For the next six days until Friday, April 13th, I’ll be watching and reviewing the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise from the very first through Jason X (I’m up in the air about including Freddy vs Jason).
I’ll be counting kills, observing the bad behavior that gets teenagers
killed at Camp Crystal Lake, chronicling the ways Jason and the other
killers in the series bite it at the end, and awarding my favorite kill
of the movie. Needless to say this is going to be heavy on the
spoilers, so if you’re some kind of movie virgin who hasn’t yet bathed
in the spring of Jason Voorhees et al, be wary.

Special thanks to Litmus Configuration for the amazing image above!

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th Part 2

Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

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

Kills: 18 reality, 3 in dreams (three axings, one roadflare in the mouth, one knife to the stomach, one shears into the eyeballs, one head smooshing against a tree via the tightening of a belt, one throat slashing offscreen, one spearing through the shithouse wall, one clothesline decapitation via cleaver, one cleaver to the face, two machete kills, one offscreen slice and dice, one nailed to a tree with a railroad spike through the forehead, one eyes plucked out and tossed through a window, two dream machete stabs, one dream knitting needle stab)

Best Kill: A big boobed beauty is lounging naked under the trees when she gets garden shears in the peepers.

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: Gluttony leads to a chopping frenzy. Coke snorting is frowned upon by Fake Jason, as is flashing yourself in the mirror. Peeping on two kids getting it on in the woods will get you killed, and so will getting it on in the woods (and possibly premature ejaculation). Smoking dope in a van in front of Dudley leads to the hereafter. Picking a fight with Tommy Jarvis leads first to humiliation and then decapitation. Awful robot dancing will not be tolerated by Fake Jason.

The Comeuppance: After absorbing a really impressive amount of punishment, Fake Jason plunges from the second story of a barn on to a bunch of conveniently placed spikes. Movie: ‘And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!’

Everybody knows that Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, notorious for featuring Fake Jason, is among the worst in the series, right? Everybody except me, that is, because upon revisiting the film I found that it wasn’t that bad after all. In fact, I think that if it wasn’t for the idiotic identity of Fake Jason (his unmasking brings cries of ‘Huh? Who the fuck is that?’ from the audience) I think this installment would be much more popular.

Or maybe it would never have been accepted without Jason, no matter who it was under that mask at the end. Horror fans get into a groove and they don’t like to be taken out of it, and changing up the identity of your killer (even in a series that began with a different killer) rankles them. Still, Friday V ends up being an interesting diversion, a quirky second act in the story of Tommy Jarvis.

Some time after the events of The Final Chapter (long enough that he has begun shaving, gotten sort of ripped and learned karate), Tommy is released from a mental institution into a halfway house for troubled and doomed teens. The movie opens with a nightmare where he sees two kids digging up Jason’s grave and awakening the zombie killer (very much foreshadowing the next film, and featuring a cameo by Corey Feldman, still about 12). Tommy is still haunted by Jason, and hallucinates him all the time. He’s edgy and drugged to the gills, with a hair trigger temper. No sooner does he come to the halfway house than brutal killings start in the immediate area. Could Tommy be living up to his spooky look at the end of The Final Chapter and be taking up Jason’s mantle?

The movie actually does a pretty good job of setting this up. When Tommy gets angry and violent he gets very still, quite Jason-like, and many of the kill scenes are immediately followed by Tommy waking up, sweaty. Suspicious! Sadly he’s far too short to be the Fake Jason running around in the film, but what are you gonna do? They gave it a shot.

While brutal killings start happening in the area surrounding the halfway house, the first non-dream kill of the movie takes place right on the grounds, as an annoying fatty pisses off a troubled teen with an axe and loses his candy bar-munching arm, and about 7 pints of his blood as well. This seems like one of the many random elements that makes this movie more fun than it should be, but it’s actually the most important plot point. The fat kid, who thinks he’s an orphan, is actually the secret son of ambulance driver (and first responder to the scene) Roy Burns. The sight of his son butchered makes Roy snap and he does what we would all do in the same situation – dress up as a dead serial killer and start cutting a swath of slaughter through town.

Roy’s first victims are an example of the randomness that this movie does so well – they’re two kids with a broken down car, but for some reason they’re dressed exactly like they walked out of The Wild Ones. One of them even has a queer little leather cap on. I don’t know what they’re doing in this movie or why Roy comes upon them or why he kills them. He shoves a lit road flare in one of their mouths, though, so who cares to nitpick?

Friday V has the most kills to date, but to amass that kind of body count the filmmakers need to insert a lot of characters, most of whom never get a chance to make any sort of impact – like the Wild Ones, they just walk on for their death. One character like this is Dirty Drifter – he shows up at the home next to the halfway house, which is owned by a nasty, foulmouthed mother and her fat retarded son. He’s creepy and looking for work, and at first you’re thinking, ‘Here’s the next Red Herring character.’ Which would be cool – fill the movie with suspects, right? Except that he’s the very next guy killed, in his very next scene.

Roy actually amasses more victims than Jason had in any one single movie previously – in fact he puts half as many bodies on the scoreboard in one film as Jason has in three. Roy may not be an unstoppable retard, but he’s got ambition, dammit. The guy’s a go-getter, and he’s going to work towards his goals. What they are is never clear – is he trying to make Tommy go nuts (I can’t imagine why he would bother)? The sheriff thinks Roy is dressed as Jason to cover his own tracks but it isn’t like he’s leaving witnesses anyway (side note: besides leaving behind survivors, Jason apparently got caught on camera at some point in 3 or 4 – a photo of a hockey masked Jason appears on the front page of a newspaper in this film), and that never really explaions why Roy is killing people who had nothing to do with his son’s death. And Jason also had nothing to do with the death of his son, and there’s no indication that this film takes place in or near the community of Crystal Lake, so what’s the Voorhees connection? I mean, beside the inexorable need to have a hockey masked killer in a Friday the 13th movie.

Even though the film is so jam-packed with nondescript characters (I actually had to look online to figure out who the hell the coke-cutting guy that gets axed in the diner parking lot even was. Turns out he’s the driver who brought Tommy to the halfway house at the very beginning), A New Beginning takes some time for nudity. This is always appreciated, especially when the nudity on display is as nice as it is on the girl who gets shears in her eyes. Her last name in real life is Voorhees, by the way, and she once won a ‘Best Body’ contest. Once you start researching the minor victims in a Friday film it’s hard to stop.

Even with the bizarre randomness (another example: the star of Juwanna Man plays an jheri curled guy named Demon who sings to his girlfriend while shitting), I wouldn’t have enjoyed A New Beginning as much as I did without one important actor: the kid who played Dudley on Diff’rent Strokes. While he’s not actually living at the halfway house (his grandfather works there. If he has the shining he wasn’t telling anybody), it’s easy to imagine that after getting diddled by Gordon Jump while playing Neptune, King of the Sea behind the bike shop, Duds would need a rest break. Dudley screams like a girl throughout the climactic Fake Jason chase, which is delicious enough, but then he gets on a fucking bulldozer and nails Fake Jason with it. Even real Jason never took a hit from construction equipment!

Roy’s actually a better Jason than Pillowcase Jason from Part 2. For one thing, Pillowcase Jason made too many noises. Roy is silent, even after he gets a massive chainsaw gash in his arm (this chainsaw gash comes during a chainsaw versus machete fight. Honestly, how can anybody not like a movie that has people dueling with a chainsaw and a machete? Stop hatin’) and a knife in his leg. What I really liked was that he was obviously being hurt – after taking the bulldozer to the chest he stops and is kind of freaked out by the fact that he’s bleeding really heavily from the entire lower front half of his body. It’s hard for him to get up after getting knifed, and when Survivor Girl Pam throws the chainsaw – which is stalled – at him, he dodges out of the way and falls down! Roy’s really trying, and I respect that.

So there you are, possibly thinking that Fake Jason is Tommy, who has been MIA from the motion picture for quite some time now, and without good reason, except maybe that he had received a shipment of herrings and they needed to be painted red ASAP. Anyway, Tommy kind of wanders into the final battle between Survivor Girl Pam, Dudley and Fake Jason and proceeds to take a serious slash to the chest. He’s instrumental in killing Fake Jason at the end, but he passes out and has to be taken to the hospital, where he first dreams about killing Pam and then – get this – gets out of his hospital bed, opens a drawer and pulls out a fucking hockey mask and knife. How did that get in there? The last shot of the movie is Tommy coming up behind Pam, hockey mask on his face and knife raised to kill her.

To some extent this is part of the problem a lot of people have with A New Beginning – all of the events are a bloody episode of Scooby Doo leading to an ending that just returns Tommy to exactly where he was at the end of The Final Chapter. The whole movie is, essentially, a diversion from what seems like the main story, and if they wanted to make Tommy the killer they certainly could have had that happened way back at the beginning of this movie. It would have saved us from Roy’s goofy motivation at the very least – hell, Tommy seeing the fat kid get chopped up and snapping makes more sense than the ambulance driver being the secret dad.

I don’t mind it because it’s a fun diversion. Fake Jason racks up some good kills, the hallucinating Tommy subplot is actually pretty interesting, and I appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to do with the mystery, even if they screwed the pooch completely on it. Again, I think it all comes down to the lameness of the Fake Jason reveal – no one would mind that Tommy ended up where he did if Fake Jason had been someone trying to make him go nuts, or trying to frame him for some reason. It’s the randomness of Roy that sours the rest of what came before. And we had really been enjoying the randomness.

A New Beginning gets a bum rap. It’s certainly not the worst of the series overall, and it isn’t even the worst up to date (that honor still goes to Part 2, a complete bore of a movie). Sure, it’s badly made – everything is lit so flatly that it looks like a particularly gruesome TV movie – and every actor is uniformly terrible, but A New Beginning has a decent concept underneath it all. If only someone had paid the slightest bit of attention to the mystery element, A New Beginning would have actually been a pretty great entry in the series.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter scores:

Two and a half Retard Jasons out of four.

Next: The best Friday of them all. Horschach acts his heart out. The Tommy Jarvis reaches its conclusion with the third actor playing Tommy. And Jason gets his James Bond moment.