Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) is a refreshing rebirth for the series. By both integrating itself into the rest of the series and having a sense of humour without being too ludicrous, the film is one of the most enjoyable films in the series.
In a change for the series, the opening of the film is atmospheric and genuinely scary. Riffing on Frankenstein (1931), the film opens in a foggy, dark cemetery, the vibe well and truly heightened by solid use of the soundtrack. Further inviting comparisons to the James Whale classic is the grave robbing that takes place in the early part of the film as Tommy (another ‘creepy not Feldman’) opens up the tomb of Jason Voorhees to ensure he is well and truly dead. Jason’s maggot infested body is one of the visual highlights of the series up to this point and the reanimation of his corpse (erm… spoiler, Jason comes back) is a wonderfully schlocky scene combining the slasher genre with some more supernatural elements. Specifically it is a bolt of lightning that gives Jason life, reinforcing the Frankenstein correlations even further. But it never feels derivative in that sense, rather it feels like a really fun homage. Another point of difference and a very important one for this film is that the kids actually make it to camp this year. That sets up the most intense elements of the film, which balance the humour this film brings to the table. This is taken some pretty intense and shocking places which is a change from the constant over the top body count with no real stakes that has occasionally featured in this series and also does in some parts of this film. It also delivers one of the lines of the series when seemingly nearing death, one little dude enquires of another “so, what were you gonna be when you grew up.”
One of the reasons that the film does feel like a rebirth of the series is that it manages to engage with the earlier films, rather than completely starting over. The inclusion of the character of Tommy connects the film to number IV. Even though the series at this point has almost done away with bothering with narratives for the films (which is not always a totally bad thing, as in this case), that connection at least gives a sense of some narrative substance. At least one character in the film has some motivation. What this film does better than any other in the series and better than a vast majority of slashers that attempt to do the same, is inject humour into proceedings. When it works well in this film, which is a reasonable amount, there is an awesome and genuinely funny schlockiness that manages to avoid veering into the silly. Even those aspects which absolutely could be silly, such as the James Bond reference in the opening credits manage to avoid that.
As a general rule, slashers that also try and be funny are the absolute worst. Not so Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, which manages to maintain some focus on the slashing and not totally concern itself with making terrible 80s jokes.
Verdict: Stubby of Reschs
Series ranking thus far:
- Friday the 13th Part 2
- Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
- Friday the 13th
- Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
- Friday the 13th Part III