Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Synopsis: When Tommy Jarvis goes to make sure Jason Voorhees is dead for good, he unintentionally brings him back to life. Now, the unstoppable killer is off on another killing spree! Will Tommy stop Jason, or will it be vice versa?

Review: As one of the longest running horror franchise in movie history, there really isn't much left up the sleeve of the "Friday the 13th" series to scare us with by the sixth installment. So, they decided to focus less on horror and a little more of fun. The results are not too bad, as far as sequels go.

Determined to make sure Jason is dead once and for all, Tommy Jarvis (played by Thom Mathews) digs up his body with the intent to cremate him. Instead, he accidentally reanimates Jason and the killing spree begins again. Can Tommy stop the now-undead murder machine, or will the local Sheriff (played by David Kegan) and a town that wants to move on from the horrors of Jason Voorhees end up getting him, along with all of them, killed in the process?

Right off the bat, if you are expecting straight-on horror from this outing, you are sure to be disappointed. Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin opts to take things a bit less serious than past chapters of this saga have been, adding in an element of humor to the mix and toning down on the graphic gore (although, personally, I think we could have used a little bit more of the latter). It's a formula he would use in many of the horror works he'd do after this, for both the big screen and the small one. While in less capable hands such things usually become a train wreck, McLoughlin never lets the humor stray too far into goofy slapstick and utter parody. There are a few of the in-jokes and camera mugging moments that are groan worthy, but overall the humor never totally overpowers the more horrific aspects of the film, as has happened in other attempts like this.

The cast, which is mostly a "who's who" of television roles, does an overall solid job with the material they are given, with Thom Mathews and David Kegan the real standouts. Mathews does a great job of making you feel for Tommy's plight, while Kegan's sheriff is a great foil to Tommy. Jennifer Cooke (who fans of the 80's television series "V" will remember) is sexy, but never in a trampy way. In fact, there wasn't really anything in the way of nudity in this film, unlike so many others of its kind, but I never even missed it, as I was just having a lot of fun watching things unfold.

In a lot of ways "Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI" was one of the earliest films that help to bridge the gulf between horror and humor, that many others would follow for the next couple of decades. And while those efforts are certainly a mixed bag, I think they made it work well enough here to make an enjoyable little popcorn horror-comedy, provided you don't think about the actual plot too much. Die-hards of straight-laced horror and gore, as well as this saga's previous chapters, will probably not find this film to their tastes. But for horror buffs who can take their scares a little less seriously, this film is a great way to kill an hour and a half and have some fun doing it. It's a fairly enjoyable sequel to this franchise and certainly a decent horror-comedy in its own right.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

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