Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 11, 2004)
Personally, I kind of liked Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, but apparently the fans disagreed. It used a gimmick that didnít satisfy them, so the series reverts to prior tactics with the next iteration, 1986ís Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Plagued by hallucinatory visions of murderous Jason Voorhees (CJ Graham), Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) feels the need for closure. He decides to unearth Jasonís body, and he indeed discovers the rotting corpse of his tormentor. Not rotting enough, however, as a lighting bolt strikes the cadaver and restores Jason to life.
The killer soon makes short work of Tommyís buddy Hawes (Ron Palillo), but Jarvis escapes. He rushes to notify Forest Greenís Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) - they renamed it from Crystal Lake to leave behind the Jason connotations - but the authorities ignore him and toss him in the pokey. In the meantime, the slasher resumes his reign of terror when he slays two lost camp counselors.
The other camp leaders pester Garris to do look for them, but even though heís the father of counselor Megan (Jennifer Cooke), he ignores their pleas. Tommy tries to warn them about Jason, which irritates Garris even more, and he decides to escort Jarvis to the edge of his jurisdiction. Megan and Tommy show some romantic sparks in their brief interactions, and she starts to wonder if there might be some truth to his tale.
After some drama, the sheriff dumps Tommy on the outskirts of town and warns him not to return. The camp opens up and gets kids involved while Jason continues on his violent rampage. Matters complicate because the sheriff thinks Tommyís behind the murders, so he attempts to nab our ostensible hero. The movie follows the long string of killings and Tommyís attempts to stop Jason.
Sign youíre in for a bad horror movie: the first act includes an actor from Welcome Back Kotter and itís not John Travolta. (Heck, even if it is Travolta, itís not a good omen.) Granted, itís a cheap thrill to see Horshack get sliced by Jason, even though he seems awfully old to pal around with teen Tommy.
Thatís about the only minor fun to be had from Lives. Arguably the cheesiest of the series, this one screams ďEightiesĒ more than any other. From the music to the fashions, it hasnít aged well.
It also comes across as more toothless, largely because it presents the first Friday in which kids actually attend camp. This means thereís no way the movie can achieve its gory potential. Thereís no way a mainstream series like Friday will start to kill little kids, so the amount of tension drops.
It doesnít help that the movie telegraphs other concepts. We know exactly which adults will live or die because Lives sets up characters with no purpose other than to be Jason fodder. The prior flicks made us think that virtually anyone could die at any minute. Here, too many characters exist just to get chopped up, and with the zero potential to see Jason kill the little kids, the movie fails to create anxiety.
Lives also suffers because itís the brightest and peppiest Friday to date. It has more of a comic book feel than its predecessors, with an oddly light and perky tone. Itís broader and more comedic than usual, which made it come across like part of the Nightmare on Elm Street series more than a Friday flick. Much of this was intentional, and often Lives plays like a spoof. It doesnít work and feels more like awkward self-parody than knowing self-reference.
I thought New Beginning was better than usual because it included some real psychological darkness. All of that goes down the crapper for this campy offering. Previously, Tommy was a wreck, but here heís just a standard issue hero. What happened to the haunted kid of the prior movie? It makes no sense that he suddenly is ďcuredĒ.
One of the crummiest entries in the series, Jason Lives fails on almost all levels. It lacks logic and seems too bubbly and silly to fit in with its predecessors. A couple of decent moments pop up but thatís about it, as most of the movie really stinks.