Back from the Dead: Friday the 13th Part VI and the Resurrection of Jason

After the complete debacle that was Part V, Jason Voorhees is back and better than ever in Part VI of the Friday the 13th film series. This time it’s Jason vs Tommy Jarvis-Round Two. The action begins when Tommy and the guy that played Horshack (Ron Palillo) on “Welcome Back, Kotter“ try to dig up Jason so they can cremate him and end his reign of terror once and for all. One bolt of lightning later and our favorite rotting corpse serial killer is alive once more. It’s up to Tommy and the local sheriff’s daughter to find a way to put a stop to Jason once and for all…again.

This film gets kudos from me for the little things. First of all it’s got a great theme song by Alice Cooper entitled “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)”. This film also marks the film debut of actor Tony Goldwyn (Ghost). The kills in this one are pretty damn cool, also. My favorite has to be the triple decapitation. But the biggest thing this film has going for it is Jason himself. It wouldn’t be until part 7 and the beginning of the age of Hodder before Jason would reach his full potential, but CJ Graham does an excellent job as Jason. It’s not easy acting under tons of make-up and not saying a word. The acting has to be purely physical and Graham pulls it off with minimal effort.

In the sixth installment of the Friday the 13th slasher series, the hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees returned with a vengeance after being conspicuously absent from the disappointing predecessor. Directed by Tom McLoughlin, 1986’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives attempted to breathe new life into the franchise by literally resurrecting its marquee villain, to the delight of fans.

By beginning with Jason’s long-awaited revival, Jason Lives delivered on the promise of his comeback, as he is gruesomely revived by a lightning strike. But McLoughlin took the series in a bold new direction, injecting self-referential humor and a dash of the supernatural to toy with genre conventions.

When Jason goes on a rampage near Crystal Lake once again, Tommy Jarvis – the boy who previously killed Jason – is the only one aware of the real threat. But convincing the skeptical local officials poses a challenge. McLoughlin has fun pitting the jaded adults of Crystal Lake against the monster they believe is just an urban legend.

The meta-humor, including winking nods to common horror movie clichés, marked a hip departure from the straightforward formula of earlier films. Jason himself is depicted even more unambiguously as a supernatural killing machine, fully embracing the fantastical elements.

While certain kills and chase scenes feel rote at times, the new gothic sensibility and playful tone does bring a spark of life. By commenting on its own tropes, the self-aware sequel crafts a loving parody that reignited the franchise creatively as Jason took center stage once more.

So, this film is a definite step up from Part V. It’s still no where close to part 4, but it’s definitely not for lack of trying. Part IV was a four blood drop film, Part V only half a drop. I’ll balance it all out with this one at two blood drops. It’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst. The cool theme song by Alice Cooper and CJ Graham’s portrayal of Jason helped this one a lot.

Trivia

The movie was filmed in Camp Daniel Morgan, Covington, Georgia, a suburb about 30 minutes outside of Atlanta.

The original script contained material that alluded to Jason’s father, which, to date, remains the closest the series has ever come to shedding some light on the mysterious character. In the script, Pamela’s headstone was next to Jason’s; a reference to the fact that somebody paid to have Jason buried, which would explain why he wasn’t cremated as the mayor said in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985); and a final scene in which Jason’s father visits his son’s grave, seemingly aware of the fact that Jason is not inside. These scenes were never filmed, but they made it into the film’s novelization.

The first and only “Friday the 13th” film (including New Line Cinema’s three “Jason” films as well as the 2009 remake) which features absolutely no nudity, though there is a sex scene.

Thom Matthews as Tommy Jarvis

Jennifer Cooke as Megan Garris

David Kagen as Sheriff Michael Garris

CJ Graham as Jason Voorhees

Ron Palillo as Allen Hawes

Tony Goldwyn as Darren

Directed by Tom McLoughlin

Written by Tom McLoughlin and Victor Miller (characters)