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UNDERRATED FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 6

year: 1986
Overshadowed by an endless array of Jamie Lee Curtis type ingenues and the formidable killing machine villains, Tommy Jarvis is the red-haired stepchild of the horror genre; and his hair's not even red. It's a sort of Michael Dudikoff spiked sandy-blonde here, and used to be brown when he was kid played by Corey Feldman in PART 4: THE FINAL CHAPTER, a title that lied through its gritting teeth.

After witnessing Jason Voorhees slaughtering a gaggle of partying teenagers, young Tommy, a creative tyke into making his own monster masks, was locked up in a nuthouse...

Thus causing what's possibility the most lackluster and unmotivated venture of the series, A NEW BEGINNING, which gave the kid, grown into a disturbed teen, a sustained male lead in a franchise previously featuring a revolving door of sole-surviving starlets including Adrienne King, Amy Steele, Dana Kimmell and Kimberly Beck. But in Part 6: JASON LIVES, Tommy is no longer passive or crazy... In fact, he wants some payback...

"I'd rather be in the back of the class."
Teamed with WELCOME BACK KOTTER alumni Ron Palillo, whose doomed dork says, "I don't know how you talked me into this, Tommy," our vengeful hero returns to the grave where Jason was buried in the last outing – to put him to rest, for good. But as terrible luck would have it, a lightning storm ensues, awakening the hockey masked monstrosity – wreaking more havoc in what could very well be the most entertaining of the entire series… And you can put quotes on that!

Written and directed by Tom McLoughlin, there’s a terrific balance of hardcore violence and tongue-in-cheek camp humor. Speaking of which… this is the first FRIDAY where the location, no longer called Camp Blood but now Forest Green, actually harbors children (including a "precious" little girl who's not annoying) instead of just teenagers and twenty-something counselors preparing for the real thing. And it’s not just horny jerks and their girlfriends making up Jason’s hit list. Along with, later on, several police officers, a band of clumsy Weekend Warriors, donning paint ball guns, provide a dinner salad for the main course.

Ingenue Jennifer Cookie
The overall body count is fast-paced, served up with more venomous gusto than ever – as if Jason watched the first five films and knew he had to get back at everyone, for everything. Meanwhile, snappy edits cut back and forth with clever, if intentionally contrived, finesse: For example, this film's crazy old man asks himself, “Do they think I’m a fart-head?” Followed by another scene where a group of campers yell, “Yes!” having to do with something else entirely. Even the music sounds decent – the name Alice Cooper ring a bell?

Last but not least, the acting is above-par, including good girl Megan played by Jennifer Cooke… who believes the falsely-accused Tommy isn’t lying about this legendary Jason fellow… and especially Megan’s hard-nosed sheriff father. David Kagen has a score of character actor credits, and his energetic input, also including a cameo by GHOST baddie Tony Goldwyn and Tommy himself, Thom Matthews, leading the way with intrepid monotone and even sounding like Corey Feldman on occasion, makes this particular 13th rise above the forgettable slime of latter installments. JASON LIVES, indeed!

RATING: ***1/2
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