Fem Goddesses of Horror – Megan Garris (Jennifer Cooke)

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986) is my favorite of the entire franchise. It has everything; witty lines, a fun story, silly characters, cool kills, the return of Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) and a hardcore fem in the lead that is as badass as she is sexy.

Jennifer Cooke portrays Megan. She’s the daughter of Sheriff Garris (David Kagen), a camp counselor and smitten for Tommy, who just returned to town. Tommy isn’t the brightest bulb, but he’s cute.

After being released from the institution, Tommy brings his nutty buddy Allen (Ron Palillo) to dig up Jason and make certain he’s dead. Lightning strikes Voorhees, he wakes up, kills poor Allen and Tommy escapes. I feel bad for Allen. He was Horshack on the 1970s sitcom WELCOME BACK KOTTER. He deserved better. Stupid Tommy!

The Sheriff hates Jarvis nearly as much as Jason does. He thinks Tommy is a psycho and wants him out of town. I like the Sheriff because he says my favorite line in the whole movie, “hit the noise and cherries.” Anytime I see some dude speeding or driving like a maniac, I say that line.

Still, I love RAWR RAWR Megan far more. There are so many things to adore about this chick, and she’s one of the reasons I get fiery when people say women aren’t represented fairly in horror. The FRIDAY THE 13TH series gets a lot of flack for being sexist, however it is one of the most empowering film series that exists.

There’s a strange misconception that because Jason murders peeps who have sex, take drugs and party like mofos that there is an underlying anti-woman message. It’s strange for a couple reasons. Firstly, Jason kills both dudes and chicks. He isn’t checking for chastity belts and he’s an equal opportunity murderer. His whole issue is that camp counselors were sexing it up when he nearly drowned, and he’s still pissed off about it. Secondly, Jason is the villain! He isn’t the character that the viewer is supposed to look at to develop their moral compass. The message isn’t to act in a way that Jason Voorhees approves of, and no character makes that more abundantly clear than Megan.

From jump the Sheriff tells Megan to stay away from Tommy, but she doesn’t listen. She’s sassy, she’s fun and she’s definitely and defiantly in control. She’s a rebel, and the fact that her pops says to stay away from Jarvis, only makes that boy more appealing.

She first meets Tommy when he’s behind bars after her dad throws him in a cell. She goes to the precinct to talk to her father and right away, she flirts and calls Tommy cute. She’s a take charge gal who goes after what she wants. I love that!

When shit starts getting real and the body count piles up, Sheriff Garris suspects Tommy. Jarvis becomes wanted by the cops and once again, Megan is told to steer clear him. She doesn’t listen and instead trusts her own instincts. She picks Tommy up and puts the pedal to the metal like a speed demon as she attempts to manoeuvre thru the police barricades that her dad set up. She also pushes Tommy’s head down to her lap. Now that’s a scene that puts a smile on my face! It is not subtle at all. In the bedroom, we know who the dominant one is going to be, and it ain’t Jarvis. Go get it, girl!

Megan isn’t a prim-and-proper, virginous, damsel-in-distress running away from danger. Fuck no! She’s a hot-to-trot, Fem Goddess who is ready to rock & roll on a dime and demands to be the one in the driver’s seat when it’s time to move.

When Megan and Tommy are caught and once again Jarvis is thrown behind bars, the gal wastes no time. She breaks him out of jail and plants a hot and heavy kiss on him in the process. At first, the smooch was just supposed to be a distraction for the officer on guard, but the dame has moves and allows herself to fall into it. RAWR RAWR RAWR

I don’t know if it’s a common fantasy to want to screw in a jail cell, but I’m pretty sure this flick is what first put that raunchy thought into my head; so, I never walked away from horror movies thinking I had to keep my legs shut, quite the fucking contrary. If anything, movies like this and characters like Megan made certain that I knew that I owned my body, my mind and my actions. If that isn’t feminism, I don’t know what is.

In the end, Tommy and Jason have their showdown in the lake, but Megan isn’t a bystander. She jumps the hell in and saves her man. She fights back, pulls Tommy to safety and clutches him close, afterwards. She consoles him! She’s determined, tough and a headstrong bitch that doesn’t take no for an answer. Jason Voorhees has nothing on Megan Garris! Goddammit, I love her!

I often wonder if the people who criticize horror ever watch the flicks they trash. They talk about misogynistic tones, sexist plots and victimizing women when that’s what most horror movies rage against. Horror honors the female essence, their inner strength, the perseverance of their spirit and the power within one’s nurturing instincts. Where so many other genres (i.e. romantic comedies, Lifetime movies, Hallmark trash) often depict the nature of women as weak, needy and selfish, horror does not! Horror celebrates Fem Goddesses in all of their glory, gives them scenarios where they shine and displays the courage, resilience and fortitude of their female characters as at least equal to their male counterparts. Megan is merely one example of that, but damn what an example she is!

Cooke was beyond perfection in the role. She depicted Megan with a no holds barred approach to life. As a child, I both wanted to be her and wanted to be with her. She was definitely one of my first fem crushes and if I’m being honest, I still have the hots for her. I’ve always loved badass babes and Megan Garris exemplified that and so much more.

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