Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

friday-jason06

My favourite FridayJason Lives is when shit finally gets going. The Voorhees/Tommy Jarvis feud continues in glorious fashion as Jason returns from the dead thanks to a well-timed bolt of lightning. Despite being made as the series was experiencing diminishing returns, Part VI looks and feels like the height of Jason-mania. He even gets his own James Bond-esque title sequence!

I love pretty much everything about this entry. I like that writer/director Tom McLoughlin respectfully expanded upon the mythology (Crystal Lake being rebranded as Forrest Green) and also injected a lot of colour and style into the proceedings. This is one of the best looking in the series with a varied visual palette which zig-zags from severe shades of gothic horror to pop-art paintball massacres. McLoughlin also has fun with the dialogue and casting. It’s easily the wittiest script of the Paramount Fridaysand much of the gratuitous elements have been violently toned down. There’s very little nudity here and every kill comes with a gag. The horror/comedy cocktail is something most 80s horror franchise became guilty of in one way or another to varying degrees of success but this one pulls off the balance beautifully. The tone is nailed down throughout. There’s a lot of inventive stuff going on here, not just in terms of the kills, but even in the way scenes transition into one another. It’s no Citizen Kanebut in a franchise that lives and breathes by repeating formula, to see a filmmaker put effort into something like fucking scene transitions is pretty exciting. I’m grateful for every moment McLoughlin tries to heighten the material. It’s no wonder this one feels the least dated.

This is the first time Jason was re-imagined as a zombie too and marks the debut of his now-iconic rotting appearance. There’s something really rock and roll about Jason in this one. He has real swagger and character. It’s probably my favourite incarnation of the character. Maybe it’s because he has his own utility belt. Maybe it’s because he kills someone to an Alice Cooper track. Maybe it’s because he realised he has just returned from the fucking dead and can’t be killed. That must feel good for kill-crazy psychos right? Either way, Jason means business in this one and it’s a riot.

Jason Lives gives you everything you’d want from a Friday the 13th movie and more. This thing even has a fucking car-chase and motor-home explosion! It really seems to embody everything that works about this dumb franchise and is incredibly self-aware about it. Revisiting it today after years between watches has only made me more fond of it. It knows exactly what kind of film it wants to be and pretty much achieves it. It’s all downhill from here…

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