Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Dammit!  I told myself I wouldn't do another franchise retrospective again!  But here I am, going over Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, and having a lot on my mind to put down in words.  You'd think after my look into films based on Stephen King's works, I'd be burned out by doing posts like this.  But seeing that this franchise is probably my favorite horror movie franchise-actually, it is-I guess it's worth it to put myself through such hell again.  At least this time I'm not committing myself to release each post, one by one.

So, right off the bat and after looking at all the titles in the whole franchise, you might see there's no consistency to the naming conventions.  The first sequel has "2" in the title, the third film goes with roman numeral "III," the fourth film has no number at all, the fifth one sometimes has a roman numeral "V" and sometimes it doesn't, and this one goes with having the subtitle first...didn't each filmmaker check what was there before?

All that aside, yes, the title says it all: Jason Lives!  It was exactly what everybody wanted, much like how everybody wanted Michael Myers back after he was absent from Halloween III, Jason comes back for this film and if it started anything, it was the debate whether Jason was a zombie or not.  Well, that's a discussion that I won't get into and my opinion on the matter will be kept to myself.  Some call this the conclusion of a Tommy Jarvis trilogy and I can agree with that: In part four Tommy is psychologically affected by Jason when he has to kill him, in part five he overcomes his trauma, and in this one he finishes what he'd started and puts Jason down for good.  Or does he...?

Well, the film starts with Tommy (Thom Mathews), seeming to be a little better-he's talking a lot more, that's for sure.  Along with his institute friend, Allen (the late, great Ron Palillo of "Welcome Back Kotter" fame), they head to the gravesite of Jason Voorhees with shovels and containers of gasoline.  Although Allen tries to talk Tommy out of doing what he's about to do, as he's clearly freaked out about being in a graveyard late at night, he helps him dig up the grave and open up the coffin.  In a moment of grief-stricken anger, as he
remembers what happened long ago, Tommy pulls out a part of the wrought iron fence and begins to stab the corpse of Jason, leaving the piece of metal pierced into the dead body as a storm approaches.  Tommy throws the hockey mask he brought with him into the coffin and says, "yeah, fuck you, Jason," and begins to get the gasoline ready, apparently to burn up Jason's body for good.  Suddenly, lightning strikes and hits the metal piece twice, bringing Jason to life.  He gets out of his coffin, kills Allen and goes for Tommy.  After splashing the fuel on Jason, Tommy can't light a match to burn Jason-especially with the rain starting to come down-and decides to flee.  Jason dons the hockey mask once more to continue his carnage in the community of Forest Green, formally known as...Crystal Lake.

Right away, you know this film is going to be a bit goofy, particularly when you see the beginning credits.  You see, when Jason puts on the mask, the camera zooms in on one of the darkened eyeholes until we get a little "James Bond" type of scene with Jason walking and turning to slash toward the camera.  It's kind of cool, but silly.

Although I thought Thom Mathews put on a good performance, the casting of him to play Tommy Jarvis didn't appear seamless in comparison to the actor who played him in part five (John Shepherd)-he goes from being nearly mute in part five to never shutting up in part six.  Also, the chemistry between his character and Megan (Jennifer Cooke) seemed out of place.  Not forced or bad, just not supposed to be in this movie and between those characters.

So, okay, let's talk about the good...

• I like how they went with this resurrection scene to get Jason back up and moving around again.  The franchise needed to get him going again and this not only helped him back in the picture, but also explained why he wasn't in the previous film-he was dead.  It was actually a pretty cool part, how Tommy was suddenly filled with anger and decided to vent it out by stabbing him over and over with the piece of fence, which gave the lightning a perfect conduit to strike and jumpstart Jason again, à la Frankenstein's Monster.

• The aftermath of the RV kill scene, when the Winnebago flips to its side and sits there burning.  The image of Jason bursting through the door and climbing on top of the smoldering RV, standing, was monumental.

• Although silly up to the point, when the drunk graveyard caretaker throws his empty bottle and expecting it to break in the distance and he turns around to see Jason has caught it in mid-air, was a phenomenal kill scene (even though it cuts away and we don't actually see the death of the caretaker).

Okay, let's talk about the bad...

• Right away, I had a bad feeling about the cemetery caretaker.  The actor really overdid it with the constant drinking, breaking the fourth wall, and just using the cheesiest lines.  The "farthead" line still makes me cringe when I see and hear it today.

• The deputy's "ya bang" line was ridiculous.

• The paint gun scene was silly and tried to bring comedy where it shouldn't be.

• The stupid "Camp Blood" card game that Sissy (Renée Jones) explains was ludicrous and seemed like a boring game anyway.

• The two boys from camp who the filmmakers tried to feature as a little comedy team fell flat each time they were on the screen.

• Above all else, the most annoying character in the film was Cort (Tom Fridley).  His clothes, attempt at being charming, the camp tale he tried telling the kids, the RV scene...every time I saw him on the screen, it made me feel like turning off the movie.

Yes, the movie was definitely not one of my favorites from the franchise; however, I sit through it because I'm a completist.  Not only that, but there are some validating qualities here and there.  It's just that the interjecting of comedy-not to mention illogical actions by some of the characters-was too much for a film like this and I really think it ruined it, giving it too much of a surreal feel to it.

I really didn't think I was going to get that deep into this film, but I guess I let my feelings show a little too much.  It's just that this franchise is my favorite of the horror genre and, over the years, Paramount let it go to the wayside until they just sold the rights away.  Remembering these films as a staple of the 80s and my teenage years, it saddens me that the franchise was treated disrespectfully.

Anyway, my final "bit" on Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI?

Fun fact: This is the first of the franchise not to have a nude scene featured in the film, even though two characters have sex before the RV kill (it was fully clothed).  Regardless of that fun fact, it's not too fun of a movie.  Besides the beginning, there's really not much more to it.  Really, all you'll have to do is see the beginning and then fast forward to the climax on the lake.  I was never really a big fan of the gloved Jason
with the utility belt and I don't know why they went with this design of his look-at least they didn't get rid of the hockey mask.  But he's still the unstoppable force that can't be put down so easily and there are still some scares and good times scattered throughout this outing.  See this only if you're a die hard aficionado of the franchise.  If you are, you know I didn't need to tell you this.

Thanks for reading and I welcome any comments!

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