FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON...
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Jennifer C. Cooke
Darcy de Moss
What's it about
Well, I mean, it’s a Friday the 13th film. Figure it out.
Is it good movie?
Jason Lives is director Tom McLoughlin’s second film, after his more effective debut One Dark Night. He attempts to do two things with his mid-point entry in a series that was even tired 23 years ago: 1) give it a strong Universal monster movie feel and 2) wink at the audience, and copiously. He achieves both goals, but only the latter works in the movie. The former is just too sophisticated an effort for the lean concept of an F13 film. But McLoughlin gets an A for effort, and I so enjoyed the Easter eggs strewn throughout the proceedings, to be picked up and marveled at by astute genre fans, that I ultimately ended up giving the film a higher rating than it specifically deserves.
Right off the bat, we have Jason’s resurrection: Tommy Jarvis (essayed this time by ROTLD’s Thom Matthews) brings along a friend (Ron Palilo!) from the institution he was only recently released from, after being extremely mentally traumatized by witnessing his family’s slaughter at the hands of the hockey-masked one. He shows his inimitable intelligence by digging up Jason’s grave and jaming a metal fence post into his chest, which acts as a lightning rod (for two bolts!), returning the brutal automaton to life. Never-minding who gave Jason a Christian burial and sprang for his carved headstone in the first place, this resurrection is ridiculous to the point where I hoped it would turn out to be a dream sequence.
No such luck. Jason proceeds to go on his usual killing rampage, Tommy tries to warn the police, who instead think he is the killer, and the pretty sheriff’s daughter inexplicably believes Tommy and risks life and limb to help him. It is all pretty standard stuff, though I will say a decision was made to eschew female nudity altogether. A strange tack to take for a franchise with a reputation as much for boobs as for blood. But anyway. Jason stalks around like a pissed off Mummy/Creature/Wolfman type guy, maiming people in as inventive ways as the MPAA will allow him to, while the other characters spew forth really funny lines, like “Some people have a strange idea of entertainment” and “Some adults think it is fun to be scared”.
On the subject of the Easter eggs I mentioned, in addition to the lines of dialog aimed directly at the audience, we have: a garage/convenience store named Karloff’s, a young girl, the intended innocent heart of the film, being named Nancy, and one of the preteen campers being seen reading Jean-Paul Sarte’s No Exit (with a quick cut from the book cover to a hamster running doggedly and futilely around and around in his wheel), and my favorite, the title credit being a hilarious goof on the infamous 007 title credit device. These things, along with the nicely cartoonish killing segments (a conscious decision on McLoughlin’s part) are enough to elevate what would be an otherwise aimless and workaday slasher film to something that goes down pretty good with a few beers.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 TVs. One look at the weird “kill montage” in the special features will show you how cleaned up this transfer is. Looks better than the content calls for.
Audio: You have the choice of your basic Dolby Digital Surround channels, both 5.1 and 2.0, with optional English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitles. I guess this franchise is big in Portugal.
Cast and Crew Commentary: Director McLoughlin, editor Bruce Green, and actor Vincent Guastaferro provide an informative and entertaining commentary, even if they take the movie a little more seriously than it merits.
Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 6: I will assume that this is a serial broken up amongst the discs, with the entire set needed for the proper chronology. It is just a couple of minutes of a hospital patient being chased through the woods by a non-Jason killer-type wielding a machete. Unless you have the whole set, this webisode looking thing ain’t gonna do much for ya.
The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part III: Not sure why it is part III on disc VI, but there you go. This is a pseudo-documentary full of fake interviews basically giving the once-over of the proceedings in the film. It smartly continues the tongue-in-cheek audience-winking vibe that the film itself has. Also, observant viewers will notice an interviewed mental patient listed as Dukey Flyswatter. This is the same moniker credited as the voice actor for the Imp in David DeCoteau's Linnea Quigley-starring 80's b-movie gem Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-A-Rama.
Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th Part VI: This is more of a straight interview piece intercut with clips from the movie than an actual making of piece, but it still contains some tasty stories and bits of trivia.
Meeting Mr. Voorhees: This is an animatic of what McLoughlin wanted as the final scene in the film, which ultimately got scrapped: namely, the introduction of Jason’s father. Personally, I think it would have felt tacked-on and anticlimactic.
Slashed Scenes: A 3 minutes of extended kill scenes.
Original Theatrical Trailer: This is really a teaser, not a trailer. Until the title came up, I would have sworn it was for Return of the Living Dead.
The disc also contains a trailer for The Uninvited. *yawn*
Jason Lives is saved from being a middle-of-the-road F13 effort by the winks to the audience and the attempt at more sophistication than the franchise can effectively handle, but it is still not a film that will take up more than a quarter of your available brain power. If you’re already a fan of Mr. Voorhees, by all means fire up some popcorn and enjoy this rather good-looking print. If you’re not, well, there might not be much here for you. The extras are fun, but not terribly earth-shattering.