Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

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Friday the 13th Part VI:
Jason Lives
Theatrical poster
Directed by Tom McLoughlin
Produced by Don Behrns
Written by Tom McLoughlin
Starring Thom Mathews
Jennifer Cooke
David Kagen
Renée Jones
Kerry Noonan
Darcy DeMoss
Tom Fridley
C.J. Graham
Music by Harry Manfredini
Cinematography Jon Kranhouse
Edited by Bruce Green
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 1, 1986 (1986-08-01)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $19,472,057 (domestic)

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a 1986 slasher film, the sixth film in the Friday the 13th film series. The film was written and directed by Tom McLoughlin. Although the original concept called for Tommy Jarvis, the protagonist of parts IV and V, to become the new villain, the poor fan reception of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning prompted the producers to bring back Jason Voorhees as the series' antagonist.[1][2] In resurrecting Jason, McLoughlin made Jason an explicitly supernatural force for the first time in the series, depicting him as being raised from the dead via electricity; this version of Jason - an undead serial killer and more powerful superhuman - would become the standard depiction for the rest of the franchise, until 2009's remake. The film likewise broke with many other series conventions, introducing metahumor and action film elements including shootouts and car chases.[3]

Despite being the second-lowest grossing film in the franchise to that point, it was the first film in the series since the original to receive positive critical reviews. In the years since its release, its self-referential humor and numerous instances of breaking the fourth wall have been praised for prefiguring Wes Craven's Scream series and other similar 1990s horror films.[4] As of 2003's Freddy vs. Jason, Jason Lives was a fan favorite of the series, in addition to receiving positive notice from horror film historians.[5] It is followed by Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.


Jason Voorhees has been dead for years, and the town of Crystal Lake has been renamed Forest Green in an attempt to distance its bloody reputation. However, one year later after the events of the previous film, Tommy Jarvis, after being released from an institute after an extended stay, intends to cremate the body of the infamous mass murderer. His friend Hawes accompanies him to the graveyard where they find and dig up Jason's grave. Tommy loses control upon seeing Jason's body and stabs it several times with a metal fence post. Suddenly, lightning from an oncoming storm strikes the post and resurrects Jason into a supernatural creature now much stronger than he had been before; he then kills Hawes by punching his heart out. Tommy narrowly escapes and flees to the sheriff's station where Sheriff Garris recognizes Tommy and assumes he is hallucinating. Tommy tries to take the Sheriff's gun before he is locked up. Meanwhile, Darren and Lizbeth, two camp supervisors are making their way to the lake where they hope to reopen the camp when they are stopped by Jason, who kills them both with the fence post.

The next morning, Garris's daughter Megan and her friends Cort, Sissy, and Paula, also counselors, arrive to report Darren and Lizbeth missing. Tommy warns them that Jason is alive, much to Garris's annoyance, but his warnings are shrugged off as superstition. Garris decides to escort Tommy out of Forest Green, but Tommy makes a run for Jason's grave to prove his story only to find that it had been filled in by the caretaker who did not want to be blamed for the exhuming and had reburied Jason's coffin unknowingly with Hawes's body inside. Jason comes across a group of businessmen playing paintball in the woods; he rips the arm off Burt and kills him, then decapitates two more of their men and a women before chasing a fifth member off into the woods. He later kills the caretaker and a couple on a romantic picnic who witness this. That night, Cort and a girl named Nikki are using an RV for fun when they are scared off after their power cable is cut. Jason, who had stowed away inside, crushes Nikki's head in the bathroom and shoves a combat knife into Cort's skull, causing the RV to crash. Meanwhile, Tommy contacts Megan to retrieve supplies for a ritual to trap Jason where he drowned at Crystal Lake and she goes to help him. Garris and his men discover the bodies of Nikki, Cort and the paintballers in the woods and assumes the killer is Tommy, wanting to make them believe Jason has returned. They set up a road block and capture Tommy and Megan and Tommy is returned to jail, despite Megan giving him an alibi. Jason makes his way to the camp and literally rips Sissy's head off. After searching for her friends, Paula takes a little girl named Nancy back to her cabin, then returns to her own, only to be hacked apart by Jason. However, he is interrupted before he can harm the children as Garris and his men arrive, intending to inform Sissy and Paula of the situation.

Megan and Tommy escape from custody and return to the lake as Jason kills Garris's men then Garris himself, who attempts to stop Jason going after Megan but after a struggle has his spine snapped. Jason attacks Megan but is distracted by Tommy calling to him from the lake. Tommy ties a chain to a rock around Jason's neck, but is apparently drowned when Jason pulls him down from underwater. Megan goes to save him and is nearly killed herself, but manages to snap Jason's neck with a motorboat rotor. Back on land, Megan revives Tommy with CPR, and the children celebrate.

Some time later, the camera zooms in on the deserted lake, and closes up on Jason, who is still alive, glaring at the audience while trapped by the boulder.



Pre-production and writing[edit]

Although the previous film in the series, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, had been a financial success, it had disappointed the series' fans and received some of the worst reviews of any film in the franchise. In order to prevent further alienating the fans (and thus potentially endangering the series), the producers decided to take the series in a new direction, moving it away from what producer Frank Mancuso Jr. called the "coarse" nature of A New Beginning.[6]

To this end, Mancuso hired Tom McLoughlin, who had directed the successful horror film One Dark Night but was also known around Hollywood for shopping around various comedy scripts he had written, a dichotomy that appealed to Mancuso. McLoughlin was given free rein on how he would present the story, with the only condition being that he bring back Jason and make him the film's villain.[7]

McLoughlin decided to take the film in the direction of an old Universal Monsters movie, specifically the 1931 version of Frankenstein, which portrayed the monster as a lumbering killer brought to life by electricity. McLoughlin also drew from vampire lore in order to give Jason a weakness, namely being returned to his "home soil"; to achieve this, McLoughlin disregarded the idea presented in Part 2 that Jason had survived his drowning, instead presenting the idea that Jason has always been some sort of supernatural force.[8] He also decided to retcon the events of the fifth film in order to circumvent that film's cliffhanger ending, which implicated that protagonist Tommy Jarvis had become a serial killer.

McLoughlin further decided to expand the series' thematic scope, incorporating action film elements and postmodern metahumor; when Jason is first encountered in the woods near Crystal Lake, the character of Lizbeth comments that she and Darren should flee because she knows about proper conduct to survive a horror movie. McLoughlin would further satirize the franchise itself, as Martin the gravedigger comments on Jason's exhumation, "Why'd they have to go and dig up Jason?" before breaking the fourth wall and addressing the camera with the observation, "Some folks sure got a strange idea of entertainment." In addition to Frankenstein, McLoughlin also cited as inspiration his love of gothic horror, particularly the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and his Catholic upbringing; Jason Lives features the series' only explicit references to God, and during the climax a praying girl is spared by Jason (a similar scene, in which the same girl prays for Tommy while Megan performs CPR, then mouths "Thank you" while looking skyward was deleted from the final cut of the movie, apparently against McLoughlin's wishes; he recalled in the 2009 DVD's director's commentary, "Somehow it didn't stay in... probably too much sentiment").[9][10]


The decision to retcon the events of Part V resulted in many members of that film's cast—whose characters had survived—having their contracts to return for a sequel terminated. At one point in time when Jason Lives was being considered as a direct sequel to A New Beginning rather than to The Final Chapter, the surviving characters Pam and Reggie from A New Beginning were to have died in the film's opening moments.[11]

Although Mancuso retained control over the film's casting, he deferred to McLoughlin's judgment, with the only caveat being that the final girl had to be a "very attractive blonde".[11] To fulfill this requirement, McLoughlin chose Jennifer Cooke, based on her performance in the television series V. The role of Hawes, Tommy's would-be sidekick who dies within the first five minutes of the movie, was given to another television veteran, Ron Palillo, famous for the role of Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter.

John Shepherd was initially asked to reprise his role as Tommy Jarvis from the previous film. Shepherd, an evangelical Christian who had reservations about returning to the series based on the atmosphere surrounding A New Beginning, was initially attracted to Jason Lives based on the scene in which a praying girl is spared by Jason. He ultimately decided to film the movie Caught, and shortly thereafter retired from acting to go to seminary. Thom Matthews, who would take over the mantel of Tommy Jarvis, was chosen for his work in the horror comedy Return of the Living Dead, although McLoughlin himself was unaware of Matthews' horror credentials until after shooting began.[8] Other cast members were culled from actors whom McLoughlin had directed before (such as David Kagen, who was also an acting teacher for female lead Jennifer Cooke) and McLoughlin's own family—Jason's first female victim in the film, Lizbeth, was played by McLoughlin's wife, Nancy. In keeping with the series' tradition, the role of Jason was given to a stuntman, Dan Bradley.


After the first day of filming, Mancuso decided that he disliked Bradley's appearance onscreen as Jason. Although the scenes that Bradley filmed—in which Jason kills the paintball playing executives—were kept in the completed picture, the rest of Jason's scenes were performed by C. J. Graham, an area restaurant manager and former soldier. As part of a stage show put on at the restaurant, a magician would hypnotize audience members and place them in a scenario during which they encountered Jason Voorhees; Graham, who stood 6'3 and weighed 250 lbs, was asked to play Jason for the scenario. Jason Lives' special effects coordinator, Martin Becker, was in the audience for one such show, and recommended Graham to Mancuso and McLoughlin. Both men were impressed with Graham's presence, and he was hired to film the remainder of Jason's scenes.

Jason Lives would become notable for being the only film in the franchise to contain no nudity; the characters in the film's sole sex scene are both fully clothed, a conscious move on McLoughlin's part to distance the series from the notion that the Friday the 13th films were morality tales in which premarital sex was punished by death. McLoughlin was pressured by the film's producers to have Darcy Demoss remove her shirt during the RV sex scene, but he only suggested the idea to Demoss, who refused.

Jason Lives was filmed in Covington, Georgia, an area close to Atlanta, GA. The scenes involving the police department and town were filmed in Covington while the camp scenes were filmed at Camp Daniel Morgan outside the city limits of Covington. In the film, Camp Crystal Lake has been renamed Lake Forest Green. Surrounding Camp Daniel Morgan are Smokey the Bear signs asking everyone to "Keep the Forests Green".

Some of the climactic moments of the film involving the primary characters in the lake were actually filmed in the swimming pool of McLoughlin's father. Although McLoughlin ruined the pool's filter in the process (it was jammed by gore churned into the water when Jason is hit with the boat propeller), McLoughlin's father was pleased that he could now boast a Hollywood film had been shot in his backyard.[8]


McLoughlin's attempt to deliver a "different" kind of Friday the 13th film were met with skepticism from the producers. In a contrast to the series' other entries, which had to be edited for violence in order to avoid an "X" rating, the film's producers requested that McLoughlin add additional gore, violence, and murders to the film. The original cut of the film contained 13 killings as an in-joke; in order to appease the studio, McLoughlin had to add an additional three killings, bringing the total up to 16.[8] These were the killings of Martin the gravedigger, and the recently engaged couple on a nighttime picnic. The scene of Jason killing Martin would later be cited by McLoughlin as one of his favorite parts of the movie for the shot in which the picnicing man suddenly realizes that he's been spotted by Jason, which McLoughlin felt to be the film's scariest moment.[8]

Additionally, McLoughlin was made to extend Sissy's death, adding the shots of Jason dragging her to the ground and twisting her head off; as originally filmed, Sissy was simply pulled out of the cabin window, and wasn't seen again until Megan finds her head in the squad car.[8]

McLoughlin also found himself in contention with the producers over how the film should end. As scripted, the movie was supposed to have concluded in the graveyard, with Martin the gravedigger (who apparently wasn't killed by Jason) meeting Jason's father, Elias—a heretofore unseen character in the series—with the implication that Elias knows Jason has been resurrected and has come looking for him. The studio balked at the scene, as they did not want the responsibility of having to introduce Elias' backstory in the next installment in the franchise; additionally, the added murder of Martin made the scene an impossibility to shoot. This ending would have tied up a continuity error from A New Beginning, when it is mentioned that Jason was cremated; a deleted scene from Jason Lives had Tommy asking Sheriff Garris why Jason wasn't cremated, as had been planned, at which point Garris informs him that someone paid the city to bury Jason; Elias' handing Martin a wad of money would have indicated that he was the man who paid for Jason's burial. The scene was later storyboarded for inclusion on the film's "Deluxe Edition" DVD release, with Bob Larkin reprising his role as Martin to provide voiceover. Elias, like Jason, was scripted to be completely silent.[8][12]

McLoughlin ultimately shot three endings, two of which, against his expectations, were not included on the film's DVD release. In one ending, Jason's mask floats to the surface of Crystal Lake, having become detached during his struggle with Megan. In another, Deputy Cologne was seen trying to reach the jail cell keys after having been locked in by Tommy and Megan; the door to the police station opens and the film abruptly ends, indicating that Jason had managed to get free. The producers disliked both of these endings, as each one left Jason's survival ambiguous, and wanted it explicitly shown onscreen that he was still capable of returning for a sequel. As a result, McLoughlin shot the film's current ending, showing a closeup of Jason's open, twitching eye.[8]


The film's music was composed by Harry Manfredini, who composed the scores to all of the series' previous installments. In addition to the original score, the soundtrack also featured:

"He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)" had an accompanying music video, combining clips from the film with new footage featuring Cooper. It is not present on any home video release of the film, but can be viewed on YouTube.[13][14]

On January 13, 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 6-CD boxset containing Manfredini's scores from the first six Friday the 13th films. It sold out in less than 24 hours.[15]


Box office[edit]

The film opened in 1,610 theaters making $6.7 million its opening weekend. Domestically, the film made $19.4 million.

Critical response[edit]

Popular with critics overall, Jason Lives succeeded in receiving some positive attention from the mainstream press, the first time since the original Friday the 13th that an entry in the series received anything other than a negative review. As of 2013 it holds a score of 54% at Rotten Tomatoes (which is still classified as "Rotten", however).

Fan reception was largely positive; as of the release of Freddy vs. Jason in 2003, it was considered a fan favorite in the franchise.[3][16] This is largely attributed to the use of humor,[17][18] though some were put off by this approach.[19]

Negative criticism of the movie includes general fatigue with the slasher film genre, and the implausibility of Jason's resurrection.[20]


A novelization of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives was written by Simon Hawke in 1986; notably, the novelization features an appearance by Elias Voorhees, Jason's father who was originally meant to appear in the film, but was cut. The book also includes various flashbacks to Jason's childhood and the backstories of characters such as Tommy and Sheriff Garris are also expanded.


  1. ^ "Joseph Zito Interviewed by Royce Freeman". Pit of Horror. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  2. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. pp. 146–148. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  3. ^ a b Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. pp. 147–148;149. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  4. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. pp. 166–167. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  5. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. p. 166. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  6. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. pp. 148–149. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  7. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. p. 148. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Jason Lives Director's Commentary
  9. ^ Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. p. 149. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  10. ^ DVD Talk: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  11. ^ a b Bracke, Peter (2006-10-11). Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Titan Books. p. 151. ISBN 1-84576-343-2. 
  12. ^ Meeting Mr. Voorhees. Special feature on Jason Lives DVD
  13. ^ X-Entertainment's Halloween Season: 2004
  14. ^ allmusic ((( Constrictor > Overview )))
  15. ^ "La-La Land Records: Friday the 13th". La-La Land Records. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  16. ^ DVD Verdict Review - Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  17. ^ | Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  18. ^ Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  19. ^ I Viddied It on the Screen-Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  20. ^ Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI- Moria The Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Review

External links[edit]