Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning
directed by Danny Steinmann
(Paramount, 1985)

Maybe someone will write a dissertation on why some horror movie franchises eventually have that one movie that basically sticks a middle finger down the throats of its fans, betraying everything the whole series has been and should be about. Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning may well be the worst offender of the bunch. When a slasher film has to painstakingly explain itself at the end, you know it has some serious problems.

It's bad enough that the very concept of the film reeks with utter stupidity, but these characters? It's like one of those rabid anti-horror fanatics wrote the script with the express purpose of turning horror fans off so much that the Friday the 13th series would quickly wither and die.

Some people defend the film by saying it's still a maniac in a hockey mask killing people in gruesome ways, but I'm here to tell you that the blood and gore in this film is close to pathetic. Not once do we actually see an actual death blow: someone gets stabbed in the stomach and we see a shot of his face looking down and grimacing; a guy gets beheaded and all we see is an incredibly fake head hitting the ground; etc. If the special effects of all the scenes cut to avoid an X rating were this unimpressive, they might as well have left them in there. The least they could have done was make "Jason" look like the real deal -- if he doesn't look like Jason, if he doesn't walk like Jason, he's not Jason.

The opening scene of this film is actually pretty good, even though it does feature a cameo appearance by Corey Feldman (whose commitment to The Goonies kept him from truly reprising his role as Tommy Jarvis -- that role went to John Shepherd). After that, though, look out below. It has been three years since Tommy bested Jason in Friday the 13th, Part IV: The Final Chapter, and he's still pretty messed up about the whole ordeal. He has now left the mental institutions and come to Pinehurst, a halfway house for those with mental and emotional problems trying to ease their way back into society. The place basically has no rules and no discernible method of treatment or counseling, which helps explain why one of the patients brutally murders another one shortly after Tommy's arrival. The next thing you know, someone starts killing off characters in rapid succession. Has Jason somehow returned to life and set about on a brand new killing spree?

There is a great deal I dislike about this "new beginning," but nothing sticks in my craw as deeply and uncomfortably as the characters of Ethel (Carol Locatell) and her halfwit son Junior (Ron Sloan). They live near the halfway house and don't like having a houseful of mental patients so close to them. The problem is that these two are way beyond even the most cliched hillbilly characters you're ever likely to find. Some viewers like them because they are the only things even close to entertaining in this mess of a film, but I say their presence herein makes for vivid proof that director Danny Steinmann and the writers just didn't care.

I really can't point to even one good thing about this lamentable chapter in the Friday the 13th series. It's a stupid story with idiotic characters, unimpressive gore, absolutely no suspense, no effort to deliver a single scare to the audience and a horrible two-tiered twist ending. Much like the infamous Dallas dream season, this entry in the Friday the 13th series is best forgotten.

review by
Daniel Jolley

28 August 2010

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