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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Damn you, Horshack.
Just when Jason was finally lying peacefully in his grave, Tommy Jarvis and Horshack from "Welcome Back Kotter" have to go and accidentally stick a lightning rod in his chest. Which isn't good because, in case you didn't know, lighting causes deceased mass murderers to come back to life.
Ignoring the fact that A New Beginning ever happened (which is a good idea for everyone involved), Jason Lives once again features Corey Feldman's The Final Chapter character of Tommy Jarvis all grown up. Seeking a little closure, Tommy (now played by Thom Mathews) heads to the cemetery to dig up Jason's grave. Horshack helps him, Horshack dies and Jarvis makes the mistake of thinking a small town sheriff in a horror movie will actually help him instead of calling him a loony and throwing him in jail.
But that's part of what makes Jason Lives the best of the Friday the 13ths after the original. It's the only one that doesn't take itself too seriously, that actually dares to poke a little fun at itself and adds some of the self-awareness and in-jokes that would make Scream so popular ten years later.
The first of the newly resurrected Jason's victims are a pair of camp counselors trying to find Camp Crystal Lake (now called Forest Green to avoid the stigma of being the horny teen murder capital of the world). That's right, for the first time since Part 2 someone is actually dumb enough to open another camp for children in Jason's stomping ground. As the hopelessly lost couple search for the camp, they come upon Jason standing in the middle of the road. "I've seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly," says the girl to her boyfriend (Tony Goldwyn, in his first movie). Of course, he gets out the car anyway and is promptly killed, but it's the kind of tongue-in-cheek tone that makes this the most fun movie in the entire series.
As the last two Friday's tried to veer away from the formula of the first three, Jason Lives embraces that formula, poking fun at it without ever crossing the line into parody. This time Jason's smorgasbord of carnage also includes actual campers. That's right, Jason has the chance to hack up a few children in addition to the sex-hungry teen counselors.
One of those sex-hungry teen counselors (Jennifer Cooke), who happens to be the daughter of the sheriff, falls instantly in love with Tommy Jarvis because he's cute. Apparently, this is a very small town. A cute guy, even if he is a former mental patient raving about a killer who's been in the ground for the greater part of the decade, is apparently still quite the catch. She helps spring Jarvis from jail and, after a quick stop at the local occult bookstore (what, all small towns have stores with books that tell you how to kill undead mass murders), the duo heads for a showdown with Jason.
With this entry, Mr. Voorhees finally completes his metamorphosis from half-retarded backwoods psycho to unstoppable zombie butcher. He no longer feels pain. He can no longer be killed. He no longer runs after people. He simply depends on them to fall down and I'll be damned if they always don't do just that.
The cast also isn't too shabby, at least by Friday the 13th standards. Thom Mathews isn't quite as good as he was in Return of the Living Dead, but he's passable as Tommy. David Kagen is also pretty good as the sheriff while Tom Fridley (John Travolta's nephew) is funny as the horniest of the horny teens.
Though the movie could've done without the padded body count of some insurance salesman playing paintball in the nearby woods, this is still the most enjoyable of the Friday the 13th flicks. By mocking the film's themselves but still giving the audience what it wants with sex, violence and the most terrifyingly unstoppable incarnation of Jason, this one proves that all the hockey-masked killer had to do to finally make a decent movie was simply lighten up.