Directed by Danny Steinmann [Other horror films: The Unseen (1980)]
By-and-large, I feel that this film’s been unfairly maligned since it’s release. Some of my feelings stem from nostalgia, no doubt, but even so, I have always found this a very solid and definitely acceptable entry into the series. Also, I should say that, unlike most of my reviews, there are spoilers here, so be warned.
I mean, look at how many memorable characters are here.
Who can forget Demon (Miguel A. Núñez) and his enchiladas? Joey (Dominick Brascia) and his love of chocolate bars? Reggie (Shavar Ross) and his recklessness? Roy (Dick Wieand) and his son? Violet (Tiffany Helm) and her dancing? Robin (Juliette Cummins) and her breasts, and related, Jake (Jerry Pavlon) and his amazing come-on? Ethel (Carol Locatell) and her stew?
See, I remember all of this stuff, and most of them I’ve remembered since childhood. And none of that even includes the plethora of great kills, such as a guy impaled by a pole or someone’s skull getting crushed by the tightening of a belt. Slit throats, gut stabs, even a solid axe murder to open things up – this movie has both the memorable characters and the gore to back it up.
John Shepard (who plays Tommy years after the events of The Final Chapter) was interesting in that, while he was one of the main protagonists, he rarely felt like it, given the fact he had very few lines and didn’t pop up in a significant way until the finale of the film. He knew how to fight, though, I’ll give him that. Melanie Kinnaman was more an action-oriented woman toward the end, but I sort of thought she never got the character that many of the others got, so I can’t say I found her entirely satisfying.
Otherwise, you have a strong and memorable cast here. Miguel A. Núñez (who, along with Mark Venturini, was also in The Return of the Living Dead) was fun for his short screen-time, and of course Shavar Ross was great as Reggie, as we don’t often see younger kids go against Jason* (aside from Tommy, of course). I sort of wanted to see more of both Tiffany Helm and Juliette Cummins, but even with what we got, they were good characters.
And who doesn’t want to see more of Carol Locatell calling her mentally-challenged son a dildo?
*And as for the final twenty minutes, I can agree that some of it, I didn’t care for, whereas other portions I thought were entirely fine. Spoilers are in these upcoming lines, to be clear: the fact that Jason wasn’t actually Jason but someone using the legend in order to get revenge wasn’t something I found problematic at all. If anything, I thought it was a novel use of how scared the community still was of Jason, and that even a normal individual could use the legend for his own benefit.
[Still spoilers here] The thing I didn’t care for was Tommy’s ascension at the end to seemingly becoming a killer in his own right – no, luckily, this wasn’t carried on into the following film, but it just rubbed me the wrong way, and I wish that, after his dream sequence, he’d have woken up and been done with the troubles Jason caused him his whole life.
Aside from that, this is a hard movie for me to dislike, and in fact, I couldn’t ever imagine giving this lower than a least an 8/10, especially given the fact I’ve seen it so often and enjoy so much of it. You have great kills, some great breasts, great music (Violet’s dancing to “His Eyes” by Pseudo Echo was beautiful – and also beautiful is the chorus to that song, going “There is a man with no life in his eyes,” which is perfect for a Friday the 13th movie), and overall a great atmosphere.
The ending could have used a different direction as far as Tommy’s character went, but if I’m being honest with you, and I see no reason not to be, that’s really my only problem with this one. Otherwise, it’s a fantastic entry into the series, and is about as good as Part 2 and The Final Chapter.