*Once again, I’m not going to pretend this is any sort of authentic “live-blog”. You caught me. Think of it, rather, as the written transcript of one of those audio commentaries you sometimes see inexplicably pop up on blu-rays from self-proclaimed “superfans”. “What the hell gives that no-name the right to talk about this movie?” you justifiably wonder aloud. That’s just it. There’s no answer. It’s just fun to do. And now it exists in the world. Enjoy!
Nowadays, I figure the most dependable movie marathons are curated at home. I’ve participated in some pretty great ones in recent years, though, not, of course, in 2020. And so, in a desperate effort to inject some pure frivolity into a singularly craptastic year, the Gateway Film Center’s 2017 Friday the 13th marathon (“immortalized” by DAE here, here, here, and here) continues on in spirit, live on tape delay from my fortified bunker in North Columbus, Ohio. My “live-blog” dispatches – which I recognize are now stretching that concept to its breaking point – resume where I left them off as well, with, interestingly, the two movies that, for my money, constitute the worst and the best the “pure” (i.e. non-gimmick) half of the Friday the 13th saga had to offer. Join me, won’t you? Park the RV, pull out your mail order laser scope, and get ready for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, the punchy, propulsive, self-aware high water mark that not only revived the series just in time for it to hits the skids again but also laid the groundwork for a wider genre revival due to its direct influence on Scream. I, for one, could really use some R&R at Lake Forest Green…or whatever they’re calling it this week. Enjoy!
10:45 PM – I read reviews of Friday the 13th films as a kid long before ever watching them, and it was the All-Video Guide’s 2/5 star review of Jason Lives, which not only charitably avoided calling it garbage but actually allowed it might have multiple redeeming qualities, that piqued my interest. Jason Lives is generally considered a cut above the remaining series by mainstream critics, at least the ones that deem to dignify it with an opinion, which has resulted in a bit of backlash among fans who reflexively rebel against its crisp writing, risk taking, and studio sheen. Don’t let those dissenting voices sway you. It really is better, and by a damned sight. As a result, there’s probably not going to be as much to goof on as in my other Friday live-blogs, but it’ll still be fun, promise.
10:45:30 PM – Jason Lives, by the way. Hear that, fans? Right there on the marquee, bigger than life. Subtitle loud enough to satisfy you? Jason LIVES. Not only not cremated, definitely NOT dead. As in alive (or at least undead) and walking about. And definitely not Blue Jason. Actual Jason. Your Jason. Our Jason. Out shaking hands, meeting new people, test driving new and exciting household tools and farm implements. Paramount’s transparent and dramatic mea culpa plea to horror’s most rabid fanbase to reinvest its passion and pizza money in a movie franchise that during the Eighties averaged a new sequel every year and a quarter largely fell upon deaf ears despite absolutely being the correct strategy. Conventional wisdom suggests that viewers felt so burned by The Ballad of Blue Jason that they stayed home in droves for Jason Lives. Thank goodness the video market was by that point booming and so the film was eventually able to amass a following and reputation worthy of its quality. If not, the series might have bitten the dust for real.
10:46 PM – DIY special effects prodigy, hair trigger MMA pioneer, possibly psychopathic killer prematurely returned to society (Is Pam dead or did she get punk’d?) – Tommy Jarvis is, to put it mildly, a fascinating character. I can’t really quibble with Jason Lives’ comparatively uncomplicated characterization of adult Tommy – the third Tommy in as many movies – now played by Return of the Living Dead star Thom Mathews, who shares with his predecessors little more than a name, a nemesis, and some related but rarely remarked upon common baggage. Far from the tormented, over-medicated mess of New Beginning, Tommy has apparently made the most out of years of therapy, channeling his pain into motivational inner strength and clarity of purpose. He’s unable to drop his grim vendetta against Jason, even an ostensibly dead one, and so takes his jittery friend (perhaps sponsor?) Haas, played by Welcome Back Kotter’s Ron Palillo, on a little moonlit field trip to the cemetery. In Haas’ lap, we see a familiar hockey mask, and, in the floorboard behind him, a can of gasoline.
10:47 PM – Composer Harry Manfredini has implied that the sweep and complexity of his Jason Lives score was a reaction to the needs of the film, which operates on a grander scale and generates real multiplex-worthy dramatic momentum in comparison to even the best of its peers. “This was the first one that felt like a real movie,” he has said, and so his contributions are beefed up well beyond the baseline and much more thoughtful and effective, whether their aim lies in scene-setting or scare punctuation, communicating mood or menace. I love love love the martial drums in the main title theme. Manfredini’s compositions highlight any Friday in which they are featured, but Jason Lives unequivocally features his best work, and lots of it.
10:50 PM – Tommy’s gonzo plan to exhume Jason’s corpse and cremate it for real this time (take that, local government!) hits a momentary snag with the movie’s only real flashback to crappier times, as an auditory loop of his long-ago (first) final confrontation sends him in a white rage to rip an iron post from the cemetery gate with which to stab Jason over and over and, well, you get the point. From the moment the reinvigorated Jason, ahem, pulls up stakes, Tommy is too concerned with proactive damage control to again get post-traumatic.
10:50:30 PM – Haas’ priceless, understated response to Tommy going medieval on the open grave: “Oh shit.”
10:51 PM – That was one seeing-eye lightning strike, especially since it’s not raining yet. There are clearly forces operating here beyond Tommy’s control. Here’s a literally explosive second strike…and the close-up maggoty eye is open!
10:52 PM – I like how Jason plays possum and watches as Tommy jumps into the open grave and rips out the post, just waiting for his moment to strike. Haas’ heart “can’t take much more of this”, and, boy, he only knows the half of it. This whole sequence is just magnificently conceived and realized.
10:52:30 PM – Speaking of which, I don’t suppose I can get very far into Jason Lives without talking about its real star, which is neither the revived/fuel-injected Jason Voorhees nor freshly minted leading man Tommy Jarvis 3.0, but, rather, writer/director Tom McLoughlin, a wry, whimsical, tenured English professor type with a permanent gleam in his eye and all sorts of ideas on uncharted waters into which he might pilot his vessel. For the first time in series history, a Friday the 13th movie was forced to conform to parameters set by its author instead of ruthlessly imposing its Hammurabi code and crushing Creative beneath the boot of commerce. McLoughlin, whose love of classic Universal movie monsters inspired Jason’s lightning rod resurrection, specifically sought out established routes from which he might diverge, effectively using a more exotic palette while still coloring (technically) inside the lines.
10:53 PM – You cannot kill Jason Voorhees, parts 1-2: 1) A manic Tommy hurls gasoline at the advancing Jason in a desperate stab at his original plan, even lighting a hopeful match before a perfectly timed squall of rain snuffs it out; 2) Haas breaks a shovel over the back of Jason’s head and doesn’t even get a flinch. Jason punches through Haas’ chest, heart clutched in his fist, leaving Tommy’s friend to tumble into the now empty casket. Tommy sensibly determines that discretion is the better part of valor and runs into town to warn the police.
10:54 PM – McLoughlin has downplayed his involvement in the delightful, justifiably famous “Jason Bond” title sequence, wherein the camera performs a series of pulls in on his face – first mask, then eye, then pupil – and Jason strolls into the circular frame ala 007 before dramatically delivering a machete slash toward the audience, the words Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives spelling themselves out of the resulting waterfall of blood…but his irreverent influence was clearly infectious.
10:55 PM – Tommy illegally parks in front of the “Forest Green County Sheriff’s Department” and runs in to roust Sheriff Garris (that surname, of course, is a nod to horror director Mick Garris, and the first of many such Easter eggs McLoughlin will hide on his expansive grounds), who heads any list of competent authority figures in horror history. Garris’ unfortunate blind spot happens to be legendary local bogeyman Jason, which is attributable in part to a fervent and understandable wish to bury his community’s awful past/keep it that way (“That’s why we changed the name!”) and in part to a closely held (shared) belief of which thirty-five years of horror movie consumption has not yet disabused yours truly: the dead do not return to life. Jason Lives diverges sharply from the genre hoi polloi by featuring generally sensible people making generally sensible decisions and then paying for it anyway. If, in the end, this qualifies more as awareness than it does self-awareness in the Scream/Cabin in the Woods sense of the term, it’s still a challenging and attractive trait.
10:56 PM – “Don’t piss me off, junior, or I will repaint this office with your brains!” Garris certainly has a way with words (actor David Kagan was a drama coach in Los Angeles, which helps), and it’s not as if his skepticism is completely unfounded. Tommy’s ravings about Jason’s return have a definite tinge of madness to them, and everyone in town would of course be well aware of his chequered past. Grabbing a nearby shotgun off the wall and trying to start an impromptu posse is a bold move, and proves to be the last straw for the Sheriff’s patience. It’s also the first time I recall ever hearing the phrase, “screwing the pooch”. This series has meant so much to my development as a communicator.
10:57 PM – We cut to a shabby VW bug beating a deliberate path along a wooded road that stretches that second definition to its limit. In it are (we will soon learn) camp counselors Darren (played by future Ghost villain Tony Goldwyn) and Lizbeth (played by McLoughlin’s wife Nancy), lost and frustrated but still merrily sniping at one another. The extended sequence where they are stopped and menaced by a conspicuous spear-wielding pedestrian – “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly” – is notable for its sharp patter, for almost accidentally killing Nancy in real life when Jason’s spear caroms off the windshield in the process of breaking it and is redirected to within a couple inches of her actual head, and for containing McLoughlin’s corniest attempt yet (or perhaps ever) at humor, as Lizbeth, who, having escaped the car but immediately succumbing to the Law of Female Imbalance, tries, as any good Yuppie would, to bribe Jason into sparing her life. When her request is denied, the camera cuts to an image of her American Express card floating away across a bloody mudpuddle, and leaves the audience to fill in its own punchline.
11:00 PM – Morning dawns at the police station, and Tommy is awakened in his cell by the arrival of Sheriff Garris and a quartet of attractive teenagers, counselors at the reopened, rechristened, pretty much already doomed Camp Forest Green, inquiring after some missing colleagues. Front and center among them is Garris’ mischievous, headstrong daughter, Megan, who vibes enough with Tommy’s midwestern California good looks and theory on the disappearance that her family allegiances are instantly in play. When Tommy unwittingly crosses the line from mere public nuisance to what Garris sees as an active, however mild, threat to his daughter, it begins in earnest the battle at the heart of Jason Lives, which is not between Tommy and Jason at all but between Tommy and Garris, thus leaving the odd man out plenty of free time to work out the rust on his trusty machete hand.
11:02 PM – Martin the cemetery caretaker happens across Jason’s disturbed grave and, convinced it was the work of teenaged vandals, takes it upon himself to refill it, leaving Haas’ right leg sticking out of the pine box as he shovels in the dirt. “Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment,” he proclaims to himself, and the audience snickers knowingly.
11:03 PM – Megan and her friends – Paula, Sissy, and Cort – arrive at Camp with a truck full of suppositions, innuendo, and kitchen supplies. Paula renews her concerns over Darren and Lizbeth’s whereabouts, while Sissy teases Megan about the kismetic moment she shared with “her prisoner of love” back at the police station and Cort offers himself, in the height of irony, as a more wholesome romantic alternative. This is pretty terrific post-Halloween naturalistic teenaged dialogue. Megan takes the mood of the room down a full notch, waxing grimly philosophic on the legend of Jason Voorhees while her friends trade in their sunny dispositions for wary smiles. “I can think of only one thing more terrifying,” she deadpans, before pointing out the window as a school bus full of kids pulls up.
11:03:30 PM – Full disclosure: Salty, gorgeous blonde Jennifer Cooke, best known otherwise as the grown-up alien child Elizabeth on V – The Series, was my “celebrity” crush of all crushes back when I was fourteen years old. I feel the need to get that out of the way now so you won’t wonder why I tend to notice things like Megan’s complete daylight wardrobe change – from fetching black T-shirt and jean ensemble to overalls and thermal undershirt – some time between leaving the police station and arriving at Camp. That’s just what goddesses made flesh do. We aren’t meant to know their ways.
11:05 PM – Bursting with fresh ideas well-executed, Jason Lives still somehow boasts the shortest runtime of the original Friday sextet, though its eighteen total kills rarely feel perfunctory. Each boasts a set-up, whether a minute long or an hour, and most serve a purpose in the grander scheme. In retrospect, what irked me so much about the way New Beginning ran its cast through the figurative meat grinder was the gross, impersonal nature of it. McLoughlin, by contrast, hurries without being in a rush, and sees each of his characters as a recognizable human being, even the frankly disposable ones. He is never deterred from at least giving them a moment of wit or personality on their way to the gallows, which makes their eventual fate sting a little. The corporate team building exercise Jason stumbles across, as a colorful array of bland middle management types channel their inner hunter-killers while playing paintball in the woods, is but the greatest of several examples of McLoughlin’s gift for human interaction.
11:07 PM – I love that the combatants tagged during the budget Hunger Games are forced to identify themselves by donning a black headband with the word “DEAD” printed across it. Arguably the best kill of the movie (and definitely the funniest) occurs when a vanquished team leader, working out his intense, misogynistic frustrations on a thicket of brush, rears back one too many times, is caught, and flung across the clearing into a nearby tree. Jason looks down at the machete the man was swinging, along with the now severed arm that still holds it. Classic.
11:08 PM – High comic relief from another ditzy weekend warrior who, in his all-consuming zest for the hunt, accidentally breaks a dead branch off a tree then struggles gamely, but in vain, to reattach it. He gets tangled in low-hanging vines and routinely trips over his own feet while running to take cover, a faux Hogan’s Heroes theme song accompanying his every move. Soon enough, he’ll be running for his life literally, after discovering just how steep the drop-off in stopping power a paintball delivered to an undead homicidal survivalist is in comparison, to, say, a .44.
11:09 PM – That was a single swing triple decapitation, folks. Heartiest of golf claps. I do love this stuff, though the MPAA apparently was not amused.
11:11 PM – The first legitimate car chase in Friday history morphs into its first competitive foot chase, as Garris and the wonderfully named Deputy Rick Cologne fan out in their pursuit through the cemetery of Tommy, who, of course, is making a beeline for Jason’s grave in a last ditch attempt to convince Garris the fiend has returned. Of course, Jason’s grave is freshly filled and back to showroom quality, thanks to Caretaker Martin. Tommy, tackled and handcuffed, won’t give up the fight and tries to wriggle free, forcing Cologne to draw his service revolver, a standard-issue six shooter outfitted with a gaudy “mail order laser scope” so large you wonder if its additional heft is possibly a hindrance to pinpoint marksmanship. “Wherever the red dot goes,” he says, lustily, “ya-bang.”
11:13 PM – As mentioned earlier, chief among McLoughlin’s screenplay innovations was his mildly controversial decision to up the stakes by populating the former Crystal Lake with actual campers, placing the lives of children in legitimate peril for the first time in series history. With young Tommy and Reggie the Reckless but fond memories, McLoughlin cannily substitutes a veritable battalion of kids instead, and gives them some of the best lines and moments in the movie. Choice cuts on the way. In the meantime, Megan and Cort rally their respective troops with vague promises of generic woodsy fun. The girls seem mostly on board, while the boys’ enthusiasm is much more muted.
11:14 PM – Garris does grudgingly escort Tommy to the edge of his jurisdiction and there leaves him with an emphatic forearm to the neck and stern warning against his return. Sun’s going down now, which means business is about to pick up.
11:16 PM – Answering the bell are three kills within the span of a minute or so: Martin the Caretaker ended by his broken whisky bottle and two random lovebirds foolhardy enough to cut short their make out to investigate a scream coming from the deeper woods. Word has it that these kills were a concession to Paramount execs nervous about the comparatively tame body count. If so, they certainly feel like it.
11:17 PM – It’s Friday the 13th after dark, and all the young Whos lay a-snooze in their beds. I particularly love the one little girl, asleep in the communal cabin with a paperback copy of Sartre’s No Exit open across her lap.
11:19 PM – Young camper Nancy is the first pre-pubescent Forest Green notable to challenge any adults for screen time. Her screams tear Sissy and Paula away from “Camp Blood”, an uninspiring card game they’ve invented to help pass the time in a thematically relevant way. When they arrive, she claims to have seen a monster, though Paula insists it was just a bad dream. Her response is perfect kid logic: “No, it was real…just like on T.V.!”
11:20 PM – Jason Lives at times can’t help but seem like a comprehensive, 87-minute rebuttal to the various excesses and deficiencies of New Beginning, though its general avoidance of explicit gore and arm’s length approach to sex occasionally feel like a massive overcorrection. The somewhat extended sequence where Cort, who has slipped away from camp, engages in a little flagrante dilecto in a Winnebago, is the closest the movie gets to a sex scene. All the naughty bits are studiously covered and the most sexual visual element is a comprehensive study of Tom Fridley’s O-face, making this a massive disappointment for those hearty souls who thought Part 5’s unwavering commitment to naked breasts represented a paradigm shift. The writing here is as good as such a scene can really offer, especially when Jason cuts the power and Cort is forced to investigate, but the build-up is about as titillating as a two-person game of Monopoly. Shout out to Part 1’s Brenda, by the way – inventor of Strip Monopoly and forever in our hearts.
11:24 PM – A year before Dokken rocked Elm Street and the unholy covenant between horror and hair metal was officially joined, shock rock godfather Alice Cooper lent his pipes and aura to Jason Lives to great effect. Of Cooper’s three contributions, thumping MTV single “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” was the poppiest and best known, but “Teenage Frankenstein”, played here as the soundtrack to Cort’s RV joy ride, is even better in my estimation, and was track 1/side 1 on his 1987 comeback album Constrictor. Jason Lives is a movie of firsts, and the Cooper song suite represents the series first and still best use of recognizable pop/rock music as a storytelling aid. The song Violet danced her farewell “Robot” to in New Beginning was memorable, of course, as was the one Jimmy spastically danced to in Final Chapter, but for reasons having little to do with actual song quality.
11:25 PM – Serious contender for best kill (#2), as Jason drags Cort’s girlfriend into the RV’s bathroom and, after a moment of struggle, rams her head into the interior wall with such force that it leaves a relief of her screaming face in the exterior wall. Damn.
11:26 PM – Another first, as, with Cort incapacitated by an obviously rubber hunting knife, the RV hits an embankment, flips onto its side and dramatically skids for thirty yards. The side door explodes upward like a jettisoned escape pod and Jason emerges to stand triumphantly astride the beached leviathan. Great stunt, great image, great sequence. Undeniably cool.
11:27 PM – Megan’s curiosity leads her back to the police station and a sassy, snappy argument with her father. When the phone rings, she just can’t help tweaking him and answers: “Sheriff’s office? Oh, I’m sorry, he can’t come to the phone right now. He’s in the can draining his lizard. May I take a message? Here he comes now. Please hold!” Any wonder 14-yo me was in love with her? Just too bad the call is from Deputy Cologne, calling Garris to the scene of Darren and Lizbeth’s recent car troubles.
11:29 PM – Tommy calls in to the police office one last time and has the good fortune to raise Megan instead of her father. The spark from their torrid passing glance remains lit and Megan decides against Tommy’s protestations to pick him up so that he won’t be seen in his car. Megan is a force of nature. She knows who she likes, and she knows what she wants. Tommy will spend the next half hour with her essentially along for the ride.
11:29:30 PM – Easter egg hunt in progress: Sheriff Garris (as in Mick); Cunningham Road (as in Friday co-creator Sean); the nearby town of Carpenter (as in John); Karloff’s General Store (as in Boris). When you’re having this much fun, who gives a rat’s ass about subtlety?
11:30 PM – The Cunningham Road crime scene has expanded to the site of the Paintball Massacre, and Garris is now 118% convinced that Tommy is responsible for it all, calling for APBs, roadblocks, and everything in his power short of a Blackhawk air strike in response.
11:33 PM – In our third finalist for best kill, Sissy mistakes rustling sounds outside her window for Cort and is surprised by Jason when she gets a little too nosy. Jason twists her head clean off, as Paula, hearing her muffled cries, says only, “try not to wake the kids”. Cold-blooded.
11:34 PM – Little Nancy, who is having herself quite the night, awakens to the terrifying visual of Jason walking by her cabin window with Sissy’s headless body slung over his shoulder.
11:35 PM – Megan and Tommy pilot her Camaro down a leaf-strewn road, blowing past a traffic sign that reads ? – SPEEDING – ? McLoughlin is like a magical elf, adding eccentric little touches to everything he can, and I pretty much love them all. Not thirty seconds later, they encounter the first of Garris’ roadblocks, Megan pushes Tommy’s head down and out of sight (it’s a sweet deal for him), Cooper’s unreleased gem “Hard Rock Summer” hits the soundtrack, and the film’s unprecedented second chase scene begins. Hot in pursuit, a deputy calls in the details to Garris, who recognizes Megan’s car in the description and advises the chase to proceed, “with extreme care, asshole”. Megan, for her part, drives like a moonshine runner, pausing only to casually flirt with Tommy as she whips another hairy curve like it’s nothing. The two only reach the end of the line when Garris himself pins them in.
11:37 PM – Little Nancy appears at Paula’s bedside with news of her moonlight visitor, carrying Jason’s bloody machete with her like a discarded rag doll. Paula consoles Nancy and the two walk back to her cabin. “What if someone tries to scare us?” Nancy asks, to which Paula says, “then we’ll scare them right back”. The little girl eagerly agrees.
11:39 PM – Tommy, back at the station: “Look, you’ve got me where you want me.” Garris: “If I had you where I wanted you, they’d be pumping your ass full of formaldehyde!” Touche.
11:40 PM – Interesting to watch David Kagan measure Garris’ response as his daughter informs him she was with Tommy the entire time during which Cort and his date were killed. This is a man currently processing a great deal of information, who righteously believes that Tommy Jarvis is a psychopathic killer yet allows a glimmer of doubt to intrude for the first time since that conclusion formed; who can’t quite reconcile the thought that his teenage daughter is in cahoots with this boy, whether he should turn out to be a Voorheesian copycat or just another garden variety horndog. Garris hesitates a beat before ordering Tommy locked up and then, waist-deep in thought, heads to the latest in his neverending series of crime scenes, “grounding” his daughter for good measure on the way out. Tough night.
11:41 PM – Paula tucks Nancy back into bed and offers some advice on what to do if she should get scared again: close her eyes, say a little prayer, and pretty soon everything scary should go away. She kisses the child on the forehead, rises, and turns to leave. Jason watches them both through Nancy’s window.
11:42 PM – I really love the tracking shot of Paula walking the length of the girls’ cabin as Jason keeps perfect step with her, clearly seen through the windows just over her left shoulder. For as much pure fun as this movie is, McLoughlin knows when and how to ratchet up the tension in an elegant way or add a pinch of eeriness to the stew. The sequence melts into a series of false starts as Paula makes her way back to her cabin to find an open door, no Sissy, and a bloody outline on the floor where Jason’s machete used to be.
11:45 PM – Megan’s plan to spring Tommy from jail is pretty clever. The two conspire to engineer a scenario where Tommy might “force himself” upon Megan when she gets too close to his cell, counting on babysitter Deputy Cologne to overreact and leave himself open. Tommy indeed goads her close to his cell, then grabs her through the bars and plants a passionate kiss. Both parties seem surprised at how much they enjoy the ruse as Cologne’s protective instincts kick into overdrive. Megan steals his gun with the fancy laser scope in the ensuing chaos and trains it on him until he releases Tommy.
-Cologne: “Megan! Don’t clown around.”
-Megan: “I’m not the one with the funny red nose.”
-Megan: “I’m not kidding.”
-Tommy: “You better do what she says. Wherever the red dot goes…ya-bang!”
Immortal. As a consolation prize, Cologne will at least be the only member of the Forest Green Police Department to survive the night.
11:49 PM – Jason, now inside the girls’ cabin, notices little Nancy, staring at him in wide-eyed terror. He moves in closer as she shuts her eyes tight and desperately recites the nighttime prayer (“Now I lay me down to sleep…”, etc.). Jason is distracted by a noise outside, where the police are amassing, and leaves Nancy’s bedside. Nancy opens her eyes again to find the monster gone, her heart about to burst with shock and relief. She even checks under the bed.
11:50 PM – We didn’t see much of how Paula got killed when it happened (just with what a crash she landed), but, boy, does Garris ever stumble into a nightmare crime scene when he checks Paula and Sissy’s shared cabin upon returning to camp. Looks like the biggest attempt at a Jackson Pollock in history, done all in red paint. Um, gallons of it.
11:52 PM – Outside, Nancy surprises Deputy “Handsome”, he of the fur-trimmed police jacket, with frantic warnings of a “scary man”. Deputy Handsome asks, innocently, “what scary man?”
11:53 PM – THAT scary man! (I swear, a guy could get his skull crushed for such ignorance.)
11:55 PM – And thus does Sheriff Garris come face to mask with Jason Voorhees, bigger than life, there in the rotting flesh. He seems nonplussed. A shotgun blast to the chest sends the big bastard down, but he’s playing possum, repeatedly sitting up as Garris approaches. Two more slugs to the chest, two more lurches back to the offensive. Having demonstrably proven useless, Garris finally throws his handgun at Jason and runs off into the woods. Soon after, Tommy and Megan pull into camp, her Camaro loaded down with supplies procured by for his endgame.
11:57 PM – While Garris hides from Jason, Megan runs from cabin to cabin looking for him, and Tommy attempts to roll a massive rock into a boat, two boys hide under a bed engaged in a spectacular existential conversation. One says to the other, “So what were you going to be when you grew up?” Doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
11:58 PM – I can’t be mad at Mike Garris. His incompetence didn’t cause any deaths I recall. He only wanted the best for his town and his daughter. In a world governed by science and logic, I would be proud to have him represent me. In this world, however, Jason Voorhees is alive and killing, and it’s when he turns his attention to Megan’s far-off anguished cries for help that Garris springs back to life, grabbing a large rock and getting in an impressive number of headshots before being grabbed by Jason and bent slowly backward until his spine snaps and he is folded in half. Ladies and gentlemen, your “Best Kill” award. Gruesome, excruciating, and oh so effective, the version not chopped up by the MPAA actually lessens the impact by dwelling on the finished product instead of how we got there.
11:59 PM – Megan and Tommy argue next moves at the dock as he fashions a makeshift noose out of a heavy chain and then ties the other end to the aforementioned mini-boulder. Clearly, he has a plan in mind that springs from an intimate knowledge of The Dead Are Alive!, A Manual of Occultism, and whatever other library books he was able to skim before calling Megan. He starts the boat and putters out into the lake, pleading with Megan to get back to the cabins, to get inside before it’s too late.
11:59:30 PM – It’s too late. How I love the timing of this sequence, as Jason busts through the cabin door, scattering the assembled kids like billiard balls on a wicked break.
12:00 AM – Tommy, now desperate to save Megan from Jason’s literal clutches, resorts to an amusing and unexpected tact, hurling schoolyard insults at him from the center of the lake. You’d think an immortal killing machine would be immune to slights on his manhood, but, apparently seeing some vestiges of young Corey Feldman in the fluffy-haired, contact-wearing Tommy 3.0, Jason loses all interest in Megan and bounds into the water anyway.
12:03 AM – After the failure of his original radical Jason containment plan, and seemingly bound and determined to set something, anything, on fire, Tommy takes another novel tact and settles on…the lake itself. He drops the chain noose and pours gasoline in a ring around the boat before setting it alight and settling back in to await his opponent. The tactical reason? Because it looks cool on screen, I’m guessing.
12:04 AM – Jason explodes out of the water like the shark from Jaws, another notorious killer with whom he likely shares some DNA. The two tussle for a time as Tommy slips the noose around his neck. Jason then lurches up as if on queue and descends on the puny vessel like a freshly cut Sequoia, breaking it in half and sending the whole company to the bottom of Tom McLoughlin’s parents’ pool…er, Crystal Lake.
12:05 AM – It can’t be healthy for someone to float face down as long as the unconscious Tommy does while waiting for lifeguard Megan to rescue him, but she has her own issues, having been seized at the ankle by Jason who, even though chained to a boulder and bobbing fully submerged just above the lake floor, has no intention on drowning without a fight. The industrious Megan shakes and paddles her way free amongst the wreckage and ends up slitting the ever-living hell out of Jason’s throat with the blade on the boat’s outboard motor. Fridays often save the most graphic death for their star, and though the MPAA surely had a say in its final presentation, this one still delivers.
12:07 AM – Megan cradles Tommy on the beach after successfully reviving him as the two look out at the flickering floating battleground in relief and utter exhaustion. “It’s finally over,” says Tommy, picking the least offensive time to finally show his ignorance. “Jason’s home”. For a sense of just how “over” Paramount thought the series might be – following, you’ll remember, consecutive sequels named The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, and now Jason Lives respectively – look no further than Jason’s floating body, seemingly lifeless but still fully intact (only a moron chops off the killer’s head, Halloween H20), until McLoughlin zooms in again on Jason’s hazel eye, full of hate and zeal and dollar signs. Alice Cooper returns to play us out. Good night, everybody!
12:12 AM – As of press time, Friday the 13th has only ever been officially rebooted once, and Jack Lord knows what place and time will be chosen if/when the ruinous rights suit between Part 1 director/producer Sean Cunningham and writer Victor Miller is ever settled and the series lurches back to life again. Highly impressive fan film Never Hike Alone made a case for the Jason Lives universe and even posited, in its recent sequel Never Hike in the Snow, a future in which not only Thom Mathews’ Tommy again pursued Jason but did so while at odds with Jason Lives rival turned Crystal Lake Sheriff Rick Cologne. McLoughlin himself created quite a buzz online with the release of the screenplay and concept art for his unproduced sequel Jason Never Dies, which takes place thirteen years after Tommy and Jason’s climactic duel in the lake. 34 years on now, it’s obvious Jason Lives has staying power, and if Tom’s excited about the possibilities, so am I. I even had an exceedingly pleasant chat with Thom Mathews about it when I met him at a screening last December. Last December, wow. God, 2020 blows.