Getting the series back on track after Part 5 stumbled in its attempt to introduce a worthy heir to the iconic slasher, JASON LIVES finds Tommy Jarvis, this time played by Thom Mathews (Freddy in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), as he travels to Jason’s final resting place and in a vain attempt at finding closure, inadvertently resurrects the silent killer in fashion befitting Dr. Frankenstein. Brought back to the land of the living, Jason, now undead and more determined than ever, makes his way back to Camp Crystal Lake, where a fresh batch of counselors and campers have just arrived for a weekend they won’t soon forget.
Aided by his friend Allen (Ron Palillo, Horshack from "Welcome Back, Kotter"), Tommy breaks into the cemetery where Jason Voorhees has been laid to rest and digs up the serial killer's remains in hopes that destroying his tormentor’s body will finally put an end to the horrific events that have haunted him since Part 4. Face to face with Jason’s lifeless corpse, Tommy stabs at the maggot infested cadaver in a cathartic fit of rage, only to accidentally facilitate the silent killer’s return, as Jason is brought back to life by not one but two rogue bolts of lighting. Back on his feet, Jason makes a bee line for Crystal Lake, now renamed Lake Forest Green in an attempt to cover up and move past the tragic events of the past five films, where counselors Megan (Jennifer Cooke, GIMME AN 'F'), Cort (Tom Fridley), Nikki (Darcy DeMoss, REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS) Paula (Kerry Noonan, HOT MOVES) and Sissy (Renée Jones) are waiting for a bus load of young boys and girls to be dropped off for the summer. Hysterical and frightened by what he has unleashed, Tommy confronts local Sheriff Michael Garris (David Kagen) who believes the young man to be a psychopath for whom he wishes nothing more than to leave town and never return. Alas, the poor Sheriff proves inept at keeping Tommy away from the Lake and his defiant daughter Megan wouldn’t mind seeing Tommy stick around for awhile. A trail of scattered limbs and severed heads however leave Megan's dad with little doubt as to the culprit of such horrific displays and makes it his mission to take down what he believes to be a psychotic teen attempting to copycat the murders that he witnessed as a boy.
Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin’s decision to approach Part 6 in the FRIDAY franchise with a mischievous and dark comedic slant plays exceedingly well and in may ways predates the tongue-in cheek, self-deprecating humor that many horror films of the 1990s, such as the original SCREAM, found success with. While the nudity has been dramatically toned down, the kills and over all entertainment value have increased exponentially, as JASON LIVES boasts one of the franchise's highest body counts. Faces are crushed, stomachs stabbed, heads decapitated and bodies are folded into themselves like a futon, all at the hands of one of modern cinema's most recognizable horror icons. In many ways JASON LIVES represents a high mark in the recently rejuvenated franchise, as subsequent sequels suffered in both originality and quality, save for the casting of Kane Hodder, who was able to breathe life (and death) into a character who became increasingly surrounded by ludicrous set ups and struggling scenarios. After sending Jason to space (and dear Lord was that ever awful) the series saw an upturn with the fanboy wet dream come true that is FREDDY VS. JASON, which saw Jason cross blades with the sarcastic killer Freddy from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET pictures. With the release of the recent FRIDAY remake on DVD and Blu-Ray and a sequel already in the works, it doesn't look like Jason is going to get to hang up his hokey mask anytime soon.
Paramount first released A NEW BEGINNING on DVD in 2003 and again a year later as part of their Ultimate Edition DVD Collection. Continuing in their “Deluxe Edition” re-releases of the FRIDAY films, Paramount presents JASON LIVES in an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that has been mastered in High Definition. Picture quality is quite clear, with night scenes in particular showing a remarkable amount of detail. Audio is presented with a new 5.1 Surround mix as well as an English 2.0 Surround mix, both clear of imperfections or distortion. French and Spanish language tracks are also available and can be accessed along with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles from the disc's Set Up menu.
Tom McLoughlin, editor Bruce Green, and Vincent Guastaferro (Deputy Rick Cologne)
provide a commentary track that finds the three men fondly recalling their time
on the film's Georgia set and in awe of the surprising longevity of the series
as a whole. “Lost Tales From Camp Blood –Part 6” is more of
the same, a seven minute snippet of a FRIDAY inspired film that finds a young
man being stalked through the woods by an unknown, hooded assailant. Like Parts
1 and 2, found on the “Deluxe Editions” of THE FINAL CHAPTER and
A NEW BEGINNING, respectively, “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part
3” retells the events of Part 6 through staged interviews, mostly to comedic
effect. "Jason Lives: The Making of FRIDAY THE 13th Part 5: A NEW BEGINNING"
is a 12 minute featurette that looks back on the film though interviews with
Tom McLoughlin, his wife Nancy McLoughlin, Vincent Guastaferro, make-up Effects
artist, Chris Biggs and more. The segment touches on a number of aspects from
the film including the casting of the iconic mask and the film's numerous and
intentional nods to the classic Universal Monsters. “Meeting Mr. Voorhees”
is a short storyboard animatic of what director McLoughlin had originally intended
for the film's ending. Narrated by Bob Larkin, who played the cemetery's caretaker,
the brief animation shows what would have been an acknowledgment to Jason’s
dear old dad. “Slashed Scenes” features six minutes of trimmed footage,
mostly of kills edited per the request of the MPAA. Highlights include a more
drawn out death scene for Sheriff Garris and a better look at Jason’s
impressive triple header decapitation scene. The quality of this cut footage
is poor, but it does help demonstrate just how impressive the quality of the
feature itself is. The original theatrical trailer ties up a nice selection
of extras, all of which have been subtitled in English.
While Parts 4 and 5 may only appeal to diehard fans of the franchise, JASON LIVES should be on the radar of anyone who appreciates 1980s horror, as it proves to be the perfect complement to a cold beer and a hot bag of popcorn. Paramount Home Entertainment recently announced "Deluxe Editions" for FRIDAY THE 13th Part 7: THE NEW BLOOD and FRIDAY THE 13th Part 8 – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN, tentatively scheduled for September 15th, so whether you’re a casual or devout FRIDAY fan, more Jason is on the way. Let’s just hope they don’t send him to space again. (Jason McElreath)
BACK TO REVIEWS