Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Friday the 13th part 5 (1985)
Horror fans can be divided on a lot of different things. The works of Master of Macabre Stephen King comes to mind. Remakes and reboots of beloved classics such as A Nightmare of Elm Street, The Omen, or the upcoming release of another take on Dario Argento’s masterpiece Suspiria can conjure quick debate. We all have our tastes on what is good and what we think is not good. Be that as it may, there are also flicks in which bring instant rejoicing or equally jovial disdain. Take for instance, I believe a majority of horror fans would agree collectively that John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a treasured cult classic. Or that The Exorcist is one of the scariest movies ever made (sure, there’s always that one jerk who denies the truth). And the same goes for the ones we agree we don’t like, such as Nine Lives starring…Paris Hilton (ugh), Shyamalan’s The Happening, or even Exorcist II: The Heretic. This also applies among fans of the Friday the 13th series, while the best ones are hotly debated, the worst is widely agreed upon. And so on this Friday the 13th I thought I’d talk about the one everyone loves to hate, Part 5: A New Beginning.
Before we continue, let’s get some of that sweet IMDb action:
Still haunted by his past, Tommy Jarvis – who, as a child, killed Jason Voorhees – wonders if the serial killer is connected to a series of brutal murders occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives.
Wow. That’s actually not half bad. Though if Tommy Jarvis is questioning anything its his own sanity. Which as we discover, is a major theme throughout the movie. Sanity–insanity, madness, and the self in the mirror, so to speak are all common threads that get pulled. The movie itself opens with a guest appearance by Corey Feldman (age 12) who watches in the rain as two giggles rednecks dig up Jason’s body only to discover that Jason is not dead. This scenes acts as both a connect to the continuity of the previous film (part 4) and the catalysis for the plot. Just as Jason swings his machete down on young Jarvis, Tommy wakes up older now, maybe 17 or 18 years old (played by John Shepherd), riding in the back of a paddy wagon.
Whatever may have happened between the missing years of 4 and 5, one thing is certain. The events of part 4 permanently scarred Tommy. Having a homicidal hockey masked manic coming after you after murdering your mom can leave an impression on a boy. And after receiving just about every treatment his doctors could think of, Tommy is finally sent to a half-way house, a sort of recovery center in a log cabin out in the woods, a place were mentally disturbed and otherwise wayward youths go to learn how to cope with the outside world.
Tommy has a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. Even Reggie the Reckless cant seem to break the ice with him. He meets a few of the other residents, more or less. He keeps to himself mostly. He’s (we are) introduced to Pam Roberts and Dr. Matt Letter, the two psychologists who run the house. The teens (aka red shirts) are Robin, Violet (the goth chic, not at lease someones take on what a goth person would look like), shy stuttering Jake, short-tempered looks like he’s gotta take a shit Vic, and dumbo Joey. The sheriff also arrives during this introductory stage, bringing with him two more loons, Eddie and Tina, after catching them having sex on hillbilly neighbor Ethel Hubbard’s lawn.
The comedy relief arrives as Ethel (who weaves cuss words as if that were the language of her people) and her idiot son Junior show up on a dirt bike, goggles and all, looking like they haven’t bathed in months, and demand to have the house closed down. And after that, everything returns to normal. Or so we think.
Each resident undertakes some sort of chore. After all, they are living out in the sticks, who else is going to take care of them? While Tommy watches from his bedroom window, we see Robin and Violet hanging laundry on one side of the lawn, and Vic chopping wood with an ax on the other. Joey comes out eating a candy bar, takes a look a Vic looking a little more excited then he should swinging that ax, and then he looks at the girls and decides to try and help them hang the laundry. They instantly shoo him away after he gets chocolate fingers over the whites and so he scuttles over to Vic and offers to help him. Vic who looks very obviously pissed doesn’t want anything to do with Joey, but dumbo can’t take a hint. He offers Vic a candy-bar and when Vic refuses Joey makes a quip about how that wasn’t very nice and starts to walk away…until Vic takes his ax and buries it in Joey’s back.
Dumbo collapses while Vic chops, and chops, and chops.
The sheriff and medics Roy Burns and Duke arrive to cart away both Vic and Joey’s dismembered corpse. One of the medics acts like a real cunt, picking his teeth and calling everyone pussies for reacting repulsed at seeing a dead body. The other medic has the opposite reaction…he looks shocked actually…and perhaps something else too.
What could that twinkle in his eye be?
Sadness? Anger perhaps? If so, why?
Spoilers ahead folks!
Soon following the untimely dismemberment of candy bar loving Joey, people start getting knocked off. First up are leather clad greasers Vinnie and Pete who are dressed for what appears to be one wild night on the town…out in the sticks…of the middle of nowhere. Next, paddy wagon Billy and “its showtime” Lana are killed with an ax. As the body count continues to escalate, rumor begins floating around. The sheriff is under the impression that Jason is somehow the assailant while the mayor thinks its most likely one of the nuts at the half-way house. But who’s to say really? All the while, Tommy Jarvis struggles with hallucinations of certain hockey masked murderers which begs the question, is Jason really back from the grave? Is he a ghost? Or is something entirely else going on?
Next on the chopping block are lovers Tina and Eddie who following a brief romp in the woods are both dispatched in cringe worthy fashion. Meanwhile, back on the ranch Tommy goes with Pam and Reggie to visit Reggie’s brother Michael Jackson, oops, I mean Demon and his high as a kite girlfriend, Anita. The visit is short lived as Junior shows up on his motorbike, get’s his ass kicked by Tommy, rides off while Tommy realizes he’s once again lost his shit takes off as well. Soon there after, soul glo Demon and lady are bushwhacked while Demon is on the shitter due to some “damn enchiladas.” From here, things escalate quickly. Pam takes Reggie back to the house and leaves him in the care of stuttering Jake, Robin, and goth stereotype Violet while she searches for not only Tommy but the other missing staff members. Its around this time that hillbilly mom and son pair are killed while junior races around the shack crying about getting beat up while ma cusses and tells him to come eat her slop (euphemism?). Back at the house, Rick makes a play for Robin and gets laughed out of the room only to be greeted with a sudden case of death. Later Robin gets hers as well as robot dancing goth chic Violet…yup…you read correctly, robot dancing.
Out in the woods, Pam discovers the body of her murdered partner Dr. Matt Letter. Returning to the house, she and Reggie discover the bodies of pretty much everyone in Tommy’s room. The killer bursts in and gives chase. The confrontation concludes at a barn between Reggie, Pam, Tommy, and Jason (???). After some back and forth, the killer drops from the hay loft onto some spiked farming equipment revealing that medic Roy burns had been the killer all along. Due to Tommy getting stabbed, the gang retreats to the hospital where the sheriff tells Pam that candy bar loving Joey was Roy’s son. After seeing him slaughtered, Roy must have lost his mind and adopted Jason’s identity to kill everyone. blaming them all for Joey’s death. Cut scene, we see Tommy waking up from another nightmare once again hallucinating a ghostly appearance of Jason Voorhees. When Pam decides to see how he’s doing, Tommy appears from behind the door and seemingly attacks her, wearing Roy’s hockey mask and wielding a kitchen knife.
And that folks is Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning.
While the best of the F13th series is debatable, fans typically agree Part 5 is the worst. Perhaps we can say that the problem was that Jason was missing from the movie, but was he really? Early audiences may have felt robbed at the end, being made to believe that Jason was around, but paying closer attention the clues were there all along. Most noticeably, the catch phrase, cee-cee-kaa or whatever that started with Mrs. Voorhee’s back in 1980 and continued on through part 4 was missing. Another clue was the mask itself. The real and/or hallucinatory Jason wore a mask with red marks, the impostor Roy wore a mask with blue marks. But was it really a lack of Jason that ruined the movie, or something else?
For me, Part 5 had potential at being the greatest, or at least the most unique–but it failed to capture what was right in front of it. First off, late director Danny Steinmann (past director of porn) paced the movie with scene openings akin to porno movies, such as paddy wagon Billy and “its showtime” Lana. Who the hell were they? Wrong place wrong time, i guess. Listening to their dialogue was eerily reminiscent to those spoofed pizza/pool/cable guy etc. scenes from adult films. Tina and Eddie’s death scene felt overshot, especially Tina laying butt naked for a span of 2 mins before anything actually happens. She’s just laying there, exhaling loudly. And then there’s Pam who obviously forgot to wear a bra running in the rain in a white shirt. But all this can be forgiven, we are after all talking about a horror movie.
What could have made this movie less hated was Roy and the mask. Let me explain. Back in the 90’s there was a series of F13th books called Tales from Camp Crystal Lake. The kicker was that none of the books actually had Jason in them, yet they were still awesome. Why? The mask. In the book series, Jason’s mask was the source a evil and whoever wore it was possessed with the spirit, for a lack of a better word, of the famed manic killer. If they had somehow worked that into Part 5: A New Beginning, it could/would have made the film waaaaay more interesting. You could even still have Roy as the killer. Maybe Vic could have found the mask and that’s why he killed Joey. I don’t know, but it could have been amazing. Be that as it may, while the movie had the potential it lacked chops. Paced oddly. And falling a little too flat noted. Thus becoming the franchises WORST Friday. But that’s just my two cents.
My rating: 1.5 of 5 hockey masks.
Who doesn’t love a good story? From great works such as, All Quiet on the Western Front and Salem’s Lot, Thomas S. Flowers has a passion to create similar character-driven stories of dark fiction ranging from Shakespearean gore fests to paranormal thrillers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas has published several novels, including, Reinheit, The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, Beautiful Ugly and other Weirdness, Feast, and PLANET OF THE DEAD. In 2008, Thomas was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served 3 tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at http://www.machinemean.org, where he reviews movies and books along with a gambit of guest contributors who discuss a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. Catch up with Thomas by visiting his website www.ThomasSFlowers.com.
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