Saturday, May 5, 2007

Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Director: Tom McLoughlin

Finally!! Six films in, and Jason finally becomes what we all know and love him as -- an unstoppable zombie with a thirst for blood. Until now he’s either been a bumbling oaf, an elderly woman, or some doofus who just went bat-shit insane. He’s risen from the dead, and isn’t concerned with who gets in his way - in fact he's even going out of his way in some cases. He just wants to kill. He’s gained super-human killing abilities, and operates much like a brutish James Bond (hence the “Bond-esque” intro). This is the “self ware” entry in the series, where we get a few winks at the camera, assuring us that they knew what they were doing… or at least they THOUGHT they knew what they were doing.

Tommy number three (played this time around by Thom Mathews) attempts to destroy Jason once and for all, unwittingly reviving him. Who would have thought that all it takes to bring someone back to life was a little electricity? Now we’re off to the races. It begins with Tommy and Horshack driving to Jason’s grave to make sure he won’t be coming back. Just ignore the fact that Tommy was poised to kill a woman at the end of the last film, while wearing the hockey mask. I guess we're to assume that was a one shot deal, and he decided on an alternate career path. Anyway, after digging Jason up, they plunge a metal pole through his chest. Needless to say it's storming outside, and that pole acts as a lightning rod. Now they’re screwed. Jason apparently is similar to a car battery, and all it takes is a little jump, and he's up and running. Jason lives -- finally, an accurate title. Jason plunges his arm through Horshack’s chest, and his hand comes out the other side with a heart in his grasp -- this is what we paid for. Tommy escapes, and runs to the Sheriff. We also find out Crystal Lake has changed its name to "Forrest Green" to avoid association with the murders. Tommy is locked up for acting nutty (an arrestable offense in Forrest Green), and Jason is free to do what he does best.

Meanwhile, Camp Crystal Lake is being populated by more counselors, and a group of youngsters. It’s apparently “Comic Relief Camp,” since the tweens are adept at making ironic commentary as the gruesome events unfold. The cast of counselors is, again, back to their fugly roots. I guess they couldn’t afford to hire an attractive cast, since they blew their budget on the elaborate death scenes; a balancing act every young Friday the 13th director must grapple with. In any event, it’s only a matter of time before Jason unleashes his wrath on these unlucky contestants. In the meantime, Tommy has been released, and then captured and then released and captured again by the standard clueless Sheriff. The Sheriff also has an annoying daughter named Megan (played by Jennifer Cooke), who falls in love with Tommy while he’s behind bars. The two of them engage in a prison break and subsequent car chase that’s like something out of “Smokey and the Bandit.” Tommy has a plan, though. I have a feeling he was making it up as he went, but I guess Jason has to be killed in the lake where he originally drowned…just go with it. If Tommy's all of a sudden such an expert in "Jason-ology", then why did he bring him to life in the first place? Didn't it say in one of his handy dandy text books he carts around not to plunge rods into a corpses' chest in the middle of a lightning storm? You'd think that would be the first chapter. Maybe he just skimmed it. Tommy doesn't look like the "reading" type.

The scenes with Jason terrorizing the camp are the most effective. There are a good number of scenes where Jason just appears in a window, or off in the distance. Now he’s a force to be reckoned with. He pulls off one counselor's head, and tosses one out a window, before dragging her back in; he’s not letting her off the hook that easily. Jason also dispatches the couple who has sex in a camper. Apparently Jason saw it rockin’, and went a-knockin’. The girl gets an impression made in the side of the camper with her face, and the guy gets a knife to the side of the head while driving. The camper crashes and erupts in flames, giving Jason an opportunity to stand triumphantly atop it for a few seconds and revel in his victory. There’s also a goofy scene involving a group of paintball enthusiasts in the woods. They run around like the three stooges, before meeting their well deserved fates. Finally, Jason and Tommy converge on Camp Crystal lake. Tommy plans to lasso Jason with a chain tied to a boulder, and drown him in the middle of the lake. Before he can do that though, Jason must take out the cops. He helps the Sheriff to perform backwards toe-touches, one cop gets his head crushed, and another cop gets a spike to the head. Jason’s aim is now at the top of its form, and he’s also sporting a nifty Batman inspired utility belt with an endless supply of killing tools. Jason then bursts through the door of one of the cabins in a classic shot, as the kids flee in terror (Probably my favorite scene in all the Jason flicks). Just then, Tommy finally gets around to luring Jason out onto the lake. He calls to him from his boat, floating precariously in the middle of Crystal Lake. Of course Jason falls for it, and begins to advance on him. Right before he has an opportunity to get the chain around Jason’s neck, Jason disappears under the surface; only to spring up and attack him. Tommy finally gets the chain around his neck, and Jason sinks to the bottom. He grabs Tommy, and they begin to battle underwater. Now Jason's as weak as a kitten for some reason, and Tommy becomes a formidable match. Megan dives in after it appears Tommy didn’t make it out alive. She rescues him, but Jason grabs her by the leg. She then uses the boat’s outboard motor to give Jason a new haircut. Tommy’s revived on land, and the children erupt in cheers. Tommy's last line of "It's over," is immediately undercut by the last scene, where we see Jason's eyes open as he floats along the bottom of the lake. We’re also rewarded with an end theme song sung by Alice Cooper. You’ll have to hear it to believe it. They just don’t make movies like this anymore.

Ultimately, this film should be considered a step up from the last few films of the series, although that’s not saying much. It's a worthy and integral addition to the series, let's put it that way. Jason has finally become an effective killing machine, and he looks the part. There are more plot holes than deaths in this movie, but it’s still entertaining. If you let them slide on the lack of nudity and attractive girls, the elements are all there for your enjoyment, you sick-o. It would appear Jason is on the up swing of his franchise, and all it took was to be revived from the dead -- take note has-beens.

Best Death:
Chick gets her head dented into the side of a camper.

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