Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) is all grown up and looking to put Jason to rest once and for all. He heads out to the cemetery with his pal Horshack to cremate Jason’s body but in the process has a bit of a freakout and stabs his carcass with a big metal pole. Lightning strikes and it naturally brings Old Hockey Face back to life. (Frankenstein rules are in effect.) Because Jason is a maggot-faced zombie, he has superhuman strength and can’t be killed. Tommy’s solution? Chain that sucker to a big fucking rock and leave his ass floating in
Director Tom McLoughlin imbues the movie with a sense of fun that has not been rivaled before or since in a Jason movie. Some have argued that Jason “jumped the shark” when he became a zombie but in the confines of the movie it works incredibly well. After not being in the last movie (except for a brief dreamlike cameo), it was good to finally have Jason back. The fact that he was zombified and possessed superhuman strength amped up the carnage he was able to create.
I mean hearts get ripped out, metal posts are shoved through the stomachs and faces, arm and legs are ripped off, broken whiskey bottles get put into people’s throats, faces are put through walls, knives get stuck into skulls, heads are twisted off, spikes are thrown into faces, and heads are crushed. Jason also gets two people at the same time with the same machete while they straddle a motorcycle and beheads three paintball playing jackasses with one swoop of his trusty machete. My favorite kill was when Jason folded up the sheriff like a lawn chair. People usually complain that this entry is bloodless but there is enough gruesome stuff here to please any die hard Jason fan.
While I prefer the Mongoloid Jason of Parts 2-4 (I’m not counting Part 5 because that featured JINO, Jason in Name Only), there is nothing wrong with a super-strong Zombie Jason. Everybody has their favorite version of a beloved character. No one is “right” or “wrong”; it’s just a matter of preference. It’s just like when Roger Moore took over for Sean Connery as James Bond. To some people, Connery will always be Bond while others enjoy the more humorous aspects that
McLoughlin also plays with the conventions of the series a bit. Like how he cannily shows you what Jason looks like right at the beginning so you don’t have to wait 90 minutes to see his face. Since we already know what the fool looks like from the get-go, the movie can get down to business.
In addition to foiling our expectations, McLoughlin also tosses more intentional humor into the mix which gives the flick a kind of rollercoaster momentum. Let’s face it, Jason Lives was self-referential a full decade before Scream made it hip. When confronted by Jason, one victim remarks, “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly!” I think the best line came from the caretaker who looks directly at the camera and says, “Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment!”
The intentional humor works well because it’s never at Jason’s expense. The exception is the one scene where he rips off a dude’s arm and looks at it funny. That’s fine though because Jason was still getting used to his superhuman strength at this point so he had every right to be like, “Oh shit, I just ripped this guy’s arm off! Tight!”
McLoughlin also does little things no one has ever tried to do in a Jason movie. For example, this is the only Jason flick where kids actually come to the summer camp! You already know Jason won’t kill the little kiddies, but it sorta ups the stakes a bit. I even liked how McLoughlin acknowledged that the town of
Thom Mathews gives a great performance as Tommy and does old Corey Feldman proud. He’s deadly serious and commands the screen with authority. This flick is great to watch back-to-back with Return of the Living Dead as a Mathews Meets the Undead Double Feature. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Darcy DeMoss (who plays the chick who gets her face pushed through the wall) previously appeared in the series in Part 4. She was one of the chicks in the aerobicise video the coroner watched before he got killed.
Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives unfortunately features no boobies. Now this is something that I’d probably take an Half Star off for under normal circumstances. There is of course The Video Vacuum rule that states that any movie I’ve seen more than ten times automatically gets Four Stars. Since I’ve seen this flick well over a dozen times, I can’t bear to give the film any less than Four Stars.
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