Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI Movie Review

This is the other of two Friday the 13th films that I remembered best because it played on TV a lot at a crucial time when I was growing up. I had certain deaths from this movie in particular kind of etched into my brain.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

After a one film diversion in which a mere mortal takes the murderous reins from Jason in Fridaythe 13th: A New Beginning, the real deal Jason was brought back by popular demand. Things really start to run off the rails for this series in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI. It still has enough earnestness in its voice to believe that writer and director Tom McLoughlin’s intention was to make a serious horror film. You could read it as a bit tongue in cheek as in the self-referential moment when a woman driving a car in the woods stops short and tells her boyfriend (Hey! Is that Tony Goldwyn?) she’s seen enough horror movies to know that you don’t mess with a big guy wearing a mask.

To read it as serious means the opening scene can’t be interpreted as anything less than the epitome of absurd, the most ridiculous thing the series has served yet. On a stormy night, Tommy Jarvis drives with his friend Allen (Hey! Is that Ron Palillo who played Horshack on “Welcome Back, Kotter”?) to the cemetery where Jason is buried. Out of nowhere he just has to know that Jason is really dead. They dig him up and stick him with a big metal pole in a lightning storm. Real smart! Haven’t they read Frankenstein?

The rest of the movie involves Tommy (Thom Matthews) desperately trying to convince the local police of Forest Green (a PR makeover renamed Crystal Lake) that Jason is back. The sheriff’s daughter Megan (Jennifer Cooke) is quick to believe Tommy I suppose because he’s so easy on the eyes. So she does things like draw a gun on a deputy and break Tommy out of jail to help him out.

Meanwhile Jason continues his murderous rampage in and around the camp where Megan is a counselor and for the first time there are actual children. His murdering methods finally achieve the level of sublime as when a girl gets her face mashed into the metal wall of an RV leaving quite an impression.

The whole feel of the movie is more gore fest monster movie than horror or suspense. We always know when someone is going to be killed. McLoughlin foregoes the rule of not showing your killer until the last reel. What would be the point, I guess, if everyone has already seen Jason and most of the audience is there for him alone? What McLoughlin does add to the mix that, while not exactly missing from previous installments, is a welcome addition is some car chases and other fast-paced set pieces. He turns it into more of an action film, a trend that will continue through the next film.

One thing McLoughlin brings to this installment which was mostly lacking in the series up to this point is an instilment of fear in the victims. Previous films had a shock surprise and kill. For the victims, death usually came quickly. Now there’s much more taunting before the kill giving the actors the chance to really show how they play scared. Also, this film is much heavier on blood and gore than previous films in the series. That right there should be good for something, right?

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)

Total deaths: 19 (16 on screen)
Average rating: 4.63/10
Highest rating: 8 (3 times, 2 involving head trauma)

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       Jason puts his hand straight through Allen’s chest and rips his heart out (7).
2.       Darren is stabbed in the stomach with a long iron rod and then casually tossed overhead (6).
3.       Lizabeth is stabbed in the face with the same iron rod while lying in a puddle (6).
4.       Burt has his arm ripped off (thus supplying Jason with a machete), then he’s thrown against a tree mashing his face into it (7).
5.       Larry, Katie and Stan are all killed together, slashed at the same time with one swing of the machete. No real gore is shown at all here (2 each).
6.       Roy is killed off screen. His body is found dismembered later in the film (3).
7.       Martin gets a broken liquor bottle jammed in his throat (4).
8.       Annette and Steven are stabbed together with the machete while sitting on their motorbike about to make their escape (3 each).
9.       Nikki’s face is mashed against the side of the RV bathroom wall. The impression of her face is left on the other side (8).
10.   Cort gets a hunting knife plunged into his head while driving the RV (5).
11.   Sissy is pulled through an open window then her head is twisted round and removed (8).
12.   Paula is mutilated by a machete off screen. We see blood splatter on the window and later we see the room covered in blood (2).
13.   Officer Thornton gets a dart thrown into his head (5).
14.   Officer Pappas has his head crushed between Jason’s bare hands (1).
15.   Sheriff Garris is bent in half backwards (8).
16.   Jason is chained to a rock at the bottom of the lake and then a boat propeller chops his neck (6).

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