Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
If one is looking for a really good 'Friday the 13th' title for the lore, I'd point them towards 'The Final Chapter'. But if one wants to just see Jason do his thing, I'd most certainly point them towards 'Jason Lives'. It is hands-down my favorite of the entire series. I can't help but appreciate how incredibly representative of the late 80's horror era this is. It was a time when horror was embedded into pop culture in such a way that even children knew who these horrific anti-heroes were. I often dub this film as being a self-portrait of classically cheesy 80's horror,
After 'A New Beginning' really split audiences, writer/director Tom McLaughlin took the helm, fully realizing what slasher horror had become. This meant that he was in a good spot to put his own spin on it, sprinkle in some comedy, add a dash of Alice Cooper (three songs, including one written for the film), break the fourth wall here and there, and hell, for once, even feature kids coming to the camp and dealing with Jason. It's weird, but it's the first and only time that ever happens, despite the previous filmmakers knowing perfectly well that kids were watching this stuff. I went to elementary school with a few gorehounds, for sure. I was not one of them, but once I learned about the fun aspect of this stuff, I was able to sit comfortably enough that I could even route for Jason. In my head, that's what this movie is all about - getting the non-horror fans on-board.
For a quick plot break-down, Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews) takes a drive with his buddy, Allen (Ron Palillo) to dig up Jason and make damn sure he's dead, offering his mind some closure after so many years of nightmares. In doing this, he rams an iron fencepost through Jason's heart, Jason is struck by lightning, and he goes full attack-mode zombie from there. The whole cheesiness of the opening says to the audience right away that they're gonna have some fun with this while scares happen along the way, as opposed to more of the same thing all over again (but I say that loosely).
Continuing plot, Tommy runs to the Forest Green Sheriff Department (Crystal Lake has been renamed after the grizzly Jason murders) to report that Jason has come back to life. Of course, this doesn't go over well with Sheriff Garris (David Kagen), and keeping the raving Tommy away from his daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke) becomes his top priority. However, Megan might just rather live her life on the wild side, and may even believe Tommy about all this Jason stuff.
Meanwhile, Camp Forest Green opens up to a group of kids, a few of whom I always thought were supposed to symbolize the two different kinds of kids who were getting away with watching this stuff. Nancy (Courtney Vickery) is the kid who's scared of some sort of Boogeyman, and represents the kid who is gonna watch these movies and have nightmares for ages. Otherwise, two boys named Tyen and Billy (Thomas and Justin Nowell) provide some comedy relief, representing the kids who watch these movies and are often heard saying those words; "it's just a movie". These kids are guided by a small handfull of counselors; Sissy, Paula and Cort (Renée Jones, Kerry Noonan and Tom Fridley, respectively), who are the only characters in the movie who represent Jason's "main course" (the select group of teens who are bound to be lambs to the slaughter).
While the film is mostly just a matter of bringing Jason back for one hell of a killing spree, and Tommy trying to put him back into the ground, the whole likability of this one comes from viewing it as a completely self-aware horror comedy as opposed to your classic Jason movies. One should treat it a lot like 'Scream'. It was and still is praised for being a fun, self-aware horror movie that pokes fun at the slasher genre while still being kinda scary at the same time. To put some gusto on that, guess where 'Scream' writer Kevin Williamson got his inspiration for the film? That's right, right here!
Body Count: 18
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