“He’s back! The man behind the mask” returns, in the best sequel of the Friday the 13th franchise, and possibly even the greatest sequel of the slasher subgenre.
Note: When you meet people who claim to hate horror films, it’s because they have never invested the time to actually watch an entire horror film, and then they have the nerve to muster up hypocritical responses such as “every horror movie is the same,” or “the killer dies and always comes back” or the intellectually stimulating “horror movies are stupid.”
Everybody who hates horror says the same thing. It’s because they’ve only encountered the common denominator slasher sequel, where yes, they’re all rehashes of their predecessors.
There is not much of a difference between Friday the 13th Part III, IV and V (apart from the plot twist at the end of A New Beginning). But this is where Jason Lives stands apart. Director Tom McLoughlin (One Dark Night, Sometimes They Come Back) takes the familiar slasher and turns in on its head.
Taking place years after the events of the two previous films, Tommy Jarvis is still haunted by the memories of Jason Voorhees. When he and a friend turn up at Jason’s grave with the intentions of making sure the maniacal mass-murderer is dead, the two men dig him up only to accidentally resurrect the corpse in a scene paying homage to Frankenstein’s monster.
In all previous films, Jason was never pronounced dead until The Final Chapter. This is the first time in the series where Jason returns from the grave. And this time around, the ghoulish goalie is a supernatural strongman, setting the bar for all Jason incarnations to follow.
The introduction to the title sequence sets the tone of the film, in a brilliant parody of the James Bond series, letting viewers know that this film is not meant to be taken seriously.
And what a medley of humor the film contains, from breaking the fourth wall through to film and television references to name a few – but the cemetery caretaker’s ironic last words takes the cake.
McLoughlin also throws in plenty of supporting characters to up the body count. A couple on a romantic getaway and a workplace paintball competition (both ending in extremely dark humorous outcomes) help keep the story from revolving around teenage camp counselors, along with Tommy Jarvis’ personal vendetta to finish Jason off once and for all. This is even the first time the children make it to camp before the machete-wielding maniac redecorates Crystal Lake with teenage counselor entrails (don’t worry all you softies out there, no children are harmed in this film).
Jason Lives is also a stand apart film in terms of atmosphere. The cemetery in the first scene has a gothic touch, and the foggy scenery throughout the film’s entirety gives the viewer a sense of impending doom.
What McLoughlin does is weave together a multi-dimensional film with some breadth. It appeals to a much wider audience than the basic horror buff and it’s something you can show that friend next time he says that all slashers are the same.
~ Matthew Macabre McPhee
And for an added treat, here’s Alice Cooper’s official music video for (He’s Back) The Man Behind The Mask from the Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, something everybody should have on their Halloween playlist.