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FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986): Retro Review…He’s Back!

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives – 1986

I have long had the point of view that isolated thinking is my enemy. The owner of a one-track mind is someone to be feared, at the very least, as there is nothing one-dimensional about life. Even an amoeba exists in three-dimensions. The brains of political enslavement being the most obvious example I can think of: “It’s either this, or that, no in between!” “You’re either with us, or against us!” I call bullshit! I can’t even imagine being driven by a singular thought process, what a boring and pathetic life that must be. I bring this up for a specific reason, so don’t think you were misdirected to another site when you clicked this thing, I’m just laying a foundation.

As I was sitting here this morning, having my coffee and watching some Misty Brew footage from early 1987, my mind shifted gears very suddenly and I had the Alice Cooper song, ‘The Man Behind the Mask’ pop into my brain. Now, I love classic Alice Cooper (especially the first album ‘Pretties for You’, which most humans don’t even know about) but my fandom stops once you get into the 1980s, which sends me off running, screaming for mercy! That aforementioned tune is so horrible! And this declaration is coming from someone that carries no shortage of fondness for some cheesy 80’s tunes. If you have done your Horror-homework, then you at least know what spawned its existence: the film, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

Let’s be clear; I love this franchise – at least to a point – but love does not have to be blind to the flaws imbedded in the object of affection, oh no, and this film is the true beginning of making Jason’s world into a goddamn cartoon. It is a silly film and was truly made for an eighties-party crowd. My personal affections for this film are pretty much based on the simple enjoyment of another Friday the 13th film, nothing more and nothing less. I’m pretty certain this was the second attempt at making the trip to Crystal Lake “cool”, as part three had made the attempt a few years before, featuring the LAME Tommy Chong wanna-be and all the fun stoner-action.

Tommy Jarvis…face to face with his greatest fear…

Whereas, the other films, prior to ‘Jason Lives’, though not without their cultural references, are far more in tune with the terror-filled reality that should be alive in these worlds. When it turns into a cartoon, you end up with nonsense like Freddy eating soul food in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, the rave scene in Freddy Vs Jason, or the Reality-TV gone wrong aspect of Halloween: Resurrection. My friend and partner in digital-crime, Brandor, claims Jason Lives to be his favorite in the series, which clearly shows the differences in our minds, as I would claim this to be one of my least favorites, even though I enjoy its existence. But let’s call a spade a spade, as Jason Lives is so damn corny that it had to have been intentionally made for the chemically-impaired 1980’s teenage-demographic. And I do stress the impaired part.

Rather than approaching this with the usual synopsis-styled review – especially since you should all know this film and you must re-evaluate calling yourself a Horror fan if you haven’t seen it – I’ll just dwell on a few of my favorite moments as well as those scenes where I have to shake my head, grin, and say “Oh geeze…” to myself, or whatever set of ears happen to be close.

Wouldn’t you know, right out of the gate, we get an ‘Oh Geeze’! Why does Tommy Jarvis the Third (Thom Mathews) have Jason’s mask with him? How did he get it? How had he been keeping it hidden from all of the head shrinkers for all that time? How did it get so clean? Sure, one could make fun of how quickly and perfect the digging up of Jason’s grave happens, but I’m stuck on that mask. Horshack (Ron Palillo) does try to help the situation, but to no avail.

Oh, and he’s back…he’s the maaaaan…oh! er…*ahem*…sorry about that….

On the other side, however, this sequence does have the really cool shots of Jason’s eye looking around with creepy-crawlies on his face. That shot has been one I always recall first when thinking of this film. Then, there is the ‘James Bond’ opener, which is cheesy as hell and clearly shows the ride we’re in for.

When we are introduced to the cops of Crystal Lake, er, Forest Green, we are also introduced to stupidly out of place – though I am sure accurate – tough-guy dialogue. Some of my favorites include: “Don’t piss me off, junior, or I will repaint this office with your brains!”, “Iron this punk!”, “Fuckin’ A…Hit the noise and the cherries!” and, of course, “Ya-Bang.”

The young couple in the Volkswagon that Jason takes out shows us a few moments of social-commentary-soaked humor: the man is the stupid one, thinking he can out macho Jason (which is always a bad move), yet, the woman not only knew that Horror films can educate you, but she didn’t leave home without her American Express card, either. She was prepared, folks.

Absurdity takes the stage when the local grave digger addresses the audience with his wink-wink dialogue and it is at this moment where we truly enter the cartoon reality. Tex Avery would have giggled to that scene, for certain.

Of course, we have to poke at the business-people entrenched in their paint ball war games. They are obviously there as Jason fodder, though the subplot for those characters – a group of guys getting taken out by a woman and getting annoyed by it – is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, this sequence also has that damn smiley-face in a tree that, to me, pretty much marks that the Voorhees world had officially changed forever.

Sleep tight, kiddies!

The story that the Travolta-wanna-be, Cort (Tom Fridley), tells about the purpose of Indian marker stones is awesome, I must admit. Hey, how about that ‘Hard Rock Summer in the USA’? Oh man, that scene screams cornball, although, I can’t argue with the fun mental dreams that accompany Tommy the Third’s pillow.

Here’s a personal favorite that makes me laugh out loud, every time: the scene where Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) tells the children to hide under their beds has a couple of shots where these kids are taking full-on dives to get hidden and it is hilarious!

Finally, one must give praise to the climax with Jason and Tommy the Third fighting it out in the middle of a flaming Crystal Lake! That is just one damn cool scene, folks! It was so cool that it even got its own moment of glory on the back of the VHS packaging – which is an awesome picture! Here’s a bit of psychology that occurred to me, as ending the conflict with Jason chained to a massive rock (that somehow Tommy the Third could move around, but not Jason) stuck underwater, not dead, but dreaming, was a genius move. Think about it, kids would have been adequately freaked out about swimming until the following summer, just in time for more of this madness!

The last time a Friday the 13th rolled around on the calendar, I was unaware of it, so I didn’t get to whip out a couple of our VHS tapes in the name of fun tradition. This time, I was unaware of it when I began writing the nonsense you just sat through, so it has become a lovely coincidence that I’m taking advantage of. As far as watching a couple films today, I think I’ll watch 3 and 4, just because it’s been awhile. (Four has such an awesome poster!) Pick your Voorhees classic of choice and have a good evening!




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Nathan Surface

Nathan Surface is an experimental musician, artist and writer. In 2006 he started Sephirotic Publishing and is the creator of Erotic Dismemberment Art-zine, Corrosive Altars Metal-zine and 24 Frames Cine-zine. He lives with his wife, two cats and thousands of books, films and albums.