How Friday the 13th Part 6 Retconned Its Way to Greatness

Editor’s note: All throughout October, the vibes get spookier and the nights get longer. It’s the perfect time of year to watch horror movies, whether you’re a year-round horror fan or you just like to watch horror flicks to get into the Halloween spirit. This year at Horror Obsessive, for our 31 Horror Classics Revisited series, we’re giving you one recommendation for a classic horror film each day throughout the month of October. What do you think–is this film a horror classic? What other horror films do you consider to be classics, and what films do you make sure you watch each October? Let us know in the comments below!

Film franchises have to take risks. If you’re going to keep pushing a franchise for more and more chapters, eventually you have to think outside the box and try something different. With Friday the 13th, fans are pretty united in their love and praise for the first four films. It’s the fifth film that took the risks and while today, many years later, people love it, that wasn’t always the case. Which is how Friday the 13th Part 6, also known as Jason Lives, was able to retcon its way to being a classic.

A New Beginning

To be clear, I am one of those fans of the series who has always loved Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning. But I am in the minority here. The film attempted to replace Jason Voorhees and use an angry parent first as a copycat villain, with the end goal being to move former Jason foe Tommy Jarvis into the new villain role moving forward.

A young Tommy Jarvis tries to trick Jason Voorhees into believing he's just like him in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
A young Tommy Jarvis tries to trick Jason Voorhees into believing he’s just like him in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

The idea itself is interesting. Halloween wanted to do it with Jamie Lloyd but got cold feet, before trying the concept again with the David Gordon Green trilogy. Replacing the franchise killer with another human, in effect capping the supernatural elements and leaning into the human traits of these killers. Friday the 13th had always tried to position Jason as a boy who drowned and came back seeking revenge but really left the supernatural elements at that.

But the consensus was that Part 5 had failed, despite doing well at the box office. People wanted Jason Voorhees and they wanted what they were used to with this franchise. It was time for Jason to live again in Friday the 13th Part 6.

Jason Lives Again

Filmmaker Tommy McLoughlin was brought in to direct the film that would refocus the series on Jason, as an unstoppable killer back at his home, Camp Crystal Lake. Friday the 13th Part 6 would in fact have to retcon several parts of the previous film to achieve its mission of restoring Jason to his previous glory.

Jason stands tall in Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives

First, this film would be treated as a direct sequel to the fourth film and not the fifth. Tommy Jarvis was not a serial killer as the end of the fifth film made him out to be, and in real life, contracts of the surviving cast members from Part 5 were terminated. Original plans to pick up where Part 5 left off were out the window, including the original plan to bring back Pam and Reggie to kill them in the opening scene.

Perhaps the bigger retcon, and certainly the more impactful one, was leaning the character of Jason Voorhees more into the supernatural side of things. He was brought back to life via lightning, in a tip of the hat to the old Universal monster movies and the masked killer was quicker, stronger, and more brutal. Backwoods born again Jason was gone. Friday the 13th Part 6 ushered in a new Jason and this Jason was here to stay.


While the changes listed above were big, they would not be the only ones. Friday the 13th Part 6 was considerably different than other films in the franchise in a variety of ways. The film was funny in a lot of ways, including fourth-wall-breaking moments that have to be seen as a precursor to the Scream films. While this series always did a pretty good job of fleshing out its supporting cast, this particular group of characters were not only well-written, they were characters you wanted to see more of.

Another big change was that this film was not overly gory. Sure it featured some very notable kills, with the paintball scene coming to mind, but this was not a slasher film per se. Nor did it feature any nudity, another major departure from the genre during this time period. While future Friday the 13th films would go back to various women taking off their tops for virtually no reason, the genre as a whole began to move away from pointless nudity. That trend’s origins start here, in Friday the 13th Part 6.

The Film’s Legacy

Friday the 13th fans are varied in their opinions when it comes to favorite films in the series, but after the original, the second, fourth, and sixth films are the most frequently mentioned as favorites. It’s a testament to Friday the 13th Part 6’s strength of writing to be mentioned along with these other films. After all, it’s hard to be the sixth installment in a franchise and still create something original. But that’s exactly what this film did.

But the retconning done here allowed the franchise to live on. Four films followed, then the long-awaited Freddy vs Jason, and even a reboot film. This continued run of success stems from the ability of Friday the 13th Part 6 to change course and soothe the hard feelings amongst fans after the fifth film did not give them what they wanted.
Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake sign from Friday the 13th

Jason Lives, by daring to be different, also enabled the films that followed it to be different and move away from the tried and true formula of teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake. Each film that followed Friday the 13th Part 6 was unique in its own way, playing with the formula more than abiding by it, all while playing by the supernatural Jason rules established here.

It’s fascinating to think about “what if” this film never happened and they tried to proceed with Tommy Jarvis as the villain. While the concept is fascinating, I don’t think there would be much longevity in it. We theoretically could have had another film, maybe two with Jarvis as the villain but would we as an audience have bought it? Would Tommy seem like an unbeatable monster or merely a crazy guy in the vein of a Jeffrey Dahmer perhaps? We’re talking about a whole different style and direction for the franchise at that point.

Friday the 13th Part 6 gave us what we wanted and perhaps, what we needed even. Sure, it changed the past some, but it was for the better. So that the series could live on and even if you don’t like all of the entries that follow this film, odds are you like at least some of them. Plus, we got a top-notch horror sequel in this film that stands on its own as a classic. Jason Lives, and we should all be thankful.


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  1. Jason Lives has always been my favorite since I was young. If only they hadn’t chopped Part VII’s gore so much, that would be a close second. I’d say my faves in order would go 6, 1, 3, 4, 7, Reboot, 8, FVJ, 2, 5, JGTH.

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Written by Andrew Grevas

25YL Media Founder

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