Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Poster for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) by #TomMcLoughlin w/ #ThomMathews #JenniferCookeJenniferCooke

While Jason returns to Crystal Lake for another killing spree, Tommy must overcome his fear of the masked killer that has haunted him for years, and find a way to stop him.

Kill Or Be Killed

#Horror #Slasher #Jason #FridayThe13th
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn
#FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn:

As I may have mentioned a while back, I was annoyed when Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) came out. I had thought that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) had been a fitting ending for the series, as I may have mentioned in another previous blog post.

And then when A New Beginning began with a couple of assholes digging up Jason Voorhees’ grave, and he was lying inside, looking fairly intact, I started to get angry. He had been chopped up into a million pieces at the end of Part 4, hadn’t he?

When Jason woke up and started killing the two assholes, I completely lost it.

I know, I’ve said all of this before. The punchline of that story was – and is – that it turned out to be a dream. Jason was not fully intact inside his grave, and he did not sit up and start killing people. So, I was greatly relieved.

But guess what happens at the beginning of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)… It’s practically the same thing all over again – only this time it’s no dream. Jason IS in one piece inside of his grave, and he DOES sit up and start killing people again.

It’s no secret that most fans HATED A New Beginning, and I was no different (although over the years I have come to love it). It only stands to reason that the powers that be must have insisted on bringing Jason back to life so they could appease the fans and keep cashing in on sequel after sequel.

I must have been one of the only fans who did not like this idea. I was pleased that they had made the bold move of killing Jason off at the end of Part 4 and, although I hated it at first, I respected the fact that they had tried to do something new with A New Beginning. I did not want them to bring Jason back to life.

As such, I refused to watch Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives for the longest time. Finally, I stumbled onto it late one night on Pay TV. It was probably about halfway through, so I didn’t know for sure what I was seeing at first. I found myself pleasantly surprised by how entertaining a couple of the moments were, but I was still holding onto the idea that I didn’t want this movie to exist, so I ultimately changed the channel and ignored it.

Years later, I finally sat down to watch it from the beginning. And you know what? I found it to be one the most entertaining films in the series. It had a sense of humour. It was almost poking fun at itself at times. In some ways, it was one of the earliest precursors to Scream (1996) and the other post-modern slashers.

Okay, that might be overstating it a little – but it was a surprisingly funny movie. And it was precisely that sense of humour; that atmosphere of not taking itself too seriously, that made it okay to resurrect Jason with a bolt of lightning like he was Frankenstein’s monster. The teenage me might have hated it, but thirty-something me enjoyed the hell out of it.

I’ve watched it several times since then, and it’s become one of my favourite Friday the 13th movies. Thom Matthews as a grown up Tommy (and a much more sane one than the Tommy in A New Beginning) is extremely likeable. His relationship with Jennifer Cooke’s Megan feels like a throwback to 1940s screwball comedies, and helps to give the movie some heart. I’d like to have seen even more onscreen action involving the two, but I guess I’ll settle for what’s there.

Director Tom McLoughlin is to be commended for breathing new life (literally) into a nearly dead series. He is also the guy who made One Dark Night (1982), so that makes him pretty cool to any fan of cult horror cinema (or at least it should in my opinion). 

It probably goes without saying that Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) is a perfect movie for any  #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn. It’s easily one of the greatest fifth sequels – or sixth parts in a movie series – in the entire history of endless horror sequels and unapologetic #NotQuiteClassicCinema.

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

I was annoyed when Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) came out. I had thought that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) had been a fitting ending for the series, as I may have mentioned in a previous blog post. Still, when a friend and I were looking for something cool to rent on a Saturday night, we decided to give Friday the 13th Part V a shot. Part 5? That in itself was unheard of and ridiculous to us. Most sequels petered out by Part 3 in those days. The idea of endless sequels would soon become fodder for satire in movies like  Back to the Future Part II (1989), which featured a movie poster for Jaws 19.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning Beta tapeMy friend and I brought the Friday the 13th: A New Beginning tape back to his house and popped it in the Betamax. As the movie began with a couple of assholes digging up Jason Voorhees’ grave, I started to get worried. When they removed the lid of his coffin and Jason was lying inside, looking fairly intact, I started to get angry. He had been chopped up into a million pieces at the end of Part 4, hadn’t he?

When Jason woke up and started killing the two assholes, I completely lost it.

“What is this bullshit?!” I yelled at the screen. “He’s been lying in his coffin, alive, waiting for someone to come along and dig him up?” My friend couldn’t explain it any better than I could. The Friday the 13th series had not exactly been realistic up to this point – and Jason certainly seemed to get killed two or three times in each of the previous movies, only to get back up and start massacring teenagers again – but he was chopped up into little pieces at the end of Part 4! The whole point had been to make sure that he would never be able to get back up again. That’s why they called it The Final Chapter.

If they were going to bring Jason back to life, I would have at least expected them to have some sort of explanation – like a mad scientist sewing all the body parts back together. Simply opening a coffin and having him sit up was not good enough for me. I was in the midst of expressing my great displeasure when suddenly the TV screen went all fuzzy. Something had gone wrong with the tape. My friend stopped and started it a couple of times, and tried to adjust the tracking, but the screen remained fuzzy. Not even ejecting and reloading the tape made any difference. We looked at the clock and it was too late to even return the tape to the store and complain. We would not be finishing Friday the 13th: A New Beginning on that might.

Of course, it wouldn’t have done much good even if we could have returned the tape to the store. This was before the big chains started stocking thirty copies of every new release and guaranteeing that you would be able to get hold of it. Hell, this was before the big chains even existed (at least in my home town). Our only hope might have been that the guy at the video store would have known how to fix the tape, but that wasn’t too likely, either.

We did not watch the rest of movie that night, or the next day. I think my friend maybe got a store credit for a future rental. I hated the first five minutes of Friday the 13th Part V so much that I was no big hurry to ever rent it again. Why would I want to watch the rest of it, when I thought it was complete bullshit? I complained loudly to all of my other friends about it. Several months later, one of them took me aside.

“Hey, I just watched Friday the 13th Part V,” he said, “and that scene at the beginning… the one you hated so much… it’s a dream.”

What?

“It’s a dream. Jason doesn’t come back to life, it’s just a dream!”

Oh.

So, I rented Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and gave it another shot. I still didn’t like it. My big problem was that the killer was not Jason Voorhees. It was a guy pretending to be Jason Voorhees, but he seemed to be just as indestructible as Jason Voorhees. As much as I had complaints about Jason’s unrealistic ability to survive being stabbed, hung, hit in the head with an axe, etc., I had ultimately accepted the fact that he was in some way supernatural. He had possibly downed as a kid, after all, and somehow come back to life. Although, I tended to believe that he hadn’t drowned, but rather had somehow survived and grew up in the woods. Still, he was clearly some sort of indestructible, supernatural being. Simply putting on a hockey mask and pretending to be Jason Voorhees should not give you superpowers.

Apparently I was not alone in my dislike of Friday the 13th Part V. However, it seems that most people didn’t like it simply because the killer wasn’t Jason. So, the next movie was Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). I refused to see that one for years. as I still believed that Jason had been permanently destroyed at the end of Part 4. So, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning became the end for the series or me, at least for a while.

Eventually I watched the rest of the films, and I watched Friday the 13th Part V a second time. Knowing what to expect, I enjoyed it much more than the first time. It’s grown on me more and more with each subsequent viewing. In some ways, it’s the most unique movie of the series. It has characters that I actually like and care about. It has a sense of humour. It continues the story of Tommy from Part 4, although he has somehow aged 12 or 13 years between 1984 and 1985. But there’s a new kid in this movie, “Reggie The Reckless” played by Shavar Ross (perhaps best known as Dudley from Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986). Reggie is a great character, and helps to make this movie more than just a typical slasher movie sequel. The presence of troubled adult Tommy also gives the movie a different spin. Possible SPOILER ALERT: much has been made of the “final girl” trope in golden age slasher films, but this movie has a final trio.

While some people do cite the movie as their personal favourite, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) is probably the most maligned entry in the series, and thus a perfect example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I can honestly say that I love it now, which I would have never predicted when first watching it on Beta back in 1985. It is a most welcome addition to any #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

As I mentioned in a previous postFriday the 13th Part III (1982) was the first Friday the 13th film I ever saw. And I had the good fortune of seeing it in the threatre in 3D! It was quite a mind-blowing experience, and as is the case with many first time experiences, it would prove very difficult to top. The next one I saw was the original Friday the 13th (1980), and that movie blew my mind for very different reason, which I wrote about in another blog post. I think that the next Friday the 13th film I saw was Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984).

I was so excited when I heard that this movie was coming out – and, of course, I wanted to see it in the theatre. Sadly, it was not to  be. I don’t remember if it was because my Dad had hated Part III so much that there was no way I could convince him to take me to Part 4 (which would have undoubtedly been true) or, if it was because Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was rated ‘R’ in Manitoba. I have a vague memory that the film was indeed Restricted, which meant that no one under the age of 18 would be admitted. 

This was, on the one hand, disappointing. I had really enjoyed seeing Part III on the big screen and I would have loved seeing Part 4 on the big screen, too. But on the other hand, this kind of made me more excited. The movie was rated ‘R’ which meant that it had to be even more violent, more gory – and more scary – than the already extreme (to my inexperienced eyes) Part III!

I rented the movie on Beta as soon as it came out.

And isn’t that weird? The rules were very strict about not letting anyone under the age of 18 into the movie theatre to see a film like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. But my friends and I would routinely take ‘R’ rated films up to the counter at our local video store and no one would bat an eye. Not once did a clerk ever question us, or ask for I.D., or say “Hey, you’re too young to be renting that!”

Those were good times.

So, I watched Part 4 with bated breath. This was The Final Chapter after all. Somehow they were going to do the impossible: they were going to kill Jason. And I thought that this was pretty darn cool. After all, Jason had already been “killed” numerous times, and he just kept getting back up. How were they going to finally finish him off?

As the movie unfolded in front of me, I found myself feeling anxious, and excited, and scared…  and disappointed.

Huh? Disappointed?! How could I be disappointed by a movie that is now considered to be one of the (if not the) very best film(s) in the entire series?

I think it was a lot of factors coming together to create that feeling of disappointment:

First of all, I saw Part III on the big screen and in 3D. It was a huge, spectacular experience. I watched Part 4 on an old 19″ TV screen – and it wasn’t in 3D.

Secondly, Part III had been my first time seeing anything so violent and gory. It had seemed to me, at the time, that an endless number of people were killed in that movie. Somehow, Part 4 seemed more restrained to me, and I actually thought it had a lower body count. I was wrong, but that was the impression I got the first time I saw it.

Expectations can be a bitch. Part III had raised my expectations through the roof. It probably wouldn’t have mattered what Part 4 was actually like, my expectations would have led me to expect MORE from it.

I suspect that if I had watched Part III again, I would have thought that it was more restrained and had a lower body count.

It should be noted that I did like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter the first time I saw it. I just didn’t like it as much as I had expected to. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but the movie was directed by Joseph Zito, who had previously made one of my all time favourite slasher films, The Prowler (1981), which I wrote about in an unrelated blog post. Of course, I hadn’t even seen that movie yet, but it’s a high quality production and I believe that Zito brought some of that sensibility to the Friday the 13th series. – which, oddly enough, may have been one of things that threw me off the first time I saw it. 

Over the years, people would tell me that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was their favourite film in the entire series. Eventually, I decided that I needed watch it again – and this is when I realized what a great film it was. Joseph Zito put more emphasis on character development and storytelling. The characters in this movie feel more real and are more sympathetic, than any of the characters in the previous three movies. There are more killings in The Final Chapter than there were in Part III, but I didn’t experience it that way the first time. This may have been because I was too busy watching the story, and the killings somehow weren’t as front and centre. In Part III, there had hardly been enough story to get in the way, and some of the characters seemed like they were just there to get killed, so the killings and the gore really became the main focus (at least for me at that time). 

So, it may have been the high quality nature of The Final Chapter that caused me to be disappointed in it all those years ago. Now I recognize it as possibly the best made film in the series, and I love it.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984). is not the last movie in the series. Not even close. And that made me angry for a few years, too. I had actually thought that this film would have been a fairly perfect ending for Jason Voorhees. But then again, we would have missed out on a lot of other entertaining #NotQuiteClassicCinema if the series had ended here – and I would have much fewer choices of what to watch on a #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn. So, I guess things worked out for the best in the long run. 

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th Part III 3D (1982)

As I said in a previous postFriday the 13th Part 3 3D was my very first Friday the 13th movie. I somehow convinced my Dad to take me and friend to see it. My Dad hated it, but my friend and I thought it was great! And that was in no small part because of the 3D experience.

Friday the 13th Part 3 3D was also my very first 3D movie. Well, on the big screen, that is. As I mentioned in that previous post, I had been lucky enough to see Revenge Of The Creature (1955) in 3D on television. For those who may not remember, that was a bit of a thing back then; 3D movies being shown on TV. The first one I remember was a movie called Gorilla at Large (1954) – and it should have been the first 3D movie I ever saw! There was a big ad campaign leading up to the broadcast, urging us all to get our 3D glasses at 7-11. I remember biking over with my brother and buying a spiffy pair of cardboard glasses with red and blue lenses. On the way home, I put on the glasses and urged my brother to “do something”, expecting that the glasses would magically make whatever he did more exciting. But alas, my brother’s actions looked no more three dimensional with the glasses than without.

The unfortunate twist to this story is that my parents suddenly announced that we were heading up to the lake for our summer vacation at exactly the same time as the TV broadcast of Gorilla at Large. There was no way I would be able to watch it. I remember pleading with my parents: “But I bought 3D glasses especially so I could watch this movie! They’ll be useless if I don’t stay home and watch it.”

My Dad said the same thing that he said when I found out that I would miss the TV broadcast premiere of Prom Night (1980): “They’ll show it again.” But they never showed Prom Night again – and they certainly never showed Gorilla at Large after that first time.

When I got back to the city, my friends all told me that I didn’t miss much. “The 3D didn’t work” they all said. I didn’t know whether to believe them or not. Perhaps they were just trying to make me feel better, but it was no use. The 3D glasses I spent my hard earned allowance on were sitting on a shelf, unused for the better part of a year – and I didn’t think I would ever get to use them.

But then a miracle happened. The TV guide listed Revenge Of The Creature 3D one Saturday afternoon. There was no publicity blitz this time. Nobody telling us to buy our glasses at 7-11. I guess they assumed that we already had them – and I certainly did.

I watched the movie at a friend’s house, and I was blown away when someone in the movie threw a rope to another character and it wound up in the middle of my friend’s living room! This 3D was definitely working! And my friend told me it was so much better than Gorilla at Large had been. I still wasn’t sure if I believed him, but I was happy because my 3D glasses had not gone to waste – and the 3D experience had been even cooler than I thought it would be.

It was the same friend that came with me and my Dad to see Friday the 13th Part 3 3D a year later or so. And as I said in that previous post, it was so much more intense of a 3D experience. For us, it was the gateway to many other 3D movies, including Jaws 3-D (1983), Amityville 3-D (1983), and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone 3D (1983).  Our absolute favourite, as far as 3D goes, was Treasure of the Four Crowns 3D (1983) – not because it was the best movie, but rather because it was an absolutely relentless 3D experience. That movie threw everything out at us. Even in a boring talking scene, people would hand each other stuff and it would hit us right between the eyes. It was amazing!

         

For some odd reason, modern 3D movies don’t seem to do this. They show us 3D landscapes, and plenty of images with depth. But they mostly seem to shy away from throwing stuff right into our faces. I seem to recall Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone 3D being that way as well – and I remember Siskel and Ebert criticizing it for that. They suggested that the filmmakers were trying to prove that they were above that sort of cheap effect; that they had more class than that. But this raises a simple question:

If you’re making a 3D movie, and you’re not throwing things out at the audience, what exactly do you think the point is?

Friday the 13th Part 3 3D is a good 3D movie. It doesn’t go completely over the top like Treasure of the Four Crowns 3D, but it throws enough stuff out at us to keep us on our toes. It was also my first Friday the 13th movie, and my introduction to Jason. It was a tough one to beat, in terms of body count and gore. Even the highly anticipated Pt 4, The Final Chapter seemed a little lightweight to me after seeing Pt 3 a couple of times. In reality it wasn’t, but that’s how it seemed to me the first time I saw it.

For years I longed to see Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D again. It was out on VHS and Beta in 2D – and it was only ever on TV in 2D. So, I was particularly thrilled when Paramount released the remastered 3D DVD a few years back. It uses the old fashioned red and blue glasses, but that’s okay. It gave me back an important experience of my childhood, and I can confirm that it is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourite.

I would still love to see a a 3D Blu-ray version, but until one comes out, I will keep watching my 3D DVD. Probably about once out of every eight times I celebrate #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday the 13th at the home drive in: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

As I said in a previous postFriday the 13th Part 3 3D was the first movie I saw in the series. I quickly followed it with the original Friday the 13th. I didn’t see Friday the 13th Part 2 until some time later. I had heard people talk about Part 2 being their favourite, or call it “the best” of the three, so I think my expectations must have been pretty high when I finally sat down to watch it. Continue reading

Friday the 13th at the home drive in: The original Friday the 13th (1980)

I remember seeing the poster for Friday the 13th at a movie theatre and thinking it looked scary. Too scary. I had always enjoyed watching scary movies, but something about this poster made me wonder if I should stay away. Fortunately, I was too young to buy a ticket anyway. Continue reading