The Friday the 13th series featured the silent, hockey-mask wearing, mass-murderer, Jason Vorhees. Jason is one of the most memorable horror characters ever created and he battled with Freddy Kreuger for horror fans attention throughout the 80´s long before they met on film in 2003. The Friday the 13th films reached their pinnacle with this title, the 1986 release Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
The format of the films is unchanging and always involves a group of teens going to Camp Crystal Lake and Jason stalking and killing them. In part VI Tommy Jarvis returns to try and exorcise the ghost of Jason, Tommy killed him in part IV when he was just a kid but no matter how hard he tries he can´t forget and feels compelled to make sure Jason is dead. This sets us up for a fantastically ridiculous scene in which Tommy digs up Jason´s corpse, rams a steel spike into it, and then steps back in horror as lightning hits the spike and re-animates Jason.
The bodies pile up thick and fast in this one and the film is packed with inventive and amusing murder scenes with the emphasis on comedy. Tom McLoughlin wrote and directed the film and he succeeds in creating a lively and enjoyable horror comedy which looks like it was backed up by a reasonable budget. The story is thoroughly unbelievable and the acting is pretty hammy but Jason is on good form and there is plenty to keep you interested for 83 minutes.
Thom Mathews plays Tommy; you may recognise him from the Return of the Living Dead films. The rest of the cast are fairly forgettable, C J Graham plays Jason and went on to play him again in part VII before disappearing back into obscurity. There are some terrible acting displays and some painfully corny gags but it never takes long for Jason to cut through it, usually with his machete.
Jason returns to Camp Crystal Lake and kills everyone he meets along the way, once home he begins to kill everyone there too. Meanwhile Tommy is arrested for being a "crazy kid" and then busted out by the sheriff´s saucy daughter. Naturally the whole thing builds to a showdown between Tommy and Jason and that´s it till part VII.
This is the Jason that everyone thinks of when they remember the Friday the 13th films, the classic machete wielding maniac with a hockey mask. However the only film in the series which was really inventive was the first one which didn´t feature Jason at all. The character they turned Jason into is really a copy of Michael Myers from the much earlier, horror classic, Halloween. Jason´s back story is more interesting and I love the idea of him getting revenge for his own cruel death but this is usually left unexplored and what we really get is about an hour and a half of irritating teens getting murdered - that´s exactly what you get here.
I can´t really claim this is a great horror film as it has few real scares and edges towards comedy quite often; on the other hand there are several brutal murders and an impressively high body count. I think I will always enjoy this movie, probably because it was one of the first horror films I ever saw and for anyone curious it would serve as a good introduction to the Friday the 13th series.