1986 – A grown-up Tommy Jarvis accidentally revives the long-dead body of Jason Voorhees with a stray bolt of lightning, transforming him into an unstoppable undead killing machine. Then things get a little ridiculous.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
By this point in my little marathon, the constant death and tension was starting get a little wearying. I was progressing toward the end of my bottle of wine. I wanted to cap off the evening with something fun.
But sheesh, I didn’t expect this much fun! Little Tommy Jarvis, the annoying kid from The Final Chapter, visits Jason’s grave with a you-know-he’s-going-to-die-because-he-keeps-saying-what-a-bad-idea-this-is friend. I won’t go into detail, but there’s a bunch of worms and maggots, a bolt of lightning, somebody’s heart gets punched out, and Jason’s ready for action again.
This time around, we’re dealing with pure horror-comedy. The movie establishes the tone right from the get-go, with a jump cut into Jason’s eye followed by a James Bond gun barrel homage (which might stand as the single greatest moment in the entire series). Most of the murder scenes are downright absurd, and the characters are either impossible jerks, sex-crazed loons, or downright incompetents.
I couldn’t care less about anybody in this entry, which was a relief. We encounter most of our victims just moments before they get slaughtered, and Jason offs people indiscriminately – some idiots playing paintball here, a gravedigger there, and a random picnicker who is a dead ringer for Chris Walken:
Tommy, meanwhile, runs afoul of the local Sheriff (who is the fairly lame “you no-good kids” type), but finds favor with the Sheriff’s daughter Megan (who is a counselor at the newly-reopened camp). For supposedly being our hero, Tommy is pretty lackluster. Not only does his accidental re-animation of Jason result in the deaths of 18 people, but most of his screen-time involves him standing in a jail cell and whining about how nobody understands.
When Tommy, Megan, the cops, and Jason all converge on the camp, things pick up again. If the rest of the movie hadn’t been so cartoonish, I might have found some pathos in the Sheriff sacrificing himself to save his daughter… but nah. Still didn’t really care. The interesting twist this time around is that there are actual kids at the camp, which leads to one of the movie’s most memorable scenes:
After offing the adult counselors, Jason wanders into the cabin where all the little girls are asleep… except one, who starts frantically saying her prayers as the killer looms over her. Then he hears the cops arrive and slips away while the girl’s eyes are still closed. This is a fascinating moment – what was Jason thinking? What would he have done if the police hadn’t shown up? A lot of people say that Jason wouldn’t kill children, but I don’t know… I personally don’t think he has too many qualms.
The change in tone between the first three movies I watched and Jason Lives is incredible; at this point, we can basically throw out my whole “these movies are about young love” theory and start playing a zany trombone sound after every kill scene. “A knife-wielding lunatic could get you at any moment,” the series seems to be telling us, “so why not find the humor in it?” Jason Lives has an almost lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek tone – even Jason seems to be in on the “joke” at times. Over the course of just a few hours, the scream has been replaced by a smirk and the slash by slapstick.
But, I admit… I locked my bedroom door when I went to sleep. Just in case. The big guy in the mask is still a little bit scary, even if we like to pretend he isn’t.