Imagine for a second, that you’re an audience member sitting down for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. You have just gotten through what could be considered the worst Friday the 13th movie in Part V: A New Beginning. That film, while entertaining enough, has issues regarding the killer not actually being Jason, and some other confusing elements. Add to it that Tommy, the protagonist, is kind of awful. Well, you take a completely unpersonable performance from John Shepherd and give it to the completely personable and relatable Thom Matthews. That alone is worth watching Jason Lives.

However, writer/director Tom McLoughlin embued Part VI with a level of satire and love for the films of the past. The movie knows that it’s a horror movie, and the characters are self-aware of the tropes of horror movies. And yes, folks, he was doing this ten years before Kevin Williamson in Scream. A kid reads Sartre‘s No Exit, characters comment “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly”, the groundskeeper questions people’s “strange ideas of entertainment”, and the list goes on.

These nods never feel like they’re tongue-in-cheek, just for the sake of it. It shows the evolution of horror movies happening in real-time. Scream might have reset the circle, baring the rules of horror movies for all to see, pulling back the curtain. But Jason Lives provided the necessary elements for that reset. It’s not the bloated sequels of the later 80s and early 90s. This is a lean, mean, camp counselor killing machine.


Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Jason triumphant.

The first four Friday the 13th films don’t lean into the supernatural or the reasons why Jason is why he is. However, we get a Frankenstein’s monster-level resurrection at the very beginning of Jason Lives. The evil bastard gets struck by lightning, bringing him back to life. The nods to classic horror go from there. In an age where everyone wants to reference classic horror, remake everything, and reuse tropes, Jason Lives does it better than most.

The movie doesn’t stop there, though. It adds the element of danger to the most innocent of us: children. This is the first and only movie to have children staying at the former Camp Crystal Lake. It adds a level of urgency to the proceedings and asks the question if Jason would hurt children or just camp counselors banging.

Our final bit of self-referential horror is the character of Sheriff Garris. Besides the fact that he’s named after renowned horror director Mick Garris, he provides the necessary drama that makes Jason Lives into more than just a horror romp with a rejuvenated Jason Voorhees. The triangle of drama between Tommy, Megan, and Garris builds until the climax. He even gets the most brutal death in the series with no blood. He’s valiantly fighting off Jason to get him away from Megan and the kids. The motherfucker gets folded IN HALF. Jason doesn’t mess around, even if the MPAA was watching the violence like a hawk.

READ MORE: So, About That Friday The 13th TV Series [Fright-A-Thon]

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Jason gets resurrected.

The heads at Paramount Pictures gave McLoughlin carte blanche to create a Friday the 13th movie that poked fun at nearly everything in the genre besides Jason. In fact, it might be the most serious Jason has been since the remake. It provides more than just horror and slight comedy. The film gives us moments of serious tension and even reflection for the characters. The scene where Megan tells her father that Tommy was with her the entire time Jason was rampaging is one that sticks out for me. It provides the audience the ammo to actually root for the characters we want to see Jason slaughter. It’s a subtle nod, but one that works masterfully.

Like Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers after it, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives provides a blueprint for how to make a slasher sequel. Do you need to reboot and rehash things constantly? No, you actually don’t. You can recover from a horrific sequel like A New Beginning. Turns out you just need someone who knows the franchise, has a different take, and brings the series back to its roots.

Friday the 13th Part Vi: Jason Lives is the precursor to the self-referential 90s slasher boom and even the remake/reboot/requel heavy films we have today.

For more on Horror, make sure to check out THS Fright-A-Thon, the Halloween content marathon.

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