Friday, October 13, 2017

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

Happy Friday the 13th, folks.  Even though this occurs a couple times every year, this one is kinda special.  It isn't just Friday the 13th, but it's a Friday the 13th in October, the undisputed scariest month on the calendar.  It's like a double Friday the 13th!  If only it was also a full moon then everyone everywhere would just get murdered by guys in hockey masks, werewolves, Michael Myers, or Irish toy makers.

This is the perfect chance for me to talk about my favorite Jason Voorhees movie - Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

This is beloved by fans, but also a turning point for the series itself.  For one, this shifted the movies from being a series of movies trying to be serious and either scary or gore-filled to a series of films that started to have fun with itself.  The movie also acted as a final piece of a trilogy of movies that focused on hero Tommy Jarvis.

Back in the fourth film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Tommy, then played by Corey Feldman, was introduced as a child who ultimately killed our machete-wielding antagonist by impersonating the child version of Jason and hacking his fucking head to shit with his own weapon.  In Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, people were being killed by an impersonator wearing a hockey mask.  People thought it was an older Tommy who seemed to be pretty messed up after killing Jason as a child.  At the end of that movie, it appeared Tommy did break and now going to take up Jason's legacy.

In Part VI, writer and director Tom McLoughlin decided, thankfully, to throw away the ominous ending of Part V, and went in a new direction.  McLoughlin decided to treat Jason like one of the classic Universal monsters, most notably Frankenstein's Monster.  He also made it self-referential and had characters react as the audience would or give us a moment to laugh at the happenings of the movie or at the characters themselves.

I really don't want to wait much longer to jump into the movie.  This is my motherfucking jam.  This is the movie in the series I have seen more than any others.  If I'm hanging out with friends and one of them suggests we all watch a Jason movie and ask which one we should watch, I vote VI every time.  So let's pop this fucker in and enjoy!

If there is one thing about these Friday the 13th movies, they make sure you know what happened previously.  That's kinda weird because there is no real, true continuity.  Most of the movies give you a greatest hits montage.  This one just has Tommy and his pal, played by the guy who played Horshack in Welcome Back Kotter, driving to a cemetery where Jason Voorhees is actually buried and Tommy talks about how Jason is like the worst thing to ever happen to him.  I kinda feel like that wouldn't happen, what with Jason just having a marked grave in a public cemetery, but what do I know?  Well...  I know Ed Gein had no marked grave.  Probably to keep people from doing exactly what Horshack and Tommy are going to do.  What's that, you ask?  What are they planning to do?  Oh, nothing big.  Just dig up Jason so Tommy can stab his corpse again and again with a metal rod and provide him with a hockey mask for him to use in his new rampage.

After digging him up, seeing his rotted body covered with worms and maggots, stabbing him with a rod and leaving it in him, Jason is struck by lightning.  This brings him back to life and pisses him off super bad.  Tommy barely escapes, but Horsack gets a fist through his torso.  That's all awesome and shit, but nothing is nearly as awesome as how the movie leads up to the title and credits...


That's right...  Tom McLoughlin gave Jason a James Bond-esque "gun barrel" shot.  Goddammit I love this movie.

The credits hardly slow down the action of the movie.  Tommy hurries to the police station to tell the cops that Jason is alive again.  The cops 1) don't believe Tommy, 2) threaten to "repaint the interior of the office with his brains", and 3) REALLY don't like the fact that this is Tommy Jarvis.  The same Tommy Jarvis who spent time in the loony bin.

Elsewhere, a couple trying to get to the camp run into Jason on the road.  When they realize they can't back away without getting stuck in a muddy trench, they try to scare Jason by driving right up to him.  He does not flinch.  Next, the guy, played by Tony Goldwin before he played an asshole in just about every early 90s movie, decides, like an asshole, to brandish a gun to try to get Jason to move out of the way.  It does not end well.  Nor does it for the girl who tries to give Jason money in exchange for her life.

The next day, the Sheriff's hot ass daughter, Megan, and some other camp counselors come to ask him to see if they can find the couple Jason killed the night before.  Tommy says he hopes they are okay, but he worries that Jason has killed them.  Megan is immediately wet in her pants for Tommy.  The sheriff tells them he's not going to send anyone out to look for the couple, and he's going to escort Tommy to the edge of town to be rid of him.  The counselors go to the camp (now renamed from Camp Crystal Lake to Camp Forest Green) and are confronted by a busload of rowdy kids showing up for camp.

This is the very first time we've actually seen kids at the camp.  No shit.  It took six years of Friday the 13th movies for kids to finally show up for camp.

Elsewhere, a group of people on a corporate team building retreat are paintballing.  Jason takes a machete off one of the disqualified combatants, literally disarming him, and kills off all the other nerdy office dorks one by one with extreme ease.  One guy gets his face utterly smashed in with the trunk of a tree, two other guys and a lady all get decapitated with one swing of the machete.

Tommy gets shown the road by the Sheriff and his Deputy, but Tommy veers off and drives into the cemetery to show the proof that Jason is no longer in his grave.  But (cue sad trombone music) unfortunately for Tommy, the groundskeeper has already recovered the grave.  Tommy begs the groundskeeper to dig Jason up to prove to the cops that Jason is gone, but gets dragged away.  The groundskeeper then says one of the best lines in movie history: "Dig him up?  Does he think I'm a farthead?"  (The movie also smash cuts to the kids at the camp shouting "YES!"  Fucking pure genius.)

That night, the groundskeeper, drunk as a skunk, wanders through the forest and gets killed by Jason with his own broken bottle of booze.  When a nearby canoodling couple hears the groundskeeper scream, the man finds Jason mutilating the groundskeeper's body.  He collects his girlfriend and try to escape to the Sheriff's office, but they get run through with Jason's machete.

A few things I'd like to point out.  First, this is the first movie in which Jason showed true supernatural strength.  This pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the series.  In the three movies that Jason actually appeared in previously, he was strong, but like that strength that challenged kids have...?  Oh, god, that sounds horrible.  I'm not sure what it's called other than what people probably shouldn't call it.  You know what I mean.  Yoinks...

According to Wikipedia, Jason's rebirth gave him extra strength that surprised him when he ripped off the guy's arm (as pictured above).  I never really thought about that before.  I mean, I guess he never really showed that much strength before, but he's already demonstrated that he could punch through a guy's torso and could flip a guy over his head after spearing the guy with a metal rod.  I always took the look Jason gave to the severed arm was a chance for the audience to react to the ludicrous moment.

Anyway, I really like how the movie is only 30 minutes old and Jason's already killed 10 people.  He has averaged a kill every three minutes.  Considering the Paramount logo at the beginning and the credits probably took up a total of three minutes, that puts the average even higher.  It was like Tom McLoughlin knew exactly what people came for and he gave it to them and then some.

I think the overall reason why I love this movie so much was the sense of humor the movie had too.  The cops are over the top angry and aggressive with Tommy.  Also, Tommy is completely frustrated by every possible turn in the road.  He's kicked out of town.  Every person who could prove his story is killed right away.  He is utterly shut down by two cops and seemingly can't use the fact that they are the only lawmen for the entire county to somehow sneak around them.  It's kind of funny how he's our big hero, but he's barely seen in this first half of the movie.

Also, and this is NOT a reason why I love this movie so much, this is the first, and only, Jason movie that doesn't have any nudity in it.  To that I say a hearty, "Boooooooooo!"  However, McLaughlin is right to try something different to help separate it from the previous movies setting a tone that promiscuity was punishable by death.... even though the only sex scene led the participants to die anyway.  Between that and the actual inclusion of kids, I truly believe McLoughlin was highly aware that kids were into these movies and made something that was a little easier for kids to watch - even if Paramount was very leery of giving him that much freedom to operate.

So, back to the movie.  Speaking of that couple who fucked in an RV in the woods...


Not only does that contain another great line when the guy asks if the girl is back there takin' a dump, but it also features a couple iconic shots.  The first, no duh, is the girl's face going smashing hard into the wall leaving an impression.  The second, Jason standing on top of the burning RV.  This happens to be too big for the Sheriff and the Deputy to ignore.  They immediately blame Tommy for the killings because obviously he has to do the killings to make his story about Jason real.  These may be the worst cops ever.  Tommy tries to call the Sheriff with more evidence, but since he left to check out the shit with the RV, Megan is there to answer the call.  She gets excited because she is super wet in her pants for Tommy - even more so than earlier.  She meets him and drives him back into town.

While those shenanigans go on, Jason tears the head off another counselor and carries the body by the girls' cabin where he's seen by one of the campers.  On the outskirts of town, Megan and Tommy run into a police roadblock.  She pulls Tommy down so he won't be seen and he gets a faceful of Megan's denim-clad crotch - which is pretty swell.  They get chased by the cops and when she tries to take another path into the camp, her dad is there to block their way, sending Tommy back to jail.

While the only surviving counselor left at the camp tries to help the little girl who saw Jason get back to sleep, the Sheriff is told that the bodies of the two from the RV were found.  He still blames Tommy for their deaths, but Megan goes to bat for him and tells her dad that he was with her during the estimated time of death.  The Sheriff leaves to work on the Jason situation.  The Deputy watches after Megan with Tommy locked up again.  They trick the Deputy into getting Tommy out of the cell and they lock him in the cell - thus making it possible for him to survive the movie.  He should be pretty thankful for that.  Tommy and Megan saved his ass.

Back at the camp, the last counselor is killed, thrown through a window, and dragged back inside for Jason to mutilate.  Before the Sheriff could get there with some backup, Jason checks out the girls' cabin and the girl who has seen him twice before sees him again.  She says that bedtime prayer and shuts her eyes.  He leaves because he heard the police come.  He takes out pretty much all the cops pretty quickly.  The Sheriff finds the carnage Jason left and when the kids all realize something is up, he tells them all to get back into their cabins and hide under the beds.  He comes face to face with Jason who keeps getting back up after each shotgun round he takes eventually causing the Sheriff to retreat into the woods.

Megan and Tommy arrive.  Tommy sets up his trap for Jason while Megan checks on the kids.  She tells them that she's going to find her dad so they can all leave.  She calls out for him causing Jason to take notice.  Realizing his daughter is now basically fucked, and not by Tommy, he takes on Jason.  This goes as well as it has for the 15 people who encountered Jason earlier in the movie:
Megan, sweetie, I don't know how to tell you this, but... I think your dad bent over backwards to save your life.
Megan helps Tommy put a chain around a boulder and load it into a canoe so he can basically send Jason to a watery grave.  Tommy starts to paddle out to the center of the lake and tells Megan to go hide with the kids.  Oh yeah, the kids...  Jason checks in on them too by plowing through the door and scaring the shit out of all of them.  But, why scare the shit out of the kids when there's a pretty blonde to kill?

Megan, sweetie, I don't know how to tell you this, but... Jason
Voorhees definitely has a crush on you.
Jason busts out of the kids' cabin and tries to kill Megan, but gets distracted by Tommy who he apparently really wants to kill.  I'll get to that in just a minute...

Jason makes a beeline for Tommy in the lake, but Tommy makes a little bit of a miscalculation.  He's a little too far out to keep an eye on Jason when he eventually goes underwater.  Tommy is then surprised when Jason shows up behind him.  Um...  Tommy?  I mean...  Exactly how were you going to do all this if you couldn't keep an eye on Jason?

Tommy throws some gasoline onto the water around his canoe and lights it setting up the ritual he needs to perform to get rid of Jason.  I'll get more into that in a minute...  Just then Jason pops up out of the water!  They struggle a bit but Tommy is able to put the chain noose around Jason's neck and toss the boulder overboard to make him sink to the bottom.  Jason tries to drown Tommy, and appears to be successful.  Megan tries to bring Tommy ashore, but nearly gets herself pulled under by Jason.  She gets free when she uses the motor on the boat to slice his throat.  She saves Tommy and gives him some much needed mouth-to-mouth.  Tommy believes it is all over, but just before the credits, we see that Jason is not quite dead...

This is a shining example of exactly what I wanted to watch pretty much at all sleepovers on the weekends when I was a kid.  Shit...  I'd want to watch it now at a sleepover if those still happened at the age of 40.  This is just incredible fun.

However...

I always had a couple questions.  First, when did these movies take place?  I think it's fairly easy to tell that the first couple movies were definitely during the summer or late spring because they were not too long away from the kids showing up.  Most of the other movies removed the camp idea for the most part.  It was mostly just kids of indeterminate ages just partying to death.  Literally.  This movie clearly has the kids showing up for camp, but it has blustery winds, everyone is wearing a coat of some sort, and multiple references to it being cold at night were made.  Oh... and dead leaves are blowing all over the fucking place.  Was this a sleepaway camp for Halloween or something?  Don't get me wrong, I love that time of year and this is most definitely the most Halloween-y of all the movies in the series, but I always just found it odd that this movie is clearly not in the summertime.

Second, why did Jason go directly for Tommy when he could have killed Megan?  Jason ALWAYS finishes up a kill before moving to the next.  That's not even mentioning that Tommy really should be thanked by Jason for bringing him back to life.  Fuckin' ungrateful turd.  The movie was really set up to be Jason vs. Tommy from the very beginning, but aside from the first and last scenes, they didn't interact otherwise.  Hell, Tommy was mostly being shut out of town or locked up in a cell until the last 10 minutes or so when he could get his seriously cute girlfriend to make out with him and break him out of jail.

Although...  Tommy did pretty well against Jason on that boat despite being nowhere near as strong as he is.  That probably sets them up to be a little more elemental ideas of good vs. evil, so I guess they were naturally drawn to each other.

There was definitely one other thing that I always thought was endearing about this movie.  Jason, being that he pretty much has always been a kid (or at least had the mind of a child), didn't hurt the kids in the movie.  He was even killed by a kid in the fourth movie and he still seemingly didn't want to harm him.  I suppose it wasn't really the case because he may have killed the kids if it wasn't for the cops and Megan making him want to go out and murder, but I always took it as he wouldn't kill those he was most like.  Remember, Jason's mother was mad at counselors who were too busy screwing around to save him from drowning - not of any of the other kids.

Now that Jason is checked off the list of my October slasher killers list, but I'm not done yet.  Next week, it's time for Jason's numero uno rival - Freddy Krueger.  And since they are rivals, and get compared and contrasted constantly, let's go from my favorite Friday the 13th film to my least favorite Freddy flick - A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.  Come back next week to see what I think of this monkeyfuck of a film!

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