Category Archives: Friday The 13th

Rocks In The Attic #865: Harry Manfredini – ‘Friday The 13th Part IV – The Final Chapter (O.S.T.)’ (1984)

RITA#864When I was just six years old, my brother tried to scare me by showing me the box-cover of this film at the video shop. The poster of the film depicts Jason’s mask, lying in a pool of blood, with a knife sticking out one of the eye-holes. To my six-year old mind, I thought it was a picture of a potato. That’s not scary at all. What’s scary about potatoes? I’ve since heard similar stories by people who saw the poster when they were a similar age, and they thought it was a potato too. You say hockey-mask, I say potato, let’s call the whole thing off.
Is there any better indicator that you’re watching an ‘80s film than Corey Feldman being in the cast? Not only do we get Feldman in the same year he appeared in Gremlins, before he broke through with The Goonies in 1985 and Stand By Me in 1986, but Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter also gives us a pre-Back To The Future Crispin Glover. Outside of Kevin Bacon’s appearance in the first film, Feldman and Glover’s presence make The Final Chapter the most star-packed episode in the series.

RITA#864aSpoiler alert: it wasn’t the final chapter at all. In fact, Part IV, as we’ll refer to it, was far from being the final chapter. It’s very much mid-period Jason. Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. – the son of Paramount CEO Frank Mancuso Sr. – titled it as such as he was embarrassed at being linked to the franchise. Regardless of how much money the series was raking in, he felt like killing off Jason would end the films and would allow him to concentrate on more respectable projects. We don’t even get roman numerals in the film’s title this time, although the strap-line would have served as a clever marketing move – “Gee, we had better go and see this one! It’s the last one they’re going to make!”

As is now par for the course by this point in the series, we open on a recap of parts I, II and III – “Previously…on Friday The 13th”. Framed around the fireside chat from Part II, we hear Paul from that film narrate the legend of Jason Voorhees, while we see a montage of kills from the three films so far.

Instead of the film’s block title advancing towards the camera, we now see the mask do the same trick. All of a sudden, the mask is now the icon of the series, and would remain so forever. Jason would wear the mask permanently from this moment on.

The opening scenes, set in a middle-of-the-night hospital where they have taken the corpses from the end of Part III, is very reminiscent of Halloween II, a film that had only been released two years earlier. The subtle, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Jason’s breath as the doctor loads him into the freezer is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. From this detail, you already know you’re in far safer hands than Steve Miner’s tired direction of Part III. Joesph Zito directs Part IV, and he makes it one of the stronger films in the franchise alongside Part II.

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We’re introduced to the 12-year old Corey Feldman, who lives with his older sister and their mother, and we have a bunch of young kids moving into the house next door (I wonder what’s going to happen here!). Crispin Glover does some crazy dancing, ahead of his crazy dancing at the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ Dance in Back To The Future.

It’s in this film where we glimpse the Pamela Voorhees ‘1979’ gravestone that knocked the franchise off into its wonky timeframe. This film was released in 1984, but by now we’ve caught up after Part II thrust us five years into the future. Part III took place the day after Part II, and we stay in the same timeframe, with Part IV taking place the day after Part III. Phew, keep up people…

The music, again by Harry Manfredini, is, of course, as excellent as always. Part IV is a strong, well-made film; perhaps as strong, if not stronger, than Part II. Now if only we could sidestep Part V

Hit: What Boy, Ma’am? / Main Titles

Hidden Gem: Helicopter

Body Count: 14

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Rocks In The Attic #762: Harry Manfredini – ‘Friday The 13th (O.S.T.)’ (1980)

tp0009c_SP_Gate_CoverAs well as watching all of the James Bond films in the run-up to next year’s Bond 25 , I’m also in the middle of watching the Friday The 13th films in order. I’ve seen them all before, multiple times, but it’s good to rewatch them as I’ve been listening to the great In Voorhees We Trust podcast, hosted by the very funny Matt Gourley and Paul Rust.

Friday The 13th has always been my favourite horror franchise. There’s just something more lovable about the series than the lame comedy-horror of the Nightmare On Elm Street sequels, or the dull-as-dishwater Halloween films after the brilliant third installment.

Jason Voorhees is just a lovable guy. He might be disfigured, wander around in the dark, and kill campers with a machete, but what a guy! He doesn’t limit the terror with wisecracks like Freddy Kreuger, and he’s far more animated than the passive Michael Myers. Although I don’t like the superpower qualities he adopts in the later sequels, it’s great to see Jason’s character develop through the first four films.

RITA#762aOf course, as every trivia expert knows, Jason isn’t the killer in the original Friday The 13th film. It’s his Mom. The matriarch of the Voorhees family, Pamela wears fisherman’s sweaters and looks a little like a menopausal Steven Tyler. The film opens on Camp Crystal Lake in the late 1950s, with Momma Voorhees as an unseen killer, in POV. She kills a pair of camp counselors who allowed her son Jason to drown while they had sex.

Enter plucky young hitchhiker Annie, on her way to Camp Crystal Lake. A intertitle informs us it is now the present day, AKA 1980. The camp is being re-opened for the summer, but Annie doesn’t get there. First, she meets Crazy Ralph, who warns her against going to the camp (“It’s got a death curse!”), and then she gets a lift from the POV killer who dispatches her in the woods.

Cut to camp, and we find the enterprising Steve Christy, who’s rushing to refurbish the camp before its first guests of the season arrive. He’s employed a team of young counsellors, including Bing Crosby’s son Harry, and Kevin Bacon, to fix up the place. Interspersed with these establishing scenes are shots of the killer, hiding behind trees, watching the counsellors in POV. It’s far less scary when you know it’s an old lady watching them. At this point, it’s important to note that Kevin Bacon cannot dive very well. Before he meets Mrs. Voohees, he almost kills himself with a belly-flop.

The killings start almost immediately without a chance for any character progression. Day turns into night and the counsellors get picked off one by one during a rainstorm. The murder scenes are great, aided by special-effects maestro Tom Savini, and do for campsites what Jaws did for beach-swimming five years earlier.

Harry Manfredini’s score has just enough innovation in it to sidestep any accusations that it takes a little too liberally from John Williams’ Jaws and Bernard Herrmann’s shower scene in Psycho. The repeated ‘Ki-ki-ki, Ma-ma-ma’ sound-effects, representing Jason’s pleas of ‘Kill her, Mommy’, are just brilliant and effortlessly lift the film’s sound-design above its contemporaries.

It’s a simple film; over as soon as it’s set up. And of course, the location is superb. I’m not sure if sequels were considered before its runaway success – it made $40 million in the U.S. alone, from a $500,000 budget – but the location easily allows for subsequent films, as new, unknowing victims turn up at the camp each summer.

In the episode of the In Voorhees We Trust podcast which covers this film, Matt Gourley and Paul Rust debate whether or not the title card, at the top of the film, flies into view and breaks the camera lens or the viewer’s screen – or whether it’s supposed to be a mirror breaking, as per the film title’s link to superstition. Rewatching it, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be the lens of the camera, although it’s a missed opportunity for the film not to reference the theme of superstition a little more:

Final Girl: Oh, Mrs. Voorhees, what a pretty black cat you’re holding.

Pamela Voorhees: Oh yes, dear, I’ve just come from my Amateur Dramatics class where we’re rehearsing the Scottish Play…or should I say…Macbeth!

Final Girl ducks out of the way, under an open ladder, as Stevie Wonder’s Superstition plays over the soundtrack.

And speaking of Mrs. Voorhees, I fully agree with Gourley and Rust that she would have been soliloquising with each character, refining her back-story down to a tight-five, before murdering them.

Pamela’s head rolls, as do the credits, and the only thing missing is a post-credit sequence with Crazy Ralph grinning at the camera, joyfully exclaiming “Called it!”

Hit: Overlay Of Evil / Main Title

Hidden Gem: Banjo Travelin’

Body Count: 10

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