Jason is dead. Long live… “pseudo Jason”?
After catching a machete to the side of the head which promptly turned his skull into the fleshy equivalent of a pedal bin, it seemed that Jason Voorhees’ cinematic reign of terror was finally over; after all, the subtitle of the fourth F13 was emphatically labelled “the final chapter” and you don’t think Hollywood type would lie about something like that, do you? DO YOU!? If you answered yes to this question then you get a metaphorical cookie because the greatest cure for a swift death on film is, unsurprisingly, a glowing return at the box office and before you could say deus ex machina we had a fifth installment that I’m not entirely sure anybody asked for.
Directed by Danny Steinmann – who also “gifted” us with morally concerning rape-revenge Linda Blair vehicle Savage Streets – this attempt to jump start a series barely a year after it apparently ended proves to be a definite low point in the long running series which turns up the kills with a 20+ body count (give or take for dream sequences) and a suprising about of nudity, even for a slasher flick.
Years after he killed over-achieving serial murder Jason Voorhees in self defense, traumatised Tommy Jarvis (now evolved like an actor-type Pokemon from Corey Feldman to John Sheppard) is now an inmate of the Unger Institute Of Mental Health and is being dropped off at a halfway house after years of being shipped around different institutions. Not long after his arrival, one of the patients is axe murdered by another inmate (talk about timing) which kicks off a killing spree in which a mystery assailant sets about slaughtering literally everybody within a 100 mile radius which includes the inmates, townsfolk and even people passing through. Who could be perpetrating such far reaching carnage and still be managing to hold down a relatively normal day to day life (like a serial-killing Batman), is it the sheriff who claims Jason has returned from the grave, could it be the mild mannered head of the halfway house or could it even be Tommy himself whose increasing intensity has him hallucinating his hockey masked nemesis at every turn?
Can assistant Pam (who’s PHD seems to be in screaming and writhing around in the rain in a white shirt with no bra on) and Reggie, the cook’s grandson, survive long enough for this mystery to be unravelled – and then re-explained to the audience because the filmmakers didn’t make it particularly clear the first time?
Things start off promising enough with a pre-credits dream sequence seeing a cameoing Corey Feldman temporarily reprising his role as a younger Tommy Jarvis as he watches Big J spring out of his coffin and murder a couple of dig-happy knuckleheads but things rapid head south as the film goes on.
The acting is barely mediocre, the plotting is somehow non-existent and the film catapults an endless succession of weirdos and oddball scenarios that leaves your eyebrows cocked in amused confusion rather than raised in fear.
Don’t believe me? Then get a load of some these nonsensical moments that burn up celluloid while you’re waiting for the next kill… a couple (refreshingly African American – regrettably a rare sight in the franchise) indulge in a bout of romantic crooning to one another while one sits in an outhouse with a dose of the enchilada shits. Constant callbacks to a mother and son team of filth encrusted recknecks who’s constant screeching make the Beverley Hillbillies look like Downton fuckin’ Abby. Endless scenes of the teens NOT being treated for their ailments which include problems as diverse as psychotic rage issues, nymphomania, autism, stuttering (?) and being a goth (???) without ever answering why everyone is being treated in the same place…
Some of the kills are horribly creative (the road flare in the mouth and the head crushing leather strap are conceptually hideous) but the majority are run-of-the-mill stomach stabs and therefore get horribly repetitive horribly fast. Although you have to give credit to this pretender for his pre-planning abilities as you wonder where the hell did “pseudo Jason” manage to find a set of long handled shears in the middle of the woods at such short notice, did he pack for the trip?
Not only does F13 5 pack an impressive tally of victims but there’s heap loads of deeply unnecessary nudity too with various female members of the cast stripping off at a moment’s notice for pretty much no reason at all. It gives proceedings an air of exploitative sleaze, an not in the good way. Yes, nudity was somewhat if a requirement of the genre at the time but even the…. “talents” of the actresses (one carrying the staggeringly apt name of Debbie Sue Vorhees) seem hugely gratuitous.
Not only is he guilty of pulling off the staggering achievement of making nudity seem overdone in an 80’s horror movie, you also suspect that Steinmann may not have even heard of a whodunit let alone seen one as his idea of creating mystery is to introduce numerous random red herrings for no reason and then literally kill them off barely a scene later. When the mask comes off and we finally see who the culprit is… it’s so badly staged we have no fucking idea who we’re looking at, so the film literally has to explain it to us like a child. However, by the sheer law of averages Steinmann manages to pull off the odd effectively tense scene like where the killer slowly stalks the goth as she unknowingly body-pops her final moments away to a song that’s more 80’s than a piano key tie.
Long time series composer Harry Manfredini (not to be confused with Harry Mancini…) goes all out with his themes, especially in the entertainingly gonzo final chase that sees a twelve year old attacking a hulking serial killer with a bulldozer and a busty blonde defending herself with a chainsaw (why do they have this things at a psychiatric retreat again?). But despite a fair few unintentional belly laughs.
Quite possibly the worst of the franchise, A New Begining still somehow proved to be exactly that despite being more fun to laugh at than participate in.
I guess you can’t teach a new Jason old tricks…