Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives [DVD]
Director : Tom McLoughlin
Screenplay : Tom McLoughlin
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1986
Stars : Thom Mathews (Tommy Jarvis), Jennifer Cooke (Megan Garris), David Kagen (Sheriff Garris), Kerry Noonan (Paula), Renée Jones (Sissy Baker), Tom Fridley (Cort), C.J. Graham (Jason Voorhees), Darcy DeMoss (Nikki)
It is rare that the sixth entry in a long-running franchise produces one of the series’ best films, but such is the case of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, which couldn’t be any different from its predecessor, the much maligned Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. Writer/director Tom McLoughlin beat the Scream movies to the punch by a decade with his use of self-reflexive humor to parody the very genre in which he’s working without undermining its effectiveness. While Jason Lives plays by most (but not all) of the rules of the Friday the 13th series, it has a tone all its own. Still gory and occasionally scary, Jason Lives is above all funny, a largely enjoyable near-spoof of slasher films in general and the Friday the 13th series in particular.
Completely disregarding the final shot of A New Beginning and aiming for a complete reboot of the series, Jason Lives opens with Tommy Jarvis (now played by Thom Matthews) racing out to the ironically named Eternal Peace cemetery to assure himself that the vengeful slasher Jason Voorhees, whom he killed as a child in the series’ fourth installment, is indeed dead. He even goes so far as to dig up Jason’s decomposing body with the idea of burning it, but a bolt of lightning strikes the corpse first, reanimating it and turning Jason into a supernaturally charged, relentlessly murderous zombie.
Like all the teenage heroes of ’50s sci-fi movies, Tommy’s hysterical warnings to the local police about Jason’s return fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, Jason’s old stomping grounds, Camp Crystal Lake, is reopening under the cheery title of Camp Forest Green. But, as Tommy tells the police, Jason will go back to what he knows, and what he knows is slaughtering sexually active camp counselors. Teaming up with the police chief’s aggressive daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), Tommy races to stop Jason before he kills everyone in sight.
While the basic narrative is yet another retread of the basic slasher set-up, McLoughlin takes advantages of the clichés and the stereotypes to have some fun. He reinvigorates the old material by refusing to take it too seriously, establishing the movie’s campy tone with an opening sequence that is a packed with shadowy Gothic images straight out of a ’30s horror film from Universal, which is followed by a title sequence that is a none-too-subtle parody of the iconic beginning of a James Bond movie.
From there, McLoughlin packs the screen and the characters’ dialogues with a litany of in-jokes and movie references, from Dirty Harry remarks, to an old general store bearing the name “Karloff,” to one-liners that would be at home in a Depression-era screwball comedy. Much of the best humor in Jason Lives comes from its references to itself, such as when the cemetery groundskeeper, a crotchety old alcoholic, discovers Jason’s disinterred grave and grumbles, “Why’d they have to go dig up Jason? Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment,” a wink-wink remark aimed directly at the audience. At times, the movie verges on outright slapstick, especially an early sequence involving a quartet of goofy business executives on a paintball retreat bumbling through the forest while parodic pseudo-military music plays on the soundtrack. Some of the visual jokes are more esoteric, such as a brief shot of a young camper sleeping in her bunk with a copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit open next to her, but most of it is designed to delight the audience in the know about Friday the 13th movies.
Granted, Jason Lives begins to sag a bit toward the end when McLoughlin drops most of the humor to concentrate on Tommy and Megan’s plan to put Jason back in his resting place at the bottom of Crystal--err, Forest Green--Lake. But, even when the movie is at its most hackneyed, it has an energy and vigor that most of the other movies in the series are studiously lacking.
|Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives Deluxe Edition DVD|
|Subtitles||English, French, Portuguese, Spanish|
|Distributor||Paramount Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||June 16, 2009|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|As with the previous “Deluxe Editions” of the Friday the 13th films, the new high-definition transfer and newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack on Friday the 13th Part VI are clear improvements over the earlier DVDs. Overall the transfer gives us a sharper and cleaner image, with slightly better color and stronger black levels that provide the usually murky night scenes with more definition and clarity. The 5.1 soundtrack is nicely balanced, with good surround work to enhance the ambient effects and the always memorably Jason theme music|
|The DVD of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives in the “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” boxset included an audio commentary by director Tom McLoughlin that doesn’t make a repeat appearance here, but there is a new commentary on this “Deluxe Edition” DVD by McLoughlin, editor Bruce Green, and actor Vincent Guastaferro (who played Deputy Rick). They have a good time reminiscing about the film’s production and offer a lot of great tidbits (Green’s barely disguised disgust with his experience working on Part V explains why he is not included on that commentary). Also included is “Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th Part VI,” a 13-minute retrospective featurette that includes interviews with McLoughlin, actors Bob Larkin, Nancy McLoughlin, and David Kagen, and make-up special effects gurus Gabe Bartalos and Chris Biggs. Fans of the series as a whole and this film in particular will enjoy “Meeting Mr. Voorhees,” a brief featurette introduced by McLoughlin that recreates his originally intended ending that would have introduced the character of Jason’s father via artwork by Crash Cunningham and voice-over by actor Bob Larkin. Fans will also be delighted by the inclusion of six minutes of “Slashed Scenes,” the vast majority of which feature gore effects that had to be excised for an R rating. There are 11 scenes total, but unfortunately they are presented in extremely low-res video that makes it difficult to see much detail (the original film elements must have been lost). The disc is rounded out by the third installment of the faux documentary series The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited, the sixth installment of the Lost Tales of Camp Blood series, and the original theatrical teaser trailer|
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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