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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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

Time to kick off the summer of 2020 Slasher movie marathon. This has been a tradition here at the website since I launched four years ago. Honestly it is getting harder to avoid the franchises and dig up one off Slasher movies. With that in mind I thought I’d kick things off with a couple entries from the biggest of all the Slasher series.

I’ve had a complicated relationship with this movie. When I first saw it I hated Friday part V. It was so different from the other movies to that point that it annoyed me. As I’ve gotten older, I come to appreciate the movie due to both understanding it was supposed to be a new beginning as well as having had a chance to see some of the sequels that followed. Really guys Jason vs. Carrie? Such a terrible idea. More on that next time for now it is time to check out director Danny Steinmann’s take on Jason Vorhees.

For those in the know you will remember that in the previous entry to the Friday the 13th franchise we clearly saw a young Tommy Jarvis, played by Corey Feldman, kill Jason. I mean the dude slid down a machete face first. This movie picks up years later as an adult Tommy is being released to a halfway house for those with mental issues. Seems he was screwed up by the events of the last movie and has been medicated and shocked back to health. Or at least we are meant to believe so. They establish right from the start that he has some anger control issues and without his medication keeps seeing Jason.

After we are introduced to the quirky characters, including the neighbors Ethel and Junior, the killing starts. Though the first one is perpetrated by one of the other patients who snaps and chops up a kid named Joey. After that bit of onscreen violence Jason shows up and starts picking people off one by one. But how is that possible? I mean we saw Jason die, so is it Tommy who has snapped? Could it be one of the other patients who lost it after seeing Joey killed? Remember now this is before “zombie” Jason showed up in the franchise, so this is very confusing. No worries as all is explained by the end.

The plot of this movie seems to be fairly straightforward as the characters are setup and then knocked off in a familiar pattern. But there is more going on here as the filmmakers try to both explain how the killings can continue as well as giving us the best twist since the original Friday the 13th. I’ve gone back and forth about spoiling the movie but have decided against it. Just in case you have forgotten the ending or somehow have managed to have never seen this one. What I will say is that the surprise twist reveal was great and well thought out. There are some obvious clues that upon a second watch are pretty obvious tells that most audience members totally miss. This is a very clever movie that doesn’t try and beat you over the head with how clever it is.

This movie might also have some of the best characters in the history of the franchise. Oddly enough I found this version of Tommy Jarvis, he returns in part VI recast with Thom Matthews in the role, to be the least interesting character. The best characters by far are Ethel and Junior, the angry neighbors that torture and complain constantly about the residents of the halfway house. Honestly the dialogue written for Ethel is genius and the delivery from actress Carol Locatell is brilliant. We even get a Miguel A. Nunez sighting in a supporting role.

I’ve gone on long enough about the plot and characters now we need to get to the good stuff. The gore and nudity… hey man this is a Slasher movie so it is very important. Without sounding too creepy the appropriately named Deborah Voorhees has some of the best “assets” to ever appear in a horror flick. That alone meets the requirements that is expected from the Slasher genre. But what about the gore? There are twenty kills in this movie. Let that sink in for a minute. We get all sorts of fun with axes, metal spears, flares, and meat cleavers. Heads get both lopped off and squeezed with leather straps. One unfortunate lady meets her end with shears to the eyes. None of the kills are as explicit as some of those from earlier in the decade but given how harsh the censors were by the mid-eighties this is some damn fine work.

This is a great movie. I do remember what really bugged me about the movie in the past, but I can’t really talk about it without some serious spoilers. Again, I don’t want to do that so all I can say is that I’ve changed my mind. I really dig what they did to try and relaunch the franchise. As much as I enjoy the unstoppable zombie Jason killing machine that we would soon be seeing, it is a bummer that they never pursued what was an interesting idea that they were clearly setting up with the ending of this movie. It is well worth checking out and comes with the highest of recommendations from me.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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