Friday the 13th: Part 6
Jason Voorhees has become, over the years, a movie monster of the same magnitude as Dracula and Frankenstein. Forever engraved as a steeple of 80's pop-culture, everyone knows him on a first name basis. Therefore, it is not surprising that audiences and fans alike balked when it was discovered that Jason was not the killer in in Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning. Paramount, taking note of the fans disliking to Jason's absence, and still desperate to milk a still profitable series, decided to bring the ol' lug back for another trip to camp, appropriately titling the film Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives in 1986.
Although it was not quite the success Paramount had been hoping for, fans were very satisfied, and the film has since gone on to be regarded as one of the best entrees into the ten film and counting franchise. Sixteen years has passed, and Paramount is finally releasing Jason Lives on DVD, but was it really worth the wait? Let's take a look...
The film begins with Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) and his friend, Allen (Ron Palillo) on a search to find Jason's grave. Around ten year prior, Jason had gruesomely murdered Tommy's mother and friends, and has since occupied the majority of Tommy's thoughts. So together, Tommy and Allen, fresh from their stay at a mental institution, find Jason's gave and prepare to destroy him once and for all by cremation (can't a guy rest in peace?). As always, things do not go as planned, and the masked murderer is struck by lightning and revived back to life, with nothing but carnage on his mind.
Tommy escapes and attempts to warn the local sheriff, Michael Garris (David Kagen), about Jason's resurrection. Not believing his story, Garris puts Tommy behind bars while Jason prowls the newly named Camp Forest Green. While in lock up, Tommy meets the sheriff's daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), who takes quite a liking to him. Megan and her friends are counselors at a nearby summer camp for kids, whose lives are now threatened by the mask wielding maniac. With Megan's help, Tommy manages to escape the police station and head off to find Jason, who by this time has killed a couple vacationers, paintballers, a drunk graves keeper, and of course, some horny camp counselors.
Driving around frantically looking for him, Tommy finally meets him at his old stomping ground, the summer camp site. Jason, brandishing his blood soaked machete, is not going to give in without a fight, however. After several others fail to apprehend Mr. Hockey Mask, it is up to Tommy to finish the job. In an exciting climax, Tommy battles Jason on a boat in the middle of the lake, attempting to return Jason to his childhood death bed. Does Tommy prevail, or does Jason one-up his body count? Fans familiar with the series should already know the answer.
Jason Lives is a solid entry into the never-ending franchise, and a fun diversion for the casual horror fan. Littered with comedy, this is undoubtedly the lightest in tone of all the sequels, and is certainly the least scariest. Director Tom McLoughlin, realizing the series had become embarrassingly cliché, injects life into the series by not taking the material too seriously, including several self and movie related references ("Cunningham Road", the James Bond title sequence, etc.). The end result is a fun little monster movie like the Universal films 40 years prior.
Although the film may lack the scares of the other films in the series, Jason has never been better. Played fiercely by C. J. Graham, he is given plenty of screen time (more so than any of the other films) as he kills every adult in sight. Rather than have him lurking in the background, which was the case in his part incarnations, Jason is brought to the forefront in the film, which was a nice change. Fans have stuck with the films because of its unstoppable killer, so why not give him some time to chew up the scenery too?
As good as Jason is, it is the rest of the cast that usually makes or breaks his films, and thankfully all the supporting players do their jobs. This is nothing more than an entertaining B-movie, and the actors know it, playing their roles with exaggerated expressions and dialogue. Thom Mathews is especially fun as Tommy Jarvis, and is a large improvement over John Shepherd's dull and depressing characterization in Part V. None of the cast play their roles seriously, and as a result, the film is a whole lot of fun.
Also notable in the film is the soundtrack. Harry Manfredini brings forth another solid score, with plenty of "Chhh, chhh, chhh...Haaa, haaa, haaa's" to be heard throughout the film. It sets the mood at the start of the film and holds it the entire way through with the characteristic sounds of his previous soundtracks. But what really makes the soundtrack a winner are Alice Cooper's perfectly appropriate songs. From "Teenage Frankenstein" to the theme song, "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)", his songs bring a pop-culture sophistication to the proceedings, a benefactor that none of the other films possessed. The songs are catchy and work perfectly within the film.
The last truly great sequel in the series, Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives is one of the best and funnest slashers of the 80's. The acting is over the top, the screenplay self-referential, and the music undeniably catchy, this is the kind of film slasher should aspire to be. Jason is finally brought to the center stage and has never been better. Although not as scary as the other films in the saga, it is a fun ride, and the perfect party movie.
First thing is first, this is a beautiful transfer. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Jason has never been cleaner. There is nary a speck of grain throughout the entire film, and the image is extremely sharp with bold and vibrant colors. Blacks are extremely solid with considerable depth and the colors are perfectly saturated. For a film approaching twenty years old, this is an excellent master, and Paramount should be very proud. This is definitely the best the film, or any Friday film, has ever looked. If it were not for the noticeably 80's clothing and hairstyles, this print could easily be confused for a recent film.
Like the video quality, the sound is also exceptional. Finally making the jump to surrounds, this is the first Friday film to be presented in Dolby 2.0 stereo surround, and boy, does it sound good. Aggressively combining the pulsing soundtrack and effects, this mix is a very pleasant surprise compared to the mono mixes of the previous five Friday films. The sounds are astoundingly clear, and Alice Cooper's songs come through forcefully and forcefully. There is a lot of depth to this track from all audio levels, making a wonderfully full sounding mix. Although only in 2.0, this track will rival many other 5.1 tracks out there, and is not to be missed. Paramount has really come through with an excellent sound mix to go along with the pristine video quality.
Unfortunately, Paramount really dropped the ball when it came to supplements and presentation. The sole extra is the teaser trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen and mono sound. The trailer is interesting in that it includes no clips from the film or any reference to the Friday the 13th title. Like the video quality of the film, the trailer is very sharp and well done visually. The lack of extras for their Friday films is a real slap in the face to the loyal fans of the series who have been clamoring all these years for some supplements. There is no reason why Paramount cannot include at least a tiny featurette. Adding insult to injury, Paramount has changed the cover art for the film, and it looks horrible. The first four Friday films were released with their theatrical art and looked perfect as they were. The theatrical poster for Jason Lives was fantastic (see poster), but the new art makes the film look like Pet Sematary. The menu screens are also notably horrid as well. Sixteen chapter stops are also included in even uglier menus.
A modern monster movie for today's audiences, Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives is a fun movie, and a great addition to the series. Combining a witty script with classic B-movie acting and an Alice Cooper soundtrack makes this one of the better slashers of the 80's. The audio and visual presentations are phenomenal for a movie of such age and have to be witnessed to be believed. The supplements however, are extremely lacking, and Paramount's decision to change the cover art is frustrating. But based on the merits of the film and its solid presentation, this is a must by for fans of the series and all slasher fans in general. Pick this disc up now, or I might just have to sick Jason on you!
Movie - B+
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - C-
Well, this and part 8 are the only of the original Paramounts I didn't buy (even though I love 6, just didn't get around to upgrading from VHS). Now I'm planning on getting the set in the Fall, but I don't think I'll be selling my singles. I'll keep them for the covers and the fact that they are one movie per disk.
Definitely looking forward to this commentary and some of the other stuff, but why can't they all be uncut. That would have been just too great.
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