One of the extras included in the 2004 DVD boxset From Crystal Lake to Manhattan was an interview with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives director, Tom McLoughlin, wherein he suggests a unique way to watch the film:
“My main objective was to give the audience a sense of the old gothic horror movies, because I was trying to set a tone right from the beginning that this was going to be like what the Universal horror movies used to be: the stormy night, going to the cemetery, digging up the grave, a monster that is actually dead coming back and is unstoppable. If you turn the color off, this movie would look great in black and white.”
I’d long been aware that McLoughlin used Jason Lives to pay major homage to Frankenstein (a gas station named “Karloff’s”, anyone?), but I’d never considered actually watching it in black and white. So with this great suggestion in mind, I decided to give it a shot. Last night I popped my Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives DVD in the ol’ player, grabbed the remote and dialed the TV’s color down to zero, and strapped in for a watch. And you know what? It totally kind of works!
The moment the old Paramount logo popped up onscreen, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The entire opening sequence of the film is just a barrage of classic horror imagery, made that much cooler by the fact that it was all in black and white: a shot of the full moon encompassed by ominous clouds; craggy trees and bolts of lightning; a spooky cemetery, shrouded in fog. By the time the opening credits actually start rolling, you’d swear you’d been watching some sort of alternate reality version of Frankenstein or The Wolf Man.
Now, what with being filmed in 1986, not everything works in black and white. A lot of the contemporary elements – the hairstyles, the fashion, and the music – clearly don’t transition all that well. (The scene involving Cort and Nikki in the RV stands out especially.) Still, one of the funny side effects of watching an ’80s movie in black and white is how the lack of color manages to lend an air of class to the proceedings. Martin the Gravedigger saying “farthead” is a far cry from the moving court proceedings in To Kill a Mockingbird, but they’re visually striking just the same.
Another cool result of desaturating the film is how all the jailhouse scenes play out like an old noir film. Now, I don’t know if that was McLoughlin’s intended effect, but with the police officers spouting off dialogue like, “Hit the noise and the cherries!”, “That’s what we call ‘screwin’ the pooch'”, and “Alright, into the can, Flash!”, I’d be surprised if the pulpy, old-timey vibe wasn’t completely intentional.
If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend giving Jason Lives a watch in black and white. If nothing else, it’s simply a new way to watch an old favorite. Below I’ve attached some screen shots I took that showcase the more stunning shots.