Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – 30 Years Later

The 1980s was the king of Horror franchises with sequels on top of sequels. Leading the charge, and the two most commercially successful, you had the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th series. A Nightmare on Elm Street pumped out five films between 1984 and 1989. Then, with the ‘80s in the rearview mirror, it seemed A Nightmare on Elm Street was wrapping up its reign of terror in 1991 with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Arguably the most financially successful of the two mega Horror series, on the other side, Friday the 13th dished out eight films between 1980 and 1989. Then, following suit like A Nightmare on Elm Street, it seemed that the Friday the 13th freight train was coming into the station in 1993 with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

Coming two years after Freddy’s DeadJason Goes to Hell marked the ninth Friday the 13th film and first in four years to be released. A long span of time for a franchise that was delivering box office hits nearly each year throughout the ‘80s, the story behind Jason Goes to Hell is quite interesting… and worth reflecting on 30 years later.

Jason Voorhees - Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday / New Line Cinema (1993)

Released in theaters on August 13th of 1993, Jason Goes to Hell would also be the first film in the series not to bear the Friday the 13th title. Why? Because after 1989’s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, New Line Cinema no longer owned the rights to the name; hence why 2001’s Jason X also did not include the title. Furthermore, there was a lot of internal discussion of which way to go with the series. Sean S. Cunningham, original Friday the 13th producer/director envisioned an Action Horror film where Jason Voorhees would battle Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street). Something that would ultimately happen a decade later, for the time, this was on hold and the studio was going in a different direction.

A rather interesting turn of events preceded Jason Goes to Hell from here, which included John McTiernan and Tobe Hooper’s courting to direct the film. This never happened either and instead Adam Marcus (who worked as an apprentice in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2) took the lead as director. An interesting selection, Marcus, Jay Huguely, and Dean Lorey would then hollow out the story behind Jason Goes to Hell.

Followed by casting, it is compelling to note that Tony Todd auditioned for the role of Creighton Duke, and Laurie Holden (later known for her role on The Walking Dead) was considered as Jessica Kimble. Neither a part of the project, filming began on July 20, 1992, and yet again, problems ensued. These problems consisted of disagreements between Marcus and Cunningham, resulting in much reshooting. A sort of messy situation, you would have to wonder, what was the end product like, and how would you fare in theaters?

Steven Williams as Creighton Duke - Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday / New Line Cinema (1993)

Well, it raked in $7.6 million across 1,355 screens in the opening weekend of August 13th. Not too bad at all, it would go on to gross a final domestic total of $15.9 million, making it one of the Top 100 earners of 1993. Solid, in the grand scheme, it marked the second-worst performing film in the franchise, after Jason Takes Manhattan, which made $14.3 million. Which leaves you to wonder, had the sheen of Jason Vorhees’ finally worn off hunger fans? Not exactly, because there was much excitement for 2001’s Jason X, and of course, 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. So, where did Jason Goes to Hell go wrong?

Depending on who you ask, the film is rather uneven, a bit too silly at times, and really lacks much substance. The concept behind the plot is even a little too far-fetched for a Friday the 13th film, and honestly, the ideas of Jason Goes to Hell reach so much further than the original’s intent over a decade earlier. Although, the film is not without its fans… after all Friday the 13th lovers are highly dedicated.

All in all, Jason Goes to Hell felt sort of like an anticlimactic conclusion to an era at the time. But again, this depends on who you ask. With that, the franchise has lived on with the aforementioned releases in 2001, 2003, and the reboot in 2009 reboot. There was also the very well-received 2017 video game, but not much else since. Yes, there are plenty of fan films associated with Friday the 13th, but it has been close to fifteen years since any Friday the 13th feature hit a theater. Although, not all hope is lost, because Peacock announced the forthcoming TV series Crystal Lake due out some time in 2024. Is this enough to satisfy fans though?

Kane Hodder - Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday / New Line Cinema (1993)

A very valid question, in hindsight, could it be argued that Jason Goes to Hell is the film that really killed the dynasty? Some may argue it was Jason Takes Manhattan, but truthfully, that was even a little more interesting to view. Everything considered and reflected on, Jason Goes to Hell is a bit of a polarizing film.

Nonetheless, it is not without merit, because there are some interesting concepts explored, as well as some Easter eggs hidden. What are those you may ask? Well, if you are a true Horror fan, 1982’s Creepshow Fluffy crate appears, The Necronomicon from The Evil Dead also appears, plus Freddy Krueger’s arm emerges from the ground in the final scene to take Jason’s mask to hell. So, even with all the flaws, Jason Goes to Hell is well worth celebrating 30 years later. 

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday movie poster
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday / New Line Cinema (1993)

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