12 Days of Friday, Day 5: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

Editor Alex Vo watches a Friday the 13th movie daily until the reboot.



Day Five: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

An indiscernible amount of time has passed since The Final Chapter. Tommy Jarvis is haunted by images of Jason and prone to violent outbursts. Now orphaned, he gets shipped to a cheaply designed halfway house, which seems to have no apparent purpose other than to be close to some woods for people to hide in. And, lo and behold, people start getting murdered. Is it random? Is it Jason back from the dead? Or is it Tommy himself? Who cares?

One fun aspect of watching the series again five years later is recognizing how my tastes have changed. For instance, I have different favorite kills. The Friday girls that are attractive to me now are different from the ones years ago. And, apparently, I was able to endure Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning just fine before. Nowadays, it just fills me with this horrible, headachey rage.

Now I rather like it when a horror series branches away from its monster routine (Halloween III, for example, isn't great, but I think it's definitely underrated), but this...this is just awful.

Seriously, was it director Danny Steinmann's goal to fill every frame with characters who, if they weren't reprehensible, were utterly boring? A fat dude who won't shut up with chocolate all over his mouth. A guy with a stutter. A girl who looks like Diane Lane from The Fabulous Stains. Ladies and gentlemen, if these aren't people who belong in mental health institution, I don't know who does.
The action starts when Fat Dude with Chocolate Over his Mouth is chopped to pieces by another house resident. It's an attack so random and unprovoked, and so bizarrely shot (a bunch of extreme close-ups and zooms) that it's more comical than shocking. In fact, I thought it was supposed to be funny. You know, like at the end of Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey shoots the husband and then you find out it was just a fantasy? But, no, THIS IS REAL. This is what the whole movie is like. This is Steinmann's idea of horror and, in 1985, he gave reels of this to the studio. They released it, with the idea that it would sell tickets. A generation of people found babysitters, planned their Fridays, got into cars and subways and buses and risked their lives out there in the streets all to get to the movie theater and all 100% wasted their time. THIS IS ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT WATCHING THIS MOVIE.

Anyways.

After the murder, we're introduced to a bunch more idiots, including a stupid caricature of a sheriff, some stupid caricatures of farmers, and then stupid caricatures of tough black thugs living in a trailer park. Look, horror generally works in two ways: you have human characters, so that when they're killed, you can feel the weight of a life lost. Or you can have some fun, make it a bit silly, have some laughs. Obviously, Steinmann liked the second approach. He needed people you wanted to see die. But then at least bother directing some good deaths. What a failure of imagination here! It's virtually just stab, stab, stab, stab, stab.
At the end, you find out the EMT's the killer, copying Jason, hockey mask and all. The sheriff explains why the EMT did it to one of the survivors, pulling random evidence out of his pocket like the crazy derelict who won't leave you alone at the train station. Tommy cuts the psycho killer in a barn and he falls onto some convenient spikes. Whee.
It's unfortunate that the franchise producers couldn't figure out why The Final Chapter was the last Friday movie to make decent money (until Freddy vs. Jason). It's because The Final Chapter came out of a year-and-a-half production break with new talent eager to shoot a tight, effective thriller. And it was a movie that followed three Fridays which, while none particularly great, attempted to engage audiences beyond bloodlettings.

After A New Beginning failed to capture the same box office success, the producers probably said, "Hey, I guess we do need Jason. We'll bring him back and he'll be stronger...and bigger! And, uh, well, he'll have to be dumber, too." And I don't totally knock that. Having a super-zombie anti-hero creates its own kind of kooky fun cinema, and that is the Jason we, as a whole, have come to know and love. I'm glad this movie is over. I look forward to tomorrow's crazy Voorhees in Jason Lives.

 

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning Vital Stats:

  • Body Count: 21.
  • Survivors: 4.
  • Number of stalled cars: 2
  • Number of words Tommy Jarvis says: 24
  • Number of "Jason"-approved weapons: 7. Road flare, axe, knife, machete, garden shears, leather strap, railroad spike.

Memories of Crystal Lake:

  • Luke Y. Thompson of LYTrules: "There's always been a bit of a debate among casual viewers. Did Jason drown as a boy, or not? I for one am not sure consistency can be applied across this franchise, but the general feeling is that he was just a deformed guy in 1-4, such that when it came time to do "AS New Beginning," it never occurred to anyone that they could simply have Jason rise from the dead, so they have the killer be a copycat instead. The most memorable thing about this one, to me, was the lit-flare-inside-the-mouth kill. I remember trying to tell my dad about it right after hearing news of some murder on the TV; he was disturbed by this."
  • Steve Barton of Dread Central: "No doubt the sleaziest of all the sequels. Director Danny Steinman came from a background in pornography, and it showed in every single frame of film. There were tit shots just for the sake of having tits onscreen. Plus, having "Jason" take his wrath out on a home full of "special" kids? It's a wonder this even got made. If there's one thing to learn from this flick it's never to offer chocolate to a guy swinging an axe."

Tomorrow: Jason Lives!


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