Love it or hate it, the Friday the 13th franchise is beyond prolific. Between the originals, the remake, and Freddy vs Jason, it clocks in at a whopping twelve films. I love the binge as much as the next horror freak, but sometimes, like this weekend, I just don’t have the time. As with any franchise, they range in rating from scary to creepy to downright ridiculous (I’m looking at you, Jason X set in space….).
Jason Lives has the best of what makes the series so great. It has creepy moments, jump scares, gore, camp, great lines, and fantastically dated wardrobe.
If you only have time for one installment this year, here are 7 reasons why Jason Lives should be it.
- The Props
Oh, man. This one makes subtle, and not so subtle, use of some really great props. From the little details of a kid’s letter home to their parents from camp, to the bigger details of a cop with a laser on his revolver, this one really goes for it! Seriously, the scope is HUGE…it looks like a roll of toilet paper with a laser pointer in it.
- The Theme Song
He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask). Alice Cooper. Enough said. Ch ch ch ah ah ah!
- Kids Actually Attend the Camp
As campy and fun as this movie is meant to be, there are a handful of scenes that make this installment actually genuinely creepy. The biggest is the fact that this is the only time that kids actually show up at the camp. I had the pleasure of meeting C. J. Graham at a horror convention this year, and let me tell you, the guy is huge. In this movie, seeing him stand over little kids sleeping in their beds is actually really scary. Jason just kills everything in his path, so having several moments where you’re unsure if these kids are going to get decapitated in a killing frenzy is actually seriously uncomfortable.
- The Kills
The kills in Jason Lives are some of my favourite in the series. In terms of how they want you to feel, they run an emotional range from classic to ridiculous. There is plenty of swinging of the signature machete. There is a genuinely scary one where he disappears from a woman’s sight line only to pop up behind her and kill her with a fence post. There is one that makes me laugh so hard I have to rewind several times over and then pause for laughter every time. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but it involves some paintballers and a tree. Wait for the paintball battle and then sit back and enjoy.
- The Sex Scene
In a refreshing change, there is only one sex scene in the movie and it is nudity free. The refreshing part? This sex scene seems to be there only to make fun of the sex scene trope in horror movies in general. Plus, who doesn’t want to get with a dude who wears a crop top during? The sex was hilariously not good for her, and they were obvious cannon fodder right from the get go. On top of that (pun intended), all I could think of was “When the RV’s a’rockin’…”
- Meta and References
Watching this one in hindsight, it’s easy to point to it as an early example of the meta and self-referential that Wes Craven would later become known for. Between Jason being resurrected in Frankenstein-like style, to the James Bond style intro, this movie is chock full of references that movie lovers will enjoy. It is also quick to point out when characters are doing something that is likely going to get them killed. One of my favourite lines? “I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that a weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly!”
- Iconic Images
The final scene is key in this movie. It has the iconic image that even most casual viewers know of Jason chained and weighted down at the bottom of the lake….still very much alive and biding his time. This one has the potential to ruin lake swimming for good!