July 13th, 2012: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Cast and Crew: Harry Manfredini (Score); Alice Cooper (“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)”); Ron Palillo

What It’s About: Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), troubled by nightmares ever since he killed Jason Voorhees (C.J. Graham), decides to dig up the body to be sure Jason is really dead.  Unfortunately for everyone, Tommy accidentally revives Crystal Lake’s least favorite son when the fence rail he’s mutilating Jason’s corpse with gets struck by lightning.  Can Tommy find a way to kill Jason for good?

Why Watch it Today?: Today is Friday the 13th, and we’ve already selected Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2. Why skip all the way ahead to Part VI? Quite frankly because it’s the next best option. Part III is only bearable in 3D on a huge screen with a game audience.  Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter only has a vain promise of an end to all of this, Crispin Glover dancing like an ass, and Corey Feldman to recommend it.  Friday the 13th: A New Beginning goes beyond so-bad-it’s-good into the kind of surreal, stream of consciousness, “let’s get to as many money shots as quickly as possible” bad that only a former porn director could bring us (actually, it might make Movie of the Day yet).

Friday the 13th Part VI is to the Friday the 13th series as Return of the Living Dead is to Night of the Living Dead, only the satire isn’t very sharp nor is the humor anywhere near as black, but then again Friday the 13th is no Night of the Living Dead. Jason Lives does what the Friday series has always done: apes whatever is bringing in the horror fans’ dollars in any given year. The original Friday the 13th reduced Halloween to its most easily stolen parts (on a date with supernatural folkloric connotations teens/young adults get murdered one by one for reasons that relate to a past tragedy that comes right out of urban legends and camp fire tales), while taking it’s kills straight from Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood aka Twitch of the Death Nerve. Friday the 13th Part VI seeks to do the same to the mid 80s mini-wave of self-aware horror comedies which included films like Return of the Living Dead and Fright Night. The result is a Friday the 13th as random as anything else in the series (lightning ressurections of rotting corpses?) and which sacrifices the grittier feel of the early entries for jokes that hit as often as they miss. The approach works better than one would expect it to, making Jason Lives one of the better entries in the series (to damn it with faint praise). There’s also some half-baked supernatural elements (and a theme song with a video for MTV), because, hey, if it’s good enough for the Nightmare on Elm Street series….

Where to Get It: Amazon and iTunes; Netflix

(The fact that this trailer creeped me out as a kid, as did the descriptions of the basic plot delivered to me by my cousins whose mother’s policies about watching horror films were far more lenient than those of my own parents has nothing to do with this being today’s choice. Nothing.)

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