Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

(1986) ****

“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)


I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

ack! choking...on...eighties...

JPX said...

Don't you knock the 80s!

Summerisle said...

As a general rule, I don't care for 80's horror because the whole route-for-the-badguy thing really took on a life of its own and goes against the most fundamental rule of horror - scariness.

Summerisle said...

I can't spelll today

I'mnotMarcbutmyboyfriendis said...

yknow, i just had lunch with octo and he had a few moments of not being able to talk properly.

maybe that's what happens when you go to a paul stanley concert. hmmmm?

Summerisle said...

Yes, seeing the Star Child first-hand is an incredibly draining experience. That and the jack and cokes...

Summerisle said...

I loved that 3D poster! I used to stare at that thing for hours on end.

Octopunk said...

I’ve held this one as my favorite since it came out, and gave it three and a half stars when I reviewed it last year. But it’s true what JPX says about one’s favorite shifting around, since mine shifted from part VI to part IV when I revisited the series. Who knows? Maybe next time I’ll like the pillowcase Jason the best.

“the whole route-for-the-badguy thing really took on a life of its own and goes against the most fundamental rule of horror - scariness.”

That’s an interesting point. I often take the slasher movies’ half-assed attempts to characterize the victims at face value, i.e. they want us to actually like these people, they just don’t have the writing chops. Then I blame the lack of genuine fright on that other nemesis of scary –- ill-fitting humor. But really, it takes a village to make a crappy horror movie.

That means the recent trend of actually making likeable characters is yet another thing to be encouraged about.

Summerisle said...

If he's unkillable, why would he need a hockey mask (or pillow case) to protect his face? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would be ashamed of his grotesque face.