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Jason Goes To Hell: a 22 year review

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Let’s face facts here, people. The 1990s had some damn good horror movies! But what sets the ’90s apart from every other decade? It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyhow), every era has its own brand or style of horror. The classic silent pictures of the early 1910s with its German expressionism and tales of old legends and then moving on to the Universal Monsters, such as: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Mad Ghoul, The Leopard Man, Cat People, etc. etc showed us a new world, reconstructing itself from the maiming machines of the Great War. And then we had the “invaders” of the ’50s with its outlandish sci-fi horror-esk Cold War-esk flicks, like The Day The Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars, Them!, The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Plan 9 From Outer Space, etc. etc. And then in the ’60s movies drew downward into psychological freights, with Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Black Sunday, Carnival of Souls, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, and so on and so on. And of course, who could forget the ’70s? The decade of Savage Cinema with terrifying flicks, such as The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead, Alien, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Jaws, Carrie, The Omen, Shivers, The Brood, Deathdream, etc. etc. And of course moving into the big hair, more of everything, excess-excess of the 1980s, with films like: The Evil Dead, Re-Animator, Nightmare of Elm Street, The Thing, The Fly, Return of the Living Dead, The Stuff, Hellraiser, Poltergeist, American Werewolf in London, Videodrome, Creepshow, and so many more, not to mention the birth of the Friday the 13th series and the modern slasher.

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Lets return to the above question. What could be said of the 1990s? The monsters, in retrospect, seem to be more internalized, almost spiritual or more supernatural in nature than in decades past. Before moving on to our movie in review, lets examine for a moment the occultioris sensus of some of these spiritual-supernatural horror flicks, which would include: In The Mouth of Madness, Candyman, Jacob’s Ladder,  Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Nightbreed, The Sixth Sense, Ravenous, Sleepy Hollow, Silence of the Lambs, Baby Blood, Lawnmower Man, Cronos, The People Under the Stairs, Misery, Cube, Ringu, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Event Horizon, etc. etc. And I know I’ve probably missed some, but still… Take a look! For the most part, pooling from a majority of movies, we can tell that horror withdrew from the overindulgence of gore and mayhem and, much like in the ’60s with the addition of supernaturalism, drew inward becoming a spiritual-supernatural psychological thriller.

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When our beloved classics crossed over into the new era, they likewise transformed into the cerebral appetites of said decade. Consider Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was not heralded as a good Nightmare on Elm Street…why? Because its not a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. The ’80s are…game over man! Done! Gone. Hasta la vista baby! When long running series’ transition into a new decade, the judgement and critique of the film becomes…well, a tad bit unfair. When we hear Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th we expect what we watched in the 1980s, but its not the 1980s anymore. If we were to be reasonably rational, we must critique said movie for the era in which it was made… Of course, a really-really-really good critique will look at both, if the movie is from a running series. Does the movie honor the decade past while ushering in a new take in the new era? While Jason Goes to Hell has received some rather harsh criticism, my opinion on the matter is, yes, Jason Goes to Hell does honor the past while bringing in the new.

Synopsis:

After being blown away by a team of FBI agents, Jason Voorhees (played by Kane Hodder) needs to find a way to overcome certain death. When his bloodied remains are sent to the morgue, his heart, still intact, is able to hypnotize a coroner and take over his body. After brutally dispatching a couple of FBI agents, he heads back to his favorite stomping grounds: Crystal Lake,  and commences a quick massacre before heading into the town surrounding Crystal Lake. Jason swaps bodies has he continues his hunt for the Voorhees bloodline so that he may be reborn again. After a confrontation between Creighton Duke and Diana Kimble, Creighton warns Diana that Jason will come to get her and her daughter, Jessica Kimble, the only remaining relatives of Jason. Diana tells Jessica’s former boyfriend Steven Freeman to meet her at their house to discuss some issues in private. Come nightfall, Steven arrives at her house, hears Diana screaming, and goes to her aid to find her being assaulted by Josh, a fellow policeman who earlier, had been taken by the “coroner” and had Jason’s spirit transferred into his body, as illustrated by Creighton Duke. Jason then finally kills Diana.

Steven is falsely accused and arrested, meeting the mysterious person, Creighton Duke, in jail. Duke claims that only members of Jason’s bloodline can truly kill him for good. Therefore if he transfers the creature into a member of his family, he will be “reborn” back to his old form. Creighton goes on to tell Steven that the only living relatives of Jason are his half-sister Diana, her daughter Jessica, and her infant daughter Stephanie.

Unscrupulous news anchor Robert Campbell, who is dating Jessica, steals Diana’s body, planting it in the house for an upcoming investigative show to boost his ratings. Jason bursts in and possesses Robert before leaving with Steven in pursuit. Jessica, who is unaware that her boyfriend is the undead killer, is attacked by him so he can be reborn through her but is disrupted by Steven, who manages to stop him and get Jessica into a car. He runs over Jason and explains the situation, but Jessica does not believe him and throws him out of the car and goes to the police.

Steven turns himself into the police and arrives at the station as Jason does; he frees himself again to protect Jessica, who now realizes the truth. In the chaos, Creighton makes his escape. Steven and Jessica discover a note from Creighton, telling them that he has Stephanie and ordering Jessica to meet him at the Voorhees house alone.

Jessica meets Creighton at the Voorhees house. Creighton throws her a knife, and when she catches it, the knife turns into a mystical dagger. Jason tries to possess Stephanie, but Steven arrives and severs his neck with a machete. A creature crawls out of his neck, and makes its way to the basement, where Diana’s body was planted. Jason explodes through the floor in his original body.

As Jessica attempts to retrieve the dagger, the two men alternately fight with Jason. Duke is killed by Jason, and the fight between Jason and Steven ends up outside in the yard. As Jason prepares to finish him, Jessica jumps behind him and stabs him in the chest. This causes Jason to be dragged to Hell.

As a dog appears and unearths Jason’s mask, suddenly, a familiar claw-gloved hand suddenly emerges from the ground and drags the mask down into Hell with an evil heckle in the background (Friday the 13th Wiki).

Jason Goes to Hell brings back all kinds of 1990s nostalgia. For the life of me I cannot recall if I was able to see this one in theaters or not, however, I do remember watching it on VHS and thinking how different it was from the others (I even can recall the Fangoria issue with Jason Goes To Hell!!!), but not in a bad way, just a different way. With being a big fan of Friday the 13th, I’d read all the books (that’s right, there are books!) and was familiar with the concept of the supernatural element with Jason, that is, his spirit can live on in others. Voodoo type stuff. Think, Child’s Play. This was sort-of the concept for Part V but let’s not get into that right now…

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Jason Goes to Hell had some drawbacks, sure. Fans were hoping for what they’ve come to love, teen-slasher-gore. But that’s simply not what this movie was about. I think to better understand Jason Goes to Hell we should look at it as its own stand-alone flick. If we can push away from the table of Great Expectations, we’d see the amazingness this Final Friday brings to the table. Much like New Nightmare was for Freddy. I know plenty who hate that movie, simply because it wasn’t like the others. Personally, I enjoyed both. Yes, they weren’t the slashers we remembered from the ’80s. But hey, the ’80s are over, man! In Jason Goes to Hell, the action was well paced. The acting was a hell of a lot better than in some of the Friday’s past. The cast was also solid. There was humor, specifically in all the Easter Eggs in the Voorhees house. The Uncut edition was chock full of gore and practical effects. It was brutal when it needed to be and it was supernatural when it needed to be. And the soundtrack was also very memorable. Overall, I thought Jason Goes to Hell was a fantastic addition to the franchise, taking the ’90s spiritual-supernaturalism back into the gore-fest mayhem of the ’80s, or vise-versa…? Oh, whatever, you know what I’m getting at!

My Rating: 4/5 

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Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character-driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Lanmò. His paranormal-thriller series, The Subdue Books, including Dwelling, Emerging, and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he does reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can check out his work on the altar of Amazon here.

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