Friday The 13Th Part Vi: Jason Lives

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From the beginning, the Friday the 13th franchise delivered memorable Final Girls that outlasted the slaughter and defeated their foe. The first film saw Alice (Adrienne King) end Mrs. Voorhees’ (Betsy Palmer) reign of terror by removing her head. Part 2’s Ginny (Amy Steel) ranks high among the franchise’s favorites for her tough-as-nails perseverance and quick wit. But this Friday, the 13th, let’s pay our respects to the liveliest final girl of the entire series; Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives Megan Garris (Jennifer Cooke).

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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives was released in theaters on August 1, 1986, marking a dramatic shift in tone from A New Beginning. The final entry in the Tommy Jarvis saga injected a self-referential sense of humor, and a Frankenstein-inspired twist, courtesy of writer/director Tom McLoughlin. That meant a less severe and traumatized version of the hero, Tommy, now played by The Return of the Living Dead’s Thom Mathews. Tommy Jarvis might be designated the hero of Jason Lives, but it’s also his actions that cause Jason to return from the grave in the first place.

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Tommy returns to Crystal Lake, now named Forest Green, to burn Jason Voorhees’ remains. Thanks to a thunderstorm and some angst, Tommy manages to revive Jason instead, with a metal fence post that acts as a lightning rod. It sparks a new bloodbath, just in time for campers and camp counselors to arrive at Camp Forest Green. But due to Tommy’s past, the local authorities don’t believe his claims of Jason’s return. He spends much of the film at odds with Sheriff Mike Garris (David Kagen). Tommy’s sole ally? The Sheriff’s rebellious teen daughter, Megan.

Right away, Megan’s personality comes across as atypical for a Final Girl. She boldly flirts with Tommy, locked in a holding cell, right in front of her father. It has as much to do with annoying and embarrassing dad as it does with finding Tommy cute. Her playful side continues when leading young campers in a cheer against eating brussels sprouts and boys. Megan continuously defies dad’s orders to stay away from Tommy and manages to make a game out of evading police while hiding Tommy in her lap. Megan doesn’t seem to take much seriously, and it makes her unpredictable and endearingly entertaining.

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Her exploits in getting Tommy out of his holding cell and back to Camp means she’s not in actual danger for most of the movie. That means that she’s enjoying herself, having a great time messing with dad’s deputies, and embarking on car chases. It’s infectious. When the third act arrives, though, and she’s forced to confront mortality, Megan steps up to the plate in a big way.

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Megan makes the children a priority, both calming them and making sure they’re safe. Sure, she understandably panics, especially when her father enters the equation, and she nearly dies at Jason’s hands to save the children. But she’s also the one to save Tommy and ultimately deal the finishing blow. Tommy’s attempt to sink Jason at the bottom of the lake goes awry; he nearly drowns. It’s Megan who dives into the lake to pluck him out, and she uses the boat propeller to finally end the battle.

There’s a lot to love about one of the lighthearted entries in the franchise. The self-referential humor, the nods to “Frankenstein”, and Mathews’ take on franchise mainstay Tommy Jarvis all make it for an entertaining slasher. But it’s Megan’s transformation from party gal out for a good time into Final Girl that offers one of the most unique and satisfying character arcs of the series.

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Related Topics:Final GirlFriday the 13thFriday the 13th: Jason LivesJason VoorheesJennifer CookeTom McLoughlin

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