Sunday, July 15, 2018

13 Reasons Why "Friday The 13th: A New Beginning" Is Awesome!

Why the unjustly maligned fifth “Jason” movie deserves way more appreciation…

By: Jimbo X

For the longest time, the fifth Friday the 13th movie was largely considered one of the worst, if not the absolute worst, entries in the Jason Voorhees mythos. But the same way the universally decried Halloween III has finally started to get some recognition from the genre faithful who once despised it, it seems like horror fans are at long last beginning to warm up A New Beginning.

A lot of people consider The Final Chapter to be the last of the “straight” Friday the 13th movies, but to me, Part Five has always been the last truly old-school “Jason” movie. Whereas the subsequent movies splintered off into a more supernatural direction — what, with Jason turning into a zombie in Part 6, becoming a reptilian who fights a Carrie knockoff in Part 7 and ultimately becoming a body-hopping tapeworm in Part 9A New Beginning was the last film in the franchise to fully embody that hard-to-describe-but-instantly-identifiable old-school degenerate cinema slasher vibe. Even after the MPAA censors shred it to ribbons, it still conveyed an air of mid-1980s nastiness that seemed to disappear from the genre landscape around 1986. It was dirty, and grimy and filled with nudity and hilariously raunchy, decidedly un-P.C. dialogue, and what violence was allowed to be shown on-screen still comprised some of the grisliest ever permitted in the Friday franchise.

Sure, I could keep droning on and on about the technical things that make this such an undervalued genre movie, or I could show that shit to you in vivid color. So, without further ado, ladies and degenerates, I present to you my 13 favorite things about the most unjustly unloved flick in the Jason canon ... and if this doesn't get you to reconsider the intrinsic greatness of Friday The 13th: A New Beginning, I don't know what will.

The Opening Scene!

The first five minutes do a perfect job setting up the atmosphere and ambiance for the rest of the movie. You’ve got Corey Feldman running around scared shitless in a raincoat while two stereotypical hillbillies (including one who lets out a literal “yee-haw” rebel yell at one point) dig up Jason’s grave simply so they can see what his corpse looks like because apparently, there wasn’t ANYTHING to do for fun back in the hinterlands of New Jersey back then. Of course, the grave-defiling rednecks soon meet their demises at the hands of a resurrected (and rather ornery) Jason Voorhees, who then turns his attention to mangling the Feldster like a piece of beef jerky. Of course, the whole thing is a dream sequence (yeah, like we didn’t see that little curve ball coming) which segues quite nicely to our next sticking point ...

Tommy Jarvis!

After the nightmare scene is over, we fast forward a couple of years and now Feldman’s character — that’s Tommy Jarvis, for all you Johnny-Come-Latelies — is like, 24 or something, and residing in a halfway house where literally everybody onsite, including the camp counselors, are at least 50 percent canonically retarded. You really have to give actor John Shepherd some credit here, because he totally made you believe he was a ticking time bomb ready to go off at any minute (and the fact that he looked like a combination of Jeffrey Dahmer and David Koresh certainly helped with the illusion.) It’s a shame they wound up changing actors for the next movie (and really, changing the character’s whole personality), because this incarnation of Tommy would’ve made for an absolutely perfect franchise foil for Jason; I mean, who better to stare down an absolute nutcase time and time again than a guy who looks like he could go Chris Benoit on the entire room at the drop of a hat?

Crazy Ethel!

One of the things I like about this particular Friday is that pretty much everybody in the cast deserves to die, to at least some degree. Even the final girl and Reggie the Reckless (more on him in just a bit) are annoying enough to merit a shish-ka-bobbing, but few characters in the flick deserve their just desserts more than Crazy Ethel, who — true to her namesake — is one screwed up lady. With her perpetually dirt-smeared face, practically every line of dialogue she has is dedicated to belittling her even more retarded son Junior (My personal favorite string of verbal abuse? When she tells him “You big dildo, eat your fuckin' slop”) and the scene where she goes to the authorities — telling them “I’ve got a bomb on me” and threatening to “blow their fuckin' brains out” — is just a laugh riot. Every truly great slasher movie is required by genre law to have at least one deranged coot in it, and there’s no denying that actress Carol Locatell brought her A-game in full force here; surely, SOMEBODY has written some D-tier fan-fiction where she bumps uglies with Crazy Ralph from the first two Friday movies, right?

Joey's Death!

With amazing scenes like this, I sometimes wonder how any self-professed degenerate cinema enthusiast could have ever hated this movie. Meet Joey. He’s fat, he’s retarded and he loves candy bars. After getting sugary brown stains all over his halfway house mates’ laundry (unsurprisingly, they rebuff his offers for the remainder of his half-eaten Baby Ruth), he decides to go pay resident psychopathic muscle-head Vic a visit while he’s chopping wood. Not exactly one with the best social skills himself, Vic then proceeds to chop
Joey’s candy bar in half, and after he tells him “he’s really out of line,” Vic responds by fuckin' killing him right then and there in front of about 20 witnesses. And if that wasn’t WTF enough, just a few seconds later we’re treated to a scene where a creepy paramedic peels back Joey’s body bag, laughs at his corpse and calls all the kids who just watched a man get axe-murdered before their very eyes “a buncha’ pussies” for being unnerved by the senseless display of homicidal rage. Of course, that’s mostly a red herring to make you forget about the other paramedic’s reaction, but we’ll get to him in due time.

The Greasers Getting It!

Now I was only three or something when the 1980s ended, so I am not the best person to ask about what the decade was truly like. That said, I haven’t seen much historical evidence to suggest that at any point in the decade it was ever en vogue to dress up like 1950s greasers unironically, which makes the sudden appearance of two 1950s looking motherfuckers about halfway through the movie a real head-scratcher. That said, I’m not going to complain, because their dialogue is positively stellar. LITERALLY the first thing one of them says onscreen is "Those cunts aren't going to wait all night!" and then they talk about how they believe all mentally ill people should be systematically executed. Then one of them says “I’ve got to take a crap,” and the the other replies, quite emphatically, “crap my ass, you fucking asshole." I think it was around that point that I just knew the screenwriters behind this one were modern day poets. Of course, this being a “Jason” movie, their screen time is short lived. After one of them refers to a rabbit as a "little fuck," Guido A has a road flare jammed down his esophagus and Guido B has his throat slit, ear-to-ear, while singing about how much he wants to kick the ass of the dude who’s already been murdered. Seriously, why did people hate this movie so much again?

All The Parts Where Tommy Beats The Shit Out Of People!

Hey, speaking of kicking buttocks, this Tommy fellow sure is prone to fisticuffing himself. And apparently the actor who played him was a stealth puroresu fan, because in one scene he gets back at a dude who scared him wearing one of his own homemade yeti masks by hitting him with a pitch perfect Burning Hammer 13 years before Kenta Kobashi supposedly “invented” it. Of course, you could write it off as mere coincidence, but considering later on in the movie Tommy drops Junior in a trailer park scuffle using the old Antonio Inoki back brain kick finisher, I doubt it.

The Mayor's Al Pacino Impersonation!

Ric Mancini’s screen time as Mayor Cobb barely lasts three minutes, but it’s easily one of the best three minute stretches in the entire movie. Why? Because during his only scene in the movie, he pretty much channels Al Pacino from Serpico the whole time as he berates and belittles the sheriff’s office nonstop. I mean, it’s such a forced imitation that I kinda’ wonder why the producers left it in the movie, considering the flick was supposed to be played straight and everything. In a movie just gummed up with quirky and eccentric idiosyncrasies, this one stands out as one of the most surreal — and that, I assure you, is saying something.


Billy’s only in the movie for about five minutes, but you better believe he makes the best of his brief appearance in A New Beginning. Basically, he’s every divorced dad in history, this gross, balding, 40-year-old sleaze bag with a mustache that makes him look just like Stanley Zbornak from The Golden Girls. Naturally, he’s got his eyes on some sweet young thang who works as a waitress down at the local greasy spoon, and not only does the guy drive around with a beer can holder TAPED to his steering wheel, pretty much the first thing he does after honking the horn tellin’ his woman to get her twat in the passenger seat is break out the co-caine and snort a line right then and there in the parking lot. Eventually, he gets his via an axe to the head … but by golly, did he live quite the impression before buying the farm, no?

The Entire Segment with Demon!

This is without question my favorite five-minute stretch from ANY Friday the 13th movie. For whatever reason, the dim-witted camp counselor/retard farm supervisor PAM decides it would be a great idea if she took Reggie the Reckless (an eight-year-old kid who looks like he could've stunt doubled for Webster) to go see his older brother Demon, who literally lives in a van down by the river with this one fine-ass black bitch that smokes a ton of weed. Even better, Demon is played by the dude who portrayed Juwanna Mann, so in hindsight the already hilarious scene is about 100 times funnier. A courteous host, Demon offers his younger sibling and his elder caretaker tacos, egg rolls and cheese and sausage pizza, but eventually he’s befallen by some bad enchiladas, which leads to him vaulting to an outhouse, where he sings to his aforementioned fine ass woman while he’s taking a dump, stating things like “this shitbox is gross” and “now you gonna’ get it bitch!” after she tells him he hopes snakes “will bite his ass.” Of course, they both get killed in due course, but not before laughs a plenty are had. Hell, this sequence alone makes the film not only worth viewing, but practically worshiping as a fantastic piece of 1980s ephemera.

When The Stuttering Guy Tries To Put The Moves On That One Bitch — Then He Goes Into Violet’s Room and Gets Killed!

As stated before, nobody in this movie really has any redeeming qualities, so when it comes to empathetic characters, Jake the stutterer is about as close as this flick gets to giving us anybody who we can feel sorry for. Well, that is, until he tries to put the moves on this random chick watching the late night movie, at one point telling her “he wants to make love with" her like that’s even remotely how that shit works in the real world. Naturally, she laughs off his lack of game, which causes Jake to immediately dash — and by “dash,” I mean “basically break into” — Violet’s bedroom while she’s practicing for a Soul Train audition or something, gets cockblocked AGAIN and winds up eating the business-end of a meat cleaver a few seconds later. You know, maybe the producers wanted us to feel sorry for the schmuck, but as far as I’m concerned? The dude probably deserved it, just for having that stupid mid-'80s pompadour ‘do.

Violet's Death!

Violet is this one Madonna-wannabe who listens to shitty electronica music and unironically does “the robot” with “A Best of The Alan Parsons Project” poster on her wall. Of course, with “His Eyes” by Pseudo Echo blaring at full volume, she’s totally oblivious to the seven-foot-tall machete killer who sneaks into her bedroom, and then … well, you know what happens in these kinds of movies by now. Fun fact: in the original cut of the movie, instead of being stabbed in the tummy, she was supposed to be stabbed in the vagina. Indeed, some photos of her carved up cooter are still circulating around on the Internets, if you’re interested in that kind of thing … you sick, sick monkey.

The Grand Finale!

Sometimes the denouement in these movies can be kinda’ crappy, but they actually did a pretty good objective job wrapping up the tail-end of this one. First, Reckless saves Pam with a goddamn bulldozer, then she brings da muthafuckin' ruckus with a chainsaw and almost goes Time Killers on that blue-arrowed hockey mask wearing motherfucker. Then Tommy shows up with his shitty ass pocket knife to stab not-Jason in the ballsack (really, this whole thing is booked like a really great wrestling match, which is EXACTLY how the final stretch of any slasher movie worth a shit ought to be structured) and all I can say is thank goodness for that conveniently placed bed of spikes just laying there right under the second floor of the barn. We literally get a Mortal Kombat fatality to end the movie, and it’s revealed at long last who the REAL killer is post-mortem. And even though it’s a 33-year-old movie, I’m not gonna’ spoil the surprise for you. Oh, fuck, yes I am — it’s the ambulance driver, who went psycho after his fat retard son got killed over a candy bar earlier in the movie. Hey, at least he had a better motivation than the killers usually have in these kinda’ flicks ...

The Final Jump Scare!

Of course, you can’t end a Jason movie (even if it doesn’t have Jason in it) without some kinda’ shameless sequel hook, and the one in A New Beginning is actually pretty effective. So Tommy, now in a regular hospital, has a nightmare about killing Pam, wakes up and sees Jason standing over his bed. He yanks the IVs out of his arm, puts on Roy’s hockey mask and then, he leaps out at Pam for real … which, naturally, is our cue for the closing credits. It appears the stewards of the Friday the 13th series wanted to carry on the franchise with Tommy as the new man behind the mask (yes, I have to link to it after I said it), but as we all know by now, a year later Jason V. was once again canonically doing all the teenager shish-ka-bobbing and Tommy was once again relegated to playing bargain basement Dr. Loomis. Still, give these guys some props … this is a bang-up way to set up a sequel, even if said sequel never came to fruition as they intended.

There's a lot of other good things about the movie, but I'll let you digest all of that on your own. Ones that I will mention, however, is the structure, pacing and cinematography. This is definitely the most Italian-flavored of the Jason movies, and the director was clearly inspired by the work of Mario Bava and Dario Argento ... maybe not in terms of story or substance, but certainly in terms of camera work and lighting. This is just a great-looking movie that feels more like a giallo movie like Tenebrae or The New York Ripper than your usual slasher flick, and that gives it an aura and atmosphere that really stands out among the Jason movies.

Maybe we hated it back in the day for not feeling like a "summer camp" slasher. True, this movie doesn't feel like Sleepaway Camp or The Burning, but that's by no means a bad thing. The timing of the movie feels unlike anything else in the Friday canon, and maybe that unpredictability is what throws people for a loop. Regardless, it's a damn fine slasher flick no matter how you cut it, slice it, dice it or chainsaw it, and if you haven't seen it in a few years, I reckon you might be surprised by how much better it holds up than anticipated.

Personally, I still think Part 2 is the ultimate Friday experience, but I'd probably rank this at the number two slot on my own 13th power rankings, just ahead of Parts 4 and 6. It's funny and violent and decadent and filled with unsavory characters and off-color humor and it feels hopelessly trapped in the 1980s ... which, naturally, are all the reasons the cinematic egg heads of the cosmos hate it, while we real movie-loving aficionados consider it a delicious treat from the absolute apex of degenerate American cinema.


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