Retrospective: The Teaser Trailer For 'Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part VI'

As a promotional and marketing tool, the inherent intentions of a movie trailer are to “sell” the film to an audience.  At their dullest, a trailer will compile multiple shots summing up the major plot themes to the picture.  At their most creative, they leave the viewer wanting more and discussing with other fans the potential events of the film.

The movie trailer has definitely evolved and changed over the years.  Looking back to franchise start films, such as Halloween or the original Friday, the trailers were lengthy and quite linear.  John Carpenter’s Halloween, for example, walks the audience through the entire picture, highlighting the best moments of the film and acts mostly as a condensed summary of what audiences would see in the theatre.
But over time, filmmakers started to get more creative with their trailers.  As previews and teasers transitioned from just being present prior to the feature film in a theatre run to commercial breaks on television, the trailer became the main selling tool for a feature film and therefore more attention and creativity was put into them.

With the Friday films, it could be argued that the most visually appealing and creative of the trailers was the teaser compiled for 1986’s Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI.  With Tom McLoughlin taking on director and writer duties he was given the huge task of not only resurrecting the monster following the Jason-less part V, but also re-imagining him for a modern horror audience. In interviews, Tom very vocally identifies his biggest influences being the Universal classic era of monsters, mostly the old Boris Karloff Frankenstein films.  With this influence clear, Paramount unveiled a true “teaser” for the film that not only leaves the viewer with a slew of questions, but wanting more.

Not featuring any actual footage from the film, the trailer consists of one main shot from the opening set of the film being the graveyard where Jason has been resting in peace.  Following the iconic Paramount emblem, a slow zoom in through an iron fence doused in rain and lighting leads the viewer through a Gothic looking graveyard to focus on a particular stone with the familiar name of Jason Voorhees.  A ringing bell backed by the voices of a children’s choir is made all the more creepily effective by Harry Manfredini’s famous ki ki ki ma ma ma reverb.  As the audience rests on the image of Jason’s tomb stone, lighting strikes the top of it and it explodes while through the leaves and dirt a sullied coffin bursts from the ground.  As the coffin lid slowly creaks open in a very Dracula-esque style the audience expects and anticipates the rotted corpse decorated with its signature hockey mask in all his disgusting glory only to be given one last surprise…the coffin is empty.  The picture fades to black followed by the text: THE NIGHTMARE RETURNS THIS SUMMER.

Simplistic, stylish, creative and in-vocative, this teaser is by far the most inventive and effective of the series. 
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