“Four stars!” you ask? Before you get your panties in a bunch let me clarify this seemingly non-deserved rating. As a whole I would rate the Friday the 13th series as a **1/2, with a low of ½ star for Jason X. The four star rating is for the film within this series, not how it stacks up against other horror films, which would earn it a three-star rating at most. I’ve watched all the Friday films countless times for Horrorthon and over time my favorite has changed. For many years it was Friday the 13th Part III, in 3D. In fact, I had this gear poster in my bedroom during the 80s,
At times I’ve also considered Part IV to be the best because Jason finally bites it at the hands of creepy, bald Corey Feldman,
For God knows what reason, Summerisle has always been partial to Part II, where Jason sports a reeeeeeeeealy scaaaaaaaaaary (not) potato sack for a mask. I mean come on, is this scary?
Anyhoo, I’ve recently concluded that Part VI is my favorite.
A bit of history for those not in the know (i.e., cool people); at the end of Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, Jason is killed. In fact the director ensured that Jason wasn’t coming back by giving him the mother of all headaches with a machete slicing his face in half (see above photo). In Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, Jason is back, or is he? No, not really. At the end of the film we learn that “Jason” was just a disgruntled paramedic, yawn. Things looked pretty bleak for the now-long-in-the-tooth horror film series. It was finally decided to bring Jason back for another installment, the “real” Jason. Part VI pretends that Part V never existed and is a direct sequel to Part IV.
In Jason Lives, years have gone by and Tommy (Corey Feldman in Part IV) is older and suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (well wouldn’t you?). As the film begins, Tommy drags poor, protesting Arnold Horshack to the graveyard to defile Jason’s grave. After digging up Jason’s corpse during a lightening storm and stabbing it repeatedly with a metal rod from the graveyard’s fence, Tommy is just as surprised as the rest of us (I wasn’t surprised) when a lightening bolt strikes the metal rod, which is conveniently still puncturing Jason’s maggot-ridden corpse. Long story short, Jason’s back. His first act after such long slumber? Killing Tommy? Nope. Killing poor Arnold Horshack of course!
Although Tommy attempts to inform the police that Jason’s back, they summarily dismiss his rantings as those of a crazy person. Meanwhile the body count grows as Jason does what Jason does best, kill with detached ennui (wait just a gosh-darn minute, where have I heard that before?).
That’s pretty much the plot. If you’ve every seen a Friday the 13th flick, you get the gist. While I watched it this time I took notes on the 14 killings,
Jason rips Horshack’s heart out (good)
Spear through the chest (meh)
Spear through head (yawn)
Arm ripped off (yes!)
Triple decapitation (woo-hoo!)
Broken bottle to neck (zzzzzz)
Machete through 2 people sitting on motorcycle (nice!)
Face pushed into metal wall in camper leaving imprint on other side (my favorite)
Knife in ear (gross)
Head turned around (it’s been done before)
Thrown through a window (boring)
Knife throughout forehead (ouch)
Head squeezed to death (unnecessary)
Bent in half (yes!)
Jason Lives is my fave because it’s the only film in the franchise that doesn’t have a gimmick going for it, its just Jason doing his kill-thang. In the original Friday the 13th, Jason’s really not even in the film; in Part II he wears, get this, a potato sack!; in Part III the gimmick is 3D, in Part IV the gimmick is his death; Part V is all about a fake Jason; in Part VII the gimmick is Jason vs. a telekinetic chick; Part VIII (eventually) brings Jason to Canada…er…Manhattan; in Jason Goes to Hell only Jason’s “evil” is in the film (so sucky), in Jason X he’s in outer space, and in Freddy vs. Jason, well, you know. Additionally, in Jason Lives the director wisely injects some humor into the script, giving the characters awareness of Jason’s history. At one point, while staring at Jason in the middle of the road, a character says to her husband, “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly”. It’s little touches like this that make this my favorite film in the series.
Don’t worry, in the end Jason gets his,
And as if there's not already enough reasons to love this film, we get the sweet Alice Cooper song, “He’s Back (the man behind the mask)” during the closing credits. Check it out here, it’s catchy, I promise!
He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)