Friday the 13th has been considered unlucky since October 1307 when King Philip IV of France ordered the executions of all of the Knights Templars because God was “not pleased.” It was a bloody beginning to a long tradition.
But not every Friday the Thirteenth is unfortunate, no matter how much blood gets spilled. For example, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was very lucky.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was supposed to close the franchise begun by the 1980 low budget proto-slasher movie Friday the 13th, which was directed by Sean S. Cunningham, written by Victor Miller and was separated by no degrees from Kevin Bacon. But it wasn’t so lucky. The son of a bitch gave us something to remember him by.
The 1984 sequel (the fourth in the series) was directed by Joseph Zito, who helmed Abduction, Blood Rage, and the 1981 slasher film The Prowler. Zito was lucky enough to get two salaries from the movie. He picked one up for writing the screenplay, which was surreptitiously written by Barney Cohen in the cover of nighttime discussions and clandestine meetings at an undisclosed New York apartment.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter stars Ted White as the irrepressible hockey fan Jason Voorhees, Corey Feldman as 12-year-old Tommy Jarvis, Kimberly Beck as Trish, Crispin Glover as Jimmy, Joan Freeman as Mrs. Jarvis, Alan Hayes as Paul, Judie Aronson as Samantha, Barbara Howard as Sara; Peter Barton as Doug, Lawrence Monoson as Ted, and Erich Anderson as the mysterious bear-hunting hiker Rob Dier.
The movie begins with Camp Crystal Lake counselor Paul Holt (John Furey) filling in anxious summer vacationers on the legend of Jason Voorhees, why the idyllic grounds were now nicknamed “Camp Blood,” and that crazy “death curse.” But the film ends with the promise of great and terrible things.
1. This Is the Film That Really Resurrected Jason Voorhees.
The movie was the fourth part of the planned Friday the 13th film trilogy. The producers thought we saw the last of the hockey masked maniac in Friday the 13th Part III, but Jason Voorhees couldn’t stay away from Crystal Lake.
Even though it was the second time Jason was supposed to be truly dead, a prognosis echoed by reviewers at the time, The Final Chapter was so successful with audiences it spawned Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning which came out in 1985. The franchise hacked out seven more installments. The producers even thought that they put the final nail in the coffin with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday in 1993, but nothing could keep a lid on Mrs. Voorhees’ most fortunate son.
2. Defied the End of the Slasher Genre
The great first period of the slasher film, which began with John Carpenter’s Halloween, looked like it was bleeding out. Audiences were suffering slasher fatigue and Paramount Pictures was reportedly embarrassed by helping to start the whole thing. Frank Mancuso, Jr., the son of Paramount CEO Frank Mancuso, Sr., felt unappreciated after all the money the Friday the 13th movies made for the studio.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which was originally envisioned to open on Halloween, was rush released on Friday, April 13, 1984 and sold a record-breaking $11,183,148 worth of popcorn on its opening weekend. The film came in at number 26 on the list of the top grossing films of 1984.
3. Lucky to Come In On Schedule
Friday the 13th: Final Chapter‘s principal photography was shot in 6 weeks from October 1983 and finished in January 1984, plenty of time to prepare for its announced October release date. Paramount pushed up the release date to Friday the 13th in April, leaving them 6 weeks to finish post-production. Paramount even rented a house in Malibu so Joseph Zito, Frank Mancuso, Jr. and the editors could put in 24/7 editing sessions, not even leaving to eat.
In their rush to get the film in on time, they cut a lot of footage they re-inserted later for television screenings.
4. Everybody Gets Lucky
Slasher movies are in many ways the ultimate cautionary sex tales. As they point out in the Scream movies, getting laid in a slasher film will get you killed. It’s one of the laws of physics.
Almost everyone gets laid in The Final Chapter. The action starts at the Wessex County morgue where Nurse Morgan (Lisa Freeman) fakes orgasms for the attendant Axel (Bruce Mahler), while he gets himself in the mood with Deborah Corday Aerobicise tapes. Samantha, who earned her bad reputation in 6th grade, tends to her legend by keeping her boyfriend Paul in bed. Even Glover’s dweeby Jimmy gets it on with the identically-dressed fraternal twins.
5. Lucky Enough to Double the Pleasure
Chew on this: actors you see on commercials today might be in your favorite movies tomorrow. John Travolta was recognizable from a PSA he appeared in before he was Vinny Barbarino on Welcome Back Kotter. David Naughton was a Pepper before he transformed into An American Werewolf in London. Camilla More was in the middle of her audition for the role of Samantha when the producers saw that she and her twin sister Carey More were the merry masticators in the wholesome and carefree commercials for Doublemint gum.
When the filmmakers found out that the symmetrical siblings had no problem with going topless they cast them as Tina and Terri. Camilla and Carey More were born in England in 1957 and also starred in the soap operas General Hospital and Days of Our Lives and the French film Le Jumeau.
6. There Are 14 Deaths in the Final Friday the 13th
Axel’s head is cut off by a surgical bone hack-saw. Nurse Morgan is slit down her entire chest with a scalpel in the storeroom. The chubby hitchhiker (Bonnie Hellman) gets a hunting knife through her neck while sucking the peel of a banana. Samantha gets it with a bowie knife. Paul dies in what sounds like an outtake from Jaws. Terri gets pinned against a window shutter by a spear. Mrs. Jarvis doesn’t come in from the rain. Jimmy gets the one-two trust of a corkscrew and a meat cleaver. Tina gets totaled on top of a station wagon. Ted is jerked from life by a Teddy Bear. Doug’s post-coital shower is rudely interrupted. Sara gets what she axed for. Rob is mowed down with a 3-pronged garden claw.
The last death is, of course, Jason, who is killed by Tommy. Die. Die Die.
7. Corey Feldman Favored With A Nip Slip
Little Tommy Jarvis could have had it all. Surrounded by pack of horny teenage patooties skinny dipping in the afternoon, Trish makes him keep his eyes averted. The kid is 12 years old. To paraphrase Troy McClure from The Simpsons in his “Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide To You Know What” talk, there isn’t enough foam latex and spirit glue in the state to quell the hormonal storm raging within the future Edgar Frog.
The cast and crew tried to keep Feldman the innocent child actor he was. Actresses Kimberly Beck and Erich Anderson even took him trick-or-treating after the first day of shoots closed on October 31, 1983. Feldman reportedly got the last giggle. In the scene where Samantha bends over to mess with the dog, Feldman could see down actress Jodi Aronson’s top. Feldman kept it to himself and hoped for retakes.
8. Crispin Glover Lived Up To His Rep
Long before Crispin Glover dropkicked himself out of late night by showing his karate moves to David Letterman, he busted some incredibly impossible dance moves in the backwoods. The future George McFly from Back to the Future swore that his improvised footwork was popular on the dance floor, but his dance partner merely humored him.
Glover couldn’t get excited over Lion’s song “Love is a Lie,” so he cut loose on AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Crispin also reportedly forced a production shut down so he could fish his toy yellow submarine from Crystal Lake.
9. Ripped from the Headlines
The Friday the 13th movies weren’t known for being topical and they weren’t comedies, at least not intentionally. The funniest scene in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter was based on a real life tragedy: When Rob screams “He’s killing me! He’s killing me!” as he’s getting stabbed and Trish just takes off to save her ass.
Zito got the idea from a newspaper article about a guy who screamed “Please stop hurting me, please stop killing me!” while he was being stabbed in New York City and nobody stepped in or called for help. Trish ultimately gets guilted into coming back, but by then the scene is more camp than the camp at the lake.
10. Lucky to Score Real Drugs
Actors and their methods. Marlon Brando insisted he drink real alcohol for a long outdoor shot when he was starring in and directing One-Eyed Jacks, the result was that the scene had to be reshot because the acting legend got too drunk to perform.
Lawrence Monoson is no Brando, but brought too much realism to the scene where he gets high. According to reports, life imitated art. Like sex, doing drugs carries a death penalty in slasher flicks. While the joint didn’t kill Monoson, it killed the performance. According to reports he got paranoid and couldn’t finish the scene.
11. Lucky Enough to Catch Real Screams
Screams never sound real in old horror movies. Not to keep bringing up Travolta, but his sound engineer in the Brian Da Palma film Blow Out was so obsessed with getting just the right scream for the horror movie he was working on he winds up using the real scream of the homicide victim he loved. Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter captures a real scream.
Jason was played by veteran stuntman Ted White, who started in the risky business of show in the 1949 World War II movie Sands of Iwo Jima. In his 40 years of taking spills for John Wayne and Clark Cable, he never met a meaner little kid than Feldman. After rehearsing the end scene when Jason pulls Tommy through the broken glass window, White changed the beat during the filming. He waited until Feldman figured the stunt wasn’t working, hesitated further until the kid’s guard was down and grabbed the kid by complete surprise and got a real scream.
12. Lucky to Have Tom Savini Save The Day
Famed special effects make-up artist Tom Savini worked on the original Friday the 13th and came back for The Final Chapter just so his twelve year old self could kill the Jason character. Tommy Jervis is Tom Savini. Tommy wants to be a make-up artist if he grows up. The enthusiastically morbid sixth-grader is already proficient in the craft and is assembling a showroom of Halloween masks, puppets and props. He’s handy with a screwdriver.
Tommy is the only male and the only child to survive a Jason attack. But he is changed. Tommy hacks away at Jason with the machete like he’s discovering his own true animal. Does he become the new Jason? Or does he turn that newfound bloodlust into a career in cinematic gore?
13. Lucky To Have Freddy Waiting in the Wings
This fourth sequel was released the same year as Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street. The end of Jason end coincided with Freddy’s beginning. Robert Englund’s singed serial child killer Freddy Krueger would haunt audiences through eight installments before the two matinee murderers finally came face to face, well, hockey mask to blister, in 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason, directed by Ronny Yu. The force of the meeting finally had the power to kill both franchises and it would take a reboot to revive them.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.