How Cynicism is Killing Entertainment


Alternate fan art posterwork for The Final Chapter


Corey Feldman never intended to be part of the Friday the 13th series. He tried out for a Halloween film, didn't get the part and ended up being cast in what Paramount Pictures intended to be the final installment to its slasher series. Corey's star was rising and the unexpected success of The Final Chapter propelled Feldman into stardom. He would go on to make some of the biggest films of the 1980's and become an unwitting icon in the horror genre.


Corey onset of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter as he gets makeup for the climactic "I am Jason" scene


Corey Feldman hates horror. However it helps pay the bills and he is one of the few major stars to add weight and credibility to a horror film. Usually horror makes names and not the other way around. Few horror films have benefit from big star names. Aside from The Shining, which owes much of its success to Jack Nicholson for without him the film would never have achieved the cult status it has. John Cusack and Sam Jackson could not save the Stephen King penned horror film, 1408. It's hard to name any big budget horror film with a big name star that has achieved any real success. However look how many big stars got their start in horror: Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston to name a few, owe their blockbuster status to low budget films that still endure.


Feldman with co-star Kimberly Beck clown onset


Feldman has held a high profile over the past 25 years. His distaste for horror can be understood with his recent revelations of pedophilia in the Hollywood system. Many, including Feldman attribute Haim's tortured life and subsequent death to the real life horror both Coreys endured growing up in the business. Add the destructive lifestyle the business fosters and its penchant for using up child stars and tossing them aside, Feldman has every reason to be wary of the genre.


Corey and his co-star, Jason Vorhees get to know each other


Yet, much like his nemesis, Jason Vorhees, Corey kept coming back to the horror screen. His huge followups to The Final Chapter saw his legend solidified in Spielberg's Gremlins and The Goonies. While The Goonies is not horror, Gremlins could easily be pegged into the category. Gremlins was packaged as family summer film with a Christmas theme, but in actuality it is a dark, terrifying take that scared the shit out millions of little kids thinking it would be matinee romp of fuzzy Gizmo type creatures. Then halfway through the cute things turn into Smurfs on acid and start killing people and dying in the graphic and now classic kitchen scene that culminates with a microwave explosion that still brings groans.

Zach Galligan and Corey Feldman are up to their armpits in Mogwai in 1984's Gremlins


Feldman will peak in the horror genre as the now iconic Edgar Frog in the 1986 vampires meet MTV style over substance film, The Lost Boys. His ability to stand out against the glitzy, flashy vampires added him to the list of recognizable horror icons up with the ranks of Van Helsing and Fright Night's Peter Vincent. Most fans would agree he is one of the best things about that film and headlined two sequels.


The two Coreys allied against blood suckers in The Lost Boys
So what was the appeal of Friday the 13th IV and why Feldman was catapulted into stardom? The central reason might be that the studio sincerely intended to end the series. Everyone involved had a drive to end the series with a bang and the goal was to kill Jason Vorhees.
That honor went to Corey Feldman's Tommy Jarvis.


Feldman's Jarvis is a little horror fanatic who studied the series of murders centered around Camp Crystal Lake. 1984 was a time when Stephen King just achieved household name status and being a kid  and into horror was glorified in King's writings. Jarvis could easily be a King character, and the Stephen King-esque appeal of Tommy Jarvis may have struck a chord with audiences. Tommy Jarvis was really the first non-villain character that stood apart from the usual assembly of hardbodied teen victims. The film embraced its formula since the first installment and paraded horny young adults to the Crystal Lake region, got them naked and picked them off one by one.


Pretty boy gets the Vorhees face-palm in The Final Chapter


The third installment capitalized on the 3D revival of the early 1980's (see our article on Jaws 3D). While the 3D quality was stunning, the film clearly showed third time was not a charm and succumbed to the third film curse. Paramount Pictures saw enough money to warrant a sequel and firmly stated that it would be the last. This supports my statement that the only thing that can kill the monster is bad box office.


Jason in 3D before he found his famous hockey mask in Part III.
Tom Savini returned to do the special makeup effects and gave a tour de force of makeup wizardry that made the audience I sat with scream at the top of their lungs at the film's climax when Jason gets it in the head from Corey's machete. Savini returned after a falling out over the second film, as he disagreed Jason should be the killer, as he was dead. He felt making Jason the killer sidestepped the suspension of disbelief. Apparently audiences as well as Paramount felt otherwise.
The film's plot is still the same: pretty young people gather to party and fornicate and fall victim to Jason one by one is a series of inventive ways. However there was Corey who, next to his older sister co-star Kim Beck, was the best actor out of the whole bunch. To be fair that's because the other roles were pretty thankless. Corey got the prime role of Jason expert and the one to outhink the undead psycho. The only thing Corey never got to explain was how Jason went from a frail, clearly impaired hydro cephalic invalid who not only drowned and died, but returned from the grave looking like he hit the gym in Hell a few times.

Behind the scenes of The Final Chapter and Savini's handiwork


How the scene looked in the finished film. I saw this in theaters in 1984 and the audience literally screamed for the last ten minutes of the film.


Look at Jason grow...


Feldman got the best lines and the best role and most of all made history as the only one to kill Jason Vorhees. Feldman found himself sharing overseas posterspace with his face plastered on the whole sides of buildings as the boxoffice rang gold. Paramount quickly decided to renege on its commitment to end Jason's reign of terror. A sequel was quickly planned but the studio found itself making the fatal mistake of trying to make an installment without its monster. Feldman will make a cameo in the opening of the fifth film, but other film commitments prevented him from a full time reprise of Tommy Jarvis. By the time Paramount fixed its error and brought Jason back to life in Part VI, Feldman had grown too big for the confines of the low brow slasher series.


Feldman as Tommy Jarvis in The Final Chapter's closing moments
It is not a stretch to credit Jason's revival to Corey Feldman. While the fourth installment's script is hardly Gone With the Wind, it did create a defining role that Feldman brought to life. He outshined his sexed up castmates and did what a whole hoarde of bare breasts and asses could not do: it won fan loyalty. Next to Betsy Palmer's Mrs. Vorhees, Tommy Jarvis is the next popular character out of all the films aside from Jason.
This is why Six Degrees of Hell pursued Feldman for our film. His pedigree is unquestioned and his ability to ignite excitement from any role he is handed makes Feldman a true star and separates him from the cult of so-called celebrity we have today.



















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