Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) by #DannySteinmann
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) August 14, 2021
I was annoyed when Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) came out. I had thought that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) had been a fitting ending for the series, as I may have mentioned in a previous blog post. Still, when a friend and I were looking for something cool to rent on a Saturday night, we decided to give Friday the 13th Part V a shot. Part 5? That in itself was unheard of and ridiculous to us. Most sequels petered out by Part 3 in those days. The idea of endless sequels would soon become fodder for satire in movies like Back to the Future Part II (1989), which featured a movie poster for Jaws 19.
My friend and I brought the Friday the 13th: A New Beginning tape back to his house and popped it in the Betamax. As the movie began with a couple of assholes digging up Jason Voorhees’ grave, I started to get worried. When they removed the lid of his coffin and Jason was lying inside, looking fairly intact, I started to get angry. He had been chopped up into a million pieces at the end of Part 4, hadn’t he?
When Jason woke up and started killing the two assholes, I completely lost it.
“What is this bullshit?!” I yelled at the screen. “He’s been lying in his coffin, alive, waiting for someone to come along and dig him up?” My friend couldn’t explain it any better than I could. The Friday the 13th series had not exactly been realistic up to this point – and Jason certainly seemed to get killed two or three times in each of the previous movies, only to get back up and start massacring teenagers again – but he was chopped up into little pieces at the end of Part 4! The whole point had been to make sure that he would never be able to get back up again. That’s why they called it The Final Chapter.
If they were going to bring Jason back to life, I would have at least expected them to have some sort of explanation – like a mad scientist sewing all the body parts back together. Simply opening a coffin and having him sit up was not good enough for me. I was in the midst of expressing my great displeasure when suddenly the TV screen went all fuzzy. Something had gone wrong with the tape. My friend stopped and started it a couple of times, and tried to adjust the tracking, but the screen remained fuzzy. Not even ejecting and reloading the tape made any difference. We looked at the clock and it was too late to even return the tape to the store and complain. We would not be finishing Friday the 13th: A New Beginning on that might.
Of course, it wouldn’t have done much good even if we could have returned the tape to the store. This was before the big chains started stocking thirty copies of every new release and guaranteeing that you would be able to get hold of it. Hell, this was before the big chains even existed (at least in my home town). Our only hope might have been that the guy at the video store would have known how to fix the tape, but that wasn’t too likely, either.
We did not watch the rest of movie that night, or the next day. I think my friend maybe got a store credit for a future rental. I hated the first five minutes of Friday the 13th Part V so much that I was no big hurry to ever rent it again. Why would I want to watch the rest of it, when I thought it was complete bullshit? I complained loudly to all of my other friends about it. Several months later, one of them took me aside.
“Hey, I just watched Friday the 13th Part V,” he said, “and that scene at the beginning… the one you hated so much… it’s a dream.”
“It’s a dream. Jason doesn’t come back to life, it’s just a dream!”
So, I rented Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and gave it another shot. I still didn’t like it. My big problem was that the killer was not Jason Voorhees. It was a guy pretending to be Jason Voorhees, but he seemed to be just as indestructible as Jason Voorhees. As much as I had complaints about Jason’s unrealistic ability to survive being stabbed, hung, hit in the head with an axe, etc., I had ultimately accepted the fact that he was in some way supernatural. He had possibly downed as a kid, after all, and somehow come back to life. Although, I tended to believe that he hadn’t drowned, but rather had somehow survived and grew up in the woods. Still, he was clearly some sort of indestructible, supernatural being. Simply putting on a hockey mask and pretending to be Jason Voorhees should not give you superpowers.
Apparently I was not alone in my dislike of Friday the 13th Part V. However, it seems that most people didn’t like it simply because the killer wasn’t Jason. So, the next movie was Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). I refused to see that one for years. as I still believed that Jason had been permanently destroyed at the end of Part 4. So, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning became the end for the series or me, at least for a while.
Eventually I watched the rest of the films, and I watched Friday the 13th Part V a second time. Knowing what to expect, I enjoyed it much more than the first time. It’s grown on me more and more with each subsequent viewing. In some ways, it’s the most unique movie of the series. It has characters that I actually like and care about. It has a sense of humour. It continues the story of Tommy from Part 4, although he has somehow aged 12 or 13 years between 1984 and 1985. But there’s a new kid in this movie, “Reggie The Reckless” played by Shavar Ross (perhaps best known as Dudley from Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986). Reggie is a great character, and helps to make this movie more than just a typical slasher movie sequel. The presence of troubled adult Tommy also gives the movie a different spin. Possible SPOILER ALERT: much has been made of the “final girl” trope in golden age slasher films, but this movie has a final trio.
While some people do cite the movie as their personal favourite, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) is probably the most maligned entry in the series, and thus a perfect example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I can honestly say that I love it now, which I would have never predicted when first watching it on Beta back in 1985. It is a most welcome addition to any #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn.