Review Date: November 25, 2002
Released by: New Line
Release date: 10/8/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Jason's toxic demise in Jason Takes Manhattan
marked the end of many things in the Jason world. It marked the end of the 80's, the end of Paramount's involvement in the series, and the end of Jason Voorhees as a human (zombified or not) monster. Gone were the days where he simply prayed on unsuspecting teens at camp, instead replaced with Jason in the form of both a worm and a robot, in Jason Goes To Hell
and Jason X
, respectively. Jason Goes To Hell
was originally sub-headed by The Final Friday
, with its intent on killing off Mr. Voorhees once and for all. But now with Jason X
out on video shelves, The Final Friday
heading has subsequently been disposed. Jason X
aside, is Jason Goes To Hell
really the be-all, end-all of the Jason films; the one that should be remembered by fans as the true final chapter? Let's take a bite into the heart of New Line's fresh, new DVD and find out.
The film begins with a gorgeous young lady alone in the woods on a dark and tranquil evening. The light in her house burns out, so she goes naively outside and grabs a light bulb and a ladder. She fixes the light and then quickly gets naked to have a bath. Unfortunately for her, Jason Voorhees is unexplainably back from the dead and back at Crystal Lake to up his body count. Sounds like a typical Jason flick, right? Well, right after Jason encounters the voluptuous young lady, he is invaded by a covert FBI operation and is literally blown into pieces. Jason has FINALLY been killed; but unbeknownst to everyone but bounty hunter, Creighton Duke (Steven Williams
), his heart still beats.
As is revealed later on in the film (in endless exposition, no less), is the concept that Jason does not live only in the flesh. He is more than that, he is a demon from hell, and thus can subvert the limitations of the skin. He lives on through his heart, and the aura his heart gives apparently can control people's minds. The first mind it controls is Phil (Richard Grant
), the coroner, who gets the unexpected desire to eat Jason's bloody heart. After the heart finishes gyrating in his throat, he goes off and starts to killing people left and right.
Using the body of Phil is not good enough for Jason however, because Creighton Duke tells us later that Jason can only live through the body of a true Voorhees. Luckily enough for Jason, he has a long lost sister and both a niece and a grandniece. So off he goes on his pursuit to find eternal life through one of his relatives while both Duke and Steven Freeman (John D. LeMay
), the father of Jason's grandniece, try and stop him. And of course, they do stop him, and if you look at the title, you should be able to guess where he goes.
Jason Goes To Hell
is, on its own, a decent film, but as a Jason film, which it needs to be and as the title promises, it ultimately fails. Jason is in the film for roughly 5 minutes, while the rest of the film plays out like a bloated version of The Hidden
, with Jason's soul using the body of its victims as a pod for new life. The movie also deviates heavily from the Friday the 13th
formula by including an overabundance of story and exposition. Jason mysteriously has a new family; a man is trying to make money from his abandoned house; and Jason is ultimately, under his overbearing frame, a tiny worm. Jason is no longer an unpredictable and unexplained menace; he is a product of coincidental formulas that serve the script, not the character. He is no longer a scary character because his motivations and background has been nakedly revealed to the viewer, eliminating all the elusiveness and obliqueness of his character.
Since this was intended to be the final chapter in Jason's legacy, one would think that Producer Sean S. Cunningham would at least have the decency to give the audience Jason Voorhees. He doesn't, but luckily Cunningham does go back to the series' roots in one manner, he bathes the film with some truly breathtaking gore footage. Seen in its uncut form, this is easily the most gruesome and 'gorified' Friday the 13th
film. A man bites through a beating heart, a worm ejects out of somebody's body (a la Alien
), faces are literally melted and molded in burlap, and a woman, in the film's most infamous scene, is literally split in two, all on screen. Although the film may be slight, the gore certainly isn't, and gore fans will find euphoria with this movie.
The story is somewhat of a hack job, but the acting and production values are probably the best in the series. Steven Williams, playing Shaft, err, Creighton Duke, does a great job of making his character the bad-asssss hero of the picture. Strong supporting roles from character veterans like Grant, Billy Green Bush (Critters
) and Erin May give the film more respectability than it deserves. First time director, Adam Marcus, shoots the film with many nice angles and shots, most notably the double fake-out shot with the mirror at the start of the movie.
Jason Goes To Hell
also has plenty the in-joke reference for film buffs, including homages to The Birds
(the jungle gym), The Evil Dead
(the Necronomicon and dagger), Halloween
("out past the Myers' place!"), and Creepshow
(Julia Carpenter's Crate). The Evil Dead
references seem somewhat out of place here, but it is still a nice inclusion for viewers to execute a little search and find in between the story's many lackluster areas. There is of course, the infamous homage at the film's ending, which Fangoria has labeled "The most incredible ending we've ever seen." I'd call it incredible in that the filmmakers thought so little of Jason that they would make him a servant to another icon. The ending negates the power and the danger of Jason's character by simply making him a minion. It is a gutsy ending, but really is an insult to Jason and the Friday the 13th
films in general.
When all is said and done, Jason Goes To Hell
is arguably the worst film in the franchise. Had it perhaps been called The Hidden 2
, then it may have been a better film; but by blatantly throwing away the conventions of the previous Friday films, this movie draws needless attention to itself through its differences. The Final Friday
should have been Jason versus his libido at some summer camp, not Jason vs. Shaft. There are some recommendable parts in this movie, mainly the gore and the homages, but if you are looking for the definitive chapter in the Friday series, then look at the true "Final Chapter", Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, this movie looks amazingly clear. There are no blemishes at all on the print, and everything looks astonishingly sharp. Since the color palette in the film is fairly drab, consisting mostly of grays and browns, the colors don't quite jump off the screen, but they look very accurate and consistent. Film grain is kept to a minimum, and the blacks here look very solid. Flesh tones are excellent and perfectly saturated, and very consistent throughout. There is no discrepancy here between the unrated footage and the original footage; both simply look stellar for such a low budget picture. This isn't the most eye-opening transfer for a Friday film, that claim goes to Jason Lives, but this is easily the best looking, overall. New Line has given this film the quality visual treatment that has become commonplace among their films.
Jason in DTS; three words I thought I'd never utter. But yes, Jason Goes To Hell
is presented in 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital mixes, as well as a stereo track. All the tracks sound fantastic, but the DTS is clearly the better mix on the disc. The DTS has considerably more depth and punch than the Dolby Digital track, and ultimately comes across as more engulfing. Manfredini's traditional score is pushed through all the channels and it really gives the film life. Right from the beginning moments of the film, his track invades from all sides, and sounds quite good matrixed through the 5 speakers. Gunshots, door slamming and vicarious screaming also make their ways into the surround speakers, and they, as well as the rest of the audio in these mixes, sound remarkably clear. You know Jason has been done right when you can hear someone's brain being squished in the right surround speaker! This is undoubtedly the best a Friday the 13th
film has ever sounded.
Nothing but the original theatrical trailer has been included on this release. Oops, wrong company. This DVD is actually a stellar special edition, with some really great supplements for fans of the film and Friday the 13th
films in general. The Holy Grail supplement for Friday fans is the option of watching this film in either its Unrated or Rated versions. Of course, the only way to see this film is unrated, adding nearly a full three minutes of gore to the film. K.N.B. did a great job with the gore in this film, and it is great that New Line commissioned a release that would emphasize that. This movie takes the gore over the top, and it is great that the director's vision was finally preserved with this unrated transfer.
The biggest actual supplement is an excellent commentary track by Director Adam Marcus and Screenwriter Dean Lorey. These guys come right out of the gate with life and plenty of love for the movie, and they keep up their enthusiasm throughout the film. They reveal pretty much everything one would want to know about the film, and then some. They reveal tidbits like the film's original concept, Jason Takes L.A., as well as the various reshoots that the film required. They point out that Kane Hodder holds the record for having the most squibs attached to his body ever in a film. Issues concerning the uncut print, censorship and the MPAA are also addressed in this commentary, and it really presents censorship in a bad light, which is nice. This is everything one could hope for in a commentary for a Jason film, and this alone would make this disc a worthy purchase.
There is more though, with several excised alternate scenes also making their way onto the disc. The scenes aggregate to about 12 minutes, and are basically just stuff that was put into the TV version of the film. There is no real gore footage, and some of the scenes mentioned in the commentary unfortunately don't make an appearance on the disc. The scenes are presented in full frame, and are nice to see, despite their needlessness to the film.
Also on the disc is a neat "Jump to a Death" feature, much like the "Jump to a Nightmare" sequence on New Line's A Nightmare On Elm Street discs. It is here that you can select a specific death scene, or have the disc pick one for you in random fashion. Lastly, the animated main menu is well conceived and very cool. This disc isn't quite as loaded as New Line's other Jason disc, Jason X
, but the supplements here are all fantastic. After being brought up through Paramount's barren discs, it is eye opening to truly get some back story and supplemental content on a Jason film.
Jason Goes To Hell
is one of the lesser entries into the Friday the 13th
franchise, but New Line would never let you know it, given the (uncut!) treatment they have ushered forth on this DVD. The audio and video are in pristine quality here, and the supplemental material is just as good. This is a DVD clearly for the fans, and it is great knowing that as long as Jason is in New Line's hands, he will be treated with a respect not dissimilar than what Freddy Krueger has received from the studio. A great disc on all levels, this is a recommended purchase for all Friday fans, regardless of whether you like the film or not.
Movie - C+
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - A
- Running Time - 1 hour 31 minutes (unrated), 1 hour 28 minutes (rated)
- Unrated & Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English DTS 5.1
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Stereo
- English Subtitles
- Unrated & Rated versions
- Commentary by Director Adam Marcus and Screenwriter Dean Lorey
- TV Version Alternate Scenes
- "Jump to a Death" Feature
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Animated Menus