By Casey Campbell
The fourth iteration of the, in my humble opinion, incredible first half of the Friday the 13th series is the best of the bunch, as well as a delightful opening to my “Favorites Week.” This series is rife with unoriginality and samples of the past, but it’s still a warm blanket to me. I love this series, even the shittiest entries (like when Jason was in New York for about fifteen minutes, or when he killed folks in space) are an absolute delight. Of the bunch, twelve in total, the fourth entry has to be my favorite.
This is the one where Jason reanimates to kill a slew of teens living next to Tommy Jarvis’s family.
Not only does this entry reintroduce the brutally beautiful make-up work of Tom Savini, who was last seen impaling Kevin Bacon through the neck in the original Friday the 13th, but it inadvertently creates a new lasting character in the series in Tommy Jarvis.
The third entry is a blast because of the 3-D visuals and all their excessive glorified gore, but also for how it expanded the mythos of Jason. It’s the one where Jason ditches the potato sack for his now famous hockey mask.
The fourth entry surpasses the second and third in my book because of how well it utilizes the previous films. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the original Friday movie, finding it fairly slow and boring. Sure, it has some great kills, hence my Kevin Bacon ref earlier, but it’s not nearly as entertaining as the next few. Friday part II is great, with great kills throughout (the wheelchair dude getting machete’d in the head and rolling down those excessively large stairs is a major contributor), but it lacks the memorable characters that you can directly name. Then there was the 3-D one, which put the effects before the story. It’s still fun, obviously, but not as great as the fourth.
Friday the 13th Part IV is great because of how it uses the strengths of past movies and creates the best possible Friday movie yet—which would remain the best one for over twenty years and counting.
I find it so surprising how these movies really do require a knowledge of the previous films to get a better and more enjoyable understanding. They’re probably the furthest thing from high art, yet they’re improved by the sequential ramping up of the story throughout the films. Ugh, these movies are bizarre. I see right through them, understand their various inherent flaws, and yet continue to go back to them. They’re fun, despite offering basically the same formula over and over again. Maybe that’s what I like about them after all, the familiar comfort.
I think this one is my favorite for how memorable it is despite the familiarity. It’s tough to forget Crispin Glover’s incredible dance, or the twins, or how Jason was finally taken out in the end by a bald Corey Feldman. Feldman’s character Tommy Jarvis would be brought back a few more times to differing results in future sequels. Other than Jason and his mother, who is only really mentioned after the first film, Jarvis is the only semi-consistent character in the bunch. And, he’s the first one to actually kill Jason.
These movies make me happy. They’re dumb fun, and the central idea never seems to get old. I’m pretty sure most of these movies are available on Amazon Prime, so you should rewatch them, or watch them for the first time if this rambling mess of a review piques your interest.