Tommy escapes and attempts to warn the local sheriff, Michael Garris (David Kagen), about Jason's resurrection. Not believing his story, Garris puts Tommy behind bars while Jason prowls the newly named Camp Forest Green. While in lock up, Tommy meets the sheriff's daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), who takes quite a liking to him. Megan and her friends are counselors at a nearby summer camp for kids, whose lives are now threatened by the mask wielding maniac. With Megan's help, Tommy manages to escape the police station and head off to find Jason, who by this time has killed a couple vacationers, paintballers, a drunk graves keeper, and of course, some horny camp counselors.
As good as Jason is, it is the rest of the cast that usually makes or breaks his films, and thankfully all the supporting players do their jobs. This is nothing more than an entertaining B-movie, and the actors know it, playing their roles with exaggerated expressions and dialogue. Thom Mathews is especially fun as Tommy Jarvis, and is a large improvement over John Shepherd's dull and depressing characterization in Part V. None of the cast play their roles seriously, and as a result, the film is a whole lot of fun.
After the nihilistic heft of The Final Chapter and the campy excess of A New Beginning, this sequel is a more modest return to the simple groundwork set by the second film, where the only mandate was to emulate a rollercoaster ride with laughs and screams. Coming at a time when both the Friday series and horror in general was starting to play itself out in the era of home video, this one starts to introduce a few post-modern sensibilities, but at its heart, it's that same fun, earnest Friday the 13th the fans love. It would prove to be the last, too, before the high concepts of telekenesis, manhattan, hell and space took over. Jason may live again in this film, but when he gets buried in the lake, so too does the old reliable Friday formula. It was nice knowing you, old friend.
When Paramount first rolled out DVDs of the Friday the 13th films, the transfers were commonly regarded as good, if serviceable, transfers. That changed with Part 6 onwards, where Paramount really stepped up and delivered some crystal clear transfers. The visual upgrades for the previous 5 films, while beautiful, aren’t really a stretch considering how far transfer technology has come. Jason Lives provides the true test, since the original DVD already looked so good. Well, the end result isn’t quite as glowing as with the previous Deluxe Editions. In fact, in many ways the revised color timing in this film seems a step back. The previous transfer really pushed the blues that factor so much into the moonlit cabins and the lakeside finale, here though, Paramount sidesteps the blue for a more murky green, and the effect is not nearly as appealing. Other scenes look more yellow than they ought to, and really, a lot of times the colors just seem off. It’s certainly stylistically different than the 2001 DVD, whether that’s a plus or not I guess depends on the beholder…that’s why we do screenshots!
That said, this transfer, like those for 4 & 5, increases the viewing area ever so slightly. There is also less grain as textures and detail look a bit sharper in this new transfer. A change of pace from the other films, the timing on this new transfer is actually darker than the original track. Compared to the earlier films, the original DVD of Jason Lives was quite bright, but again, I’m not sure if the darkening here was the right thing. There are bits in the original DVD where blacks are a tad milky from the added gamma and in this track that never happens, but at the same time some scenes feel a bit too dark, like the cabin scene with the little girl. All the previous films have been obvious upgrades, but honestly, recommending this new Jason Lives master comes down to preference.
If Jason Lives was the first Friday film to really look like a quality DVD, then it too is the first one to really sound like one. This was the first film mixed in stereo upon theatrical release, so the surround track on the previous DVD was certainly more dynamic than usual for Jason. This time it gets the Dolby Digital 5.1 upgrade, and like the video, it really isn’t all that much better. By most accounts the 2.0 surround track and the 5.1 mix are almost identical, both with a decent soundspace, but both having limited channel separation and zero directionality. Sound effects and music cues are once again pushed to the backs; you’d think that now with stereo master tapes, Paramount could have separated the channels a little more for this 5.1 upgrade. The 5.1 mix only sounds a touch louder, but bass levels are almost the same. There are a ton of explosions, car chases, lightning crashes and other natural sound elements present in this track – it’s a shame Paramount didn’t bother to maximize them at all. Ho hum.
A little bulkier than A New Beginning but still no The Final Chapter, Jason Lives gets a sizable amount of special features on this Deluxe Edition release. First up is the commentary with Tom McLoughlin, editor Bruce Green and actor Vincent Guastaferro. This represents a sort of balance between the fact-heavy filmmaker commentary on The Final Chapter and the jokey one found on A New Beginning. McLoughlin and Guastaferro really keep this going, bouncing memories off of each other throughout, with Bruce Green mostly quiet, but occasionally chiming in with interesting editing anecdotes. McLoughlin shares a lot of great tips on directing techniques and also really remembers every minute detail of the film. McLoughlin previously went solo for the commentary track on the box set, but with Guastaferro there to keep up the levity, this is an even better track than before.
Like with the previous films, there’s a short featurette looking back on the film. This one, “Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th: Part VI” (12:55) brings together Tom McLoughlin, his wife (who played the American Express card victim), the sheriff (or “Sherriff” as it’s improperly written on the title card) David Kagen, and effects men Gabe Bartalos and Chris Biggs. Tom’s already spoken at length about the film on previous editions and interviews, and as such there isn’t much new here. It’s nice to see the sheriff again today, and he expresses a lot of enthusiasm about the fanbase, but like all the other participants, doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s all the same old story here, with speakers surprised at how the series has lived on, how they had to endure cuts from the MPAA, etc. Where’s Alice Cooper? Thom Matthews? This featurette is sadly a shallow disappointment.
Probably the most interesting extra is a recreated alternate ending using voice over and storyboards. Tom McLoughlin introduces the “Meeting Mr. Voorhees” (2:45) segment, stating how this was always the ending he had intended. Basically, it introduces to the screen Jason Voorhees’ father as a bit of a cliffhanger for the next film. It’s great they went to the extra work to make this supplement, but sadly the piece really doesn’t offer much above the cliché and would have surely hurt the series. Jason’s dad comes off as a poor man’s Man in Black (yeah, I know) from the Halloween franchise, and we all know how much the fans love him. The absence of a father figure has always been key to the Friday the 13th films, which is yet another reason why this tacked on ending just doesn’t work.
Next up are “Slashed Scenes” (6:04) which consists mostly of extended murder sequences that were trimmed by the MPAA. There is also quite a bit on the tamer side with an extended finale with Tommy drowning at the lake and the subsequent revival. There is even some religion thrown in for good measure. Many of these deleted scenes were already featured on the “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” set, although this time instead of being presented split screen to show the differences, these ones are full (frame) and intact. Prepare for some fan edits! On the box set, the deleted scenes ran 4:35, and here they run 6:04, mostly because of how long the final bits are with Tommy on the lake shore. Missing from this new disc is a longer (and better) dialogue scene in one of the cabins between some of the campers. Why they couldn’t have just included everything from the previous disc is beyond me, and this marks the second time they’ve goofed on this, forgetting about all the nicely extended scenes from The Final Chapter prior. Still, it’s great to have these in full, now.
The third installment in the mockumentary “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited” (9:33) rebounds after the jokey theatrics of the second segment. This one is still quite funny, but the humor is more earned from observation on inconsistencies in the Jason Lives story than cheap jokes. Like the first segment, it has a lot of fun trying to rationalize plot holes in the series. They talk about how Tommy likely got plastic surgery between the happenings of A New Beginning and Jason Lives to hide himself from Jason, and they also question how Jason could just stay chained underwater in a shallow lake without anyone finding him. It’s all great fun, and such a novel idea – here’s hoping we get stuff like this for the inevitable special editions for the Elm Street films once that remake hits the market.
The three episode story arc ends here in “Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 6”, with the hospital patient again lost in the woods with Jason on his tail. This one has some solid confrontation, and dramatically the ending is pretty damn brutal. You won’t see the final camper in any slasher film act like the one here. Good stuff, and hopefully it continues for the final two discs. The disc is rounded off with the fun theatrical trailer and that obligatory preview for The Uninvited. Another fine lenticular cover also graces this DVD release.