Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Writer: Tom McLoughlin
Producer: Don Behrns
Stars: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, Renee Jones, Kerry Noonan, Darcy DeMoss, Tom Fridley, C.J. Graham
Tommy Jarvis¡¯ plan to exterminate Jason Voorhees once and for all inadvertently awakens the killer for a new slaughter spree.
¡°Jason Lives¡± usually wrestles with ¡°The Final Chapter¡± over which ¡°Friday the 13th¡± film earns the most fan favor. One can kind of see why, as in a certain sense ¡°Jason Lives¡± represents a pretty direct distillation of what the franchise is all about.
Responsible for establishing ¡°zombie¡± Jason, ¡°Friday the 13th Part VI¡± features an incarnation of the iconic killer that is a pure murder machine. He¡¯s no character. He¡¯s a conduit for carnage. ¡°Jason Lives¡± couldn¡¯t care less about continuity, much less meaningful motivations. Once the setup puts its pieces in place, the remainder of the movie cuts down the whole game board in a bloody machete slash focused almost exclusively on dropping bodies to the forest floor.
And that setup doesn¡¯t make a lick of sense. Unable to leave well enough alone, Tommy Jarvis has the dimwit idea to re-kill an already dead Jason Voorhees by digging up his grave, prying open his coffin, and cremating his decaying corpse. A compelling case can be made that Tommy is as much to blame for what happens next as Jason, maybe more so.
Jason¡¯s maggot-riddled body wasn¡¯t going anywhere. It is now, thanks to Tommy¡¯s Ahab urge to stab his Moby Dick with a metal pole from a nearby fence. Out of nowhere, a laughably well-timed, well-placed lightning bolt strikes the pole, somehow sending supernatural juice that jolts Jason into joining the ranks of the evil undead. On the list of all-time dumbest ways a dead horror movie character comes back to life, only Freddy Krueger¡¯s flaming dog piss resurrection ranks higher.
Writer/director Tom McLoughlin knows his story is silly, and that awareness becomes a recurring thorn cutting into the movie¡¯s clout. ¡°Jason Lives¡± is goofy to a fault with persistent meta humor about fright flick clich¨¦s and unsubtle sight gags that may as well include someone winking at the camera while a ¡°Debbie Downer¡± trumpet warbles. One or two touches to acknowledge being in on the dopiness would be fine. ¡°Friday the 13th Part VI¡± takes self-deprecation to a level where it seems McLoughlin may not take his movie seriously at all.
Not that there is a whole lot to be taken seriously. Among the major slasher series, ¡°Friday the 13th¡± has notoriously remained the most hollow on substance. In true ¡°Friday the 13th¡± fashion, this fifth sequel exemplifies that.
The wafer-thin core plotline involves Tommy trying to convince the sheriff of Crystal Lake, now renamed Forest Green, that he isn¡¯t crying wolf about Jason rising from his grave to start a new terror spree. In the mix are four counselors, one of whom takes a shine to Tommy, gearing to reopen the camp for a busload of kids.
There isn¡¯t much more to the premise than that. ¡°Jason Lives¡± never does more than it has to, as evidenced when Tommy briefly thumbs through a library book about occultism, subsequently concocting a plan to destroy his nemesis based on as much reasonable logic as Jason¡¯s lightning bolt rebirth. So to stretch the runtime to its requisite length while waiting for everyone to converge at the camp, ¡°Jason Lives¡± drops in random red shirts as machete fodder in a series of slaughter scenes almost entirely unrelated to anything else.
Weirdly, ¡°Jason Lives¡± has some of the better-developed characters in the series. Sheriff Garris and his daughter Megan in particular encounter complex, for horror movie heroes anyway, conflicts over picking a side in the ongoing ¡°is Tommy a lunatic?¡± debate. ¡°Part VI¡± doesn¡¯t have a Shelly or a Ginny who truly stands out, though it at least molds everyone from likable clay.
More weirdly, particularly for a property known for its creative kills, the deaths don¡¯t have nearly as much personality as the people. Jason even repeats straightforward stabs from the metal pole or his machete for mediocre murders, a majority of which don¡¯t even occur on camera. ¡°Friday the 13ths¡± are meant to get a lot of mileage out of this material, meaning ¡°Part VI¡± ends up escorting audiences on a fairly short trip.
The film nevertheless lands as a relatively strong entry in the franchise for its no frills approach to having just two elements in use: Jason and victims, nothing more, nothing less. However, that doesn¡¯t necessarily even it out as a strong scary movie overall. ¡°Jason Lives¡± is too jokey for unadulterated horror tastes and too underdeveloped for sophisticated satisfaction. But hey, if all a ¡°Friday the 13th¡± fan wants is Jason turning wayward campers, corporate retreaters, a canoodling couple, and a drunk cemetery caretaker into mulch, albeit somewhat plainly, ¡°Jason Lives¡± certainly has that in spades.
PS: Who paid for Jason Voorhees to have a headstone?
Review Score: 65
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