**** Out of 5
Tagline- Kill or Be Killed
Release Date- August 1st, 1986
Running Time- 86-Minutes
Written & Directed By- Tom McLoughlin
Starring- Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen, Kerry Noonan, Renee Jones, Tom Fridley, Vincent Guastaferro, C.J. Graham
Released in 1986 Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives does something very rare for sequels; it takes the basic formula and sticks true to it, but also mixes it up enough that it makes for an original sequel that doesn’t stray from the concept behind the series. Jason Lives, while a legit horror flick also makes for a clever satire and in many ways can be seen as the Scream before Scream. Writer/director Tom McLoughlin not only has fun with the slasher movie conventions, but he also creates a more gothic look, like something out of the Universal horror flicks of the 30s and 40s and this part really stands out as again it keeps true to the series, but isn’t a complete rehash of the movies that came before it.
While the slasher film was still turning a profit in 1986 I think most will agree that even though there were still some entertaining slasher flicks these films clearly were running their course as there really is only so many times you can rehash Halloween or Friday the 13th before things start getting really stale and that’s what also helps this film standout as like I said it makes for a clever satire and doesn’t rehash Halloween or the previous Friday the 13th movies and this one also started the more over the top kills that would become a staple in not just the Friday the 13th movies, but slasher movies as a whole and Jason Lives also introduced us to the new Jason (Graham) who really is almost like a different character than the one in 2-4 even if Kane Hodder gets all the credit for the change in Jason.
The screenplay by Tom McLoughlin is possibly the best written of the series and one of the better written slasher films in general. McLoughlin stays true to the roots of the series, but adds a lot more comedy and as I said Jason Lives plays out as a clever satire and in many ways can be seen as the Scream before Scream and I have to assume this movie had some influence on Kevin Williamson; dialogue like “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly” makes Jason Lives a lot smarter and more creative than any other slasher flick at the time. The characters are a lot of fun and entertaining and Jason Lives features some of the stronger characters in a slasher film; at the end of the day, while most are simply to add to the body count, McLoughlin however gives them their own identity and in their own way all the characters add to the plot. The most interesting part for me is Megan (Cooke) the final girl has more of the qualities of the best friend who dies in the final act and Paula (Noonan) has all the final girl qualities. This in part helps elevate Jason Lives and Megan is a nice change from the typical final girl that dominates the slasher movie.
As director Tom McLoughlin keeps the movie moving along at a strong pace and Jason Lives from start to finish is highly entertaining; the satirical nature of the movie also works well with the suspense and while Jason Lives may not be the scariest or most suspenseful installment McLoughlin does deliver some strong moments of suspense throughout the movie. Tom McLoughlin delivers an excellent and fun movie that again works very well as a clever satire and I love the fact McLoughlin took a formula that was growing old by this point in both the franchise and slasher movies in general and delivered a movie that while keeping true to the formula also mixes it up rather than delivering yet another rehash; not many movies with the part VI in the title are very original, but Jason Lives ends up being fresh and original without straying from slasher conventions. There are also some nice homage’s and most fans will surly pick up on them and a lot of people complain about Jason’s resurrection, but its paying homage to Frankenstein.
Not only is Jason Lives on the better written and directed slasher flicks of the 80s it’s also one of the stronger acted as well. Pretty much all the actors deliver fun performances and Thom Matthews now takes over the role of Tommy Jarvis previously played by Corey Feldman and John Sheppard; Matthews is excellent as Tommy and is sort of a Dr. Loomis like character; Jennifer Cooke as Megan is a total blast and David Kagen as Sheriff Garris is also a lot of fun. Also look for Tony Goldwyn is a brief role early in the movie.
Overall Jason Lives is a total blast from the very start; it’s a clever satire and features some decent suspense with strong filmmaking and acting and a very kick ass soundtrack that features Alice Cooper. When it comes to the Friday the 13th movies (Paramount) all of them are fun, but only downside is they all rehash each other after the brilliant original so Jason Lives is very much welcomed and who doesn’t love the James Bond Spoof opening credits.