starring: Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke and David Kagen
As of writing this, it's the Second FRIDAY THE 13TH of the year! Time for another Friday film review~
The late 80s may not be the most stable release dates for this fair and unique horror sub-genre, but it did brought a new barrage of cheesiness and out-of-mind craziness inspired by sex, drugs and rock n' roll! And with Freddy Kruger's cartoon nightmares influencing a number of slashers released in this era (Pledge Night, Shocker, The Horror Show, just to name a few...), if Jason needs to do a come back, he's not gonna do it as a twisty whodunit, he's gonna do it with style!
It's been ten years since Jason's death and some time after Tommy Jarvis, his killer, lost his wits. Reliving those fateful days when he hacked that maniac to bits, and when he's terrorized by that Jason Wannabe, Roy Burns, Tommy plans to end it all tonight.
Escaping from a mental institution, Tommy, (along with his bunkie) drives all the way back to camp Crystal Lake, AKA "Camp Forest Green" (in an attempt to wash off Crystal Lake's bloody legacy), to find and defile Jason's grave, and burn the body to dust, only to have a freak lightning somehow struck the corpse twice, frying and reviving the dead man back to his feet ala Frankenstein.
Well, Tommy, you fucked up. Big time.
Now that Jason's back from the dead as a supernaturally strengthened zombie out for blood, he's dicing and slicing his way back to his old home and he's doing it with much cartoonish yet effectively gruesome ante. But Tommy's not gonna run away, not this time, and aided by the spunky daughter of the local sheriff, he's going to bring Jason down back to where he belongs. But how can you stop an undead juggernaut, who's killing anyone he can grab without breaking a sweat?
Sex, Blood, and rock n' roll, Jason Lives marks the time where directors fully embraced the Friday the 13th formula ala zombie Jason. When the first Friday film is the usual backwoods 80s fare, the second a continuation of sorts, the third a basic slasher skeleton that sparks little or no life (despite watchable), fourth a psuedo-finale and the fifth, a cheesier take on said basic slasher skeleton (with high bodycount), Jason Lives gives Jason the ole "Freddy Treatment" (minus the one-liners) by not bother hiding Jason's masked face and gave him all the open glory to show off his goods as fluidly as possible. Reviving him as a zombie also made him a tougher boogeyman than his fleshier previous, now easily withstanding any forms of punishments (a trait that gets more absurd in each following sequel) and mutilate bodies in hulking strength. I mean, since when can Jason tear a man's arm with a force strong enough to catapult him unto a branch and impaling him there at the same time? Or push a girl's face through a van wall until it does a "mold"? Yep, Jason in his whole glory, right here!
This approach, however, had met a mixed taste among fans. While there are folks, like me, who loves this easy-to-eat-cheesy approach to the franchise, there are too those who felt the easy going take was responsible for the cheesier later entries. I wouldn't diss them, even I have to admit the much dreaded Jason Takes Manhattan was possibly the worst entry in the series with all that jumbled narrative and Jason somehow learning ninjutsu, (or teleportation), but I can't help loving the camp, loving the high counts and especially loving the zombie Jason. And there's no denying the fact this film might as well be the best among the sequels ever made.
And let's face it, Friday the 13th was never about serious drama. Even Tommy Jarvis finally loosens up, and not in a bad way; out of the three versions of Mr. Jarvis, this one is definitely my fave as not only because he's played by Thom Mathews, the unlucky teenager who kept running into zombies in Return of The Living Dead and its first sequel, but also because he has the strongest will to end it all (albeit failing in context of sequels). He's also the first teen final boy in the series, which starts up the later Fridays' tradition of a surviving love interest. Speaking of who, Jennifer Cooke as Megan Garris also gave this film's first spunky final girl, though she watered down in the end. (understandable. She just lost her dad) But up to that point, she shows a die-hard attitude that are in contrast to Tommy's Jasonophobic ramblings.
Love it or Like it, Jason Lives is a big and THE best way to welcome back the Crystal Lake Slasher. The Zombified Hulk. The Juggernaut of death. THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK! Note that this entry also did one of the first few Pre-Scream wink-winks, giving as much as a clever look into the cliches of every slasher films made. And why not? With the late 80's booming number of teen horror, it makes me giddy just seeing how a Friday film made it through.
The Friday film to be loved and deserving of love. LONG LIVE JASON!
1 Male had his heart punched out
1 Male impaled with a fence post
1 Female gets a fence post to the mouth
1 Male had an arm torn off and thrown to a tree, impaled by the neck on a branch
2 Males and 1 Female gets a triple decapitation with a machete
1 Male gets a broken bottle to the neck
1 male and 1 female gets a double impaling with machete
1 Female had her face crushed against a mirror, forced through RV wall
1 Male gets a bowie knife to the ear
1 Male found in pieces
1 Female had her head twisted off
1 Female bludgeoned and hacked to bits with a machete
1 Male gets a dart thrown to his forehead
1 Male had his head crushed
1 Male bent in half