Before getting his butt kicked by a chick with telekinetic powers in “The New Blood”, or taking a cruise to the big apple in “Jason Takes Manhattan”, Director/writer Tom McLoughlin takes a cue from Dr. Frankenstein and resurrects Jason and the “Friday the 13th” franchise with his entry, “Jason Lives.”
Tommy Jarvis, who’s on a weekend pass from the nuthouse, decides to go visit an old family friend at a cemetery that he hasn’t seen for several years. During the short drive over we find out that the old family friend is Jason Voorhees. Man, he should have gone to Disneyland. There’s no need to worry about Jason; he’s as dead as Vanilla Ice’s rap career. After pulling into the cemetery Tommy jumps out of his truck along with Allen Hawes (Ron Padillo), and they start searching for ol’ Wormface’s grave like they’re on some kind of demented Easter egg hunt. Soon they come across a headstone with the name Jason Voorhees on it, but Tommy, for some crazy reason, doesn’t think he’s found the right grave and wants to make a positive I.D. Seriously? How many people named Jason Voorhees would be buried in the local cemetery anyway? Hawes doesn’t think this is a good idea and throws a brief hissy-fit. But he doesn’t want to risk loosing his ride home, so he and Tommy grab shovels and they start digging “Raiders of the Lost Ark”-style until they reach the top of the coffin. Shortly after popping off the casket lid like a can of Pringles, Tommy gets blind-sided by a childhood flashback (audio only) of him tenderizing Jason’s meat suit with a machete.
Without warning he “snaps” and grabs the nearest metal object and heads back to Jason’s coffin. This is just great! Now we have a crazy guy stabbing a dead corpse with a metal pole during a t-storm in a “Friday the 13th” movie–oh, man–this can’t be good. And before you can say, “Chi-chi-chi-cha-cha-cha,” lighting strikes the metal pole sticking out of the dead psycho’s body, and Jason lives. Hawes sees Jason and pauses just long enough to have a “girl moment”, and then disappears offscreen. I really don’t understand what the big deal is. So what? He saw a walking corpse… It’s not like he just saw Rosie O’ Donnell in a two-piece micro-bikini. Now THAT’S freakin’ SCARY!
Tommy quickly realizes that he has dug up a very big problem (ya think?) and grabs a can of gasoline that I had seen earlier, and starts splashing it all over Jason, who is slowly advancing towards him like he has rigor mortis or something. Tommy then strikes a match and is about to make a “Jason S’more-hees” when–what-da-ya-know–it rains and puts the match out. Now this wouldn’t have happened had Tommy used REI Storm matches. And I can tell by the, “Oh, crap! What do I do now?!” look on his face that he’s fresh out of ideas. Fortunately for him though, Allen returns onscreen with new-found courage and a Plan B, which consists of running up behind Jason while yelling a Braveheart-ish battle cry, and whacking him across the head with a shovel. Now for a second there I thought Jason was going to have to sit out another movie. But aside from a couple of cobwebs getting knocked out of place, ol’ Coffin Breath wasn’t phased one bit. Not the same can be said for a stunned Hawes, who gets killed before the movie’s opening credits. I guess Ron Palillo (Hawes) had to leave early for a “Welcome Back Kotter” reunion.
After Tommy speeds off to the police station to get reinforcements, a lightning-fast Jason makes up for lost time spearing, impaling, crushing, and hacking his was way towards a personal best and franchise high body count. When he’s not having stare-downs and showdowns with Sheriff Garris, he likes to mug for the camera, do James Bond tributes, and enjoy the lakeside scenery while taking power walks through the woods.
Tommy stays busy in the movie getting thrown in jail, falling in love, doing a little B&E (breaking and entering), being suspected of murder, and running from the law. But somewhere during all of this our crazy friend amazingly finds the time to buy and then read a couple of step-by-step books that tell him exactly how to kill Jason. Now this sounds too good to be true, and it is–because the hockey-mask-wearing fiend has already signed on to do five more movies after this one. But I don’t think Tommy knows about this because he and Megan are still preparing for Jason’s big send-off.
Later that night they all meet up at the camp for a wet and wild threesome in the middle of the lake. It’s not what you think… But don’t worry about Jason adding you to his already impressive body count because, trust me, Tommy and Megan are keeping him very busy this time around. So you’re safe wherever you watch the action. And besides, once Tommy drops anchor on the USS Voorhees at the bottom of Crystal Lake, courtesy of some steel chain and a boulder the size of an asteroid, ol’ Jason won’t be going anywhere until the next sequel.
This is your typical “Friday the 13th” movie minus the scares, nudity and gore of earlier films. Director McLoughlin doesn’t even attempt to scare the audience with “Jason Lives.” His installment is about as terrifying as an episode of “Goosebumps.” But I’ll take an un-scary “Friday the 13th” film any day over a ridiculous sequel like “Jason Goes to Hell” that has a body-jacking Jason who eats an evil heart (what???) and swaps spit and Hell Slugs with his victims.
Another bummer is that this movie has zero nudity which means you’ll just have to wait until the next sequel “The New Blood” to see any hot chicks take their clothes off. To me having a “Friday the 13th” film without any nudity is like having Mork without Mindy, or Michael Knight being without his car buddy, KITT. I mean c’mon, this isn’t an episode of “7th Heaven”, it’s a horror movie, so let’s see some skin. The closest it gets is seeing Megan, the very talented Jennifer Cooke, sporting a pair of 80’s jeans that are so tight, the seams can be heard crying “uncle.” And for anyone out there who has a bare knee fetish, you should definitely get your fix whenever Cort appears on screen with his knees falling out of his ripped jeans. The movie doesn’t have a lot of gore, either, except when Jason shows his creative side and does his version of a Jackson Pollock painting using a female counselor’s blood and gooey insides. At least “Jason Lives” has a couple of really cool kills. Like when Maggothead himself gets a three-for-one decapitation using a pimped-out chrome machete. Another one has the undead psycho evening the score with the sheriff when he snaps him in half like a cheap number two pencil after their second showdown. Now that’s what I call a tiebreaker! The next kill reminded me of when I used to pull the heads off my cousin’s Barbie dolls. It involves a female counselor who gets her head ripped off after making the fatal mistake of pouring lemon and lime soda over Wormface’s head. I guess Jason prefers Pepsi.
The cast is fairly bland by “Friday the 13th” standards. Even the usual crop of walking cliches isn’t here. But there is one character named Martin who really stands out. If you liked Crazy Ralph from Parts 1 & 2, and Edna from “A New Beginning”, then you will definitely get a kick out of this crusty caretaker. When he isn’t involved in cover-ups over at the local cemetery where he works, he can be overheard serenading his bottle of hooch, affectionately named Kathleen. Sadly though, while walking home from work one night, Martin meets his end and gives fans a great death scene that has Jason using a broken bottle to tap his neck like a keg of beer. This gives new meaning the old saying “the bottle killed him.”
For a franchise that suffers from advanced sequel-itis, the acting is surprisingly solid. The group of attractive female camp counselors are believable as friends working at a summer camp. Even the sheriff and deputy act like they’ve known each other for years. Thom (I haven’t had an acting gig in years) Mathews gives a credible performance as a troubled young man who still has a major case of Jason on the brain. This sequel has the best production values of any movie in the series. We get some creepy opening shots of fog floating across the lake and crawling along the ground that reminded me of the classic horror movie “The Wolfman.” It’s just a shame that director McLoughlin didn’t build on this atmosphere and create a film full of thrills and chills. However, on a positive note, resident “Friday the 13th” composer Harry Manfredini is back with a brand new and totally awesome sounding score to celebrate Jason’s return. Now, as far as I’m concerned, a “Friday the 13th” movie just isn’t a “Friday the 13th” movie if Manfredini isn’t doing the music.
In the end I still enjoyed seeing the real Jason back onscreen (Roy doesn’t count), but I just like Jason better when he kills you with a machete, and not with humor.
- Extreme swimming in skin-tight jeans
- 3-for-1 decap attack
- 1 Pimped-out chrome machete
- Gratuitous display of knees
- 1 Frankenstein-esque resurrection
- Jason’s James Bond Tribute
- 1 Corpse covered in a “Fear Factor” Party Mix of creepy-crawlies
- 1 Boat propellor to the face
- 1 Power-walking undead killer
- 1 Machete covered in strawberry jam
- 1 Fried and furious undead psycho
Rated 8.3 out of 10
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Check out the trailer for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives