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Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) review


Director: Danny Steinmann

Starring: John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Melanie Kinnaman, Dick Wieand

“Jason Voorhees? You’re outta your fucking mind. 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.” (Mayor Cobb, Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)

Picture the dilemma faced by the studio execs at Paramount. They’d just released the fourth Friday The 13th film, one which quite clearly drew a line under the whole series with the title Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. And yet, people wanted more.

So, deciding to neatly brush the whole ‘final chapter’ business neatly under the blood-soaked carpet, Paramount greenlit a fifth film and decided to call it A New Beginning, the title implying that the first four films were still their own little series and now we were dealing with a brand new story arc.

Except we weren’t, because A New Beginning follows on from the events of the fourth film, albeit a number of years later. Now a teenager, Tommy Jarvis – played by a guy who looks nothing like Corey Feldman – has been sent to a psychiatric asylum for similarly troubled teens, having continued to suffer nightmares and visions of Jason ever since he killed him as a kid.

Corey Feldman’s still in it, mind – he just appears in the odd flashback, which makes it all the more jarring when we’re brought back to the teenage Tommy who looks nothing like him

The problem is, the asylum isn’t helping much. Tommy’s visions of Jason are still continuing, and now they’re even worse because his fellow nutcase teens have started turning up dead. How can visions kill people? That’s fucking insa… oh, right, there must be someone actually killing them. Never mind.

Part V does its best to walk the line between being a completely new story and a traditional Friday The 13th film. Though the asylum setting takes the action away from Crystal Lake for the first time the typical Friday formula remains, with teens lining up to get their own five minutes of fame/nudity before being offed in an appropriately grim fashion by a chap in a hockey mask.

The acting is of a generally poor standard this time around, even by slasher film standards. While each Friday before it at least had a character the audience could side with, here it’s difficult to do so. The lad playing Tommy has all the personality of a pencil case, and his supporting cast ranges from dull to irritating.

This stuttering knob and the inconsiderate object of his affections are a good example of Part V’s irritating cast

Most hated are the ‘comedy’ hillbilly family. This grotesque mother and son live near the asylum and keep turning up to have a go at the staff for letting the teens wander near their house. The mum is foul-mouthed to an unnecessary extent, the result being that rather than thinking “wow, she’s angry” you’ll instead think “hmm, the writers are trying too hard to make her offensive”.

Her son, meanwhile, is probably the single worst character in the entire twelve-film Friday The 13th series. An infuriatingly annoying caricature of dumb hillbillies, he stinks up every scene he’s in with his stupidly over-the-top performance and constantly threatens to turn the film into a terrible comedy rather than an adequate slasher.

Which is, thankfully, what Part V still manages to be against the odds. The kills are varied: one poor chap has an ice pick rammed into his neck, another has a road flare jammed into his mouth, while one unfortunate lass gets a pair of garden shears thrust into her eyes.

There’s also another classic example of atrocious 1980s dancing, in which one teenage nutcase pegs it after a lengthy spot of robot dancing. Here it is so you can enjoy the cheese for yourself:

There’s one controversial aspect of the film that had fans up in arms, and I’ve deliberately avoided it until now in case it spoiled things. Those who don’t mind, feel free to read on. If you plan on watching Part V at some point though, be a dear and skip ahead to the final paragraph.

Right, now those pricks are out of the way let’s talk about them behind their backs. Actually, never mind, let’s discuss this ending. The big controversy surrounding Part V is that the killer wearing the hockey mask isn’t actually Jason. Instead, it turns out to be one of the ambulance drivers from the start of the film, who recognises the first victim as his long-lost son and decides to take revenge.

Although the New Beginning subtitle sort of suggested that might be the case, fans were still livid that the promise Part IV made of being ‘The Final Chapter’ had actually turned out to be accurate after all. They went expecting another Jason movie, instead all they got was some big dick in a mask.

Note the blue markings on the mask instead of Jason’s regular red ones – a giveaway that all is not as it seems

Paramount noted the fan outrage and took great pains to reverse the damage with the inevitable sequel, which was tellingly titled Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Was it any cop? We’ll find out soon, won’t we?

So, I suppose you want to know if you should watch Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning. My response is a hearty, confident ‘maybe’. In terms of the overall quality of the series this lies somewhere in the middle – not quite as effective as the original quadrilogy but still offering some decent, gory shocks before MPAA censorship started to ruin the later movies (more on that in a later review).

Given its divisive ending, there’s a case for saying this film’s end doesn’t justify its means. Since the means take the form of a half-decent slasher movie though, you won’t mind too much.

Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning is available on standalone DVD in the UK and US. Here’s the UK version and here’s the US version (though it’s worth bearing in mind the former is completely devoid of any special features).

If you’re craving a more overall Friday The 13th experience you have three choices. In the UK your only main option is this DVD box set, which contains DVD versions of Friday The 13th Parts 1-8.

This same DVD box set is also available in the US, though by far the best option is the recently released Friday The 13th: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box set. This is only available in America but I can confirm it’s region-free (I bought it myself). It’s also currently the only way you can get A New Beginning on Blu-ray.

Did you enjoy this review? There are 100 more just like it in That Was A Bit Mental: Volume 1, the first TWABM ebook. Get it today!

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