You can see our other Friday the 13th lists here. Today, it’s time for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), the one with Crispin Glover’s insane dancing and Corey Feldman’s bald head.
In 1983, only a forgettable quickie (House on Sorority Row) and classic franchise revival (Psycho 2) represented the slasher genre in the year’s top 100 domestic grossing films. Friday the 13th actually took the year off, making 1983 the first year of the ’80s to go without a Friday film. So, with Part 3 having killed off Jason via an axe to the head (and just after he’d finally obtained that wicked sweet hockey mask) all involved parties could have simply walked away. In fact, the people who made Part 3 meant for it to be the last one; they just forgot to tell anyone since they were too busy promoting the 3D part. What if they actually made just one more and sold it as being the official end of Jason’s story?
1. Did Paramount really decide to end the franchise because they found the films embarrassing?
Rumors used to suggest that by 1983 Paramount had become embarrassed by their association with Friday the 13th, thus preferring to end things for good with Part 4. However, despite how hard Siskel & Ebert tried at the time to will this into reality it’s mostly untrue. Paramount was aware the slasher fad been played out due to overexposure which is why it seemed like a good idea to bring Friday the 13th to an end. However, it wasn’t even their idea; that came from Frank Mancuso, Jr.
Mancuso had started out as a production assistant on Part 2 and quickly risen to the rank of producer for Part 3. In that short time, he had grown to resent the franchise because in Hollywood once you become known as the guy who does a certain kind of thing that’s all they ever see you as, and nobody seemed to have respect for the guy who made the Jason movies, regardless of how much money they made. Desperate to produce different types of movies, he decided Jason needed to be as far back in his rearview mirror as possible thus The Final Chapter. Phil Scuderi, the East Coast-based money and ideas guy behind all of the films, backed his play as did Paramount, mostly because it was a good marketing angle.
2. Joseph Zito was supposed to write & direct but instead hired a screenwriter of his own he paid out of his own salary
Joseph Zito had previously directed The Prowler (1981), but they wanted him to both direct AND write Friday the 13th Part 4. He said, “But I’m not a writer,” to which they said, “Here’s a contract paying you double to write and direct,” and then he responded, “Yeah, I’m totally a writer.” Or so I assume it went.
Zito used the extra salary to hire Barney Cohen to somewhat secretly write the script. Their process entailed Zito taking nightly one-hour phone calls with Phil Scuderi to discuss the story and script for Final Chapter. The next day Zito would meet Cohen in an apartment in New York to relay what notes and ideas Scuderi had offered, which they would then turn into new script pages to be sent later that day to Scuderi in Boston to be discussed again over the phone that night.
From this process, Barney Cohen emerged as the sole recipient of a writing credit for Final Chapter, but Zito describes the trouble they all eventually got into with the Writers Guild of America as “a giant disaster.”
3. Amy Steel talked Peter Barton into doing the film
Barton had been something of a teenage heartthrob, co-starring with Friday the 13th Part 2 heroine Amy Steel in the short-lived sitcom The Powers of Matthew Star, TVGuide’s 22nd worst TV show of all time.
By the time the Final Chapter offer came around Matthew Star was off the air, and Barton wanted no part of horror films, having hated working on Hell Night in 1981. Amy Steel somehow talked him into it, selling him on the notoriety of starring in the final Friday the 13th film. I wonder what Amy Steel said to Barton after Paramount rushed Part 5 out less than a year after The Final Chapter. “My bad”?
4. Carey More’s audition was to simply read one line
While auditioning for The Final Chapter, Camilla More was interrupted and asked, “Hang on a minute. We’re looking at your resume. Do you have a twin sister?” In fact, she did have a twin sister named Carey, and the two had appeared together in the infamous Doublemint gum commercials. On top of that, the More sisters would ultimately be amenable to appearing topless in Final Chapter.
They were so swayed by the idea of twins Carey’s audition was to read one line. That line? “I don’t know.”
5. The timeline makes no sense
It’s cool how the early Friday the 13th films happen continuously, one leading directing into another thus forming one big movie stretched across Parts 2, 3, and 4. However, don’t stop too long to ponder if the timeline actually make sense: it doesn’t.
Final Chapter‘s Rob Dier (Erich Anderson) is out to avenge the death of his sister, Sandra (Marta Kober), one of Jason’s Part 2 victims (she’s one half of the infamous double impalement death scene). The problem is Part 2, 3, and The Final Chapter transpire over the course of a Friday the 13th and through a Tuesday the 17th, meaning by their timeline Sandra would have only been dead for 2-3 days by the time Rob begins his quest for vengeance. That’s actually workable, but Final Chapter gives every indication Rob’s been on this quest for a while and/or that his sister has been dead for quite some time, longer than just 2-3 days at least).
So, um, just assume he’s avenging the death of another Sandra, not the one who met and mourned (well, as much as you ever mourn any Friday the 13th victims). Yeah, that’s the ticket.
6. Why make a little kid the central character?
The prior Friday films had favored attractive, young women as the sole remaining combatant in the battle with Jason, yet The Final Chapter gave its final girl (Trish Jarvis, played by Kimberly Beck) a little brother who is ultimately the one to deliver the kill shot to Jason. Why?
They didn’t think it had been done in a slasher film before, that’s why. Plus, they wanted to create characters audiences wouldn’t want to see harmed. By including the Jarvis family (divorced mother, teenage daughter, pre-teen son) opposite the more typical cabin of horny teenagers they could create more human drama and resonant tragedy, such as the moment Jason is implied to have killed Tommy and Trish’s mother. It remains debatable how intentional the parallels between Jason and Tommy (both ostracized outsiders as kids, mothers murdered) were, but everyone acknowledges Tommy’s love for props and masks and the macabre were all homages to Tom Savini.
7. Outside of breastfeeding as a baby, Final Chapter was the first time Corey Feldman saw female breasts
It is played for humor throughout Final Chapter that young Tommy Jarvis (Feldman) is suddenly surrounded by horny teenagers renting a cabin he can see into from his own house. However, the reality of the situation is that those actresses were indeed very or partially naked, and Corey Feldman was still young enough that Erich Anderson and Kimberly Beck took him trick-or-treating the first day of filming since it happened to be October 31, 1983.
So, the production shielded 12-year-old Feldman from most of the bad stuff, using tricky editing when necessary. What they could not control, however, was the power of a low-cut top sans bra underneath. According to Feldman, in the scene in which Jodie Aronson’s character bends over to greet Tommy’s dog unbeknownst to anyone but Feldman he could see down her low-cut top.
8. Crispin Glover was exactly as weird as you’d expect
If you only know Crispin Glover for his adorable turn as George McFly in Back to the Future get hip to his legendary, sometimes lovable quirkiness below:
In the The Final Chapter, he committed one of the most memorably weird dances in film history:
That was 100% Glover, either improvised on the spot or based on skills he used at dance clubs at the time, depending on who you ask. On set, he was dancing to AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” but they dubbed Lion’s “Love is a Lie” over that in the finished film. Glover’s bewildered dance partner summed up her reaction:
“I am supposed to be this shy demure, kind of like wallflower, and he’s dancing so crazily, and I was watching him, alarmed. I think I pretty much acted exactly how I was feeling, which was like, ‘What the flip is going on here?'”
There are plenty of other “Crispin was so crazy” stories from the set, such as the time he forced a shut down in filming until his toy yellow submarine could be retrieved from the lake, or when he declined a request to rehearse by observing, “You know, I’m in a rain mood. Not gonna rehearse now.” Shine on, you rain mood-having, crazy diamond. Shine on.
9. Corey Feldman was legitimately terrified during the window shot
As per series tradition, Jason was played by yet another stuntman in The Final Chapter, this time Ted White, a seasoned veteran of 40 years who had doubled for John Wayne and Clark Cable. And he did not like Corey Feldman, calling him the “meanest goddamn little kid” he’d ever dealt with. When it came time to film the famous scene near the end when Jason reaches through a broken window to pull Tommy out of a house White got to act out his frustration.
They had worked out the timing of when White would grab Feldman beforehand, but during filming White waited a couple of beats to the point that Feldman assumed the stunt had gone wrong. So, just as he let his guard down White grabbed him exactly as you see in the film, meaning Feldman’s screams of horror were completely authentic.
10. Lawrence Monoson foolishly thought it a good idea to get high in real life when his character was supposed to be high on screen
It’s a simple formula, these Friday the 13th films: you have sex, you die; you do drugs, you die. What happens, though, if one of the actors pretending to take drugs actually takes real drugs to get in character?
Nothing good, or at least that’s what Lawrence Monoson discovered when he decided to actually smoke pot when his character, Ted, is supposed to be smoking pot prior to this death. Instead of helping him get into the character, the pot mostly rendered Monoson incapable of concentrating on his scene as he became paranoid and freaked out on set.
11. The highly mockable “He’s killing me!” moment was inspired by a real-life event
Rob’s death scene is one of the most unintentionally hilarious in series history, as his response to Jason’s knife repeatedly entering his body is to scream, “He’s killing me! He’s killing me!” as Trish continues fleeing. Who would really respond like that, we’re left to wonder.
Well, as it turns out that was inspired by a newspaper article Joseph Zito read about a stabbing incident on a New York City street in which the victim screamed, “Please stop hurting me, please stop killing me!” yet no one nearby intervened or called the police. The idea was for Rob’s screams to highlight how merciless Jason was, killing a rather noble character who not only sought justified vengeance but was also the love interest for Trish. Thus, Trish can hear exactly what is happening and either rush to Rob’s aid or flee, but instead she initially runs away only to return due to overwhelming guilt.
Ohhhhhhhh. Now, I see what they were going for. I don’t think they pulled it off, but I at least see the point of the scene now.
12. One alternate ending revealed the rueful fate of Mrs. Jarvis
The actual ending of Final Chapter closes with an appropriately brutal death for Jason, as his head slowly descends down an upturned blade. Take that, you teenager-killing monster!
However, series tradition dictated they needed a fake-out dream sequence conclusion. They filmed one involving Trish and Tommy’s mom, but scrapped it, thus meaning the official version of Final Chapter never does reveal what became of the elder Jarvis, whose death is implied but never depicted.
Thanks to the recent efforts of documentarian Daniel Farrands and Joseph Zito, this original ending has been restored as much as possible. Here it is, with director and actors providing commentary since not all of the original audio could be recovered:
13. They only had 6 weeks to complete post-production
Final Chapter wrapped production in January 1984, 6 weeks over-schedule but still with plenty of time to prepare for its announced October release date. Then Paramount studio head Frank Mancuso, Sr. had the grand idea to push up the release date to Friday the 13th in April, leaving them a mere 6 weeks to complete post-production.
Not cool, man.
In one of the only times Paramount ever assisted with the actual production of a Friday the 13th film, they rented a house in Malibu for Joseph Zito, his team of editors and their assistants, and Frank Mancuso, Jr. to live in and conduct 24/7 editing sessions. Their food was even brought in to them by Paramount. They just barely made the release date, but the end result is plenty of footage was hastily cut out only to later end up re-inserted for TV showings.
The final damage:
- Body Count: 13
- Box Office: $32.9 million domestic (like $81.9 million at 2014 ticket prices) on $1.8 million budget. In adjusted dollars, that makes Final Chapter the 4th highest domestic grossing Friday the 13th of all time. The only proper Friday the 13th sequel that made more was Part 3, and even then just barely. At the time, The Final Chapter‘s opening weekend of $11.2 million was the biggest in the history of Paramount.
Next Friday, we’ll tell you why on Earth they thought it was a good idea to do a Part 5 with a copycat killer instead of the real Jason Voorhees.
Use the following links to check out our other “13 Things…” lists: Friday the 13th, Part 2, Part 3, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason, and Friday the 13th (2009).
Sources: The Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th documentary, and the companion coffee table book of the same name
Siskel & Ebert Review Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: