Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Jason Lives (1986)
Absence makes the heart grow fonder: a quote that always reign true when it comes to issues of the heart and mind. We miss what makes us comfortable.
In 1984, Paramount killed off Jason Voorhees—they wanted to take Friday the 13th in a new direction; after four films, the studio decided to take a chance and introduce a new killer, it didn’t sit right with fans. What did they want? What did they need? Jason, of course.
Jason made his mighty screen come back on August, 1st 1986.
Part VI, has a special place in horror movie Archives—it added something to the franchise that worked, humor. It’s a satisfying feeling knowing that you can laugh and be frightened in the same 90 minute experience. It marked a creative turn for one of the most profitable horror franchises.
After the killing spree at Pinehurst, Tommy Jarvis escapes from his current support house—Tommy, plagued with nightmares of Jason’s reign of terror, and he is convinced that it is time to cremate Jason and see him engulfed in flames—this backfires and Jason is brought back to the realm of the living.
Jason dispatches one of Tommy’s friends and sends Jarvis running back to his truck and towards Forest Green or formerly Crystal Lake. Tommy tries to warn the sheriff and in horror movie cliché, places Tommy in jail. Jason begins his murder spree and everything goes on like a good horror movie should. Sex, drugs, and plenty of gore.
Jason Lives is not only a satire, but an homage to the horror movies before it. Jason is brought back to life by a lighting (Frankenstein), and in order defeat Jason—he needs to be returned to his home soil (classic vampire lore). Jason fits the role of a monster, he is something supernatural and unstoppable. He is a force of nature that will destroy everything in his path.
The concerned citizens finally come to realize that everything the crazy hero is telling them is the truth, and now they rally to destroy the creature. Classic horror movie, and that’s what Jason Lives is: a classic horror movie.
Director Tom Mcloughlin wanted to change the tone of the film and make a different entry into the series, which he did. He took a franchise and gave it a breath of fresh air. He made something that was pure carnage and made it indestructible.
The humor is also quite dark—it subtle ways—when Jason kills Lizabeth the tone of the bubbles coming from the pit are in a humorous rhythm. The caretaker’s lines to the audience breaks the fourth wall in such a way that keeps to the rhythm of the film. The humor fits the film.
The music is once again composed by a series regular: Harry Manfredini, and in addition to Manfredini’s score; Alice cooper brings in his own slice of horror rock with ‘He’s Back (The Man behind the Mask).
Jason Lives in many ways is one of the best F13 films.
But the film isn’t perfect.
The deaths are nothing outstanding and in way not memorable. The only deaths that stand out are the triple decapitation with the paintball players and Sheriff Garris getting bent in half.
Friday the 13th is known for its over the top deaths, but this film simply lacks memorable deaths. The movie hits high marks on everything, except, what makes it a good slasher film.
C.J. Graham who plays the machete wielding bad man, gives nothing to Jason. He plays the character with no personality and no emotion to the point where it looks stiff and rigid. Jason needs to be a character and not an object. The smallest little movements could make Jason come to life, but when he’s played like a stiff board—he doesn’t have the same effect.
In the future sequels Kane Hodder made Jason by over extenuating Jason’s breathing or the way Jason would walk towards the camera. It’s not fair to compare Graham to Hodder, but it should serve as a point of comparison of what to do and what not to do.
Jason Lives is a phenomenal movie in comparison to ‘A New Beginning’ or ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’. It’s an enjoyable film and a good starting point for anyone who has never seen a F13 film to jump into. A classic rivalry between Hero and Villain, which is etched in horror history.
It shows that humor can be added to something and not make it too much of a comedy or too silly. The movie plays like a dark satire, one that knows which lines to cross and which to avoid. Jason lives is the only film in the series to be a satire and homage, but it laid the ground work for what the series could do if put into the right hands, and what future directors should do—if Jason makes another on-screen appearance.
And remember: He’s Back.
Kurt Thingvold is no stranger to Machine Mean, having reviewed for us on several occasions, including his previous review on Godzilla (1954) and Jurassic Park (1993). Kurt was born and raised in IL. He finds passion in writing, that helps calm his demons. He grew up in a tough household that encouraged reading and studying. He spends his time writing in multiple of genres. His published short story, Roulette, can be found on Amazon. When not writing he can be found playing games, reading, or attempting to slay the beast known as “Customer Service”, which, he fails at almost every day. As mentioned, Kurt is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean, you can also check out his previous review on Ridley Scott’s legacy movie Alien here.