Thursday, May 6, 2010

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

There's nothing worse than when a franchise kills off it's villain. Just ask fans of the "Saw" series. After the elusive Jigsaw was killed in part 3, many fans felt the following entries were something of a downturn in quality-granted part 6 got better reception, but hey. The same could be said about the "Friday the 13th" series. After Jason was killed off by Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman of all people) in what was supposed to be the final entry in the franchise, Paramount didn't know what to do. Sure, they hated the series, but it was still cash machine for them. So, they decided to take the action out of Crystal Lake, and tried something a little different. While I commend them for at least trying, the fifth entry in the franchise, while not the worst entry, is still a bad movie.

10 years after killing Jason Vorhees, Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd, suffering from a painfully generic name) has been suffering from nightmares involving the world's angriest goalie. While staying in a rural mental house for disturbed teens, someone decides to don a hokey mask and kill off residents of the place, as well as others. So whose the killer? Is it Tommy (it isn't)? Is it Jason (it isn't)? Is it someone else (it is)?

If "A New Beginning" has anything going for it, it's the fact that it at least tries something else. Some were probably wondering if the series could take place outside of Crystal Lake, so I must begrudgingly salute director Danny Steinmann (himself the director of the cult favorites "The Unseen" and the Linda Blair vehicle "Savage Streets") for trying to think outside the box. Oh and Tiffany Helm as Violet. She has the worst hair imaginable (they were obviously going for the New Wave look, but made her look positively trailer trash instead) who does the robot right before Jason finds her and offs her*. Oh, and it's got the highest body count and the most nudity of any entry in the series.

Sadly, that's all it has going for it. It probably sounds fun, but the whole thing is no where near as fun as it might sound. For one thing, the ratings board was really starting to crack down on these kinds of movies at the time, so much of the gore has been edited. It also doesn't help matters that the characters (which include Shaver Ross aka Dudley from "Different Strokes" and Miguel Nunez Jr. of "Return of the Living Dead" and um, "Juwanna Man" fame) is probably the worst cast in any entry of the series-just about everyone here is grating, and can't act worth a damn. The character of Tommy Jarvis is the most wasted opportunity though. The film tries to make something out of his childhood trauma, but it never exploits that opportunity, instead giving the audience some of the most awkward attempts of drama in horror history. Plus it feels so at odds with itself-at one moment we have Tommy as a tormented man, the next we have "Jason" killing a man who has to take a shit. The whole thing isn't even entertainingly bad-it's just insulting and stupid.

In a lot of ways, it's kind of shocking that there were more sequels after this venture. Sure, Jason came back in the next installment, but this is the kind of movie that has almost all of what made the public lose interest in the slasher genre. It's crass, dumb, doesn't try many new things, has terrible characters and is a mix of recycling old ideas and failing with new ones that fucks it all up. The fact Jason isn't even in the movie is the least of the film's worries-it's just a bad slasher movie regardless.

It's at least better than "Jason Takes Manhattan" and "Jason Goes to Hell", but "A New Beginning" is still a failed experiment that falls on it's face and offers little. The fact that it has it's defender's shocks me to this day, as there is very little worth defending in this movie. Avoid.

Rating: 2/10

*Originally, Violet was supposed to die jumping somewhere (I can't quite remember), only to end up with a machete between the legs. The MPAA wasn't too happy about that, so they went with something else instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment