Well…I survived FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. Here’s the fun part. You actually don’t need to watch FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING because FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES. Why? Well when a sequel treats the film before it like it never existed, technically it doesn’t exist. That’s what FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES does to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING. Most notably the film ignores the ending of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING, where Tommy Jarvis becomes the new Jason.
Instead, we meet new Tommy (different actor than the last film) on his way to cremate the remains of Jason Vorhees (assumedly, his stint in a mental institution is what kept him from doing this for years and years), this opening scene is somewhat reminiscent of the beginning of the previous film, only this one isn’t a dream. Quite by accident, Tommy resurrects Jason (lightning striking, something, something, something…reasons), and now he fights an uphill battle trying to convince everyone that Jason is back. The sheriff is upset because he’s stirring up Jason rumors in a town that went so far as to change their name (from Crystal Lake to Forest Green) to try and forget about the spree killings of Jason. Of course, though, the daughter of the sheriff has a crush on Tommy.
Which brings us to the second movie (this film feels like two films in one, especially in the middle when both stories are separated), we find the location is the former Camp Crystal Lake on the day that the camp kids arrive. Unfortunately, the head counselors (one played by Tony Goldwyn. Bad guy from GHOST, President on TV’s SCANDAL) have a fatal run-in with Jason. This marks TECHNICALLY the first Jason film that takes place at a camp while the kids are there (not including the uncut version of FRIDAY THE 13th (1980) where the killer walks through a kid’s cabin at the beginning of the film because as far as I can remember, that’s added footage, not theatrical). The rules are all followed, sex equals death, drugs equal death, paintball equals death(???). That’s right, Jason kills five paintballers. Apparently because Jason is now just killing everyone he comes across. For some there’s no good reason, just wanna stack that body count as high as they can, I guess. There is one thing that sets this apart from the other films, humor.
It’s not totally overt, but there is quite a bit of humor in this film, including a bit of humor on Jason’s part. It’s hard to be funny when you don’t speak, but he manages through gestures and timing to be funnier than he’s ever been before (which, let’s face it, was at zero until this film). There are some other laugh lines and such. My favorite, however, is a shot of the children asleep in their cabins. One fell asleep reading a comic book, one fell asleep writing a letter home, and the last kid fell asleep with a copy of John Paul Sartre’s ‘No Exit’. I found that extremely funny.
Anyway, the two films finally tie together at the end, after all of the camp counselors are dead and the children are all awake and terrified. Final boss battle, good wins. This is the second third film that doesn’t have a scary CARRIE nightmare at the end. It’s also the first in the series to not have the thrown-through-the-window (defenestration is the term for that, by the way. Fun with words) thing happen. Although Jason does jump outside through a window, so I guess they did it, in reverse.
This is also the first film where they come up with a ridiculous theory on how to definitively kill Jason (tie him to a rock and leave him at the bottom of Crystal Lake). This isn’t new, it seems every A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film would do the same thing, so FRIDAY THE 13th just jumped on to that train, much like FRIDAY THE 13th originally jumped on the HALLOWEEN train, not only in style and presentation and cliché, but FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING also somewhat copies HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Let me explain.
After the second HALLOWEEN, the producers decided to keep the ball rolling, but without Michael Myers. So they leant the HALLOWEEN name out to an approved new project (which, screw what people say, HALLOWEEN III is one of my favorite of that series). Well, that’s kind of like what they wanted to do starting with FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING, by having the real Jason dead and gone, meanwhile someone new each film would dress in Jason’s clothes and mask and go on a killing spree. Well, much like people hated that HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH didn’t have Michael Myers, people hated that FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING didn’t have Jason. So not only did the filmmakers bring back Jason in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES, but they also made him practically invulnerable. Making up for lost time, I guess.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES is actually pretty decent. I went in it thinking it would suck as much as it did in my memory, but I ended up liking it quite a bit, which surprised me. So I give it credit for impressing me this time around. So just remember to skip FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING as FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES basically denies it ever existed, making it—in my mind—a non-canonical mess of crap that shouldn’t have been released in the first place.