If there is one film in the Friday the 13th series that almost everyone hates it is this one. In the opening of the film, our hero (Kane Hodder) stalks a nubile twenty something only to find himself staring down one hundred gun barrels manned by a strike team of FBI agents sent to take him once and for all. Twenty seconds later, our hero is in pieces except for his still beating black heart. To keep the plot moving, an autopsy is necessary to determine the cause of death, at which point the mortician (Richard Gant, The Mindy Project, Deadwood) becomes fascinated with Jason’s heart and does the sensible thing and takes a big old bite out of it like it was a burger from Sobelman’s. It turns out Jason is an alien like entity that hop bodies like the characters in The Hidden. Meanwhile, some crazy bounty hunter named Creighton Duke (Steven Williams, 21 Jump Street, The Blues Brothers) is blabbering on about how he has the secret knowledge that can kill Jason and will take him out for an extraordinary sum of money.
We later find out some family history of the Voorhees’ family via Creighton: Jason’s mom had a sister Diana (Erin Gray, Buck Rogers, Silver Spoons) who has since had a daughter Jessica (Kari Keegan, in her only big screen role), and an infant grand-daughter Stephanie. The child belongs to a nice guy named Steven (John D. LeMay, The New Kids) who finds himself locked up, and framed for Diana’s murder after Jason kills her. In the cell next to him is Creighton Duke, and the movie never explains why Duke has been arrested, but we need him there for exposition purposes. He tells Steven what needs to be done to kill Jason: by a Voorhee’s he can be reborn and by a Voorhee’s he can die! Which doesn’t make any sense as we’ve already seen Jason come into contact with his aunt earlier in the film and killed her without taking over her body. Jason does get a hold of the corpse later with like five minutes left in the film, so we can get a real Jason back in the picture before sending him on his merry to Ol’ Scratch.
When I was in sixth grade I loved this film because it gave Jason something to do besides stalk and slash and actually bothered to flesh out a story. As I’ve grown both older and able to appreciate this series, it’s become apparent that a story-line isn’t really important at all (and JGTH‘s is horrible), or if it ever was the ship sailed for the series to ever have one. It was made simply as a cash cow, and that’s -IT-. The fans have since come up with theories as to why Jason is the way he is, and argue on-line about why they are right when in all actuality little to no thought was put into the films at all. The plot changes from sequel to sequel as to if Jason is alive based on whose writing the script, not because of a sense of coherent and consistent narrative (which is why no explanation is ever given for how Jason escapes Hell in his last two adventures, other than that is what we pay to see).
Friday the 13th flicks are body-count films at the most pure and banal and are basically the fast food of horror films; made to quickly entertain and turn a profit. If you’re looking for a deep mythology, read H.P. Lovecraft. The writers of Jason Goes to Hell do try to have it make some sense, by including little things like a Necronomicon from the Evil Dead in the Voorhees’ house in an effort to latch Jason onto another franchise’s story-line for his existence to make sense. Explaining Jason is a bad move to begin with, and JGTH was a decade and a half to late to even begin to do so. Even if such a thing were possible, deliberately stealing the story line of the Halloween sequels and combining it with The Hidden was a horrible way to go about it. The only bit of continuity the films had in regards to Jason’s motivations was to please his mother; I don’t think Pamela would be especially happy with her son killing his aunt. The final shot of the recently deceased Freddy reaching up from Hell to snatch Jason’s mask was an awesome moment in horror history, and they finally made Freddy Vs. Jason ten years later, when people really didn’t care anymore.