By Anthony Crabtree
“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives”
Last year I began collecting all of the “Friday the 13th” films and decided that I absolutely must have the slipcases for all of the deluxe edition DVD releases. For those who are unfamiliar with the slipcases, they are very cool and you should hunt at least one down if you’re a fan of the franchise. I won’t bother describing them, because no matter how hard I try it will never do these fine cases justice. Anyway, in pursuit of these slipcases, I had to e-mail many eBay and Amazon sellers asking if the slipcase came with the copy they were selling. For the release of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” I did not realize that I had e-mailed a Canadian seller about the case. He answered that yes, it came with the slipcase, and I quickly ordered it. It had not occurred to me that the case would be bilingual due to the fact that it was a Canadian release. Is this a problem? Certainly not! It’s a bonus! So, I now present my Slasher Summer Camp review of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” or as my case also refers to it, “Vendredi 13 Chapitre VI: Jason Le Mort-Vivant.”
“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” written and directed by Tom McLoughlin, 86 minutes.
For those unfamiliar with the “Friday the 13th” series, let me briefly catch you up. Jason drowned in Camp Crystal Lake as a child because of the negligence of the camp counselors. His mother tried to avenge his death by murdering the counselors who worked at Camp Crystal Lake, but ultimately died in the process. Since his mother died, Jason has picked up where she left off and continues to murder camp counselors. Keep in mind that Jason “dies” in just about every film, but manages to be resurrected. This, the sixth part in the series, continues with the murdering of camp counselors.
From the start of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” it’s clear that writer-director Tom McLoughlin had a completely different vision of what Jason should be than any other filmmaker who had previously worked with the series. Combining humor with horror, this is the first (but certainly not the last) time that the “Friday the 13th” series had fun at its own expense. The plot focuses on Tommy Jarvis, who has tangled with Jason in parts IV and V. In part IV, he was played by the immortal Corey Feldman, and that will forever be the Tommy Jarvis that this reviewer remembers. Thom Mathews steps into the role this time around and does a serviceable job.
Tommy Jarvis and his buddy Hawkes have just been released from a mental institution. The first thing they decide to do? Drive to the cemetery where Jason is buried and burn his corpse. After digging the corpse up, Tommy is reminded of the horrible times he and Jason have had together and goes nuts. Tommy somehow manages to break a piece of a metal gate off and begins stabbing Jason’s corpse with it. After many stabs, Tommy turns around to get the gasoline, but just as he turns around lightning strikes the metal pole that was left inside the corpse. This, naturally, resurrects Jason, who is now more powerful than ever.
This scene ranks up there as one of the best scenes in “Friday the 13th” history. McLoughlin approaches Jason and his surroundings with a gothic touch, reminiscent of old Universal or Hammer films. It’s summer, yet we have dead leaves on the ground scuttling about. There’s lightning in the air and the cemetery that Jason has been buried in looks old and rustic. The vision here is unlike any other scene in a “Friday the 13th” film, and it works. It creates a legendary idea of Jason Voorhees that no other film has ever managed to capture and places Voorhees up there with classic monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula. It’s all changed, though, as we zoom into Jason’s eye and he walks out a la James Bond and slashes into the title. The title then bleeds across the screen. Yes, after the successful and stylistic introduction, the film decides it wants to be a comedy.
One of the film’s major problems is that it has difficulty focusing on what it wants to be. It’s clear that McLoughlin wanted a comedic feel because the idea of Jason and his murderous adventures is ridiculous to begin with. The way that the writer-director works in some hilarious dialogue is too good to be missed. There is one scene in particular where the caretaker of the cemetery states, as he’s looking at the camera, “Why’d they have to go dig up Jason? Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment.” This line is what some would call “meta,” or as we referred to it in my day, self-referential.
With that said, McLoughlin also wants to approach “Jason Lives” as a traditional horror movie. Many times the humor falls to the wayside and the film is just about camp counselors getting murdered. And sometimes this leads to random scenes of killing that connect in no way to the film. A great example of this is about 20 minutes in when a group of executives are shown playing paintball. Over the course of 10 minutes, Jason murders them all. They are never referenced again or talked about.
The film has a random nature about it, and unfortunately while it’s enjoyable, it doesn’t all come together to make a cohesive story.
The film does work if you don’t take it or “Friday the 13th” series seriously. All of the “Friday the 13th” films are in some way enjoyable (save for maybe “Jason Goes to Hell”), and I appreciate that this film aims to be different. It’s self-referential, self deprecating, and sometimes actually witty. If you want to see Jason go on a random killing spree (which is essentially all caused by our hero Tommy Jarvis) and have a few laughs while watching it, then this is the “Friday the 13th” film for you.
Grade: B –
Instead of watching the trailer, let’s take a look at a live performance of Alice Cooper’s “Teenage Frankenstein,” which is featured in “Jason Lives.”