Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Film: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Director: Joseph Zito

Starring: Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover

Written by: Barney Cohen

Of all the Friday the 13th films, this, the fourth and not even close to final chapter in the series, is undoubtedly my favorite.  I get so pumped about the greatness of this film that a friend and I once drunkenly made a joyous theme song to celebrate it.  If you can sing the words “Friday the 13th: Part Four” in C major, then mention the two stars listed above, and then hit repeat for about ten minutes, well, congratulations, you’ve learned and mastered a new song.

This is one of the best horror flicks ever made.  The story’s pretty standard: a group of perved-up teenagers set up shop in a cabin on evil Crystal Lake, and Jason comes looking for blood.  For some reason, there’s a single parent family next door to the party, and the family’s two kids end up being the heroes as the other kids get picked off.  Yet there’s a lot going for this film which sets it apart from the usual hack and slash.

It’s got a brutality that is genuinely disturbing rather than gory slapstick, most notably thanks to the effects work of the great Tom Savini.  It’s infested with hormones like a rat has fleas, but Jason Voorhees’ horny victims are so well fleshed out that the heroic amount of tits and ass in this film doesn’t feel like it’s there to obscure bad acting or a poor story.  My main criteria for judging a horror film’s quality is whether the victims’ deaths leave a void in the film’s world, if there’s a sense of humanity that lessens with each demise.  Part Four easily passes this test.

Three characters in particular stand out.  A very young Corey Feldman serves as the brilliant Lil’ Tom Savini who soon gets unhinged and heroic.  Displaying both adorable glee and seething fury, Feldman is just captivating in every scene he’s in, and it was probably clear at the time that he was gonna be huge.  Feldman’s dog Gordon is also pretty awesome, and he is easily the smartest character in the film.  When the bodies start piling up, this strangely named canine randomly hurls himself through a second story window and is never seen again.  Gordon had clearly had enough of that shit.

However, the very best thing about Part Four, the thing which has earned this film its place in Bizarro film legend, is the performance of Crispin Glover.  He plays the teen group’s awkward dweeb who morphs into a ladykilling dancing machine.  Glover’s biggest moment ‒ perhaps of all time ‒ is his titanic dance scene, set to the dulcet tones of the same hair metal band which wailed out the theme song of the old, cartoon Transformers movie.  Watching Glover move is like watching a majestic (twitching, flailing, avant-garde) eagle soaring on film.  Only Napoleon Dynamite could spazboogie so well.  As the story goes, Glover took no direction here; he simply busted out the same dance moves he was already using in Hollywood clubs.  Crispin Glover, a dancing weirdo genius?  Perish the thought.

The only letdowns to this film and its inevitable, non-final sequels is that Feldman’s character, who ends Part Four as a cracked survivor, doesn’t put on Jason’s hockey mask and unleash his own bloody rampage as was teased.  That, and they didn’t make an entire movie about Crispin Glover tearing up the dance floor.  Nonetheless, Part Four is glorious, worth every drunken song created in its honor.

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