Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

(Reviewed in 2002 as part of a retrospective on the “Friday the 13th” series.)

The sixth installment in the thunderingly mediocre “Friday the 13th” series features no nudity whatsoever. Also, no one falls down while running, no one says, “I’ll be right back,” and there are no cars that won’t start. Surely this is all an editing mistake. Surely the DVD will feature all the lost footage they filmed that somehow was omitted from the final product. Perhaps the plot will be located among the ruins, too.

One is tempted to believe that the absence of such time-worn slasher-flick cliches will increase the quality of the film, but if one is tempted to believe that, one should watch the movie and realize that one is a moron. I mean, come on, one.

For in the very first scene, Tommy Jarvis — who has now been played by three actors in as many movies, making him the James Bond of slasher films — heads out to the cemetery to dig up Jason, just to make sure he’s actually dead. This seems like a reasonable thing to do, given Jason’s penchant for not being dead. Except that in Part 5, it was emphatically declared by the foul-mouthed mayor of Crystal Lake that after Jason’s death in Part 4, he had been cremated. The mayor even turned an ashtray upside-down on a desk to make this point.

Part 6 was both written and directed by Tom McLoughlin, and his clear vision comes through loud and clear: This is a man who has boldly chosen not to watch any of the movies he is making a sequel to. Tommy and his friend Dead Meat find Jason quite dead, but ‘cept then lightning strikes Jason’s body, reviving him and making him angry. (Note: This does not work in real life.) He kills Dead Meat, but Tommy gets away and heads to the police station to warn everyone of the danger they are in. He runs into Sheriff Looks Like Robert Downey Jr., whose unappealing daughter Megan has the hots for Tommy and on that basis believes his story. (His story happens to be true, of course, but I don’t think Megan had a very good reason for believing it.)

Sheriff Downey Jr. doesn’t buy Tommy’s story, natch, hanging as it does on Jason being alive again. Maybe he’s still working from the old “Jason was cremated” story, I don’t know. Anyway, the townspeople have gone to a lot of trouble to make people forget that old “legend” about Jason — apparently, the murders he committed went unrecorded; that, or several hundred years have passed, making it more a “legend” than a “thing that happened a few years ago” — and they’ve even changed the town name from Crystal Lake to Forest Green. Sheriff Downey Jr. is not going to let this Tommy punk louse all that up with his crazy talk.

So when teens start getting killed, the sheriff assumes it’s Tommy, acting out some kind of creepy copycat thing. (Indeed, that’s what SHOULD be happening, if the movie had opted to follow through with what it established in Parts 4 and 5.) Megan believes Tommy, though, still based on his cuteness, and they work together to save the people up at the camp.

Oh, did I forget to mention the camp? Yeah, they’re camping at Crystal Lake — I’m sorry, Lake Forest Green — again. It’s only been a few years since the last Jason killings, but since everyone thinks that was just a legend now, no one’s afraid. They even ship in a bunch of kids, which is admirable, considering the counselors in these movies don’t usually live long enough to actually start working.

I question the organization behind this camp, by the way. There are only a handful of counselors, and not a single administrator or grown-up to be found. And yet, a busload of kids still shows up, dumps off the youngsters, and roars off into the night. This is a liability nightmare, not helped any by an undead killing machine roaming the woods.

Jason doesn’t kill any kids; I believe it is part of the Geneva Convention that child murders are not permitted in slasher flicks. He does kill lots of counselors and cops and sheriffs, though.

Note: This is the first “Friday the 13th” film since the original to actually take place on Friday the 13th.

There’s too much Jason in this film, which seriously hinders his ability to scare us. There are no Killer-Cam shots — you know, where we see things through the killer’s eyes. There are several times when we see Jason walking by himself through the woods, which ruins the surprise a few moments later, when he kills someone. Rather than being an unknowable menace who shows up occasionally to commit murder, he’s almost the main character. It’s overkill, pardon the pun.

Second note: This film features an honest-to-goodness car chase. We traded in a bunch of other cliches for a new one, I guess. Hurrah.

D (1 hr., 26 min.; R, lots of bad stuff.)