“I was laughing when I was writing this scene.”
This week marked the 30th anniversary of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, an entry in the popular slasher series that seems to be as maligned as it beloved. We here at FSR fall into the latter camp as evidenced by Brian Salisbury’s nod to it a few days ago and my own ranking of the franchise from earlier this year where it landed fourth out of the twelve films (including the reboot).
And I’ve decided to keep the love going by featuring it on this week’s Commentary Commentary.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Commentator: Tom McLoughlin (writer), Tom McLoughlin (director)
1. McLoughlin introduces himself as the film’s writer and then introduces himself as the director. He follows the intros with “and we’re gonna talk about how we made the movie.”
2. He wanted to start with a “classic Gothic opening, to try and hit the ground running.” His love of Hammer horror films fueled his desire to open with moonlight and fog.
3. Thom Mathews, who plays Tommy here, is equally well known to genre fans as Freddy from Return of the Living Dead.
4. McLoughlin is not sure how to pronounce Albert Pyun’s name. I’m not either, but I believe it’s “pyoon?” This YouTube video seems helpful at first glance, but it is most definitely not.
5. Ron “Horseshack” Palillo’s character, Allen Hawes, is named after McLoughlin’s best friend, Mike Hawes.
6. The opening cemetery is actually a sound stage.
7. He infused the cemetery scene with wind and rain and mentions it’s something he learned from Frank Capra, “to make elements part of the storytelling.” He also credits David Lean with the idea of getting things moving in the frame as it’s “more interesting to watch everything alive and moving.” I love the idea that Capra and Lean were both influences on a Friday the 13th film.
8. McLoughlin cameos as Tommy’s hands opening up the coffin.
9. The flashback as Tommy stands over Jason’s grave were always meant to be audio only. “So there are certain kinds of things that you do for artistic reasons and not just because you don’t have the money.”
10. He says he tried to bring some laughs to the film through clever, witty dialogue whenever possible. “The bottom line for me is these things have to be entertaining.”
11. He chose to go the old Frankenstein monster meets lightning route as a way to bring Jason (CJ Graham) back from the dead, “whether you choose to accept it or not.”
12. You can hear Jason stepping on Allen’s heart, and McLoughlin says they shot an insert of it but he’s unsure what happened to it.
13. The cheeky James Bond nod was meant to set the tone for his film. “It was something that was gonna be not just another Jason movie but a kind of homage to the other slasher films as well as kind of a satirization of them at the same time.”
14. He grew up in Culver City, CA and “had the backlots of MGM to play on as a kid so movies got into my blood very, very early.”
15. Sheriff Garris (David Kagen) is named after McLoughlin’s good friend, writer/director Mick Garris.
16. Lizbeth is played by his wife, Nancy McLoughlin. They met at Paramount Studios while he was playing the monster in John Frankenheimer’s Prophecy. (I love that crazy eco-friendly horror movie.) She does her own stunts here and continues to tell anyone who’ll listen that the water was freezing cold.
17. When Jason shatters the windshield of Lizbeth’s car with his metal spear it actually came close to striking her. “CJ almost really nailed my wife.”
18. The floating Amex card was “an intended bit” meant to get the audiences to respond “Don’t leave home without it!”
19. He points out the kudzu vines all over the trees and says he “thought it was symbolic of Jason in that the more you cut this stuff back the more it keeps growing.”
20. There was a shot of the three heads falling to the ground after the triple decapitation, but he cut it himself as he didn’t think it looked that good.
21. The sequence featuring the cemetery caretaker’s demise along with the canoodling couple was a re-shoot done after filming had completed, and it was added because one of the producer’s requested more kills.
22. He points out what the rest of us noticed a long time ago – that his film is devoid of nudity and features very minimal sex. “I just never bought the idea that you have sex and then you die.”
23. You can also hear Cort (Tom Fridley) removing his rubber beneath the blanket after Nikki (Darcy DeMoss) dismounts and heads to the front of the RV. “I wanted to put a little nod in there to safe sex.”
24. “Watch what he does with his feet here,” he says at the beneath-the-RV shot of Cort walking to fix the power cord. “I thought it kind of looked like the mummy or the walking dead.”
25. He’s been asked on multiple occasions if the name “Baker” on the back of Sissy’s (Renee Jones) jersey is a nod to makeup fx legend Rick Baker. “I guess it could be.”
26. He was never happy with the effect of Jason getting shot between the eyes by the sheriff. “There were so many holes in the friggin’ mask that you can’t really see it.”
27. Tommy’s red/orange Camaro is the car McLoughlin himself wanted when he was a teenager. “By the time I was old enough to afford it I was too old to be driving it around.”
28. The underwater sequences were shot in McLoughlin’s parents’ pool. The “guts” messed up their filter, and he had to replace it.
29. He had a shot of the one little girl praying for Tommy after he’s pulled unconscious from the water. Her prayer coincides with the chest thumps he’s getting from Megan (Jennifer Cooke), and when he wakes up we see the little girl “look heavenward and mouth ‘thank you’ but we thought we were being a little too cute.”
30. McLoughlin’s original script featured a scene of Jason’s father visiting his grave, but “the feeling was they didn’t want to introduce a father character and wanted to keep Jason going.”
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“I’m a big fan of worms, maggots, and the like.”
“I really tried to design this film as a thrill ride.”
“You can’t kill what’s already dead.”
“Once we get past this we’re pretty much in murder city.”
“Imagine having your daughter and seeing some guy’s head come up from her crotch. Every dad’s nightmare.”
“I don’t know what we would do if John Carpenter hadn’t created that whole thing in Halloween. I don’t know how many of us borrowed from Carpenter on that.”
“Lotta blood in ol’ Paula there.”
Jason Lives is a solid entry in the Friday the 13th franchise on its slasher merits, but it rises above with a sense of humor and creativity. I still don’t forgive McLoughlin for neglecting his duties and failing to include some sex/nudity, but I accept the trade off for laughs and zaniness in their absence. The commentary track shows McLoughlin’s love of movies and knowledge regarding those who came before him, and it’s a great listen for fans of the film.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.