Despite the film's negative reviews, it grossed $33 million in the United States. Much like Part III, the film was initially supposed to end the series and was billed as "The Final Chapter"; however, the film's success produced a sequel, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985).
The night after the events at Higgins Haven, Jason Voorhees's body is found and delivered to the morgue. After reviving from his wounds and escaping from the cold storage, Jason kills coroner Axel with a hacksaw, and then stabs nurse Robbie Morgan with a scalpel. The next day, a group of teenagers drive to Crystal Lake for the weekend. The group consists of Paul, his girlfriend Sam, her virgin friend Sarah, pretty-boy Doug, socially awkward Jimmy, and jokester Ted. On the way, the group comes across Pamela Voorhees's tombstone and a female hitchhiker, who is soon killed by Jason.
The teens arrive and meet neighbors Trish Jarvis, her twelve-year-old brother Tommy, their mother, and the family dog Gordon. While going for a walk the next day, the teens meet twin sisters Tina and Terri, and go skinny dipping with them. Trish and Tommy happen upon the scene, and Trish is invited to a party to take place that night. Afterwards, when their car breaks down, Trish and Tommy are helped out by a young man named Rob. They take him to their house, where Tommy shows Rob several monster masks he made himself before Rob leaves to go camping.
Later that night, as the teens begin the party, Sam goes out to the lake, where Jason impales her from under a raft. When Paul goes out to be with her, he is harpooned in the groin. Terri tries to leave the party early and has a spear rammed in her back. Jimmy intends to celebrate sleeping with Tina with a bottle of wine but Jason slams the corkscrew on his hand and hacks him in the face with a meat cleaver. Tina looks out a window upstairs and is grabbed and thrown to her death, crashing on the car. While a stoned Ted watches vintage stag films with a film projector, he gets too close to the projector screen and is stabbed in the head from the other side. After Doug and Sara finish making love in the shower, Jason attacks Doug, crushing his head against the shower tile. He then kills Sara by driving an double-bit axe through the front door when she tries to escape.
Trish and Tommy return from town and discover the power outage. While looking for their mother, who had been killed by Jason earlier without her knowledge, Trish comes across Rob's campsite and learns that he is actually the older brother of Sandra. Rob further explains to her that Jason is still alive and he came to Crystal Lake to get revenge for Sandra's murder. Worried for Tommy's safety, they return to the house. They then go next door to investigate and discover the teens' bodies. Gordon flees and Rob is soon caught and killed by Jason in the basement as Trish runs home. She and Tommy barricade the house, but Jason breaks in and chases them into Tommy's room. Trish lures Jason out of the house and escapes, then returns home and is devastated to learn that Tommy is still there. She senses Jason behind her and tries to fight him off with a machete but is overpowered. Tommy, having disguised himself to look like Jason as a child, distracts him long enough for Trish to hit him with the machete, but she merely whacks off his mask. As Trish stands horrified at Jason's deformed face, Tommy takes the machete and slams it in the side of the killer's skull and he collapses to the floor, splitting his head upon impact. When Tommy notices that Jason's fingers are moving, he continues to hack at his body screaming, "Die! Die!"
At the hospital, Trish is visited by Tommy. He rushes in, embraces her, and gives a disturbed look while staring ahead.Kimberly Beck as Trish Jarvis
E. Erich Anderson as Rob Dier
Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis
Barbara Howard as Sara
Joan Freeman as Mrs. Jarvis
Peter Barton as Doug
Crispin Glover as Jimmy
Judie Aronson as Samantha
Camilla More as Tina
Lawrence Monoson as Ted
Alan Hayes as Paul
Carey More as Terri
Bruce Mahler as Axel
Lisa Freeman as Nurse Robbie Morgan
Bonnie Hellman as Hitchhiker
Ted White as Jason Voorhees (uncredited)
When Friday the 13th Part III was first released, it was initially supposed to end the series as a trilogy, however there was no moniker to indicate it as such. In 1983, there was a rumor that Paramount billed the fourth installment as "The Final Chapter" as they felt embarrassed by their association with the series, thus the possible reason for the moniker. Despite how Siskel & Ebert claimed this in their review of the film, Paramount was aware that the slasher genre had been losing interest and thought it was a good choice to conclude the series. However, the idea came from Frank Mancuso, Jr. (the son of Paramount CEO Frank Mancuso, Sr.), as he had begun to resent the series due to how he felt everyone saw him as only doing the work for Part 2 and Part 3 and that no one respected him for it, regardless of how much money it made. Because of him wanting to work on different projects, he wanted to conclude the series and kill off Jason.
Joseph Zito, director of The Prowler, was initially set to both direct and write the screenplay for the film. Zito initially claimed that he was not a writer, in which the contract consisted of receiving doubled money for the two jobs, resulting him accepting the contract. Zito secretly used the extra salary to hire Barney Cohen to write the script. Their process involved Zito taking one-hour a night phone calls with Phil Scuderi to discuss the story and script for the film. Zito then met Cohen in a New York apartment to use the concepts Scuderi had offered, which they would then turn into script pages and to be sent to Scuderi for the conversation discussed again over the phone. Cohen remained the writing credit for the film, but Zito and Cohen eventually got into trouble with the Writer's Guild of America as a result.
In the Friday the 13th series, the films had always had attractive young women being the sole final girl against Jason. Unlike its predecessors, this marks the first installment in the series having two survivors and one them being male, but it is currently the only installment where the survivor is rather a child. The filmmakers believed they had never seen something like this before in slasher films, and they wanted to create characters audiences would not want to see harmed or killed. By including the Jarvis family (divorced mother, teenage daughter, pre-teen son) opposite the more typical cabin of horny teenagers, they could create more drama and resonant tragedy, such as the mother of Tommy and Trish implied to be killed by Jason outside, thus it remains debatable how intentional the parallels between Jason and Tommy were. Tommy’s interest for being a make-up artist with masks and props serve as homages to Tom Savini.
Actress Camilla More auditioned for the role of Samantha, but when the filmmakers discovered she had a twin sister named Carey, they were instead both offered the roles of Tina and Terri. Carey More had appeared alongside her sister in the Doublemint gum commercials. Because of how they were swayed by the twins idea, Carey’s audition was to read only one line in the film.
Amy Steel, who starred as heroine Ginny Field in Part 2 of the series talked actor Peter Barton into being in the film. Both he and Steel co-starred in the sitcom The Powers of Matthew Star. When the sitcom was cancelled and no longer aired, Barton was offered a role in the film. Initially, Barton had reservations as he wanted no part in the horror genre, especially due to he how disliked working on Hell Night. However, because of Steel's involvement in the second installment, she talked Barton into doing the film..
Make-up artist Tom Savini, who worked on the first installment, agreed to return to work on the film, as he wanted to kill the character Jason, who he helped create.
Principal photography was shot from October 1983 and finished in January 1984 in Topanga Canyon and Newhall, California. For its release date, it was originally set for a release in October 1984. When Paramount CEO Frank Mancuso, Sr. screened the footage to much enthusiasm and then pushed the date up to April 1984. The only time Paramount assisted with the installment's production, they rented a Malibu household for the filmmakers to stay in and conduct editing sessions, with food brought to them from the studio. They barely made the release date, but the final result had most of the footage trimmed and later ended up in television airings.
The film had troubled production on set. Due to director Joseph Zito's poor treatment of the actors and the film's budget, many of the actors themselves had to perform uncomfortable or dangerous stunts during the film. Judie Aronson was required to remain submerged in a near-freezing lake (in which she later developed hypothermia because of it) and Peter Barton was actually slammed into the shower wall when Jason attacks him. Ted White, who portrays Jason, defended several of the actors by requesting Barton be allowed to use a crash pad and threatening to quit when Zito refused to allow Aronson to get out of the lake between takes. White and Zito maintained a hostile relationship on set, which resulted in White demanding his name be removed from the credits. According to White, Corey Feldman maintained a bratty attitude on set due to Zito's treatment. When filming the scene of Tommy hacking Jason's body with a machete (which was actually two sandbags he was striking at), Feldman pretended that the struck sandbags were Zito. According in the book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, actress Kimberly Beck stated that she does not like the horror genre. In addition to this, she felt that the film was more of a C-movie rather than a B-movie. During filming, Kimberly Beck experienced strange encounters, including a man watching her while she ran in the park and receiving odd phone calls at all hours. This stopped when production was finished.
Actress Bonnie Hellman's agents told her about taking the role of the hitchhiker in the film. They told her she would not want to do it as they were no lines said for the character, but she accepted the role anyway.
The film's music was composed by Harry Manfredini, who composed the scores to all of the series' previous installments. On January 13, 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 6-CD boxset containing Manfredini's scores from the first six entries of the film series. The release was sold out in less than 24 hours of availability.
The song "Love Is a Lie" by Lion is featured in the film, but not on the soundtrack.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter opened on Friday, April 13, 1984, on 1,594 screens to weekend box office gross of $11,183,148; this was the sixth-highest of the year. The film would ultimately take in a total of $32,980,880 at the U.S. box office. It placed at number 26 on the list of the top-grossing films of 1984.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 25% of 24 film critics have given the film a positive review; the rating average is 4.2 out of 10. The film received what The Week characterized as "scathing reviews", especially from film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, with the latter considering the film "an immoral and reprehensible piece of trash". Scott Meslow summarized Roger Ebert's criticism as calling it "a cynical retread" of the earlier films. Meslow instead says that the film attempts to kill off the series while focusing more on characterization than gore. In a series retrospective, Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly ranked it the best Friday the 13th film, complimenting both its narrative and kills.