Night #15: Friday The 13th: Jason Lives

Our journey, faithful reader, into the saga of one Jason Vorhees, ends here with the sixth installment in the series.

Jason Lives is, for some reason, the entry I’m most familiar with. It seemed like it was always the one that was getting aired on TV and it was the one I was looking most forward to in this re-watch. Gone is the psychological slant of Part II, out the window goes the sexually infused makings of The Final Chapter, instead we have a different beast entirely.

Tommy Jarvis, who was played in The FinalChapter by Corey Feldman, rushes to a cemetery to burn Jason’s body – making sure once and for all that  he’ll never come back. While he’s there anger takes over and he starts stabbing the dead body with an iron pole. Then lightning strikes, waking up the previously dead killer and that’s how we have our movie. This is how they choose to revive Jason, in an overt homage to Frankenstein. Still, that’s nothing compared to Freddy Krueger’s resurrection in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, in which a urinating dog brings him back to life. But at least here we get a James Bond homage where Jason walks on and slashes at the screen before it turns red. If you’re thinking that sounds a little jokey well you’re right, that’s exactly the type of winking tone the movie goes for.

Jason Lives is acutely aware of what came before it, and how ridiculous it’s all gotten by now. It’s not enough that the audience knows it’s ridiculous but the filmmakers want you to know that they know it too. It’s a movie that completely ignores the previous entry (Which actually states that Jason was buried, in a move that seemed to say they were REALLY serious about killing him off at the time). It’s a movie wherein a character, not long for this word, wears a headband that has ‘Dead’ written on it. Or where a character seems to look directly at the camera and intone “Some folks have a strange idea of Entertainment!” It’s not fourth-wall breaking in the way that say Scream is, or Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was before that. But it’s acutely aware that it’s the fifth sequel in a franchise, and so it has a little fun with the whole thing.

We even have our own Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two kids at camp who pipe up occasionally with bon mots like “If this is as exciting as it gets we’re in big trouble!”, a comment which seems innocuous at first until you realise it brings about the close of the first act and the start of Jason’s largest killing spree (Fun fact – this one had the highest body count of all the films until Freddy Vs Jason).

Supposedly the one remit that Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin had was that he couldn’t make fun of Jason, but everything else was fine. So it seems he set out to make the meanest Jason he could. He doesn’t just kill a Counselor (Oh yeah, counsellors are back!), he decorates the room with her. He even breaks one person in half, literally folding them over like a chair. Though instead of working against the tone of the film, it just enhances it. It makes things even more cartoonish (That’s not to say that isn’t intended – witness the scene where he decapitates three paintballers with one fell swoop) and it just makes for a fun time.

Sadly though it wasn’t to last. The next movie in the series takes a massive turn for the worst (Originally it was written as a Freddy V Jason script, but that deal fell through. Still, they liked the idea of having a ‘supernatural’ battle so they have Jason fighting a telekinetic girl…It’s bad). It’s as good a place as any to end this though, until my inevitable re-watch in next years ’31 Nights of Frights’.

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