In 1985, just one year after the supposed Final Chapter, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning hit theaters to a very disappointing box office of 22 million. Most horror movies wish they can make 22 million, but most franchises don’t sink 2.2 million dollars into making a horror film. The returns for chapter 4 although great for ANY movie (1000 % if my math is correct, and of course it’s correct, I teach Math to high school students,) made considerably less than the first four Friday the 13th movies. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but Jason isn’t the killer in this movie. Word of mouth may have quelled some of the returns.
I’m not going to say WHO the real killer is, but in all of the production stills, Jason is seen wearing a hockey mask with blue triangles. This is the ONLY movie where Jason is wearing a blue triangle hockey mask. Tom Morga is the actor tasked to change the direction of the franchise. He was a stuntman who was a real world smoke jumper/firefighter before going Hollywood. His gait is unique. Of course, it would be. He’s 6’1″, and a slimmer, quicker Jason, as opposed to the slower lumbering Jason fans came to expect. These are all things that probably affected the box office.
Mind you, I think the movie is one of the worst in the franchise, so that doesn’t help either. Later, in the documentary Camp Crystal Lake Memories there is a great deal of discussion about the hardcore drug usage prevalent on the set, and how that might have affected the final product. It is clear that some of the actors were deceived about the project they were undertaking. Both John Shepard and Dick Wieand were told that they were working on a movie called Repetition before they discovered that it was a Friday the 13th movie. It probably affected their performances. These are all reasons why the movie fails. So, I don’t think Tom Morga should be blamed, but his portrayal of Jason didn’t help.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a return to the formula that worked so well with Parts II, III, and IV — Jason killing dumb, unlikable, characterless teenagers. Even though there were diminishing returns on the franchise (this film made 19.4 million in the U.S. on a $3 million budget), this movie is considered a favorite of many hardcore Jason fans. Notice that I said Jason fans and not Friday the 13th fans. Most fans are both, but there are some fans that make a distinction between the series and the monster. For instance, Dan Bradley was the actor originally hired to be Jason. However, he performed one scene, the killing of some paintballers and they judged that he didn’t have the right look. (Let’s just call it for what it was. The guy was too fat. I’m not judging. Who am I to judge, but if you look at the production stills, you can see it.
Bradley’s replacement was a considerably different body-type. C.J. Graham is, and was at the time, a nightclub owner who performed an on-stage Jason-act, where a hypnotized audience-member would be told to runaway from Jason. Apparently, one of the casting people witnessed the act and saw C.J. as the perfect Jason. At 6’3″ and a svelte 250 pounds, the difference is immediately apparent.
Clearly, this is a much better looking dude, and definitively more imposing. Wearing the overalls and the hockey mask, one can feel the power that Jason exudes. In Chapter VI, Tommy Jarvis returns to the Camp Crystal Lake area. He has been in a mental health facility, because not only did he believe he killed Jason (in IV), but he witnessed other murders perpetrated by someone trying to kill like Jason (in V). He is haunted in his dreams that Jason is not truly dead, so he digs up Jason’s grave and actually unintentionally wakes Jason. This first scene is a very Gothic Frankenstein rip that the director, Tom McLoughlin, decided would add a new more scary element to the franchise. There is a new camp introduced as well and this time there are children campers to amp up the scares. Jennifer Cooke is the final girl and Tommy Jarvis is the thread that ties up this trilogy. A few more note-worthy things before I tie up this bad boy.
Scream is considered a masterpiece because of it’s self-referential dialogue, but this movie has a few self-referential moments. During the cemetery scene, in the beginning, the mortuary attendant looks directly into the camera after Jason has been revived and answers his own question, “Why’d they have to go and dig up Jason? I guess some people have a strange idea as to what’s entertainment.” Suggesting that Jason was brought back because we wanted him brought back. There is a young lady walking through the woods and she wants to get out of the woods, because she knows what happens to people who walk in the woods in horror movies. Also, during one of the most gripping scenes, Jason walks through a cabin filled with campers. He looks directly at a little girl who’s awake and she begins to pray. Jason leaves her alone, effectively showing us that Jason is an avenging spirit that is going after the sinners, not kids who say their prayers.
There’s still one more installment left for the many faces of Jason. Please leave comments below. Let me know if you have found this interesting or boring.