Friday the 13th part 5: A New Beginning

“Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated. He’s nothing but a handful of ash.”

The Scoop: 1985 R, directed by Danny Steinmann and starring Anthony Barrile, John Shepherd, and Dick Wieand

Tagline: If Jason still haunts you, you’re not alone!

Summary Capsule: “Jason” kills even more people. He needs a new hobby.

Kyle’s Rating: Jason-lite. Or should I make that Jason-less?

Kyle’s Review: Corey Feldman returns for just the opening sequence here to establish things and make sure we’re clear that Tommy Jarvis has grown up and is now portrayed by John Shepard. After the harrowing events of Final Chapter, Tommy has been bouncing in and out of mental hospitals and in 1992 now finds himself placed in a private low-key halfway house for problem teenagers way out in the middle of nowhere. Tommy is haunted by the memory of the dead Jason, and when a fellow patient hacks another patient into pieces with an axe, well, it’s enough to drive anyone crazy crazier. So when somebody starts a murderous rampage in Jason’s old style, it could only be a mentally snapped Tommy or perhaps Jason himself, right?

If you’re reading this reviews in order then you know how I feel about the preceding film; if you missed my review of Part 4 just finish this one and you’ll get my essential take on both. A New Beginning is trying to do something new, with a bit of a Psycho-inspired twist, but it’s another brutal straight slasher installment. It’s potentially the goriest film in the F13 series. Sure, we get to see Tommy make a new friend and learn he’s still up to his old monster mask-loving ways, but the whole movie is extraordinarily mean-spirited. Characters you like get slashed and splattered, the nudity is too much (imagine that!), and the whole thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And once you actually see this movie, you’ll know without a doubt who the true killer is thanks to a very unambiguous reaction shot. And talk about a depressing ending!

Look, I like slasher movies, but the ones that are easiest to enjoy are the ones that are either so cheesy you can’t help but laugh or the ones that try to keep things a little light despite the subject matter. After the cheesy and humorous aspects of previous installments Part 2 and Part 3 especially, the shift into higher intensity for Parts 4 and 5 is a little hard to take. If you liked 2 and 3, 4 and 5 probably aren’t for you; move onto the superior Part 6. If you like your slasher stuff vicious rent A New Beginning, forget your troubles and get happy.

Justin’s Rating: Raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens… OF DEATH!

Justin’s Review: Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), the kid hero of Friday the 13th Part 4, faced the demon in flesh – Jason – and lived to tell about it. Of course, he had to suffer through shaving his head, caking on makeup, pretending to be Jason at a young age and then hacking away at Jason’s body with a machete, but don’t you even dare try to tell me that this isn’t a healthy thing for a child to go through. Builds character, I tells ya. Puts hair on their chest.

Whatever; Tommy’s now messed up. Years have gone by, Tommy’s been through numerous psycho wards, and Jason keeps popping up at the edge of his vision. He really needs a new role model; perhaps a soft, lovable muppet. When Tommy lands in perhaps the most free-wheeling mental institution of all time, he can’t quite unwind, because he knows Jason is not too far behind.

Or not.

Listen, I simply have to spoil the one widely-known “twist” of A New Beginning here, in order to express my feelings on this flick. Jason is actually nowhere to be seen. Part 5 joins the first Friday the 13th in being a F13 movie without Jason as the killer. Instead, the whole flick is about a copycat Jason wanna-be with a weak motive stumping around and following the strict F13 formula for teen deaths:

1. Provide a fake scare to make a teen jump during a stressful period. A cat in a closet or a friend lunging out of the bushes are perfect. A tap-dancing hobo might do well in a pinch.

2. As the teen – and the gullible audience – relax after their fears are proved groundless, DEATH! And lots of it! Never let your guard down after the fake scare, moron!

3. The killer then takes time to artistically arrange the corpse in the best possible manner to frighten whoever will find it. Victim #2 – they always come in pairs – does so, screams, and is a short-lived audience of one.

4. Then they pay a visit to the Grim Reaper, who’s just having a horrid day dealing with all the new arrivals. “Knock it off, you whippersnapper!” he shakes his fist toward the land of the living. “Do you know how much paperwork you’re piling on my desk?” He only gets 10 minutes for a smoke break every four hours, poor guy.

And so on. Even with the lame pseudo-Jason as the killer, Part 5 is a sad little castaway of a film for many other reasons as well. While I can accept a certain level of mental trauma on adult Tommy’s behalf, in this film he’s 99.9% useless. He acts like a shellshocked war veteran, and doesn’t really take up the role of a hero until one final, desperate act that isn’t too heroic as it is “pushing other kids at recess”. I’m not even quite sure why they brought Tommy back, to be honest.

As I said, he ends up in probably the worst place for any previously-scarred horror antagonist: a mental institution. This one is actually more like a loose co-ed dormitory of questionable mental problems, where the worst to be found is one kid who stutters and another who, um, likes to dance The Robot in her room. It’s also slack in security, seeing as how one of the residents is axed to death by another kid in the first fifteen minutes. Maybe mental patients shouldn’t be allowed access to axes for chopping wood, as a matter of policy? I know, I’m silly.

The rest of the film is Jason – OR IS HE? – killing left and right for little or no reason. There is a motif of the killer gouging out eyes and whatnot that seems like it’d be a vital clue, but doesn’t really point to anything at the end. Lots of deaths happen, but most are strangely unseen and happen just off camera; this is a sweeping difference from the gore effects of Part 4 before it. There’s no likable characters, and with Tommy MIA for the most part, the burden of Jason-fighting lands to a small black kid and a grown white woman in a wet shirt who absolutely live to hug each other after every assumed victory.

"AHH! You took my shirt!"

Intermission!

  • Jason got a kinda crappy gravestone. And, apparently, a shallow grave.
  • Why’d they bury him with his hockey mask on? And his machete?
  • Oh, it’s just a dream starring Corey Feldman. Just a dream. Hahaha.
  • It’s the loosest, sexiest mental institution in the world
  • Let’s give it up for… CRAZY LADY!
  • Offering someone a candy bar is a great way to get killed
  • Flare mouth!
  • John Cryer. Stuttering.
  • The crazy lady going medieval on the dead chicken and calling her son a “big dildo”… priceless
  • Do girls often flash themselves in private in front of a mirror and go “it’s showtime!” a lot?
  • The soundtrack is grossly obnoxious
  • Do you like taking naps in the woods completely nude? Yeah, probably not a good idea.
  • Girls don’t mind being called “that”
  • Hey, it’s Prince! Sorta!
  • This film’s big on characters “scaring” other characters. That’s not that entertaining.
  • Dude, Tommy’s got martial arts skillz!
  • Sucks to die in the crapper
  • Junior loves to freak out on his bike
  • The really, really fake head of Junior
  • “I wanna make love with you”? Wow. Loser.
  • Girls apparently like to do a LOT of stuff mostly-naked
  • Okay, the bed reveal of the victim was pretty freaky
  • This girl’s a really horrible dancer
  • And that girl’s the worst screamer, like, EVER.
  • The boy screams like a girl better than a girl
  • How many times does that girl trip?
  • And she gives up running for crawling… why?
  • Okay, so the kid knows how to operate heavy construction machinery. That makes perfect sense.
  • The way she hugs Reggie is just hilarious. She’s a big baby.
  • What is up with all the HUGGING going on here?
  • Spoilers! At the end of the film, it is heavily implied that not only will Tommy take up the mantle of Jason, but also that he kills the film’s heroine, Pam. However, the fact that he’s running around free in Part 6 and doesn’t seem to care if people know he’s out and about means he wasn’t sentenced to life or anything, and if he truly killed Pam I doubt he would have been released mental instability or not. You can think what you want, but here’s the biggest source of proof: my copy of the official novelization of Part 6, which states very clearly that Tommy just scared Pam and that it was her therapy from that point on that got Tommy back to normal again. Whew!

Groovy Quotes

Cobb: You’ve been out in the sun too long. Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated. He’s nothing but a handful of ash.

Lana: [shows her breasts] It’s showtime!

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5 Comments

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