Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
The Friday the 13th series is probably the only film franchise in history to have two supposed “final” entries. And like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason Goes to Hell spawned sequels despite its eponymous claims.
Jason Goes to Hell also has the unique distinction of being, in my opinion, the absolute worst Friday the 13th movie ever made. People shit on Jason X all the time; and while I agree that that movie is atrocious at least it was mildly entertaining. Jason Goes to Hell is just 90 minutes of footage that no fan ever wanted to see. When I watch a Jason movie it is my expectation to see Jason in it. And, yeah yeah, I know parts I and V didn’t have Jason either, but they had excuses. One was a first entry that set the foundation for later entries and the other movie at least featured a Jason Voorhees outfit which tricked its audience into believing they were seeing Jason in the fucking movie.
Here the entire plot of the movie is Jason transferring his soul into the bodies of random people so they will do his killing for him. Unlike in the last movie, this out-of-left-field lore is given an explanation, but unfortunately it is stupid and satisfies no one.
The movie opens with Jason back in Crystal Lake. How he got there is unclear since last time we saw him he was in a New York sewer and also a little boy. I guess he got better and walked back. It’s probably equal to the explanation as to how he got to Alice’s apartment at the beginning of part two. And at least he is not lugging a severed head of his mother with him this time.
Anyway, this movie opens with a SWAT team ambushing Jason and blowing him to bits. When you see how easy they accomplish this it leaves you wondering why Jason was such a problem in the six previous movies he was in. They must have been specially trained by Tommy Jarvis or something.
Anyway, the coroner is attending to Jason’s remains in the morgue. Now if I thought the coroner in part IV sleeping with nurses and watching bizarre exercise porn was kinda weird this guy is way worse. He becomes hypnotised by Jason’s heart which is still beating and starts to eat it. Consequently Jason’s soul is transferred to him and he leaves the hospital to begin slaughtering people.
Meanwhile the rest of the town is celebrating the supposed demise of Jason Voorhees. To celebrate a local diner is selling a menu featuring hamburgers shaped like Jason’s hockey mask and items called “Jason fries” and so on and so forth. Now for fans of the Friday the 13th series we would probably love it if a local diner here in our towns did this. However, it should be noted in this film’s world Jason was a real murderer. In this world such a menu would be in horribly bad taste. That would be like a diner in Sedgwick County, Kansas selling “BTK fries” or “Dennis Rader burgers” shortly after he was incarcerated. Real people died there because of him and I doubt they would appreciate such a tasteless way to celebrate the end of a terrible ordeal. However, not a single character behaves as if this sort of conduct is out of whack.
A mysterious character named Creighton Duke is telling the main character that she is secretly Jason’s niece and that the only way to defeat Jason is for a living relative to stab him with a mystic knife. How the hell he even knows this is beyond me. For the longest time Jason was just a very very strong pain and injury-absorbing retard. But he was still mortal. In part VI he became a sort of zombie after being resurrected by lightning, but the only supernatural element was not introduced until Part VIII and that came and went with no explanation. Now all of a sudden we are to believe that Pamela Voorhees was some sort of occultist who kept a Necronomicon and a ceremonial blade from The Evil Dead movies in her house. I am calling bullshit!
Anyway the majority of the movie is Jason moving from body to body slaughtering people and his niece and ex-boyfriend disbelieving Duke’s crazy theories. In the end the two become believers, Jason is revived magically into his original form, and he is ultimately stabbed in the heart with the Evil Dead knife. Groovy.
Jason is then literally dragged into hell leaving nothing but his hockey mask in the sand. The movie’s last shot is Freddy’s Krueger’s glove coming out of the ground and dragging the mask into the ground. This, of course, is setting up Freddy vs. Jason which was not released until nearly 10 years later. Meanwhile this final scene remains the best and only good part of the movie.
The rest of Jason Goes to Hell is abysmal. It’s boring, idiotic, disappointing, and ultimately insulting to fans who paid good money to see a Jason movie. The idea that Pamela had the Necronomicon, Jason had living relatives, and Jason can transfer his soul to other people makes no sense and violates everything we knew about Jason’s backstory.
I don’t get who they were trying to please with this movie. Horror fans know what they are getting when they go see these kinds of movies and their expectations are low. Fucking that up reveals profound incompetence. While the formula of Jason slashing people for 90 minutes did get a little tired after a decade of movies I still think changing up the formula should be done in the spirit of the franchise. Part VIII and V, despite their badness, still did this. Whether the identity of the killer or the locale of the killer are changed it stands to reason that the rest should remain the same. This movie is a failure pure and simple. I have forgiven Part V and Part VIII for their shortcomings. I have not forgiven this one. Jason Goes to Hell is my absolutely least favourite of the entire series. Even sending Jason into space did not top the badness. And, oh joy, we are gonna be getting to that one very soon.