footage, and the room gets noticeably darker, as it should, when Jason flicks the switch.


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The other major glitch with the previous DVD was when Jason breaks through the window to send one of the twins out and onto the station wagon. When the window breaks, the shot suddenly changes to a redder hue for no explicable reason. It’s as if the color timer just feel asleep and bumped a dial for that one shot. Well, it’s a problem no longer, and take a look at the above screen cap to see just how much more picture information there is there to boot. This has always been a grainy film, and in many ways it still is, but Paramount has really done a splendid job cleaning up this track in all aspects. Even Tommy’s final attack, which had to be optically slowed down, leading to added grain and dust from the second filming of the negative, has been significantly cleaned, with debris that have always been in the print digitally removed.

It’s one thing to re-time and re-transfer the film after the 9 years since its first release on DVD, but Paramount proved their dedication to the film by fixing all those imperfections that only diehard fans would spot. They didn't just come in and lighten up the entire transfer. As you can see from some of the earlier shots, they looked at each specific scene and timed it accordingly. So if it needed to be dark, they pushed it darker. If it needed the moonlight hue, they made it bluer. Whatever the change, they almost always made it better. With a transfer like this, it shows that yes, they just might care about these films after all.


Sound


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Well, owners of previous Deluxe Edition Friday DVDs will know what to expect here, too. The English track is preserved in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono tracks. Compared to the previous DVD the sound comes in a bit louder and with greater clarity. That said, it’s not a huge improvement, and the 5.1 is actually a bit of a disappointment, considering how many opportunities there are for simple discrete sound effects. Hell, the film opens up with a helicopter flying overhead – that’s practically the reason satellite speakers were made! Unfortunately, though, there really is no discrete sound movement, with all the dialogue and effects stuck dead center up front, with only the faintest hints of ambience and score creeping into the rears. Both tracks are flat with little to no LFE, but at least don’t sound as shrill as portions of Part 2 did. Still, it’s a decent upgrade, but not quite the improvement that the previous discs offered, and probably the biggest missed opportunity.


Supplemental Material

inline ImageYes, yes, yes. Friday fans, this is it. The supplements we’ve all dreamed of. First up we get two great, and completely different, feature length commentaries. The first is with three of the old dogs that made the magic happen, director Joseph Zito, screenwriter Barney Cohen and editor Joel Goodman. It’s got a respectably mature tone to it, but the old guys really look back fondly on the film, and Zito in particular remembers everything as if it were yesterday. There isn’t a moderator to probe them with fan questions, but really, the three carry the track very well, and it’s nice to see them embrace the series and film in old age, when so many others have written the series off.

The second commentary is a “fan commentary” with two upcoming horror directors, Adam Green (Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2). This track is almost perfect, the two of them having an absolute blast with the movie, meshing recollections of the impact this movie had on them as kids, observations on quirks or notable moments in the film, and even anecdotes on how the film has had a lasting impact. It’s all a mile a minute and quite humorous, but you can really tell these guys have a genuine love for the film, never resorting to Mystery Science Theater theatrics, and instead just taking in all the awesome that is The Final Chapter. Both commentaries complement each other so well, I almost wish there was a third track with all of them together so the young guys could pick Zito & Co.’s brains.

“The Lost Tales from Camp Blood, Part 4” (6:21) continues on the DVD tradition, and this one, visually, is a step up from the others. Still, the killer does not have a hockey mask, despite all the Manfredini ch ch ch-ing, and this one isn’t even close to Crystal Lake, in some hospital with a giant parkade. Still, I like these little snippets, and this one is on par with the rest.

inline ImageThe big ticket here is “The Lost Ending” (3:20), and it definitely does live up to the hype. It’s another dream sequence in the tradition of the previous three Fridays, including a shot of Jason sans mask. The sound elements are long gone, but it’s assembled well and Joseph Zito and Kimberly Beck provide some nice commentary.

inline Image“Jimmy’s Dead Fuck Dance Moves” (2:07) is more than just a chapter stop to Crispin Glover’s legendary dance. It’s actually a culmination of all the alternate takes for the scene, five in total, of the Glove doin’ his thang. His dance moves are even better uncut, especially the first take where he seems to almost get some levity off the ground. Joseph Zito provides a nice little introduction about just how the crew reacted to the moves on the day of filming. It’s jewels like this that us Friday fans have been asking for since day one of DVD.

inline ImageThere’s even a featurette squeezed in on here, “Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday” (11:02), and it’s just great. Even at only 11-minutes, they cram in seven different participants, from favourites like Savini, Zito and Beck to screenwriter Barney Cohen and supporting actors Bonnie Hellman (the hitchhiker) and Erich Anderson. We get perspective on a lot of things not really discussed before, like the screenwriting process and all the different deaths they had envisioned. Most interesting of all is the discussion on how to kill Jason, with Cohen talking about how grabbing Trish’s breast(!) would make the unmasked Jason human enough to destroy. Overlayed over all the fine commentary are outtakes that give the lost scenes even more reverence. No Crispin Glover or Corey Feldman, or any of the other campers, sadly, but the people here make their exclusion easy to forget.

inline ImageThe new feature “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 1” (18:06) is the biggest surprise on the disc. It starts off looking like another piece of passable fan fiction like the “Lost Tales from Camp Blood” segments, but instead becomes a full fledged faux-documentary on all the Friday the 13th lore that really gets the facts straight. There are a ton of participants, all pretending to be Crystal Lake residents, doctors, witnesses, family members and the like, and each one offering a realistic perspective on the events. Most amusing of all are the debates had regarding the deaths after Pamela Voorhees’ death, since the facts don’t make sense – Jason being a boy when he attacked Alice, Jason supposedly fending for himself in the woods without contact for several years, and several other timeline implausibility. The whole piece is put together very well, and it actually holds weight as a legitimate piece of the Friday the 13th canon, it’s that good. Several online horror personalities act in this, as well as a few familiar directors, including Stuart Gordon as none other than Shelly’s father! This documentary promises Part 1, so hopefully the subsequent segments on Parts 5 & 6 are up to the same high standards. Kudos to whomever thought this up.

inline Image“Slashed Scenes” (15:19) features alternate takes of virtually every death and stunt scene in the movie. There is a ton of never before seen coverage of the raft death, and wow, like Zito said, some of these angles are ruthless, much worse than the cut used in the film. Rather than the highlight, that ends up being just a teaser for all the other great gore on display here. Crispin Glover’s death moments with the axe and then at the door are included, as well as all the slow motion window throws from the twin. The best is naturally last, with all the alternate angles used for Jason’s death. I’m not a huge fan of the angle used in the film, it looks pretty fake and almost tame, but man, the stuff left on the cutting room floor is just brutal. Gallons of blood and parts where the whole side of his head is disconnected. The footage looks awesome, and there’s over 15-minutes of it, and it’s all effects stuff. There were additional deleted scenes from The Final Chapter found on the “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” set, but those aren’t here. The sound elements don’t exist for any scene, since they were all shot MOS anyway, but Zito provides fine commentary on all the snippets. As far as deleted scene reels go, it really doesn’t get much better.

Rounding off this phenomenal special edition is the original trailer (“Friday, April 13th is Jason’s unlucky day!”) as well as a preview for the recent The Uninvited. Those who enjoyed the nice lenticular covers on the first three Deluxe DVDs are going to love this one, too, with Jason's knife protruding out of the mask in perfect 3D. Hopefully Paramount starts putting these covers on the Blu-rays, too, because they really look ch ch ch aw aw awesome.

The Friday the 13th films have such a rich history – every time a “special edition” is released, I can’t help but feel a bit let down by what didn’t make the cut. Even the recent special edition for the first film, framing snafu aside, still just didn’t feel complete. This disc, though, has finally lived up to even the highest of fan expectations. This disc has almost everything - almost because there are still the deleted scenes and the Feldman interview from the box set, and then the totally awesome return to the old cabin with Zito and Erich Anderson from the His Name Was Jason disc. Those aside, though, there is so much great footage, with a variety of different approaches, and each one delivers. This is the first time I can honestly say “Thank you, Paramount. I’m satisfied.” And that’s huge.

Now, as great as the extras are here, there admittedly can be more. I was informed by a source close to this DVD that the full black and white nudie film, Betty's Bath, was found and transferred for this new release, but left off of the DVD at the last minute. Hopefully Paramount is holding this back for the Blu-ray, because this would be a big incentive to buy. I've always wanted to see that little number in its entirety, if just to see a porn of that vintage. I was also told the editions of The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited were also cut down for this release, so here's hoping Paramount will also lengthen them by the time they hit Blu-ray. For now though, what's here will tide over (and then some!) any Friday the 13th fan.


Final Thoughts


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The Final Chapter is a mean nasty movie, and if you don’t leave it visibly battered, then you’ve got a resilience that rivals the big man in the mask. But when you think “slasher films” or “Friday the 13th”, you’re likely going to end up back at this one. Expertly made and filled with set piece after set piece of amazing kills, solid performances (and this from a cast that includes a kid, a dog and a mute guy with a mask) and genuinely terrifying Jason, this is truly the iconic slasher movie. Paramount really has treated it as such, with once again noticeably improved visual and audible upgrades, including fixing all the small visual glitches from the previous DVD. What makes this particular DVD stand out, though, is the bevy of perfect extras. This really is the special edition we’ve all been begging for (demanding?). The lost ending, tons of deleted gore scenes, a nice retrospective featurette, two commentaries a hugely entertaining mockumentary...ahh, you really just can’t ask for more. Pure and simple, this is the disc of the year. It’s been a tough road for us Friday fans over the years, but bust open the champagne, because there’s no time better time to be a Friday fan. Say...where’s that corkscrew hiding?

Rating

.
Movie - A-

Image Quality - A-

Sound - B

Supplements - A




Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English mono
  • Spanish mono
  • French mono
  • English subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • French subtitles

Supplements
  • Commentary with director, editor and writer
  • Commentary with fans Adam Green and Joe Lynch
  • Alternate ending
  • Deleted scenes
  • "The Crystal Lake Massacre Revisited Part 1" mockumentary
  • "Jason's Unlucky Day" retrospective featurette
  • Jimmy's Dead Fuck Dance Moves outtakes
  • Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 4
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Preview for The Uninvited


Other Pictures

 

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Old 01-25-2011, 11:30 PM
This is one of the best Friday The 13th movies. Might get this DVD
 
 
Old 04-24-2011, 03:54 PM
Remaking My Soul
Here's the scene / shot I was talking about:



 
 
Old 10-23-2011, 03:36 PM
Friday the 13th
Banned Mofo
Yeah not only is the scene much brighter but there's a lot more picture information in the new deluxe edition dvd. That's why you couldn't see anything before in that one scene in the movie DVD-fanatic-9, hardly any picture info at all.
 
 

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