‘Digging in the cemetery can have grave consequences.’
Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI is a 1986 American supernatural slasher horror film written and directed by Tom McLoughlin (One Dark Night). It is the sixth entry in the Friday the 13th film series.
Although the original concept called for Tommy Jarvis, the protagonist of parts IV and V, to become the new villain, the poor fan reception of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning prompted the producers to bring back Jason Voorhees as the series’ antagonist.
In resurrecting Jason, McLoughlin made Jason an explicitly supernatural force for the first time in the series, depicting him as being raised from the dead via electricity; this version of Jason—a zombie serial killer rather than a mortal superhuman—would become the standard depiction for the rest of the franchise, until 2009’s remake.
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The film’s score was once again by Harry Manfredini, who re-used familiar cues from the series but added more playful musical elements as befits the jokey tone. It also features tracks by Alice Cooper.
Despite being the second-lowest grossing film in the franchise to that point, it was the first film in the series since the original to receive positive critical reviews.
In the years since its release, its self-referential humor and numerous instances of breaking the fourth wall have been praised for prefiguring Wes Craven’s Scream series and other similar 1990s horror films. As of 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, Jason Lives was a fan favourite of the series, in addition to receiving positive notice from horror film historians.
Jason Voorhees has been dead for years, and the town of Crystal Lake has been renamed Forest Green in an attempt to distance its bloody reputation. However, Tommy Jarvis, after being released from an institute after an extended stay, intends to cremate the body of the infamous mass murderer. His friend Hawes accompanies him to the graveyard where they find and dig up Jason’s grave.
Tommy loses control upon seeing Jason’s body and stabs it several times with a metal fence post. Suddenly, lightning from an oncoming storm strikes the post and resurrects Jason into a supernatural creature now much stronger than he had been before; he then kills Hawes by punching his heart out. Tommy narrowly escapes and flees to the sheriff’s station where Sheriff Garris recognizes Tommy and assumes he is hallucinating. Tommy tries to take the Sheriff’s gun before he is locked up.
Meanwhile, Darren and Lizbeth, two camp supervisors are making their way to the lake where they hope to reopen the camp when they are stopped by Jason who kills them both with the fence post…
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“Reviving Jason via a wonderfully evocative old-school Gothic horror graveyard opening (all dry ice, forked lightning and an EC-comics style maggoty corpse), it also hits the bullseye with a cute title sequence featuring Vorhees in a James Bond pastiche prior to the title splashing on the screen in bright red blood.” Steven West, Horror Screams Video Vault
‘Part VI is hugely popular with fans because after the serious brutality of the last two instalments, this film injects some much-needed craziness and zaniness into the mix. A character speaks directly to us and chastises us for our choice of entertainment, little kids in potential mortal danger talk about what they would have been if they had grown up, and several camera angles make it disturbingly clear that a female counsellor is wearing a Maxi Pad.’ Mutant Reviewers
“Jason Lives is too jokey for unadulterated horror tastes and too underdeveloped for sophisticated satisfaction. But hey, if all a “Friday the 13th” fan wants is Jason turning wayward campers, corporate retreaters, a canoodling couple, and a drunk cemetery caretaker into mulch, albeit somewhat plainly, “Jason Lives” certainly has that in spades.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt
“Jason Lives seems to divide Friday the 13th fans right down the middle. There are those that enjoy the playful aspect of the movie and enjoy its fast pace and sly humour, whilst there are others who feel that it is the one responsible for the series slowly becoming ridiculous and losing its edge. In a manner of speaking, both could be considered correct, but there is no denying how enjoyable Jason Lives actually is.” Retro Slashers
‘Along with bringing a welcome sense of humor, director Tom McLoughlin (also check out his undervalued 1982 supernatural chiller One Dark Night) makes Jason Lives easily the most visually interesting film in the series. It’s full of old-fashioned, gothic atmosphere, right from the very beginning when Jason is raised from the dead by lightning. McLoughlin knows that Jason is essentially a modern-age Frankenstein, and depicts him as such.’ Jason Alley, Letterboxd
Cast and characters:
- C. J. Graham/Dan Bradley as Jason Voorhees
- Thom Mathews as Tommy Jarvis
- Jennifer Cooke as Megan Garris
- David Kagen as Sheriff Mike Garris
- Renee Jones as Sissy Baker
- Kerry Noonan as Paula
- Darcy DeMoss as Nikki
- Tom Fridley as Cort
- Alan Blumenfeld as Larry
- Matthew Faison as Stan
- Ann Ryerson as Katie
- Tony Goldwyn as Darren
- Nancy McLoughlin as Lizbeth
- Ron Palillo as Allen Hawes
- Vincent Guastaferro as Deputy Rick Cologne
- Michael Swan as Officer Pappas
Related: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th | Friday the 13th (1980) | Friday the 13th (2015) | Friday the 13th (video game) | Friday the 13th: No Man’s Land | Friday the 13th Part 2 | Friday the 13th Part III | Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter | Friday the 13th: A New Beginning | Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday | Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI | Freddy vs. Jason
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