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John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), introducing zombie Jason to more camp counselors and some of the most fun death scenes of the franchise so far.

November 11, 2017


MY CALL:  Perhaps my favorite (meaning most rewatchable) in the series so far, just behind Friday the 13th Parts IV-V. So far, I’d rank the films (most to least rewatchable) as 6-4-5-2-1-3.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th Part VIObviously, Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) for sure.  Sadly, I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story continuity (it didn’t impress me at all, but many seem to highly favor it), but part IV: The Final Chapter (1984) and part V: A New Beginning (1985) were both quite redeeming.  For more classic ‘early modern’ slashers one should venture A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Burning (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Part 5 SIDEBAR:  Yup, Jason keeps getting “almost, sort of, nearly killed” and then keeps coming back alive and well like Wolverine.  Part IV ends after 12-year old Tommy (Corey Feldman; Friday the 13th Parts IV-V, The Lost Boys, Gremlins) killing Jason.  Likewise, part V ends with Tommy (now 17 or 18) (John Shepherd; Bless the Child) killing the Jason Voorhees copycat and gazing understandingly at the famed hockey mask. Yes.  In part V (and since the end of part IV), Jason Voorhees was, in fact, actually dead!  As for the timeline, part 1 took place in “present day” (1980), part 2 was 5 years later (so 1985), part III continued “the next day” (also 1985), and part IV took place in 1985 immediately after the events of part III starting with Jason in the hospital morgue (a la Halloween II).  Bucking the trend, part V jumped forward 5-6 years (so 1990-1991-ish).  Now, probably more of a writing flaw than anything, part VI takes us questionably about 10 years yet further into the future (soooo, 2001…?) since the actor playing the notably older Tommy was 28 at the time and no specific mention of his age comes into play.

In this third and final installment of the Tommy Jarvis story arc (i.e., parts IV-VI), we open in a graveyard to find the now-adult Tommy (Thom Mathews; The Return of the Living Dead I-II) unearthing Jason Voorhees to assure himself that the murderer is truly, in fact, dead.  Upon discovering the muck-slathered worm farm of Jason’s remains, a lightning strike actually resurrects the Crystal Lake killer into an undead monster.  And then, in a display of gory delight, that monster punches through a man’s chest with his hand holding the heart outside of the torso!  This was the most exciting opening sequence of the franchise so far—and it sets the stage for this fun movie!

Some members of the cast you may recognize include Ron Palillo (Hellgate), Jennifer Cooke (V), Darcy DeMoss (Sharknado 3), Renée Jones (The Terror Within II), Tony Goldwyn (The Belko Experiment, The Last House on the Left), Vincent Guastaferro (Shocker) and Matthew Faison (Freddy’s Dead, Puppet Master III).

Well after seeing Jason rise from the dead, Tommy is (understandably) frantic.  Of course, no one believes the guy who impersonated and massacred a serial killer and then spent half his life in mental wards screaming “Jason is alive…he’s more powerful now!”  No, sir.  Camp Crystal Lake and its town of the same name have changed their name to Forest Green to ease forgetting about all the grisly murders of decades past.

BIGGER, BADDER SEQUELS:  Jason just kept getting bigger, didn’t he?  Part VI’s Jason (C.J. Graham, 6’3”; Highway to Hell) is often shot with some camera angles making him look a gigantic 7’+ (e.g., the 2nd death scene).  In part V, our killer (Tom Morga; Halloween 4: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) was only 6’2”—however, he seemed bigger because the latex mask made his head look HUGE.  Likewise Ted White (6’4”; Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, The Hidden, Demonoid: Messenger of Death) followed Richard Brooker (6’3”; Friday the 13th Part III, Deathstalker), Warrington Gillette (6’1”; Friday the 13th Part 2), and “the boy in the lake” (Ari Lehman, 5’11”; The Barn, Friday the 13th).  No complaints about it—just an observation.

Whereas parts III-V punished seemingly random lakeside vacationers or residents who just happen to be in Jason’s cursed habitat, part VI returns to its roots of punishing the staff of Camp Crystal Lake (now Camp Forest Green).  Written and directed by Tom McLoughlin (Friday’s Curse), this was actually the first movie in the series to actually feature the kid campers and our first franchise appearance of a truly undead Jason.

Embracing his supernatural status, Jason is really enjoying his “fast walk.” No need to run any more—although his copycat killer wasn’t running in part V either, this is the first time “Jason” takes his time.  He’s in no rush to reach his victims, he doesn’t try to avoid being hurt (like, at all), and not even upwards of 20 bullets are going to stop him (far more and of greater average caliber than anything Myers endured in a Halloween movie).  Not only that, zombie Jason enjoys the same antics he did when he was very much alive.  He still likes to burst through splintered doors and ambush people from the water; he still likes his machete and uses it far more often than his hands, playing darts or improvised spears; and he still modestly hides his ugly undead face behind a mask.

Campy SIDEBAR: I felt that part III was incredibly hokey and parts IV-V were VERY campy (in this case, raunchy) in showing the breasts of nearly the entire female cast.  Quite to the contrary, part VI isn’t really campy at all (in the hokey or raunchy sense).  Outside of a clothes-on sex scene (and no nudity at all), this may be the least campy movie of the franchise.  I don’t even recall any profanity.  I’d call it the most “family-friendly” of the series were it not for about 18 grisly murders. LOL

I love these movies in general, but (assuming Jason can “enjoy” anything) Jason seems to have a lot more fun in this one!  The gore-o-meter is higher than ever.  After that spectacular chest/heart punch death scene, Jason (with his lightning rod fence post) spears a man and flings his body over his shoulder, squishes heads, cuts through multiple victims at once, and twists heads off with spinning neck breaks.  He even makes a metal imprint of a victim’s face (as the frying pan gag in a Bugs Bunny cartoon) and back-breaks the sheriff (probably inspiring Toby’s back-breaker in Paranormal Activity 3).  Parts IV-V were wonderfully fun to watch.  And while I may not quite call this one my new favorite (so far, in terms of story or overall quality), I feel it does boast the best combination or gore and death scenes—making it highly rewatchable.

This sequel completes the story arc of Tommy Jarvis from his childhood trauma, his late troubled teen years and into his late twenties.  Admittedly, the story gets a little sloppy (e.g., discrepancies between Jason’s purported cremation in parts V-VI).  But it rounds out a story with focal characters worthy of comparison to A Nightmare on Elm Street 1/3/7 (Nancy/Heather), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3-5 (Kristen 3-4, Alice 4-5), Hellraiser I-II (Kirsty), or Halloween 1-2/7-8 (Laurie).

Part IV was previously my favorite sequel, with part V is right behind it as my second favorite (so far) in terms of fun factor and rewatchability.  But with the solid death scene and gore quality along with the alchemically enhanced fun of an undead killer, part VI may now get my vote for the most rewatchable of the franchise (so far).

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2017 9:06 am

    This is one of my favourite Friday 13th sequels as well, I really like how Jason is resurrected in this film, and there are some really inventive deaths for his hapless victims. Really good and rewatchable horror film!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 11, 2017 11:31 am

      Oh, yeah. I didn’t really think about it until just now, but that resurrection–however irrational or ill-explained–was wonderful!!! Great scene and solid effects for the 80s, ushering us into the supernatural Jason era. Also a solid few nods to Frankenstein in the movie.

      • November 12, 2017 9:49 am

        Exactly, this Friday the 13th Film was something very special, and I think the effects were really good in this one as well – especially for this era.

  2. Bret permalink
    November 11, 2017 7:42 pm

    Wonderfully review.
    *update ranking*
    6,4,1,3,2,5.
    C.J. Graham in my opinion is the 2nd best actor to play Jason as he displays the Jason Voorhees trates (quick turns, speed walk, jump scares).

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 11, 2017 9:18 pm

      V’s Jason copycat was very good, but not yet modernly on point. VI’s guy nailed that powerful walk. Looking forward to Hodder in VII.

  3. November 12, 2017 9:05 pm

    This one is about average for me (I tend to prefer less humor and more horror in a horror movie, with exceptions). That said, it was necessary at the time. There’s no way the producers could have come back with a sixth movie and not introduced an element of self-parody.

    If you’re wondering (you’re not), I rank the original paramount series this way: 1, 4, 2, 7, 3, 6, 8, 5, though the four in the middle are almost interchangeable for me as far as how much I enjoy them. 8 and 5 are really the only two that border on dislike.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 12, 2017 10:19 pm

      I ALWAYS wonder how people rank them. It’s a playful curiosity. I actually love VIII, but find 1-2 boring (now, today) yet highly important (despite all the borrowed elements from their predecessors). They did wonders for slasher movies.

      • November 14, 2017 8:30 pm

        Sometimes I marvel at the amount of thought and conversation that has been expended on this trashy little franchise. Multiple books, two major documentaries, and countless blogs and tweets and FB posts. Like, I know they’re cinematic garbage, but I’ve owned them all on VHS, then DVD, and now Blu ray. Inexplicable.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      November 14, 2017 10:13 pm

      Because, despite being garbage…they’re phenomenal. lol

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