“Wherever the red dot goes, y’bang!”
PREVIOUSLY ON THE BALLAD OF TOMMY JARVIS:
Tommy Jarvis was a sweet kid who loved video games and special FX. Then one night, that all changed when Jason Voorhees slaughtered his mother and some kids renting a house next door. He in turn, killed Jason himself with repeated machete strikes to the head.
Jason was dead at the end of ‘The Final Chapter,” make no mistake about that. Tommy turned Jason’s head into mincemeat, but his troubles were only just beginning. The poor kid was haunted by Jason ever since.
In 1985’s ‘The New Beginning,’ Tommy was sent to a group home for troubled kids, but death followed, even if it wasn’t the real Jason. At the end, we see Tommy wearing the hockey mask, apparently, becoming the new Jason.
But that storyline was not meant to be…
NOW, THE CONCLUSION OF THE BALLAD OF TOMMY JARVIS:
In 1986, ‘Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI’ was released.
Set 5 years after the events of ‘The New beginning,’ the film opens with an older Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews), still haunted by the events of his past, driving with his buddy Allen Hawes (Lou Palillo) dead set on sending Jason to hell via cremation of his remains. Allen is less than enthusiastic.
They reach the graveyard and Tommy proceeds to dig up Jason, revealing him to be nothing but a maggoty, worm-ridden corpse. Unable to contain his rage, Tommy grabs a piece of the wrought iron gate and stabs Jason’s corpse repeatedly, then conveniently throws the hockey mask into the coffin because, why not?
Leaving the metal post sticking out of the corpse, Tommy grabs the gas can. However, a storm’s been a-brewin’ and the iron pole is struck by 2 wicked bolts of lightning, thusly reanimating a pissed off Jason. He climbs out of his grave, punches out poor Horshack’s heart. Tommy attempts to light matches to incinerate Jason, but just as he does, some well timed rain falls, extinguishing an hope of cremation. Tommy bolts. Jason puts his mask on, and the opening credits play out like a James Bond intro.
Thus begins the reign of the unstoppable force that is Zombie Jason, who is amazingly spry despite being dead for 10 years. He walks off into the woods to get back to what he does best.
Tommy drives to the sheriff’s office where he’s almost blown away by Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) a hard-nosed, no-nonsense guy. Tommy tells his story but, predictably, isn’t believed. We also find out that the name of the town has been changed from Crystal Lake to Forest Green in an attempt to forget the past…yeah, because that will work.
There is a lot more humor in this installment than any of the others. I guess if you’re going to reanimate the corpse of a killer via lightning strike, there better be some jokes, like when the caretaker is covering up Jason’s grave, and looks at the camera and says, “Some folks a strange idea of entertainment.” Nyuk-Nyuk. Another awesome piece of black humor is when Jason rips off the Commando Exec’s arm and throws him into a tree face first, his face falls away to reveal a bloody smiley face embedded in the tree.
The counselors are your normal carefree teen fodder who’re just waiting their turn, but they aren’t unlikable. There is Megan (Jennifer Cooke), the main hot one, daughter of the Sheriff, is looking for a good time, and helping Tommy hunt down Jason will be an absolute gas. (FUN FACT: She founded the Celestial Seasonings Tea company after her acting career.) Cort (Tom Fridley) is the rock n roll party guy. Sissy (Renee Jones), the kind of sassy chick. Finally, there is Paula (Kerry Noonan), the cute, sensitive chick who’s good with children.
That’s a main difference from any other sequel: there are actually children at the camp as well as counselors, adding some more suspense, as Jason appears in front of them. In my personal opinion, I don’t think he would’ve hurt them anyways because, he’s no more than stunted zombie-man-child himself.
Speaking of the kids, with all the mayhem that ensues, they seem to take it pretty well, aside from little Nancy (Courtney Vickery). She even brings the bloody machete to Paula, who passes it off as a joke. Oh really, Paula? WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU GUYS HAVE FAKE BLOOD STORED??? (Sorry)
One of my favorite parts is the whole paintball sequence. Just a bunch of execs playing out in the woods, and some taking it too seriously, which is how Jason comes to have his machete this time. He grabs the guy’s arm and in the act of throwing him across the woods, he rips his arm off. Then with one swipe, Jason takes off the heads of 3 people after jumping down from a high tree.
The RV scene with Cort is hilarious too. He’s getting ridden hard by Nikki (Darcy DeMoss) to the song “Animal” by Felony. She tells him he has to keep it up for the duration of the song which is 1o minutes, and the look of terror on his face is priceless. The power goes off and so does he. After investigating why the power went out, he makes the smart decision to leave, but unbeknownst to them, Jason is already on board the RV. He grabs Nikki in the bathroom and crushes her face into the wall. He jams a knife into Cort’s head and the RV flips on its side. After a few seconds Jason blasts the door off like a fucking man and continues rampaging.
The FX of the film are good, but you can tell that we were supposed to see more. Director Tom McLoughlin had to shoot some scenes 2 or 3 times with varying amounts of gore knowing that scenes would be cut down. I’d love to see an uncut bootleg of the film.
This film also featured a killer soundtrack featuring “Man Behind the Mask” and other songs by Alice Cooper. “Man Behind the Mask” rivals Dokken’s “Dream Warriors” as my favorite rock song in a horror film. ‘Jason Lives’ also marked the return of original music by Harry Manfredini. Up until then, music from parts 1 and 2 were recycled through the other films.
Tommy and Megan gather supplies, which include a giant rock with a chain, and books on sending reanimated dead people to hell. They return to the camp for the final showdown. Tommy gets a boat and goads Jason out into the water, where he eventually puts the chain around Jason’s neck. The boat breaks, and the rock sinks to the bottom holding Jason at bay. However, he grips Tommy’s neck and proceeds to strangle him. Megan goes out to save him, but is grabbed by Jason. INSTINCTIVELY, she turns the boat’s propeller on which finds its way into Jason’s neck, which finally snaps and bloody chunks bubble up to the surface. Tommy is resuscitated on the shore and he is satisfied that Jason is trapped and dead…but we all know how that worked out.
I really would have liked some closure with Tommy Jarvis because, next to Jason, he was the only enduring character. Like he comes into money and buys up all of Crystal Lake and sits on the shore every day and waits for Jason, and finally, when he is old and grey, Jason rises for one last go, but instead, we get a telekinetic, a boat ride to NYC, a magic dagger, a space ride, and Freddy Krueger. Don’t get it twisted, I watched and enjoyed each subsequent film, but none had the balance of real horror and comedy as ‘Jason Lives.’