SEQUELISED: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

John remembers the Friday without Jason. 

Who made it?: Danny Steinmann (Director/Co-Writer), Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen (Co-Writers), Timothy Silver (Producer), Paramount Pictures.

Who’s in it?: Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Marco St. John, Juliette Cummins.

Tagline: “If Jason still haunts you, you’re not alone!”

IMDb rating: 4.6/10.

Just when we thought we had laid the ghost to rest that was Jason Vorhees, the infamous hockey-masked killer crops up yet again to terrorise not-so-innocent teens in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (or simply Friday the 13th: A New Beginning). With a fresh approach taken to help rejuvenate the horror icon, and set the wheels in motion for a new era in the franchise, A New Beginning is both a disappointing and unique instalment in the classic film series.

Jason is back! Again! Believing the relentless killer is now dead and buried, a series of brutal murders in and around a halfway house for troubled teens makes the local authorities question whether Crystal Lake’s most famous son is still six feet under.

Produced on a budget of $2.2m, A New Beginning was directed by Danny Steinmann and it turned out to be his last, having cut his teeth on cult films such as The Unseen (1980) and Savage Streets (1983). The screenplay was written by Martin Kitrosser (who had previously penned Friday the 13th Part III with wife Carol Watson), David Cohen and Steinmann, from a story by Kitrosser and Cohen. John Shepherd as our “hero” Tommy Jarvis (replacing Corey Feldman) is really the only interesting character in the film. As the teenaged Tommy, he is plagued by the memories of events from the previous movie, leaving him mentally-unstable and borderline psychotic, thus making the audience believe he could be the killer and not the resurrected Jason. Shepherd’s performance is full of intensity; sometimes subtle and other times not, which only adds to the overall mystery of the story.

A New Beginning is a slight departure from previous entries in the series, with the familiar surroundings of Camp Crystal Lake being replaced with a halfway house in Pennsylvania. This film was supposed to be the first part in a brand new trilogy of slashers with a different villain taking the reins from Jason. But with the overall disappointment from fans and decreasing box-office takings, it was decided that the beloved Crystal Lake killer would be brought back to life for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). I think the main gripe fans, including myself, had with this film was that the culprit wasn’t Jason but a copycat instead, resulting in a major anti-climax. Other problems include its lazy script and clumsy direction, making the film a generic slasher, riddled with predictable and poorly-executed scenes. Having Feldman cameo as the young Jarvis at the beginning of the film was a nice touch, though. The actor was unable to reprise his role as a result of him filming The Goonies at the time. Feldman performed his cameo on a Sunday as that was his only day off from filming the 80s classic.

Perhaps the fact that the production was plagued with hardcore drug use had a lot to do with the sloppy filmmaking. Or maybe the film was just a prime example of greedy studios wanting to make a quick buck. Even producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. decided not to have anymore direct involvement with the series, believing The Final Chapter was a solid and crowd-pleasing end to Jason’s character. Just like the previous instalments, A New Beginning was a financial success, grossing $8.3 million on its opening weekend and making the number one spot at the box office, fending off competition from Porky’s Revenge, The Last Dragon and Mask. Eventually, the film would total $21.9 million at the domestic box office. Over time, fans have grown to appreciate the film more, creating a cult following. And I can see why. A New Beginning attempted to bring something new to the table and not follow the typical stalk-and-slash method used in the previous films, instead opting for a more mysterious approach.

I don’t believe A New Beginning is a terrible Friday the 13th film, but it is certainly forgettable and not a patch on other entries in the series, such as The Final Chapter. Maybe with repeated viewing, the film will grow on disappointed fans like it has done with so many others over the years. Despite committing movie suicide so often, Friday the 13th always manages to live to tell the tale.

Best Scene

When will teens ever learn not to go off into the woods to have sex when there’s a killer on the loose? Well, sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.

Useless Trivia

(Via IMDb)
  • Danny Steinmann was originally going to write and direct “Last House on the Left: Part 2″ for Paramount. But after the project fell through, the producers offered Steinmann A New Beginning.
  • Tommy’s opening dream was different in the original script, and arguably made him seem more of a suspect later on. It opens as more of a continuation from the ending of the previous film – The Final Chapter – as a young Tommy is taken to the same hospital as Jason’s corpse. Then, in a sudden fit of psychotic rage, young Tommy winds up attacking half the hospital staff trying to get to the morgue and finding Jason’s bloodied body. Once he had finally found the body, Jason suddenly rises from the autopsy table. Immediately after this, the adult Tommy wakes up in the van en route to the Pinehurst house.
  • One month prior to the film’s release in the U.S., the Motion Picture Association of America demanded that sixteen scenes featuring sex or graphic violence be edited in order to merit an “R” rating instead of an “X” rating. The film ultimately required nine trips to the MPAA before being granted an “R” rating.
  • This is the first film in the Friday the 13th series where Jason is actually referred to by his full name: Jason Voorhees. In Parts I & II, he is only referred to as Jason, while he is not referred to by name at all in Part III.

John Cowdell

I have been writing and producing short films for over ten years and are now branching out into film reviews.

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